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A common metabolic currency tunes growth-defense balance in plants A common metabolic currency tunes growth-defense balance in plants

In plants, elevated defense tends to inhibit plant growth. New research suggests plants have a metabolism-sensing mechanism that may mediate between growth and defense functions.

April 7, 2020 Tags: fundamental research, Howe lab
How plants tune their greenness to light quality in their surroundings How plants tune their greenness to light quality in their surroundings

New research is refining our understanding of how light wavelengths impact how plants develop their chloroplasts.

March 5, 2020 Tags: fundamental research, Montgomery lab
Plant protein helps control both chloroplast's chemistry and lipid membrane Plant protein helps control both chloroplast's chemistry and lipid membrane

The protein, peroxiredoxin Q, is known to maintain a healthy balance of chemicals and energy levels in chloroplasts. The new research shows the protein also impacts the system that produces chloroplast membranes.

February 18, 2020 Tags: Benning lab, fundamental research
Leaf under attack from bacteria? One way plants stop the spread of infection Leaf under attack from bacteria? One way plants stop the spread of infection

The CAMTA system - which is known to protect plants from cold weather - plays a newly discovered role: when bacteria invade a leaf, CAMTA warns neighboring, unaffected leaves to prepare for invasion.

February 11, 2020 Tags: Thomashow lab, fundamental research
A protein lulls algae to 'sleep', and what that means for making green fuels A protein lulls algae to 'sleep', and what that means for making green fuels

When algae get stressed, they hibernate and store energy in forms that we can use to make biofuels. Understanding how stress impacts algal hibernation could help scientists lower the cost of biofuels production.

February 3, 2020 Tags: fundamental research, Benning lab
Insect bites + Warmer climate = Double trouble for plants [VIDEO] Insect bites + Warmer climate = Double trouble for plants [VIDEO]

Recent models are telling us that, as our climate warms up, pests will cause more damage to crops. But these models do not factor how infested plants react to rising temperatures. If we do, plants may suffer a worse fate.

January 20, 2020 Tags: fundamental research, Howe lab
Taming electrons with bacteria parts and a little 'blood' - a new synthetic biology system [VIDEO] Taming electrons with bacteria parts and a little 'blood' - a new synthetic biology system [VIDEO]

When electrons move, they are the electricity that powers life. But they are hard to pin down. The newly engineered system could guide electron transfer over long distances, powering future applications in medicine or 'green' fuel production.

January 15, 2020 Tags: green solutions, Ducat lab
[LINK] Sheng Yang He featured in National Geographic [LINK] Sheng Yang He featured in National Geographic

The article revolves around an exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History on our food supply’s vulnerability to plant disease, using an unconventional conduit: early 20th-century glass models of rotting fruit.

January 10, 2020 Tags: He lab
Berkley Walker: trying to improve bioenergy crops with 'big picture' math models Berkley Walker: trying to improve bioenergy crops with 'big picture' math models

Berkley Walker's DNA synthesis proposal has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, to study how high temperatures impact plant enzymes that support photosynthesis.

January 8, 2020 Tags: fundamental research, Walker lab
Identifying a plant cell barrier to breeding more nutritious crops Identifying a plant cell barrier to breeding more nutritious crops

For decades, scientists have unsuccessfully tried to dial up amino acid production in crops. One roadblock might be the target of rapamycin (TOR) protein, which detects nutrient availability in plant cells in order to control cell growth and metabolism.

December 18, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Brandizzi lab
Chasing order beyond the realm of the visible: a new tool tidies up molecules at the nano level [VIDEO] Chasing order beyond the realm of the visible: a new tool tidies up molecules at the nano level [VIDEO]

A protein from cyanobacteria has been redesigned into a homing beacon to attract molecular payloads. The long-term goal: to organize resources inside living cells for medical or industrial applications.

