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plant biologyPlant research at CSHL explores fundamental mechanisms in plant development and genetics with a goal of increasing crop productivity and biodiversity, and reducing climate change through exploring the potential of biofuels.

The plant biology group at CSHL focuses on plant development and gene expression, in an effort to uncover basic mechanisms that could lead to increased crop productivity, increased biodiversity and exploring the potential of  biofuels. Researchers use Arabidopsis, maize, tomato and duckweed as model systems to uncover the principles that govern plant growth. Much of this work takes place on 12 acres of farmland at the nearby CSHL Uplands Farm, where expert staff raise crops and Arabidopsis plants for study. Research also involves bioinformatics and quantitative analysis of large data sets for functional genomics and developmental genetics, and has contributed to more than two dozen large scale collaborative genome projects funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

At CSHL, plant research has a storied history, including Nobel prize-winning research done by Barbara McClintock in the 1940s and 50s. The transposable genetic elements, or “jumping genes,” that she discovered decades ago are now understood to reprogram the epigenome, and are used as research tools by current CSHL researchers studying plant genomes.

    Big plans for a tiny plant

    Big plans for a tiny plant

    July 15, 2018

    As temperatures around the globe continue to rise, scientists are working hard to develop solutions that deal with the consequences of climate change, focusing on ways to slow or halt the trend. One significant hurdle is our dependence on fossil fuels like gasoline, coal, and petroleum. Researchers are working with a variety of biofuels that...


    Prof. Zachary Lippman named Blavatnik Award finalist

    Prof. Zachary Lippman named Blavatnik Award finalist

    May 30, 2018

    Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Professor and Jacob Goldfield Professor of Genetics Zachary Lippman has been selected as a Finalist in Life Sciences for the 2018 Blavatnik National Awards. The Blavatnik National Awards honor outstanding scientists under the age of 42 in the fields of Life Sciences, Chemistry, and Physical Sciences & Engineering. “This award...


    CSHL’s Zachary Lippman named HHMI Investigator

    CSHL’s Zachary Lippman named HHMI Investigator

    May 23, 2018

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Zachary Lippman, Ph.D, a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Professor and Jacob Goldfield Professor of Genetics, has been selected to be a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. Dr. Lippman is among 19 other scientists who have just received this distinction. HHMI also announced that it will invest $200 million...


    How do plants know when to flower?

    How do plants know when to flower?

    May 18, 2018

    LabDish blog Weather 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...


    One experiment: Twice the tomatoes

    One experiment: Twice the tomatoes

    March 22, 2018

    Those plump red fruits aren’t the only sweets spots of a tomato plant. The branches have them too. When breeding plants to produce more fruit, “you want to be in a sweet spot” in terms of branching because “plants have to be balanced in their growth,” says Professor Zachary Lippman. That two-pronged plant on the...


    The secret to tripling the number of grains in sorghum and perhaps other staple crops

    The secret to tripling the number of grains in sorghum and perhaps other staple crops

    February 26, 2018

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — A simple genetic modification can triple the grain number of sorghum, a drought-tolerant plant that is an important source of food, animal feed, and biofuel in many parts of the world. In new research reported today in Nature Communications, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have figured out how...


    Movie Screening & Panel Discussion: Food Evolution

    Movie Screening & Panel Discussion: Food Evolution

    January 22, 2018

    Presented by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory & Science Advocacy of Long Island, a screening and discussion at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington: From Academy Award nominee Scott Hamilton Kennedy Narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson Film to be followed by a panel discussion with plant scientists – come with your questions! PANELISTS David Jackson, Ph.D. Zachary...


    Counting chromosomes: Plant scientists solve a century-old mystery about reproduction

    Counting chromosomes: Plant scientists solve a century-old mystery about reproduction

    January 18, 2018

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Counting is vital in nature. Counting chromosomes is something that most animals, plants and even single-celled organisms need to know how to do to assure viability and to reproduce. Today, a team of geneticists reveals a remarkable mechanism that enables plants to count their chromosomes, solving a century-old mystery. Being...


    Light, cryptochromes, action…

    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...


