Department of Plant Science

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

Plant Science News

The researchers measured the susceptibility of 60 genetically diverse genotypes of cacao to Phytophthora palmivora — a major cacao pathogen with global importance — by first collecting leaf samples from cacao trees at the International Cocoa Collection
Novel way to ID disease-resistance genes in chocolate-producing trees found
December 6, 2019
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Chocolate-producing cacao trees that are resistant to a major pathogen were identified by an international team of plant geneticists. The findings point the way for plant breeders to develop trees that are tolerant of the disease. The method researchers used to rapidly identify resistance genes could be used for any trait that has a genetic link in any plant, according to the team’s leader, Mark Guiltinan, professor of plant molecular biology, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. He contends that the strategy represents a major step forward in the quest to develop disease resistance in long generational plants such as trees.
Fourteen Penn State faculty recognized with lifetime honor
December 5, 2019
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Fourteen Penn State faculty members in areas ranging from physics and engineering to entomology and plant science have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society. A lifetime honor bestowed upon members by their peers, a total of 443 individuals are being recognized for their extraordinary achievements in advancing science. “At Penn State we believe in the power of brilliant minds creating new possibilities through exploration, collaboration and innovation,” said Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost. “I commend our 14 scholars receiving this high honor and thank them for their continued dedication to the University’s research enterprise.”
Younger millennials give more thought and pay more attention to experiences rather than products, researchers say, so wineries should consider appealing to these patrons' environmentalism and preference for sustainability in tasting rooms and operations.
Embracing sustainable practices would help some winery tasting rooms stand out
November 7, 2019
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Wineries in the mid-Atlantic region should consider recycling and encouraging their customers to bring bottles to their tasting rooms for refilling to distinguish their businesses from so many others, according to a team of wine-marketing researchers who surveyed consumers. With competition to attract visitors stiff and still growing among the hundreds of wineries in the region, connecting a winery’s brand to sustainable practices would attract more visitors to its tasting room, according to Kathleen Kelley, professor of horticultural marketing and business management in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. The strategy, researchers believe, would especially appeal to environmentally conscious younger customers.
Researchers used the Spring Creek watershed — which drains an area of about 150 square miles into Bald Eagle Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River — for the project because it is one of the best-studied watersheds in the Chesapeake drainage.
Choosing most cost-effective practices for sites could save in bay cleanup
November 7, 2019
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Using site-specific watershed data to determine the most cost-effective agricultural best management practices — rather than requiring all the recommended practices be implemented across the entire watershed — could make staying below the Chesapeake Bay’s acceptable pollution load considerably less expensive. That’s the conclusion of a novel, five-year study conducted by an interdisciplinary team of Penn State and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, who modeled and compared runoff and pollution from Spring Creek watershed in central Pennsylvania under two scenarios: using all of the best management practices ( BMPs) identified for a watershed and a customized, most cost-effective set of BMPs tailored for Spring Creek watershed.