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.
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.
- Building a More Resilient WorldThe world is facing an array of health-related crises: COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, climate change, neurodegenerative conditions, cancers and many more. To tackle these daunting challenges, the Institute is embarking on a philanthropic campaign to focus on resilience: the biological adaptability that mitigates the effects of aging, resists disease and restores global wellness.
- Susan Kaech – How T cells rememberSalk Professor Susan Kaech, director of the NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis, has made it her mission to gain a better understanding of how T cells form, how they exchange molecular signals with the surrounding tissue, and how we can use this knowledge to prevent or treat infections.
- Carl Procko – Lessons from carnivorous plantsStaff Scientist Carl Procko studies Venus flytraps and their close relatives, Sundew plants, to gain insight into the ultra-fast biochemistry of plants and how they can sense touch. It doesn’t hurt that these bug-eating plants are a great way to get kids—and adults—interested in science.
- Nuttida Rungratsameetaweemana – Drawing from memoriesNuttida Rungratsameetaweemana, a Salk postdoctoral researcher who studies neuroscience, was introduced to the perplexities of the brain at age 14 during a chance encounter in a hospital waiting room.