Department of
Plant Biology

Plant Biology News

College of LAS announces teaching award winners

Honorees will be celebrated in April along with last year's winners

The College of LAS has selected winners of this year’s teaching excellence awards. Twelve professors (including Wendy Yang from Plant Biology), graduate student teaching assistants (including Nicholas Anderson from Entomology), and an advisor (to be announced) are honored for their service.

Trade‐offs tip toward litter trapping: Insights from a little‐known Panamanian cloud‐forest treelet

Each plant's development unfolds along many trade‐off axes. One common trade‐off is engendered by the differential allocation of tissues to harvest essential resources from the surrounding environment. Generally, photosynthetic leaves capture light energy and carbon dioxide, whereas roots take up water and mineral nutrients.

Corn and other crops are not adapted to benefit from elevated carbon dioxide levels

The U.S. backs out of the Paris climate agreement even as carbon dioxide (CO2) levels continue to rise. Through photosynthesis, plants are able to turn CO2 into yield. Logic tells us that more CO2 should boost crop production, but a new review, involving co-author Stephen Long, the Stanley O. Ikenberry Chair Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences, from the University of Illinois shows that some crops, including corn, are adapted to a pre-industrial environment and cannot distribute their resources effectively to take advantage of extra CO2.

To predict how crops cope with changing climate, 30 years of experiments simulate future

Five years ago, the United Nations committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030. Since then, however, world hunger has continued to rise. Nearly 9 percent of our global population is now undernourished, according to a 2020 report from the FAO, and climate variability is a leading factor driving us off course.

Super-resolution microscopy and machine learning shed new light on identifying fossil pollen grains

Plant biology researchers at the University of Illinois and computer scientists at the University of California Irvine have developed a new method of fossil pollen identification through the combination of super-resolution microscopy and machine learning. The team, led by Dr. Surangi Punyasena and Ms. Ingrid Romero (associate professor and graduate student in Plant Biology, respectively), developed and trained three convolutional neural network models to identify fossil pollen specimens from an unknown group of legumes.

CABBI Researchers Collaborate on Oilcane Pilot Project

From southeastern Florida to northern Mississippi to the Midwestern Corn Belt, CABBI scientists, including our own Don Ort and Steve Long, have struck sustainable oil with sugarcane. But the crop’s potential value to the renewable energy sector earns this particular variety a more appropriate designation: oilcane.

A groundbreaking endeavor uniting CABBI’s Feedstock Production and Conversion themes is coming to fruition with the fall 2020 harvest.

Illinois Regenerative Agriculture Initiative launches at University of Illinois

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is pleased to announce the Illinois Regenerative Agriculture Initiative (IRAI), a new home for regenerative agriculture research, education, and outreach. The IRAI launches this fall with grant support from Fresh Taste, bringing together researchers on campus, including our own Evan H. DeLucia (G. William Arends Professor of Integrative Biology, Professor of Plant Biology, and Founding Director of iSEE), and stakeholders in Illinois and beyond.

iSEE researchers receive NSF grant for sustainable future manufacturing

A research team, including Lisa Ainsworth and D.K. Lee with the University of Illinois' Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE), has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop a sustainable manufacturing system for the production of advanced electronic devices.

Genomic study reveals evolutionary secrets of banyan tree

The banyan fig tree Ficus microcarpa is famous for its aerial roots, which sprout from branches and eventually reach the soil. The tree also has a unique relationship with a wasp that has coevolved with it and is the only insect that can pollinate it.

In a new study researchers, lead by Ray Ming, identify regions in the banyan fig’s genome that promote the development of its unusual aerial roots and enhance its ability to signal its wasp pollinator.

Scientists further cowpea research—boosting canopy CO2 assimilation, water-use efficiency

Crops grow dense canopies that consist of several layers of leaves—the upper layers with younger sun leaves and the lower layers with older shaded leaves that may have difficulty intercepting sunlight trickling down from the top layers.

In a recent study published in Food and Energy Security...