Researchers compile Cacao Gene Atlas to help plant breeders boost chocolate tree

A team led by researchers at Penn State has created a genetic information resource to help plant breeders develop resistant strains of cacao that can be grown sustainably in its native Amazon and elsewhere, such as the tropical latitudes of Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

New tomato, potato family tree shows that fruit color and size evolved together

Fruits of Solanum plants, a group in the nightshade family, are incredibly diverse, ranging from sizable red tomatoes and purple eggplants to the poisonous green berries on potato plants. A new and improved family tree of this group, produced by an international team led by researchers at Penn State, helps explain the striking diversity of fruit colors and sizes and how they might have evolved.

Mark Guiltinan, professor of plant molecular biology and J. Franklin Styer Professor of Horticultural Botany and director of the Penn State Plant Institute. Credit: Penn State. Creative Commons

Guiltinan named director of the Penn State Plant Institute

Mark Guiltinan, professor of plant molecular biology and J. Franklin Styer Professor of Horticultural Botany, has been named director of the Penn State Plant Institute.

Why is breaking down plant material for biofuels so slow?

Breaking down cellulose for biofuel is slow and inefficient but could avoid concerns around using a food source while taking advantage of abundant plant materials that might otherwise go to waste. New research led by Penn State investigators has revealed how several molecular roadblocks slow this process.

Yellow-eyed grasses may have more insect visitors than previously thought

Scientists previously believed that a family of flowering plants called yellow-eyed grasses didn’t attract many insect visitors, but the recent discovery of a fungus that hijacks the plant and forms fungal “pseudoflowers” has researchers rethinking this assumption.

New sunflower family tree reveals multiple origins of flower symmetry

The sunflower family tree revealed that flower symmetry evolved multiple times independently, a process called convergent evolution, among the members of this large plant family, according to a new analysis.

Novel method to measure root depth may lead to more resilient crops

As climate change worsens global drought conditions, hindering crop production, the search for ways to capture and store atmospheric carbon causing the phenomenon has intensified.

Common plant could help reduce food insecurity, researchers find

Fast-growing aquatic fern has the nutritional content to serve as a potentially vital food source after a catastrophe and could be relevant now

Newly identified protein helps flowers develop all the right parts

Flowers rely on a newly identified protein to develop properly with all of their organs, according to the research team who made the discovery.

Edge habitats along roads and power lines may be key to conserving rare plants

Edge habitats created by natural or human-caused disturbances provide prime opportunities for encouraging the establishment and reproduction of rare native plants, the researchers reported in a new study published in Plant Ecology