Richard Jorgensen, one of the ‘quiet pioneers’, who found that overexpression of a gene can surprisingly lead to gene silencing, and who coined the term ‘cosuppression’, joined our department as Adjunct Staff Member and Advancement Consultant.

Fascination of Plants Day is an international celebration of plants and plant research. The Department of Plant Biology hosted students from the East Palo Alto Academy (EPASA), an outreach program for 7th and 8th graders run by the Stanford Science in Service Program. Kelly Beck and Theresa Metz from Stanford worked with Jose Dinneny at DPB to organize an event centered on revealing the fascinating biology of plants using various microscopy...
Stanford, CA—Transport proteins are responsible for moving materials such as nutrients and metabolic products through a cell’s outer membrane, which seals and protects all living cells, to the cell’s interior. These transported molecules include sugars, which can be used to fuel growth or to respond to chemical signals of activity or stress outside of the cell. Measuring the activity of transporter proteins in a living organism has been a...
Stanford, CA—Cereals are grasses that produce grains, the bulk of our food supply. Carnegie’s Plant Biology Department is releasing genome-wide metabolic complements of several cereals including rice, barley, sorghum, and millet. Along with corn, whose metabolic complement was released previously, these species are responsible for producing over 1.5 billion tons of grains annually world-wide. Understanding how these important species harness...

An international team of 12 leading plant biologists, including Carnegie’s Wolf Frommer, say their discoveries could have profound implications for increasing the supply of food and energy for our rapidly growing global population. All of their work focuses on the mechanisms that plants use for transporting small molecules across their membranes and thus for controlling water loss, resisting toxic metals and pests, increasing salt tolerance, and storing sugar.

Cancer cells break down sugars and produce the metabolic acid lactate at a much higher rate than normal cells. This phenomenon provides a telltale sign that cancer is present, via diagnostics such as PET scans, and possibly offers an avenue for novel cancer therapies. Now a team of Chilean researchers at The Centro de Estudios Científicos (CECs), with the collaboration of Carnegie’s Wolf Frommer, has devised a molecular sensor that can detect levels of lactate in individual cells in real time.

Until now it has not been clear how salt, a scourge to agriculture, halts the growth of the plant-root system. A team of researchers, led by the Carnegie Institution’s José Dinneny and Lina Duan, found that not all types of roots are equally inhibited. They discovered that an inner layer of tissue in the branching roots that anchor the plant is sensitive to salt and activates a stress hormone, which stops root growth. The study, published in the current issue of The Plant Cell, is a boon for understanding the stress response and for developing salt-resistant crops.

Plants grow upward from a tip of undifferentiated tissue called the shoot apical meristem. As the tip extends, stem cells at the center of the meristem divide and increase in numbers. But the cells on the periphery differentiate to form plant organs, such as leaves and flowers. In between these two layers, a group of boundary cells go into a quiescent state and form a barrier that not only separates stem cells from differentiating cells, but eventually forms the borders that separate the plant’s organs.

Light is not only the source of a plant’s energy, but also an environmental signal that instructs the growth behavior of plants. As a result, a plant’s sensitivity to light is of great interest to scientists and their research on this issue could help improve crop yields down the road.