For the last quarter century, Salk plant biologists have focused their efforts on the ragged little mustard weed known as Arabidopsis thaliana. With the completion of the Arabidopsis Genome Project, they are now working on identifying the products and functions for all of its genes – knowledge that can be applied to agriculture and may one day help improve the quality and quantity of the world's food supply.
As the information is collected, it is compiled in a database that plant biologists refer to as a "clickable plant." The clickable plant database is a repository for all plant genes along with their functions, their interactions and information about how they are influenced by day length, temperature, water availability, and other environmental variables.
Ultimately, the goal is to understand plant growth so well that scientists can, in effect, reprogram plants to adjust to any kind of growing conditions. This work has tremendous potential for both agricultural and the pharmaceutical industry.
August 30, 2012
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered a key genetic switch by which plants control their response to ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone best known for its ability to ripen fruit, but which, under stress conditions, can cause wilted leaves, premature aging and spoilage from over-ripening. The findings, published August 30, 2012 in Science magazine, may hold the key to manipulating plants' ethylene on/off switch, allowing them to balance between drought resistance and growth and, therefore, decrease crop losses from drought conditions.
May 13, 2012
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Iowa State University discovered a family of plant proteins that play a role in the production of seed oils, substances important for animal and human nutrition, biorenewable chemicals and biofuels.
Scoring a rare scientific hat trick, the researchers identified three related proteins in thale cress plants (Arabidopsis thaliana) that regulate the metabolism of fatty acids, chemical components of all cell membranes and vegetable oils. They dubbed these fatty-acid binding proteins FAP1, FAP2 and FAP3. Read more>>
Reprogramming adult cells to recapture their youthful "can-do-it-all" attitude appears to leave an indelible mark, found researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. When the team, led by Joseph Ecker, PhD., a professor in the Genomic Analysis Laboratory, scoured the epigenomes of so-called induced pluripotent stem cells base by base, they found a consistent pattern of reprogramming errors. Read more>>