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Planting Doctorates: Inside the Plant Gene Expression Center

In this photo essay, PMB graduate student Nanticha Lutt takes us on a virtual tour of the Plant Gene Expression Center (PGEC) and introduces us to some of the researchers in the labs there. 


From Highway 580, you can see purple glowing lights right off the Albany exit after sunset. They pulsate with warmth, keeping diurnal patterns for the delicate research specimens growing under their lamps. In the daytime, humans tend to the cultivation of the plants, furrowing labels into the soil, adding fertilizer, measuring leaf length. The Plant Gene Expression Center’s greenhouse is the heart of a collaboration of the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Plant & Microbial Biology Department of the University of California, Berkeley. It’s heartbeat pumps in seeds, grants, graduate students, and dirt—ideas and doctorates flow out. 

The Plant Gene Expression Center conducts fundamental research in plant molecular biology. Researchers there explore disease resistance, light perception, the circadian clock, vegetative growth, and the plant-associated microbiome. Using molecular, genetic, and biochemical approaches, they work to elucidate essential plant genes and the networks within which they operate. The Center's principal investigators are faculty at UC Berkeley, and researchers in their laboratories are graduate and undergraduate students from the university.  

Photo of Thai Q Dao.
Photo of Daniel Caddell.