Addressing important fundamental questions in plant biology


The Purdue Center for Plant Biology (CPB) is an interdepartmental alliance of faculty who share an interest in basic plant biology research and are committed to enhancing graduate training in plant sciences. The focus of the Center is basic plant science, which we define as research that aims to provide a clearer understanding of processes that impact the biology of plants, irrespective of future application.

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Plant scientists maintain critical research to save data and irreplaceable plants

The College of Agriculture accounted for more than a third of Purdue researchers who asked for access and support to continue critical research when facilities closed this spring.

Can renewable energy really replace fossil fuels?

As global temperatures and energy demand rise simultaneously, the search for sustainable fuel sources is more urgent than ever. But how can renewable energy possibly scale up to replace the vast quantities of oil and gas we consume? Plant power is a significant piece of the answer, says Purdue scientist Maureen McCann.

One microRNA gene, shown in green, is specifically activated by Arabidopsis thaliana Meristem Layer 1 (ATML1) in the outermost layer of a plant shoot apex. This microRNA determines the concentration gradient of Hairy Meristem (HAM) genes, which controls stem cell function and ensures plants to make leaves, flowers and other organs. (Phot courtesy of Yun Zhou)

Purdue study finds signal cascade that keeps plant stem cells active

Pools of stem cells in the apical meristems of plants are key to continued growth and development. Understanding how these stem cells are maintained and balanced against differentiated cells could lead to methods for increasing crop yield and biomass. Purdue scientists have uncovered a key signaling cascade that maintains a balance between those stem cells and differentiated cells.

The Silent Work of Forests

Dr. Gordon McNickle's lab works to determine why certain plants are thriving, the unseen relationships of plants and underground fungi, and how climate and other variables are likely to make the same forest look starkly different decades from now.

Rachel McCoy 02

Rachel is a current PhD Candidate in Dr. Joshua Widhalm's lab within the Center for Plant Biology.  In addition to her many accomplishments throughout her graduate program, Rachel holds the position of CPB Ambassador and has won many awards within her training group.

Ancient iron-sulfur-based mechanism monitors electron flow in photosynthesis

Scientists know that a particular protein is responsible for regulating gene expression of photosystems in response to perturbations in photosynthetic electron flow, but how it senses the electrons has been an unresolved question. Purdue University scientists Sujith Puthiyaveetil and Iskander Ibrahim believe they have the answer.


Purdue scientist sending tomatoes into space to study plant defense

Purdue University’s Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi aims to improve the odds of successful crops with a recently awarded NASA grant to understand the effects of spaceflight and simulated microgravity on plant defense responses.

Purdue scientists show how soybeans may get more nitrogen from atmosphere

Jianxin Ma, a professor in Purdue University's Department of Agronomy, and colleagues report a potential method for increasing nodule formation based on discoveries tied to the RNA in rhizobia, soil-borne bacteria essential to root nodule formation.


Ag scientist next in line to continue decades-long forest research

Gordon McNickle uses game theory to understand forest dynamics, from the ways in which a single plant might compete against its neighbors for resources to the complex interactions among hundreds or thousands of plants in an ecosystem.

CPB faculty host summer interns from Colombia

Seven students from Icesi University in Cali, Colombia, worked in the labs of CPB researchers this summer in internships that may lead to longer Purdue experiences.