PMB News Center

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,...

Reinvestment in research supports potential for increased crop yields

Photo by Jim Block

Author: Julie Gipple

A University of Illinois research project on which UC Berkeley Professor Krishna Niyogi has been a longtime collaborator announced today that it has received a $45 million, five-year reinvestment to continue research on photosynthetic improvements that could increase yields for farmers worldwide.

The funding for the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) research project—which has already demonstrated yield increases of 20 percent—comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation , the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research , and the U.K....

Scientists-in-training learn to tell a CLEAR story

Students Tim Jeffers and Tuesday Simmons are ready to answer the public’s science questions at the downtown Berkeley farmers market.

Author: Mackenzie Smith

On the second Saturday of every month, Tuesday Simmons heads to the downtown Berkeley farmers market. Among the produce stalls and coffee stands, she sits behind a table with a sign that reads “Talk to a scientist!” She and other students spend the day fielding questions from strangers about topics that range from genetically modified foods to climate change and more.

“We never know who we'll talk to at our public events, or what kinds of questions we'll be asked,” said Simmons, a graduate student in the UC Berkeley Department of...

Wildermuth Recognized for Spearheading Berkeley's 'Be A Scientist' Program

"Be A Scientist" program inspires future scientists across the Berkeley school district

Several years ago, Mary Wildermuth had the idea to infuse more of the excitement and reality of science into local schools' curriculums. Now, with a grant from the Berkeley Public Schools Fund, Wildermuth's ideas are now reality. The Be A Scientist program is now active in all the district's seventh grades. Over the last three years, more than 300 research scientists from UC Berkeley have gone into middle school classrooms to mentor students in science. With funding from the Public Schools Fund, the...

2017 Shibo Zhang Awards

Award recognizes undergraduate excellence

Every year, PMB awards the major citation to the top graduating undergraduate student in Genetics and Plant Biology major and the top student in the Microbial Biology major. The recipients are selected by the faculty for their academic excellence and contributions to UC Berkeley and the community. PMB recognizes each Major Citation recipient with a Shibo Zhang Award. This award is a $500 award made in honor of Shibo Zhang, a former postdoctoral fellow in PMB. Zhang was lost to the plant community in a tragic accident in December, 2007 and an endowment in...

Ben Blackman Receives 2017 Botanical Society of America Emerging Leader Award

Recognizing outstanding efforts and contributions to the science of botany

PMB congratulates Ben Blackman on receiving the 2017 Botanical Society of America Emerging Leader Award. The Botanical Society of America's Emerging Leader Award is given annually in recognition of creative and influential scholarship in any area of botany. Recipients have produced outstanding scholarship and have also demonstrated exceptional promise for future accomplishment.

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Plant Fast Food: Berkeley Researchers Turbocharge Photosynthesis

By Maria Guara

UC Berkeley plant scientists, working with colleagues from the University of Illinois, have successfully supercharged the photosynthesis cycle, allowing genetically altered tobacco plants to grow as much as 20 percent larger simply by using more sunlight.

The promise of this groundbreaking research is by no means limited to tobacco. Researchers expect their techniques to translate readily to other plants, potentially boosting yields on existing farmland worldwide. Such an advance could help feed the world’s growing population without expanding agriculture’s already massive footprint.

“The goal was not to make better tobacco,...