Department of Plant Science

Offering Penn State degrees in agroecology, golf course turfgrass management, horticulture, landscape contracting, and turfgrass science.

Plant Science News

Differences in bean plant growth observed by researchers were striking. Image: Jonathan Lynch Lab / Penn State
Root discovery may lead to crops that need less fertilizer
January 19, 2018
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Bean plants that suppress secondary root growth in favor of boosting primary root growth forage greater soil volume to acquire phosphorus, according to Penn State researchers, who say their recent findings have implications for plant breeders and improving crop productivity in nutrient-poor soils. The increase in the length of the root is referred to as primary growth, while secondary growth is the increase in thickness or girth of the root. Because root growth confers a metabolic cost to the plant, bean plants growing in phosphorus-depleted soils that send out longer, thinner roots have an advantage in exploring a greater volume of soil and acquiring more phosphorus.
Landscape contracting student blazes his own trail
December 1, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Elliot Redding, a junior in landscape contracting, is taking full advantage of his time at Penn State to dig into the world of agriculture and find a career he is passionate about. From landscape competitions to networking to mountain biking, Redding is getting hands-on experience doing what he loves. Redding’s interest in landscape contracting began with a job he held between high school and college with Boyer Nurseries and Orchards Inc., a small family-owned business in Biglerville, Pennsylvania. “Working for Boyer helped me realize that I really did want to go into horticulture as a career,” said Redding. He had the opportunity to work with a group of people who were always willing to answer his questions and help him learn about the industry. It also gave him a wide range of experiences including working with design plans, observing day-to-day operations and spending time in different parts of the company.
Phospholutions selected for Innovation Showcase on Capitol Hill
December 1, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State was recognized for its leadership among land-grant universities for its work in entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development at the recent annual meeting for the 237-member Association of Land Grant Universities (APLU) in Washington D.C. At the meeting, Penn State President Eric Barron was named the new chair of the Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity (CICEP). Penn State Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey was acknowledged as an Innovation & Economic Prosperity (ICEP) University Award finalist. Sharkey was a featured speaker, sharing institutional strategies driving the success of the Invent Penn State initiative.
Research yields test to predict bitter pit disorder in Honeycrisp apples:Test could prevent millions of dollars worth of wasted fruit annually
October 30, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A test to determine whether bitter pit — a disorder that blindsides apple growers by showing up weeks or months after picking — will develop in stored Honeycrisp apples was developed by a team of Penn State researchers, promising to potentially save millions of dollars annually in wasted fruit. While Honeycrisp is not yet the most popular apple in the U. S., trailing Gala and Fuji in sales, more Honeycrisp trees have been planted in recent years than other varieties, according to researcher Rich Marini, professor of horticulture, College of Agricultural Sciences. That is because consumers prefer Honeycrisps and they typically wholesale for 30 to 40 cents more a pound than other varieties, he said.