image of Natasia Jacko in the Duffy lab, image courtesy of Dragos Stemate
image of Persicaria perfoliata
symbolization of the red algal common ancestor suffering severe losses of important genes and functions
Dr. Lena Struwe teaching

Natasia Jacko from the Duffy Lab wins ASM undergraduate fellowship

Natasia Jacko, a third year SAS student majoring in Microbiology and minoring in Public Health, has been awarded a 2015 Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology and has been invited to present her findings at next year's ASM general meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. Natasia has been working with Siobain Duffy for over a year, searching for plant viruses from New Jersey to Georgia. Specifically, Natasia is looking for begomoviruses that often are undetected in weeds and native plants, but are transmitted by whiteflies from these uncultivated hosts into crops, where they can cause severe disease, crop loss and famine. While begomoviruses are already present in the western and southern United States, their range is predicted to expand as climate change allows their most effective whitefly vector, the invasive Mediterranean Bemisia tabaci, to overwinter in more northern states. Read more

Without plants you would be dead. And plants can kill you. Take Plant Diversity and Evolution to survive.

image of Dr. Lena Struwe During the international Botany 2015 conference in Canada, Lena Struwe received the Innovation in Plant Systematics Education Prize for her excellent and novel way of teaching botanical biodiversity to college students. The prize was given out by The American Society of Plant Taxonomists and they motivated their selection based on Lena's "enthusiastic nature, her tireless energy for research and outreach, and her inspirational teaching style that combine to make her an outstanding advocate for the fields of botany and plant systematics", as written by an ASPT member. During the last decade she has developed a large amount of combined teaching and research projects at Rutgers that directly involves students, staff, alumni, and faculty in plant biodiversity learning and discovery, such as the Personal Bioblitzes of 2014 and 2015, the Flora of Rutgers Campus (species checklist), and the newly started iNaturalist project named Flora and Fauna of Rutgers University.
Read more below - News stories SEBS news, ASPT press release

Why don't we live on a red planet?

image of Huan QiuIf you watched the recent movie "Star Trek Into Darkness", you might still remember the weird planet Nibiru that is covered with red plants. As absurd as it may sound, this could have been the situation on Earth. Then, why are most grasses and plants green and not red? A new paper led by Huan Qiu, a research associate in Dr. Debashish Bhattacharya's lab provides an intriguing answer. Huan analyzed a comprehensive genome database that included red algae and their sister lineage, the green algae (including land plants). He found that the red algal common ancestor suffered severe losses of important genes and functions. Read more - Read story SEBS news