PMB News Center

Crop Yield Gets Boost with Modified Genes in Photosynthesis

Berkeley and Illinois researchers increase plant proteins that result in more efficient use of sunlight

By: Sarah Yang

Plant biologists have bumped up crop productivity by increasing the expression of genes that result in more efficient use of light in photosynthesis, a finding that could be used to help address the world’s future food needs.

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and the University of Illinois targeted three genes involved in a process plants use to protect themselves from damage when...

How Sunflowers Follow the Sun

A field of sunflowers in Yolo County, California. (Photo by Chris Nicolini, UC Davis)

Benjamin Blackman follows the growth of sunflowers

By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley

Sunflowers not only pivot to face the sun as it moves across the sky during the day, but they also rotate 180 degrees during the night to greet the morning sun.

UC Davis and UC Berkeley researchers have now discovered how they do it: They’ve linked their internal clock genes to stem growth, so that the eastern side of the stem elongates more than the western side during the day, turning the stem and flower westward to track the transiting sun....

Glass Joins Leadership at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Division Director for Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology

Professor N. Louise Glass, former chair of Plant & Microbial Biology, has accepted the position of Director of the Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology (EGSB) Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL).

She will continue as a professor at UC Berkeley while she leads the division, beginning in July, 2016. Glass will take over from Trent Northen, who served as the Interim Division Director for EGSB since the Biosciences reorganization at the LBNL was launched last year.

Glass is an international leader in fungal...

College Campuses Take on Food Waste

Students across the UC system coming together to combat food waste

If you piled up all the perfectly edible food that Americans throw away each day, it would fill the Rose Bowl, twice. Put another way, about 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten – Americans toss out $165 billion worth of food each year.

“It’s a really huge number,” said UC Berkeley graduate student Becky Mackelprang. “Reducing that number could make a very big impact on society.”

At college campuses around the country, students like Mackelprang are at the...

Kris Niyogi Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Kris Niyogi (Photo by Kris Dadacay)

One of the highest honors a scientist can achieve

Kris Niyogi, professor and chair of Plant & Microbial Biology, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors a scientist can achieve.

Niyogi joins five other superstars from UC Berkeley who were also elected May 3, 2016. They include Ian Agol, professor of mathematics; Steven N. Evans, professor of statistics and mathematics; Robert M. Glaeser, emeritus professor; Susan Marqusee, director of QB3; and Peidong Yang, professor of chemistry.

Niyogi studies photosynthetic energy conversion and its regulation in algae...

Department Citation to Outstanding Students

Sather Gate

$500 award each to Noah Gardner and Manraj Sekhon

Manraj Sekhon, a microbial biology undergraduate student, enjoys working in a research lab because it enables him to explore science in a way that "reinforces and enriches the concepts learned in the classroom."

Along with Noah Gardner, Sekhon was awarded the Plant & Microbial Biology Citation in recognition of their outstanding academic work at UC Berkeley. Both students will receive $500 each.

Every year, PMB awards the major citation to the top graduating undergraduate student in Genetics and Plant Biology major and the top...

The Secret Language of Microbes

The fungus Neurospora colonizing a burnt tree in the Lake Tahoo region after a fire (Photo by John Taylor)

N. Louise Glass discovers different dialects

By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley

Fungi communicate by chemical signals only, but they, like humans, appear to use different dialects.

This discovery came from a UC Berkeley study of the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa, a red bread mold that has been studied in the laboratory for nearly 100 years.

Many fungi, including N. crassa, grow as filaments or hyphae that often fuse to form an interconnected network. Hyphal networks have been shown to be important to many fungi, including the mycorrhizal fungi that form associations...

Matt Traxler, 2016 Searle Scholar

Investigating the role of specialized metabolites in mediating bacterial interactions

Matt Traxler, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, has been named a 2016 Searle Scholar. The Searle Scholars Program supports the independent research of exceptional young faculty in the biomedical sciences and chemistry.

Traxler will receive $300,000 in flexible funding over the next three years to fund his research investigating the role of specialized metabolites in mediating bacterial interactions. Specialized metabolites include antibiotics, antifungals, and anti-cancer agents. The Traxler lab aims to use knowledge about how these metabolites function...

Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors at PMB

berkeley seal

Riva Bruenn, Sydney Glassman honored

Riva Bruenn, one of UC Berkeley's outstanding Graduate Student Instructors for 2016, uses games and inclusion to get students engaged and learning from each other. "Involving the whole class in teaching each lesson engages everyone on different levels, and causes students to accept more of the responsibility of learning," said Bruenn. Along with Graduate Student Sydney Glassman she has been named an outstanding Graduate Student Instrucor (GSI) for the department and the campus. "The students who are furthest ahead take the most active role in teaching, which keeps them...

17th Annual Microbiology Student Symposium

Happening Friday, May 6, 2016; Registration open now

The Microbiology Student Group at UC Berkeley invites you to join us for the 17th Annual Microbiology Student Symposium (MSS) on Friday, May 6, 2016 at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. This year, our keynote speakers are Victoria Orphan from Caltech and Micheal Laub from MIT.

The MSS provides a forum for students researching all topics in microbiology to present their research to an engaged group of students, scientists, and members of the general public interested in microbiology. In addition, attendees will have the...

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