News & Announcements

Scott Lee PhD Dissertation Defense

Scott Lee, Hazen Lab
12 noon
Monday, May 9, 2016
Life Sciences Laboratory N410
Dissertation title: Uncovering the Genetic Basis for Biofuel-related Traits in Brachypodium distachyon
Advisor: Sam Hazen

UMass Amherst Undergrad in the Wang Lab, Johanna L'Heureux, awarded ASPB Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) 

UMass undergrad Johanna L'Heureux

Johanna L'Heureux has been awarded one of fifteen Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) to work in the lab of PB faculty member Dong Wang for ten weeks this summer.  Her project involves the bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti that forms a mutualistic relationship with its legume host, and allows the plant to acquire fixed nitrogen.  Johanna looks forward to spending the summer in Dr. Wang's laboratory working on this project and is very thankful to the American Society of Plant Biologists for the award. 


How Plants Interact with Beneficial Microbes in the Soil

Bacteroids in the soil

UMass Amherst researchers in the lab of Dong Wang add fundamental new molecular-level knowledge on how legumes recognize nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Read more (Photo credit: Minsoo Kim)

Muvari Tjiurutue PhD Dissertation Defense

Plant sample- M. Tjiurutue research

12 noon
Friday, March 25, 2016
Life Sciences Laboratory N610
Dissertation title: Chemically Mediated Interactions between Parasitic Plants, Hosts and Insect Herbivores
Advisor: Lynn Adler

Peter van Gisbergen PhD Dissertation Defense

10:00 am
Thursday, March 10, 2016
209 French Hall
Dissertation title: The Role of the Formin Protein Family in Membrane Dynamics
Advisor: Magdalena Bezanilla

Maple syrup jars

As maple sugaring season approaches, plant ecologist Kristina Stinson recently received a two-year, $149,800 grant to study the impact of climate change on the quantity and quality of sugar maple sap, including its chemical composition, and of sap from red maples, a species less sensitive to climate change.

UMass students visit Cuban farms and markets with PB faculty member Frank Mangan during winter session. 

Ox power has yet to be replaced by fossil fuels in most of Cuba

Just one of the surprises for five UMass students who visited Cuba with Dr. Frank Mangan in January for a winter session course on food systems was learning that 80 percent of farm and agricultural work handled by tractors and other motorized equipment in the United States is done by teams of oxen in Cuba. Read more

Muvari Tjiurutue receives Dissertation Research Grant from the UMass Amherst Graduate School 

Muvari Tjiurutue, PB PhD graduate student

Muvari Tjiurutue from the Adler Lab has received a $1K research grant from the UMass Amherst Graduate School to support her PhD studies on the interactions between parasitic plants, their hosts and insect herbivores.  The study involves looking at how damage to lupine hosts (Lupinus Texensis) affects herbivory on Indian paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) parasites via uptake of defense signals or compounds. A comprehensive screening of the plants for alkaloids will be completed in the lab of Phil Stevenson at the University of Greenwich in the UK.

UMass Amherst Researchers Identify a Key Molecule in Nitrogen-Fixing Bacteria

Nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. A population of bacteria (colored blue) transverses the root tissue to colonize the incipient nodule.  (Photo credit Cara Haney)

Researcher Dong Wang (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), along with postdoctoral researcher and lead author Minsoo Kim and former undergraduate student Chris Waters and colleagues at the Noble Foundation in Oklahoma, report in the early online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences their discovery of a peptide found in alfalfa that holds the potential to improve crop yields without increasing fertilizer use.  This peptide, DNF4 (also known as NCR211), is a “double agent,” having the ability to support nitrogen-fixing bacteria present inside the plant, while also killing free-living bacteria outside.  Wang’s comments about his research in this area: “Next we want to find out why this peptide helps the bacteria inside the plant, but it can kill free-living bacteria outside the plant. Why does one molecule function as a double agent?”  Read More

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