    Plant geneticists develop a new application of CRISPR to break yield barriers in crops

    Plant geneticists develop a new application of CRISPR to break yield barriers in crops

    September 14, 2017

    Mutating regulatory regions varies yield traits the way a dimmer switch controls a light bulb Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have harnessed the untapped power of genome editing to improve agricultural crops. Using tomato as an example, they have mobilized CRISPR/Cas9 technology to rapidly generate variants of the...


    Public Lecture: THE CHANGING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMANS AND PLANTS – “It’s complicated”

    Public Lecture: THE CHANGING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMANS AND PLANTS – “It’s complicated”

    September 8, 2017

    THE CHANGING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HUMANS AND PLANTS: ✓ It’s complicated David Jackson, Ph.D. – Professor, CSHL Zachary Lippman, Ph.D. – Professor, CSHL Doreen Ware, Ph.D. – Adjunct Associate Professor, CSHL & USDA Agricultural Research Service RSVP HERE


    Tomato baby and its family

    Tomato baby and its family

    July 14, 2017

    Base Pairs podcast One day, while out tending their experimental tomato fields, Associate Professor Zachary Lippman and his team found something totally bizarre and common at the same time. It was a tomato that looked like a baby, with a head, a body, and arms that seemed to be waving “hello”—and it wasn’t some laboratory-created...


    CRISPR vs. climate change

    CRISPR vs. climate change

    June 15, 2017

    Base Pairs podcast Much of the hype around the genome editing tool known as CRISPR focuses on its potential to cure genetic diseases. But our bodies need more than a healthy genome to survive and thrive—they also need food, and that’s where we may see CRISPR’s earliest effects on our lives. “When I think about...


    Detailed new ‘reference’ genome for maize shows the plant has deep resources for continued adaptation

    Detailed new ‘reference’ genome for maize shows the plant has deep resources for continued adaptation

    June 12, 2017

    ‘Phenotypic plasticity’ traced to maize’s regulatory flexibility bodes well for expanding the staple’s growing range as the planet warms Cold Spring Harbor, NY — A new, much more detailed reference genome for maize, or corn, as it is called in the U.S., will be published in Nature today. In its accounting of the sequence of DNA letters in...


    Fine-tuning dosage of mutant genes unleashes long-trapped yield potential in tomato plants

    Fine-tuning dosage of mutant genes unleashes long-trapped yield potential in tomato plants

    May 18, 2017

    Understanding gene interactions can enable breeders to break existing productivity barriers in agriculture Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Breeding in plants and animals typically involves straightforward addition. As beneficial new traits are discovered—like resistance to drought or larger fruits—they are added to existing prized varieties, delivered via cross-breeding. Yet every once in a while, adding...


    Gene editing yields tomatoes that flower and ripen weeks earlier

    Gene editing yields tomatoes that flower and ripen weeks earlier

    December 5, 2016

    Using CRISPR to expand the geographical range of important food crops Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Using a simple and powerful genetic method to tweak genes native to two popular varieties of tomato plants, a team at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has devised a rapid method to make them flower and produce ripe fruit...


    Gene network controls how many flowers and fruits plants will produce during critical growth window

    Gene network controls how many flowers and fruits plants will produce during critical growth window

    November 7, 2016

    Flower production is directly related to how much our crops yield Cold Spring Harbor, NY — There is staggering diversity in the number of flowers produced by each of the 2,800 or so species of plants in the nightshade family, which includes economically important crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. Some nightshades, such as...


    The people problem

    The people problem

    September 15, 2016

    Base Pairs podcast Today, an estimated 7.3 billion people are sharing the Earth’s land, water, and food. Each year, we have to share 196.9 million square miles of land, 326-million-trillion gallons of water (although only a portion of it is accessible), and 4 billion tons of food produced for human consumption (not including animal feed). Forget,...


    Corn controversy

    Corn controversy

    July 15, 2016

    Base Pairs podcast “Knee high by the 4th of July” It’s an adage that’s been ringing in the ears of American farmers for longer than anyone can remember, and an expression well known even to  us confounded city-slickers! That’s just how iconic corn is in America. Endless stately rows of lush green stalks, bejeweled with...


