Department of
Plant Biology

Plant Biology News

Researcher Spotlight: Katy Heath, Ph.D.

With the Researcher Spotlight, the Microbial Systems Initiative aims to introduce its readers to the breadth and diversity of research interests and potential growth opportunities on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Katy Heath, PhD, is an associate professor of Plant Biology in the School of Integrative Biology and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. Research in the Heath Lab for Coevolutionary Genomics focuses on the evolution of mutualisms, which are most generally defined as species interactions that increase the fitness of both (or all) partners.

Fire-spawned forest fungi hide out in other organisms, study finds

Fire-loving fungi are among the first organisms to appear on the forest floor after a fire, followed closely by mosses and lichens.

Study provides framework for one billion years of green plant evolution

Gene sequences for more than 1100 plant species have been released by an international consortium of nearly 200 plant scientists, the culmination of a nine-year research project.

Study finds rising ozone a hidden threat to corn

A new study reveals genetic differences that influence how corn responds to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone.

Pineapple genome sequences hint at plant domestication in single step

As their Latin name indicates, pineapples are truly “excellent fruits”—and thanks to a freshly completed genome sequencing project, researchers have gained a new understanding of how human agriculture has shaped the evolution of this and other crops.

Andrew Leakey discusses climate change with CNN

Climate change is already having a negative impact on our food supply.

Gene found that could play role in improving photosynthesis

A single protein has been identified to play a role in improving photosynthesis under high concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a study published in in silico Plants. The protein, known as Gm-GATA2, is predicted to overcome limitations imposed by photosynthetic acclimation under elevated CO2 levels—and is a promising candidate for research into how we can better prepare for a future impacted by climate change.

Trelease Woods: Mapping a centuries-old forest (video)

Trelease Woods, a centuries-old forest on the cusp of Champaign-Urbana, offers lessons to students and professors alike at the University of Illinois. A fragment of a once much larger forest around the city of Urbana, the woods contain trees that are 400 years old and tell a story of the history of the area.

Improved model could help scientists better predict crop yield, climate change effects

A new computer model incorporates how microscopic, mouth-like pores on leaves (pictured) may open in response to light—an advance that could help scientists create virtual plants to predict how higher temperatures and rising levels of carbon dioxide will affect food crops.

A warming Midwest increases likelihood that farmers will need to irrigate

Plant biology professor Evan DeLucia and his colleagues found that hotter conditions expected by midcentury will lead to a need for crop irrigation in the Midwest, a region that relies primarily on rainfall to grow crops.