Unlike animals, plants neither have specific organs that see or hear various stimuli, yet, plants are sensitive to their surrounding environment and modify their development according to various external signals. My lab studies how the environment of a plant modulates its growth and development. Understanding environmental control of growth will have far-reaching implications for agriculture, energy production, and many other human activities.
Plants and animals interact with their environment. Since plants are incapable to move around, they are sensitive to their surrounding environment and modify their development according to external signals. Plants face variability in growth conditions – temperature, light quality and quantity, herbivores, pathogens, water availability etc. Yet, plants respond to these biotic and abiotic factors and survive substantial fluctuations in its environment. Plants also must balance the range of potential threats and benefits confronting it and should make appropriate decisions on resource allocation. Such adaptability is essential for the sessile nature of the plants. The mechanisms that underlie this adaptability likely involve complex signaling to generate the appropriate response. In some adaptive responses, for example, when the plants have to cope with climate change and increased competition for light, there is a decrease in productivity (yield, biomass) as the plant relocates resources to better adapt.
The Pedmale Lab’s research goals seek to determine the mechanisms behind how a plant perceives and successfully adapts to its environment. We also aim to understand how a plant must integrate intrinsic and extrinsic cues and ‘decide’ how best to respond to environmental cues. Understanding how plants deal with, and respond to a multitude of environmental signals could help to develop crops that cope with unfavorable growth conditions without significant changes in yield.
An essay from the President: Biology for the planet
May 16, 2019
As we advance toward the middle of the twenty-first century, humanity faces an existential challenge: figuring out how to feed the world’s rapidly growing population in the face of climate change and the increasingly limited availability of key nutrients and suitable land for farming. We need solutions that are local, national and global to increase...
Cocktails & Chromosomes
March 13, 2019
Join us for the next edition of Cocktails & Chromosomes, featuring CSHL scientist Dr. Ullas Pedmale, Ph.D., an assistant professor working on how plants make sense of their environment… DO PLANTS HAVE SENSES? Plants are not only stuck in one place but they also have no eyes, ears, or nervous system; yet their survival depends on reacting appropriately to...
How do plants know when to flower?
May 18, 2018
eather forecasting technologies and clairvoyant groundhogs are among the tools that we humans use to predict when spring will arrive. When colorful flowers and foliage burst from plants, we finally know it is here. But how do plants know that it is time to put out spring flowers? Plants have no nervous system to feel...
Light, cryptochromes, action…
November 21, 2017
Assistant Professor Ullas Pedmale has received the National Institutes of Health “Outstanding Investigator Award,” a 5-year grant in recognition of “a record of research productivity with unusual potential.” One of only two plant biologists awarded, Pedmale studies how the environment of an organism regulates its growth and development. Without a brain, plants successfully integrate internal...
Conn, A. and Pedmale, U. V. and Chory, J. and Navlakha, S. (2017) High-Resolution Laser Scanning Reveals Plant Architectures that Reflect Universal Network Design Principles. Cell Syst, 5(1) pp. 53-62.e3.
Conn, A. and Pedmale, U. V. and Chory, J. and Stevens, C. F. and Navlakha, S. (2017) A Statistical Description of Plant Shoot Architecture. Curr Biol,
Pedmale, U. V. and Huang, S. S. and Zander, M. and Cole, B. J. and Hetzel, J. and Ljung, K. and Reis, P. A. and Sridevi, P. and Nito, K. and Nery, J. R. and Ecker, J. R. and Chory, J. (2016) Cryptochromes Interact Directly with PIFs to Control Plant Growth in Limiting Blue Light. Cell, 164(1-2) pp. 233-45.
Kaiserli, E. and Paldi, K. and O'Donnell, L. and Batalov, O. and Pedmale, U. V. and Nusinow, D. A. and Kay, S. A. and Chory, J. (2015) Integration of Light and Photoperiodic Signaling in Transcriptional Nuclear Foci. Dev Cell, 35(3) pp. 311-21.
Li, L. and Ljung, K. and Breton, G. and Schmitz, R. J. and Pruneda-Paz, J. and Cowing-Zitron, C. and Cole, B. J. and Ivans, L. J. and Pedmale, U. V. and Jung, H. S. and Ecker, J. R. and Kay, S. A. and Chory, J. (2012) Linking photoreceptor excitation to changes in plant architecture. Genes Dev, 26(8) pp. 785-90.Additional materials of the author at
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