Plant Biology and Agricultural Research at the NMC is supported by internationally recognized expertise in genome research, microbiology, immunology, structural biology, bioinformatics, and modeling, and brings together scientists from across the world to collaborate on global challenges. Plant Biology and Agricultural research at the NMC includes these projects:
Breaking Barriers to the Study of Trait-Dependent Lineage Diversification
Emma Goldberg, LANL Staff Scientist and NMC Affiliate
Orlando Schwery, NMC Postdoc
Many different organismal traits could affect the chances of a species producing a new species or going extinct. Phylogenetic trees of the relationships between species can provide powerful insights into this process of trait-dependent lineage diversification. This NSF-sponsored project is developing new models that incorporate speciation, extinction, and trait evolution, and it is creating new testing frameworks for the reliability of such methods. The project’s empirical applications are testing whether the mode of reproduction or number of genomic copies is associated with speciation or extinction rates in the nightshade plant family.
Developing an Infrastructure and Product Test Pipeline to Deliver Novel Therapies for Citrus Greening Disease
Goutam Gupta, NMC Senior Researcher
Supratim Basu, NMC Researcher
U.S. Citrus growers have a critical need for grove-deployable management practices that keep healthy citrus from becoming infected and infected trees from becoming symptomatic. This project presents a systems-based pipeline approach delivering commercial, grove-deployable solutions using a novel therapeutic delivery strategy and citrus transgenics. This research is focused on obtaining practical solutions to the Citrus Health Research Program by analyzing the current status of research, important technology gaps, and grower needs.
Effects of Spectral Downshifting Photoluminescent Quantum Dot Films on the Growth of Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Principle investigators: Dr. Matt Bergren, UbiQD and Dr. Damon Hebert, UbiQD
UbiQD has developed spectral downshifting photoluminescent quantum dot films made specifically for the greenhouse agricultural industry. They are testing their effects on tomatoes and cucumbers, both in germination/early growth and in fruit production stages. UbiQD films absorb UV and blue portions of the solar spectrum and downshift this light by emitting in the region of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), leading to improved spectral quality for plant growth. They are also testing light absorbing devices made from quantum dots that bring upper canopy light to the mid-canopy using optical fibers.
Recent Advances in Algal Biomass Production
Principle investigators: Richard Sayre, New Mexico Consortium and Meghna Rajvanshi, Reliance Industries Ltd.
The use of algae used as a renewable energy biofuel for all of our demands has yet to become a reality. This study investigates what progress has been achieved in the last 10 years in basic and applied algal biomass production from the perspectives of algal biology, cultivation, harvesting, energy conversion, and sustainability.
Two of the largest challenges in biofuel research industry include identifying the best algal production systems that are suitable for commercially viable industrial applications, and identifying the algal strains that perform the best. This study looks at the progress that has been made as well as these and other challenges. Using algae for biofuels continues to stand out as advantageous compared to agriculture crops for food and fuel due to microalgae’s high photosynthetic efficiency and short division time.
Structure-based Simulations of Riboswitches
Karissa Sanbonmatsu, LANL Staff Scientist, NMC Affiliate
Doonam Kim, Pacific Northwest National Lab
Scott Hennelly, LANL Staff Scientist, NMC Affiliate
Structure-based study of long non-coding RNA. This research is important to fill the gap between genotype (DNA) and phenotype (protein).