    “Amazing protein diversity” is discovered in the maize plant

    “Amazing protein diversity” is discovered in the maize plant

    June 24, 2016

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — The genome of the corn plant—or maize, as it’s called almost everywhere except the US—“is a lot more exciting” than scientists have previously believed. So says the lead scientist in a new effort to analyze and annotate the depth of the plant’s genetic resources. “Our new research establishes the amazing...


    Discovery of new stem cell pathway indicates route to much higher yields in maize, staple crops

    Discovery of new stem cell pathway indicates route to much higher yields in maize, staple crops

    May 16, 2016

    Braking signals from the leaves tell stem cells to stop proliferating Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Biologists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have made an important discovery that helps explain how plants regulate the proliferation of their stem cells. The discovery has near-term implications for increasing the yield of maize and many other staple...


    Ancient gene network helps plants adapt to their environments

    Ancient gene network helps plants adapt to their environments

    February 9, 2016

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — The only constant is change. In evolution, there are, however, some exceptions. While the enormous diversity of life suggests that organisms are constantly being refitted with new or modified parts, many of the tools used to build these new organisms are just too useful to tinker with. For this reason...


    The iPlant Collaborative is now called CyVerse

    The iPlant Collaborative is now called CyVerse

    January 15, 2016

    The enhanced NSF project will now provide data management and computation across scientific disciplines Cold Spring Harbor, NY — The iPlant Collaborative is now called CyVerse.  The advanced data management platform for the life sciences, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), announced the change on January 8th.  The collaborative includes the University of Arizona,...


    Saving our food supply with alumna Michelle Cilia

    Saving our food supply with alumna Michelle Cilia

    December 11, 2015

    About 49.1 million people across the country suffer from food insecurity, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. This number includes both those individuals who lack access to fresh and unprocessed foods as well as those who lack access to food in general, and thus cannot live a healthy and active...


    Addition of sugars plays a key developmental role in distantly related plants

    Addition of sugars plays a key developmental role in distantly related plants

    November 19, 2015

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Adding a spoonful of sugar to coffee makes it sweeter, but in plants, researchers have discovered, the addition of sugar molecules to particular proteins plays a surprising variety of roles in basic developmental processes. In work published today in The Plant Journal, a team of researchers led by CSHL Associate...


    What’s behind million-dollar crop failures in oil palm? Would you believe bad karma?

    What’s behind million-dollar crop failures in oil palm? Would you believe bad karma?

    September 9, 2015

    A way to prevent damaged plantlets from being grown, to boost yield and reduce tropical land pressure Cold Spring Harbor, NY — What has spoiled tens upon tens of thousands of fledgling oil palm plants at elite corporate plantations in Malaysia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia over the last three decades? The answer to this...


    Scientists pinpoint genes that make stem cells in plants, revealing origin of beefsteak tomatoes

    Scientists pinpoint genes that make stem cells in plants, revealing origin of beefsteak tomatoes

    May 25, 2015

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — A team of scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has identified a set of genes that control stem cell production in tomato. Mutations in these genes explain the origin of mammoth beefsteak tomatoes. More important, the research suggests how breeders can fine-tune fruit size in potentially any fruit-bearing crop....


    Getting more out of Nature: genetic toolkit finds new maximum for crop yields

    Getting more out of Nature: genetic toolkit finds new maximum for crop yields

    November 2, 2014

    An array of gene variants provides “breakthrough benefits” in tomato yield for breeders; other crops next Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) today announced a new way to dramatically increase crop yields by improving upon Mother Nature’s offerings. A team led by Associate Professor Zachary Lippman, in collaboration with...


    Genetic discovery points the way to much bigger yields in tomato, other flowering food plants

    Genetic discovery points the way to much bigger yields in tomato, other flowering food plants

    December 26, 2013

    Scientists learn how tweaking a ‘hybrid vigor’ gene generates higher crop yields Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Every gardener knows the look of a ripe tomato. That bright red color, that warm earthy smell, and the sweet juicy flavor are hard to resist. But commercial tomato plants have a very different look from the backyard...


