PMB News Center

Drought treatment restructures plants’ microbiomes

A field of sorghum plants

New research examines drought tolerance in sorghum—a finding that could help scientists develop crops that are more resistant to climate change.

Brewing hoppy beer without the hops

Researchers, including PhD candidate Rachel Li and adjunct professor Henrik Scheller, have created strains of brewer's yeast that produce a hoppy flavor without the use of hops.

Scientists engineer crops to conserve water, resist drought

Green seedlings grow in a field

Researchers have improved how crops use water by altering the expression of a gene found in all plants.

New research identifies plant “sunscreen” protein

For plants, light is great, until it’s not. They need the sun’s energy to carry out photosynthesis, but too much light damages the chloroplasts in plant cells where light, water, and carbon dioxide are converted into sugar and oxygen. One way plants protect themselves is to dissipate that excess light, a process that also occurs in the chloroplasts.

Krishna Niyogi and researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are working to understand–and manipulate–plant photoprotection mechanisms, such as a process called NPQ, or nonphotochemical quenching, which...

Microorganism in East Bay sludge reveals new CO2 fixation pathway

Israel Figueroa

Scientists from the Department of Plant and Microbiology (PMB) have identified the first natural example of a pathway for carbon dioxide fixation previously thought to be only synthetically derived. This discovery has the potential to lead to applications in developing new methods for carbon capture and conversion for the sustainable storing of electrical energy in liquid fuel form.

Matthew Traxler named 2017 Hellman Fellow

Headshot of Matt F. Traxler

Matthew Traxler has been named a 2017 Hellman Fellow. The Hellman Fellows Program supports junior faculty research on the ten campuses of the UC system and at four private institutions. Three other CNR faculty members have also been awarded 2017 Hellman Fellowships.

Established by Warren & Chris Hellman and their children in 1994, the purpose of the Hellman Fellows Program is to support the research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction in their chosen fields of endeavor. The...

NSF funds $3.4 million grant to improve maize crops

field of maize

Researchers from the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (PMB) and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center have been awarded a five-year, $3.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve the productivity of maize. Sarah Hake , director of the USDA Plan Gene Expression Center and an adjunct professor in PMB, will work with a team of Danforth Center and university researchers on the project.

The team’s research will develop novel methods...

Alumni Making Headlines!

Three Cal Scientists Shift Focus from Biofuels to Prebiotics; b y Glen Martin

These days, it’s all about the gut. Not how it looks in a Speedo or bikini, though. More like, how it feels inside. Increasingly, gut health is correlated with general health; gastrointestinal status is widely thought to affect everything from the immune system to emotional stability .

So what does a healthy gut want? Probiotics, apparently – the “good” bacteria that flourish in the human intestinal tract and allegedly promote smooth digestion, conquer pathogens and stimulate...

Virginia Tartaglio Named ASPB Conviro Scholar

This award program is open to exceptional undergraduate and graduate students studying plant biology

Virginia Tartaglio, a graduate student in Dr. John Vogel's laboratory, is one of twenty-one students to be selected for the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Conviron Scholars program. This program delivers an experience intended to serve as foundation for a career in plant science. In addition to the one-year membership, ASPB offers " opportunities for exposure to plant biologists who have taken different career tracks, including university research, industry, conservation and plant protection, agronomy, publications, policy, education, and outreach,...

Researchers identify gene that made corn edible

Close up of corn and teointe plants

Berkeley researchers have identified the gene that made corn edible through domestication from its inedible wild ancestor, a plant called teosinte. The results of their research are published in PNAS .

George Chuck , an associate researcher in the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology and the study’s senior author, discovered that the gene tassels replace upper ears1 ( tru1 ) played a critical role in domesticating corn into an edible crop plant. This gene changes the inflorescence—the flower head of a plant that includes stems,...