Discoveries
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

Cell
07/11/2019

Gene identified that will help develop plants to fight climate change

Similar to a worm searching for food, hidden underground networks of plant roots snake through the earth, foraging for nutrients and water. Yet the genetic and molecular mechanisms that govern which parts of the soil roots explore remain largely unknown. Associate Professor Wolfgang Busch, first author Takehiko Ogura and colleagues have discovered a gene that determines whether roots grow deep or shallow in the soil. In addition, the findings will also allow researchers to develop plants that can help combat climate change as part of Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative, which aims to grow plants with roots that can store increased amounts of carbon underground for longer periods, reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.

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Nature Comm
08/29/2019

Getting to the root of how plants tolerate too much iron

Iron is essential for plant growth, but with heavy rainfall and poor aeration, many acidic soils become toxic with excess iron. This can a affect the availability of staple foods, such as rice. Associate Professor Wolfgang Busch, first author Baohai Li and collaborators have found a major genetic regulator of iron tolerance, a gene called GSNOR. The findings could lead to the development of crop species that produce higher yields in soils with excess iron.
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ACS Catalysis
09/06/2019

Plant enzyme could guide development of medicines and other products

Plants can manufacture a stunning array of compounds that help them repel pests, attract pollinators and cure infections. Professor Joseph Noel, first author Jason Burke and collaborators uncovered how an enzyme called chalcone isomerase evolved to enable plants to make products vital to their own survival. The knowledge may inform the manufacture of products that are beneficial to humans, including medications and improved crops.

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