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

Nature Communications

Helping plants pump iron

Just like people, plants need iron to grow and stay healthy. But some plants are better at getting this essential nutrient from the soil than others. Associate Professor Wolfgang Busch, first author Santosh Satbhai and collaborators have found that variants of a single gene called FRO2 can largely determine a plant’s ability to thrive in environments where iron is scarce. The work, which appeared in Nature Communications on May 24, 2017, could lead to improved crop yields for farmers and richer dietary sources of iron for animals and humans.

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A better dye job for roots—in plants

Just the right chemical is needed to measure exactly how plant roots grow. Salk’s Wolfgang Busch and collaborators have discovered a fluorescent dye that, paired with other imaging techniques, reveals root growth to be influenced by a major plant hormone more than previously thought. The work, appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of May 29, 2017, could be useful for many types of plant studies, as well as more fully understanding the hormone auxin, which is instrumental for growth and many other critical plant processes. Insights into auxin could, for example, inform the production of faster-growing crops or help mitigate such effects of climate change as drought or early flowering.

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