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Plant Biology

Explore the rich world of plants through molecular, cell, and evolutionary biology, biochemistry, biophysics, genetics and functional genomics, physiology, and root biology

Program Overview

Plants are fundamental to life on earth. Plant biologists use these important organisms to address issues such as global climate change, food insecurity, loss of biodiversity, and disease. The Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Plant Biology offers students the opportunity to conduct research on plants—ranging from the cellular level to the whole-plant level.

Students' program of study includes a comprehensive set of team-taught courses that reflect the breadth of scientific fields, and the linkages between them. All students must also complete a thesis based on their own original research.

Program Ranking

The Plant Biology program was ranked among the top-four programs of its kind (out of 118 programs) by the latest National Research Council Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs, which took place in 2006. The study was based on 20 different characteristics related to research activity of faculty members, student support and outcomes, and the diversity of the academic environment.


Grant to fund research on biological approach to manage soil pathogens and pests

In an effort to boost the profitability and sustainability of organic specialty crop productions, a team of scientists is improving and optimizing a method for controlling soilborne pests and pathogens and promoting soil health that prevents oxygen from entering the soil.

Small but mighty: Microgreens go from trendy vegetables to functional food

Starting decades ago as fashionable, high-value gourmet greens, today microgreens have gained popularity among consumers for their nutritional profile and high content of antioxidant compounds. Now, a new study suggests that the tiny plants have the potential to help provide global nutrition security.

Eberly’s 2022 Lab Bench to Commercialization grant recipients announced

The Eberly College of Science has chosen faculty members Joyce Jose and Sally Mackenzie to receive its 2022 Lab Bench to Commercialization grants. This competitive program provides funding for researchers in the college, enabling them to enhance the commercial potential of ongoing Penn State research and prepare them to translate their Penn State-owned intellectual property to the marketplace.

Study of structural variants in cacao genomes yields clues about plant diversity

An exhaustive and painstaking comparison of the genomes of multiple strains of the cacao tree by a team of researchers has provided insights into the role genomic structural variants play in the regulation of gene expression and chromosome evolution, giving rise to the differences within populations of the plant.