Stanford, CA—Soil is a microscopic maze of nooks and crannies that hosts a wide array of life. Plants explore this environment by developing a complex branched network of roots that tap into scarce resources such as water and nutrients. How roots sense which regions of soil contain water and what effect this moisture has on the architecture of the root system has been unclear. New research from a team led by Carnegie’s José...

Stanford, CA— A team of researchers studying a flowering plant has zeroed in on the way cells manage external signals about prevailing conditions, a capability that is essential for cells to survive in a fluctuating environment. Researchers at UC Berkeley, the Plant Gene Expression Center, UC San Francisco, and the Carnegie Institution for Science identified a novel mechanism by which the strength of such an external signal is reduced, or...

Stanford, CA—All living cells are held together by membranes, which provide a barrier to the transport of nutrients. They are also the communication platform connecting the outside world to the cell’s interior control centers. Thousands of proteins reside in these cell membranes and control the flow of select chemicals, which move across the barrier and mediate the flux of nutrients and information. Almost all of these pathways work...

Stanford, CA—Plants spend their entire lifetime rooted to one spot. When faced with a bad situation, such as a swarm of hungry herbivores or a viral outbreak, they have no option to flee but instead must fight to survive. What is the key to their defense? Chemistry. Thanks to this ongoing conflict, plants have evolved into amazing chemists, capable of synthesizing tens of thousands of compounds from thousands of genes. These chemicals,...

Stanford, CA—Floods and droughts are increasingly in the news, and climate experts say their frequency will only go up in the future. As such, it is crucial for scientists to learn more about how these extreme events affect plants in order to prepare for and combat the risks to food security that could result. Like animals, plants have hormones that send chemical signals between its cells relaying information about the plant’s...