Plant Biology

Plants may not “think” the way humans do, but they have a trick up their sleeves when it comes to making decisions. In this installment of our Building a Body story collection, learn about how plants decide when to sprout, when to flower, and how to create seeds that grow into the next generation. 

Whitehead Institute Member Jing-Ke Weng studies plant metabolism, the set of processes plants use to produce thousands of unique molecules, many of which have potent medicinal properties. The Weng lab is hunting for more of these molecules in the wild, and developing strategies to sustainably produce plant molecules already of interest at scale.

Researchers in the lab of Whitehead Institute Member Mary Gehring created a new way to study a family of enzymes that control gene expression in plants. Their method reveals how these enzymes affect key decisions in plant development, including when to produce flowers.

October 05, 2021

Some of the most important tools in researchers’ toolkits are the model organisms they use to study biological questions. How do researchers decide which species, out of the millions that exist, to develop as models? Whitehead Institute researchers have had a hand in establishing and promoting the use of several model organisms over the years.

In this Director’s Dialogue, three Whitehead Institute scientists speak with Ruth Lehmann about exciting opportunities for leveraging fundamental biological research to create biotechnologies that address some of climate change's vexing effects.

If we imagine the cell as an orchestra, with many musicians who each have a small part to play, then what conducts all of these musicians and keeps them organized and harmonized as they play a symphony?