Zhiyong Wang was appointed acting director of Department of Plant Biology in 2018.

Wang’s research aims to understand how plant growth is controlled by environmental and endogenous signals. Being sessile, plants respond environmental changes by altering their growth behavior. As such, plants display high developmental plasticity and their growth is highly sensitive to environmental conditions. Plants have evolved many hormones that function as growth regulators, and growth is also responsive to the availability of nutrients and energy (photosynthates).

To understand how plant cells perceive and transduce various regulatory signals, and how combinations of complex information are processed into growth decisions, such as shoot cell elongation and root growth, by the cellular circuitry, the Wang lab uses a wide range of cutting-edge technologies in proteomics and genomics, as well as traditional genetic and molecular approaches, and both model systems and crops.

The Wang lab has spent years dissecting the signaling pathway of one major class of plant hormones, brassinosteroids, making it one of the best-studied signal transduction pathways in plants. Brassinosteroids play important roles in a wide array of functions, including cell elongation, photomorphogenesis, and reproductive development, with major effects on plant size and biomass accumulation. Brassinosteroids also have impacts on the response to environmental stresses and resistance to pathogens.

In recent years, research by the Wang lab has uncovered a central growth-regulation network that integrates all major signals that control shoot cell elongation, including brassinosteroids, auxin, gibberellin, light, temperature, the circadian clock, sugar, and pathogen signals. Wang believes that this central growth network will be a major target for genetically engineering high-yield crops.

A major current effort of Wang lab is to map the protein networks using proteomic approaches. Both protein-protein interactions and posttranslational modifications are studies at large scale using mass spectrometry in combination with affinity enrichment, proximity labelling, crosslinking, and synthetic protein interactions. The aim is to establish complete protein and gene networks and to engineer the networks to achieve improved traits.

Wang received his B.S. in plant physiology from Lanzhou University, China, his M.S. from the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his Ph. D. in molecular, cell and developmental biology at UCLA. For more see http://dpb.carnegiescience.edu/labs/wang-lab

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The photosynthetic alga Chlamydomonas. Purchased from Shutterstock.
May 6, 2022

Palo Alto, CA— A team led by current and former Carnegie plant biologists has undertaken the largest ever functional genomic study of a photosynthetic organism. Their work, published in Nature Genetics, could inform strategies for improving agricultural yields and mitigating climate change.

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May 3, 2022

Palo Alto, CA— In many ways, plants form the cornerstone of our society. They are key to the health of many ecosystems, underpin our entire food chain, provide us with fuel and medicine, and mitigate the effects of carbon pollution in our atmosphere. Despite this, there is still so much about the basic biology of plants that is not understood.

This is why Carnegie’s Sue Rhee and Selena Rice, along with colleagues from Carnegie and 30 more institutions, are heading up the Plant Cell Atlas project. The initiative brought together more than 800 experts to develop a community resource that will comprehensively describe plant cell types, the molecules they manufacture

Algae growing in a body of water, purchased from Shutterstock.
April 27, 2022

Palo Alto, CA— Algae have a superpower that helps them grow quickly and efficiently. New work led by Carnegie’s Adrien Burlacot lays the groundwork for transferring this ability to agricultural crops, which could help feed more people and fight climate change. Their findings are published in Nature.

Plant cells, algae, and certain bacteria are capable of converting the Sun’s energy into chemical energy using a series of biochemical reactions called photosynthesis. This process made Earth’s atmosphere oxygen rich, allowing animal life to arise and thrive, and underpins our entire food chain.

Photosynthesis takes place in two stages. In the first,

Plant Physiology cover art
February 7, 2022

Palo Alto, CA— Plant science will be crucial for solving many of society’s most-pressing challenges—including climate change, food security, and sustainable energy—but what are the outstanding mysteries that plant researchers need to solve to pave the way for this progress?

A new special-focus issue of Plant Physiology edited by Carnegie’s Sue Rhee, Julia Bailey-Serres of UC Riverside, Kenneth Birnbaum of NYU, and Marisa Otegui of the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers an overview how one initiative—the Plant Cell Atlas—is approaching these fundamental research inquiries and advancing the field.

The project started as a

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Revolutionary progress in understanding plant biology is being driven through advances in DNA sequencing technology. Carnegie plant scientists have played a key role in the sequencing and genome annotation efforts of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the soil alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Now that many genomes from algae to mosses and trees are publicly available, this information can be mined using bioinformatics to build models to understand gene function and ultimately for designing plants for a wide spectrum of applications.

 Carnegie researchers have pioneered a genome-wide gene association network Aranet that can assign functions

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She arrived in September 2021 from Harvard University where she held a prestigious Institute for Theory and Computation Fellowship. 

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His arrival in September 2021 continued Carnegie's longstanding tradition excellence in exoplanet discovery and research, which is crucial as the field prepares for an onslaught of new data about exoplanetary atmospheres when the next generation of telescopes come online.

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She joined Carnegie in July 2021 from U.C. San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where she investigated the evolution and structure of planetary interiors, including our own Earth and its Moon, as well as Mars, Mercury, and the moon Ganymede.

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