Palo Alto, CA—New work from a joint team of plant biologists and ecologists from Carnegie and Stanford University has uncovered the factor behind an important innovation that makes grasses—both the kind that make up native prairies and the kind we’ve domesticated for crops—among the most-common and widespread plants on the planet. Their findings may enable the production of plants that perform better in warmer and dryer climate conditions, and...

Stanford, CA—New work from Carnegie’s Shouling Xu and Zhiyong Wang reveals that the process of synthesizing many important master proteins in plants involves extensive modification, or “tagging” by sugars after the protein is assembled. Their work uncovers both similarity and distinction between plants and animals in their use of this protein modification. It is published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The blueprint for...

Stanford, CA—Climate change and recent heat waves have put agricultural crops at risk, which means that understanding how plants respond to elevated temperatures is crucial for protecting our environment and food supply. For many plants, even a small increase in average temperature can profoundly affect their growth and development. In the often-studied mustard plant called Arabidopsis, elevated temperatures cause the plants to grow longer stems...

Stanford, CA—We generally think of inheritance as the genetic transfer from parent to offspring and that evolution moves toward greater complexity. But there are other ways that genes are transferred between organisms. Sometimes a “host” organism can obtain genes from another organism that resides within its own cell (called an endosymbiont) through a process known as endosymbiotic gene transfer. At other times, an organism can obtain genes from...

Stanford, CA— A feature thought to make plants sensitive to drought could actually hold the key to them coping with it better, according to new findings published by eLife, from Kathryn Barton of the Carnegie Institution for Science (Department of Plant Biology).  Plants that are resistant to the hormone abscisic acid (ABA) have until now been understood to be bad at coping with drought. However, Barton and her team have now discovered ABA-...