    CSHL is part of iPlant group awarded $50 million to create US biology cyberinfrastructure

    CSHL is part of iPlant group awarded $50 million to create US biology cyberinfrastructure

    September 17, 2013

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $50 million to investigators at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and other members of the multi-institution iPlant collaborative headquartered at the University of Arizona’s BIO5 Institute to create a national cyberinfrastructure for the biological sciences. “The renewal grant for the iPlant Collaborative will...


    In odd-looking mutant, clues about how maize plants control stem cell number

    In odd-looking mutant, clues about how maize plants control stem cell number

    September 11, 2013

    In plants, the growth of organs such as roots, leaves and flowers depends upon the activity of meristems. Cold Spring Harbor, NY — In plants, the growth of organs such as roots, leaves and flowers depends upon the activity of meristems. These reservoir-like compartments hold stem cells, which have the ability to develop into various...


    Full genome map of oil palm indicates a way to raise yields and protect rainforest

    Full genome map of oil palm indicates a way to raise yields and protect rainforest

    July 24, 2013

    A single gene is identified whose regulation controls oil palm yield Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, St. Louis, MO and Cold Spring Harbor, NY– A multinational team of scientists has identified a single gene, called Shell, that regulates yield of the oil palm tree. The fruit and seeds of the oil palm are the source of nearly...


    Researchers explain a key developmental mechanism for the first time in plants

    Researchers explain a key developmental mechanism for the first time in plants

    March 6, 2013

    When a stem cell commits to becoming a leaf cell, how does a polycomb gene-repressing protein complex know where in the genome to go, and when? Cold Spring Harbor, NY — The normal development of an animal or plant can be compared in at least two ways with the successful performance of a great symphony. ...


    Plant scientists at CSHL demonstrate new means of boosting maize yields

    Plant scientists at CSHL demonstrate new means of boosting maize yields

    February 3, 2013

    A team of plant geneticists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has successfully demonstrated what it describes as a “simple hypothesis” for making significant increases in yields for the maize plant. Cold Spring Harbor, NY — A team of plant geneticists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has successfully demonstrated what it describes as a...


    One experiment: What can scientists learn from an odd-looking mutant ear of corn?

    One experiment: What can scientists learn from an odd-looking mutant ear of corn?

    February 3, 2013

    Clues about how to harness genetics to boost yield You’re looking at an ear of corn, recently cut from the side of a five-foot-high maize plant (as corn is called nearly everywhere but in America). The ear, which we view through an electron microscope, is tiny, about a quarter of an inch in length and...


    CSHL-led team discovers new way in which plants control flower production

    CSHL-led team discovers new way in which plants control flower production

    November 8, 2012

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Flowers don’t just catch our eyes, they catch those of pollinators like bees as well. They have to, in order to reproduce. Because plants need to maximize the opportunity for pollinators to gain access to their seeds, variations in the timing of flowering can have profound effects on flower, fruit,...


    DuPont and CSHL extend collaboration in cutting-edge plant biology research for 5 years

    DuPont and CSHL extend collaboration in cutting-edge plant biology research for 5 years

    November 6, 2012

    Continuing collaboration will facilitate development of innovative products to meet growing global food needs Wilmington, Del., and Cold Spring Harbor, NY — DuPont and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) today announced the renewal for another five years of a research collaboration that began in 2007.  This multi-million dollar collaboration supports cutting-edge plant biology research focused...


    Two pioneering plant genomics efforts given a funding boost by National Science Foundation

    Two pioneering plant genomics efforts given a funding boost by National Science Foundation

    September 5, 2012

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — With research in plant biology “at a tipping point,” in the words of a leading investigator, two pathbreaking efforts by scientists interested in making comparisons across and within sequenced plant genomes have been given a significant funding boost and vote of confidence from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF...


    ‘Most comprehensive’ genetic analysis of maize plant will help raise yields, expand its range

    ‘Most comprehensive’ genetic analysis of maize plant will help raise yields, expand its range

    June 1, 2012

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY and Washington, DC — An international  research team involving 17 institutions including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has published the most comprehensive analysis to date of the maize genome.  It is an achievement that substantially increases scientists’ understanding of differences across related but different species of the plant, which most North Americans call...


