Plant Biology
Plant Biology
To match human population growth, world agricultural production must double over the next quarter century. At Salk, we study plants so that humans will have the food, clothing, energy and medicines they need now and in the future.

Plant Biology

RSC Advances

Transforming atmospheric carbon into industrially useful materials

Plants are unparalleled in their ability to capture CO2 from the air, but this benefit is temporary, as leftover crops release carbon back into the atmosphere. A more permanent, and even useful, fate for this captured carbon could be turning plants into a valuable industrial material called silicon carbide (SiC). Professor Joseph Noel, Visiting Scientist James La Clair, and Staff Researcher and first author Suzanne Thomas transformed tobacco and corn husks into SiC and quantified the process with more detail than ever before. The findings are crucial to helping researchers evaluate and quantify carbon-sequestration strategies to potentially mitigate climate change as CO2 levels continue to rise to unprecedented levels.

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Nature Genetics

How plants quickly adapt to shifting environmental conditions

Professors and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigators Joanne Chory and Joseph Ecker, along with HHMI/Chory lab Research Specialist Björn Willige and colleagues, offer a new understanding of how gene activity directs plant growth, and how quickly plants respond to their environment—with shifting light conditions triggering molecular changes in as little as five minutes. The findings may help farmers increase yield and safeguard world food production as climate change shrinks the planet’s arable land.

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