Plant Biology

To avoid widespread famine and malnutrition, the world must double current food production by 2050, and do so in the face of climate-driven pressures. That is why a key thrust of the Whitehead Initiative on Biology, Health, and Climate Change focuses on plant seeds, the source of more than two-thirds of calories currently consumed globally.

Junsik Choi is a postdoc in Whitehead Institute Member Mary Gehring’s lab studying epigenetic inheritance in plants. We sat down with Junsik to learn more about him and his experiences in and out of the lab.

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.