    New release of Web-based resource resolves confusion over plant names

    New release of Web-based resource resolves confusion over plant names

    May 31, 2012

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — A rose by any other name would smell as sweet—but it might confound scientists interested in understanding the chemical components of its fragrance or discovering where its ancestors grew in the wild. That’s because in biology, an organism’s scientific (taxonomic) name is the key to finding information about it.  This...


    Study uncovers a molecular “maturation clock” that modulates branching architecture in tomato plants

    Study uncovers a molecular “maturation clock” that modulates branching architecture in tomato plants

    December 22, 2011

    The secret to pushing tomato plants to produce more fruit might not lie in an extra dose of Miracle-Gro.  Instead, new research from CSHL suggests that an increase in fruit yield might be achieved by manipulating a molecular timer or so-called “maturation clock.” Manipulating the clock might provide agricultural benefits, as a slower clock increases...


    New York Plant Genomics Consortium maps evolutionary relationships, gene functions for 150 species

    New York Plant Genomics Consortium maps evolutionary relationships, gene functions for 150 species

    December 16, 2011

    CSHL’s Rob Martienssen and W. Richard McCombie help to develop a genome “tree of life,” the largest yet for seed plants Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden, and New York University have created the largest genome-based “tree of life”...


    CSHL research takes center stage at the Secret Science Club

    CSHL research takes center stage at the Secret Science Club

    September 21, 2011

    LabDish blog Like most scientists, HHMI-GBMF Investigator and CSHL Professor Rob Martienssen is used to giving lectures in darkened, cavernous auditoriums with plush seating where the audience holds its applause until after his talk. So it was quite the surprise when he strode out on to the podium during his latest lecture at a venue...


    Molecular chaperones traffic signaling proteins between cells in plant stem-cell maintenance pathway

    Molecular chaperones traffic signaling proteins between cells in plant stem-cell maintenance pathway

    August 25, 2011

    Study finds KN1 trafficking through tiny channels called plasmodesmata cannot occur without chaperonins Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Like all living things, plants depend for their growth and sustenance on elaborate signaling networks to maintain stem cells, cells that have an almost magical regenerative capacity.  The signals sent through these networks convey an incredible diversity...


    Plant biologists dissect genetic mechanism enabling plants to overcome environmental challenge

    Plant biologists dissect genetic mechanism enabling plants to overcome environmental challenge

    August 1, 2011

    grassy tillers1 suppresses branching, enabling maize to grow taller when shade encroaches—a key to teosinte’s ancient domestication Cold Spring Harbor, NY — When an animal gets too hot or too cold, or feels pangs of hunger or thirst, it tends to relocate—to where it’s cooler or hotter, or to the nearest place where food or...


    Plant scientist Rob Martienssen receives prestigious appointment as HHMI-GBMF Investigator

    Plant scientist Rob Martienssen receives prestigious appointment as HHMI-GBMF Investigator

    June 16, 2011

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF) have selected Professor Rob Martienssen, Ph.D., of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) to join a new initiative to accelerate basic research in fundamental plant science. Dr. Martienssen is one of 15 of the nation’s most innovative...


    CSHL is part of international team that sequences the ‘chocolate’ genome

    CSHL is part of international team that sequences the ‘chocolate’ genome

    January 14, 2011

    T. cacao, source of world’s finest chocolate, reveals some of its genetic secrets Cold Spring Harbor, NY — An international team that includes scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has succeeded in producing a draft genome of the cacao tree variety whose beans yield what most experts consider the world’s finest chocolate. CSHL Professor...


    Single gene dramatically boosts yield and sweetness in tomato hybrids, joint CSHL-Israeli study reports

    Single gene dramatically boosts yield and sweetness in tomato hybrids, joint CSHL-Israeli study reports

    March 29, 2010

    Scientists find the first example of a single gene that causes hybrid vigor Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Giving tomato breeders and ketchup fans something to cheer about, a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) scientist and his colleagues at the Hebrew University in Israel have identified a gene that pushes hybrid tomato plants to spectacularly...