December 9, 2019 Tags: Ducat lab, fundamental research
Unlikely gathering of scientists generates extraordinary research team, idea - the fat free cell Unlikely gathering of scientists generates extraordinary research team, idea - the fat free cell

Cheryl Kerfeld will lead a team of five research groups in a $3.4 million NSF Understanding the Rules of Life grant to engineer a synthetic cell. The aim is to tackle two key science and engineering research areas: building a synthetic cell and epigenetics.

November 7, 2019 Tags: awards, Kerfeld lab
Identifying a cyanobacterial gene family that helps control photosynthesis Identifying a cyanobacterial gene family that helps control photosynthesis

The new gene family helps control carbon dioxide fixation, which is the first step towards making high-energy molecules that feed the planet's organisms. 

September 30, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Lechno-Yossef, Kerfeld lab
[LINK] Grad student, Anastasiya Lavell, talks mentoring and chloroplasts on Impact 89FM [LINK] Grad student, Anastasiya Lavell, talks mentoring and chloroplasts on Impact 89FM

The Benning lab student was a guest on The Sci-Files podcast, where she addressed her research on a protein that seems to be important for lipid regulation in Arabidopsis thaliana chloroplasts.

August 27, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, future scientists, Benning lab
These algae can live inside fungi. It could be how land plants first evolved. These algae can live inside fungi. It could be how land plants first evolved.

Marine algae, the evolutionary ancestors of plants, could have hitched a ride with fungi to make it onto dry land.

July 17, 2019 Tags: Benning lab, fundamental research
Plants can crash when photosynthesis rates are high. This is one way they slow down. Plants can crash when photosynthesis rates are high. This is one way they slow down.

High levels of photosynthetic productivity can dangerously alter a plant cell's chemical balance. GPT2 is a sort of 'brake' that helps recycle and store extra resources that are produced during those times.

July 9, 2019 Tags: Weise, Sharkey lab, fundamental research
[LINK] He lab in The Economist: Understanding how crop diseases and climate change interact [LINK] He lab in The Economist: Understanding how crop diseases and climate change interact

The rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is mixed news for farmers. Although it is a cause for disruptions in weather patterns, it is also a source of more fuel for photosynthesis and therefore enhanced growth - up to 40%.

May 31, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, He lab
Altering how cyanobacteria capture light from the sun can impact their health Altering how cyanobacteria capture light from the sun can impact their health

Various ways of affecting light-capturing antennae can cause cyanobacteria to either remain content or become stressed. The different responses depend on the species and the nature of the modification.

May 29, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Montgomery lab
Protecting photosynthesis from stalling: a 24-hr molecular hotline Protecting photosynthesis from stalling: a 24-hr molecular hotline

The enzyme, G6PDH, diverts and pumps resources into the Calvin-Benson cycle at critical moments to keep the cycle active and, by extension, plants happy and healthy.  

May 20, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Sharkey lab
A new rhomboid-like protein that helps plants produce lipids A new rhomboid-like protein that helps plants produce lipids

Rhomboid-like proteins are found across a large number of organisms, like bacteria, flies, and humans. This is the first time such a protein – and how it influences lipid production and transport – has been studied in detail in plants.

May 14, 2019 Tags: fundamental research, Benning lab

Top Stories

Recently discovered protein enhances understanding of photosynthesis Recently discovered protein enhances understanding of photosynthesis

MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) scientists have published a new study that furthers our understanding of how plants make membranes in chloroplasts, the photosynthesis powerhouse

Using Artificial Intelligence to delve into plant cell secrets Using Artificial Intelligence to delve into plant cell secrets

A new AI system, called DeepLearnMOR, can identify organelles and classify hundreds of microscopy images in a matter of seconds and with an accuracy rate of over 97%. The study illustrates the potential of AI to significantly increase the scope, speed, and accuracy of screening tools in plant biology.

Study links energy metabolism to reduced fertility in overheated bean crops Study links energy metabolism to reduced fertility in overheated bean crops

The study reports that the activity levels of the carbon metabolism protein, G6PDH, are related to decreased production of pollen in bean flowers. As global temperatures rise, some bean crops, including Michigan-grown varieties, might be more sensitive to higher heat levels.