    CSHL-Mexican team coaxes sexually reproducing plant to brink of asexual reproduction

    CSHL-Mexican team coaxes sexually reproducing plant to brink of asexual reproduction

    March 7, 2010

    Argonaute 9 inhibits asexual reproduction, apparently by silencing transposons Cold Spring Harbor, NY — One seemingly insurmountable obstacle to the dream of virtually limitless yields of staple crops like corn, wheat and rice is the dependence of those plants on sexual reproduction. When male and female gametes—sperm and egg—combine randomly to generate a genetically unique seed,...


    Reference genome of maize, America’s most important crop, is published by team co-led by CSHL scientists

    Reference genome of maize, America’s most important crop, is published by team co-led by CSHL scientists

    November 19, 2009

    Complex sequence and “HapMap” shed light on maize’s “wonderful diversity” could help in future efforts to adapt the plant to a warming climate Cold Spring Harbor, NY — A four-year, multi-institutional effort co-led by three Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) scientists culminated today in publication of a landmark series of papers in the journal Science...


    Scientists at CSHL discover mobile small RNAs that set up leaf patterning in plants

    Scientists at CSHL discover mobile small RNAs that set up leaf patterning in plants

    March 1, 2009

    Small RNAs act like morphogens in helping to define the boundary between the top and bottom sides of leaves Cold Spring Harbor, NY — A key item in the developmental agenda of a plant leaf is the establishment of an axis that makes a leaf’s top half distinct from its bottom half. This asymmetry is...


    CSHL researchers identify gene whose function explains how plant cells keep tiny communication channels open

    CSHL researchers identify gene whose function explains how plant cells keep tiny communication channels open

    February 17, 2009

    GAT1 encodes an enzyme that maintains flow of information through transport channels Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Plant cells communicate via microscopic channels called plasmodesmata that are embedded in their cell walls. For the stem cells in the plants’ growing tips, called “meristems,” the plasmodesmata are lifelines, allowing nutrients and genetic instructions for growth to...


    CSHL scientists discover how “companion” cells to sperm protect them from genetic damage

    CSHL scientists discover how “companion” cells to sperm protect them from genetic damage

    February 6, 2009

    Small RNAs generated in companion cells enter neighboring sperm nuclei and inactivate harmful DNA Cold Spring Harbor, NY — In plant pollen grains, sperm cells, which carry the genetic material to be passed on to progeny, are cocooned within larger “companion” cells,  called pollen vegetative cells.  These companions provide sperm with energy and nourishment, and...


    CSHL researchers map changing epigenetic modifications that enable mobile genetic elements to run amok

    CSHL researchers map changing epigenetic modifications that enable mobile genetic elements to run amok

    December 10, 2008

    A shift in the pattern of small RNAs occurs in continuously dividing cells as their genomes become epigenetically reprogrammed Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Much like cancer cells, plant cells grown for a long time outside of their normal milieu, in culture dishes, have highly unstable genomes. Changes in gene activity, or how genes are...


    Researchers find an essential gene for forming ears of corn

    Researchers find an essential gene for forming ears of corn

    September 23, 2008

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) professor David Jackson, Ph.D., and a team of plant geneticists have identified a gene essential in controlling development of the maize plant, commonly known in the United States as corn. The new research extends the growing biological understanding of how the different parts of maize...


    iPlant kickoff conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory begins tackling plant biology’s grand challenges

    iPlant kickoff conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory begins tackling plant biology’s grand challenges

    April 4, 2008

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory will host the inaugural conference of the iPlant Collaborative, an NSF-funded, $50 million project to create a virtual center in cyberspace for plant sciences researchers and students. The kickoff conference, titled “Bringing Plant and Computing Scientists Together to Solve Plant Biology’s Grand Challenges” and scheduled for...


    Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to play central role addressing key questions in plant biology

    Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to play central role addressing key questions in plant biology

    January 30, 2008

    iPlant Collaborative will unite scientists across disciplines Cold Spring Harbor, NY — Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) will play a central role in an important new initiative called the iPlant Collaborative, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Collaborative will define and address “grand challenge questions” in plant biology that have global implications. “The...


    “Gramene” database facilitates global agricultural research

    “Gramene” database facilitates global agricultural research

    October 13, 2005

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY, Oct. 13 — Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory researchers Lincoln Stein and Doreen Ware today announce the public release of Gramene version 19. The database provides agricultural researchers and plant breeders with invaluable biological and genomic information about rice and other grasses. Gramene’s web interface facilitates access to genetic and physical maps,...


    NCGR, CSHL, and TIGR announce NSF funding for semantic web development for plant biologist

    NCGR, CSHL, and TIGR announce NSF funding for semantic web development for plant biologist

    September 29, 2005

    Santa Fe, NM, September 29, 2005 — The National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR), announced today a $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a Virtual Plant Information Network (VPIN), in collaboration with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), Cold Spring Harbor, NY, and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), Rockville, MD....


    Feeding the world

    Feeding the world

    August 15, 2005

    Researchers Report Complete Rice Genome Sequence Rice feeds more than half of the world’s human population. Estimates indicate that the agricultural yield of rice will need to be increased by some 30% over the next two decades to meet projected increased demands. In the August 11 issue of the journal Nature, members of a 10-nation...


    Less is more: New technology captures gene-rich DNA segments

    Less is more: New technology captures gene-rich DNA segments

    December 18, 2003

    Sequencing key regions speeds genome research in corn and other important crop species Obtaining genome sequence information frequently leads to breakthroughs in the study of a particular organism. Bringing agriculturally important plant species into the genomic age is therefore an important goal. However, because they are typically larger or much larger than the 3-billion letter...


    Scientists report first complete genome sequence of a plant

    Scientists report first complete genome sequence of a plant

    December 13, 2000

    Cold Spring Harbor, NY — An international effort to sequence the entire genome of the plant species Arabidopsis thaliana is now complete. This first-ever complete genome sequence from a plant has many implications for biology, medicine, agriculture, and the environment because it will enable detailed studies of the entire genetic structure of plants to be...


    Scientists report first complete DNA sequence of plant chromosomes

    Scientists report first complete DNA sequence of plant chromosomes

    December 15, 1999

    In the midst of a heated public debate about genetically modified food, scientists have quietly reached a significant milestone in plant biology analogous to the recent sequencing of an entire human chromosome. Despite its status as a diminutive relative of the mustard plant, Arabidopsis thaliana has emerged as a powerful tool in plant molecular biology...


David Jackson

David Jackson

My lab studies genes and signals in cells that regulate the growth and shape of plants. We have discovered several genes that control plant architecture by exerting an influence on stem cells. By identifying the genes that control the number of stem cells in corn plants, for example, we’ve discovered a means of boosting the yield of that vital staple.

Zachary Lippman

Zachary Lippman

My research team studies the genes that determine when and where, and thus how many, flowers are produced on plants. Flowers form on branches called inflorescences, which originate from stem cells. By studying the genes that control how stem cells become inflorescences, we are able to manipulate flower production to improve crop yields.

Rob Martienssen

Rob Martienssen

Chromosomes are covered with chemical modifications that help control gene expression. I study this secondary genetic code - the epigenome - and how it is guided by small mobile RNAs in plants and fission yeast. Our discoveries impact plant breeding and human health, and we use this and other genomic information to improve aquatic plants as a source of bioenergy.

W. Richard McCombie

W. Richard McCombie

Over the last two decades, revolutionary improvements in DNA sequencing technology have made it faster, more accurate, and much cheaper. We are now able to sequence up to 10 trillion DNA letters in just one month. I harness these technological advancements to assemble genomes for a variety of organisms and probe the genetic basis of neurological disorders, including autism and schizophrenia, better understand cancer progression and understand the complex structures of the genomes of higher plants.

Ullas Pedmale

Ullas Pedmale

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.

Doreen Ware

Doreen Ware

When we think of evolution, we often think about physical changes, like a plant developing broader leaves to collect more solar energy. Such evolution actually occurs within the plant’s DNA. I am using computational analysis and modeling to visualize how plant genomes have evolved over time, particularly those of staple crops. We are learning from this work to improve the range and yield of modern plants.