Milestones in Plant Science

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2013 – UK Plant Science: Current status and future challenges

2013 – UK Plant Science: Current status and future challenges

The United Kingdom releases UK Plant Science: Current status and future challenges


2013 – Unleashing a Decade of Innovation in Plant Science: A Vision for 2015-2025

2013 – Unleashing a Decade of Innovation in Plant Science: A Vision for 2015-2025

The Plant Science Research Summit publishes Unleashing a Decade of Innovation in Plant Science: A Vision for 2015-2025


2012 – Inaugural Fascination of Plants Day Held

Inaugural Fascination of Plants Day held May 18. The European Plant Science Organisation initiates FoPD to plant virtual and perpetually germinating seeds in the minds of people around the globe about the critical importance of plant science.

2012 – Tomato Genome Published

2012 – Tomato Genome Published

Tomato genome published



2011 – Scientists named as inaugural Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigators

Fifteen plant scientists named as inaugural Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigators

2011 – Plant Science Discovery Promoted

The Association of Independent Plant Research Institutes forms to promote plant science discovery. Scientists from the four U.S. non-profit plant research organizations will participate in collaborative projects and share resources.

2011 – Over 1 Million Farmers Plant Sub1 Rice

2011 – Over 1 Million Farmers Plant Sub1 Rice

Over 1 million farmers plant Sub1 rice. The new variety could increase food security for 70 million of the world’s poorest people

2010 – The Global Plant Council Forms

2010 – The Global Plant Council Forms

The Global Plant Council formed by a coalition of plant and crop science societies around the world to address global issues that involve plant biology and to provide policy makers with scientific information to make decisions on these topics


The significance of discoveries from this decade and the one that preceded it continues to evolve. However, it is clear that plant research, specifically physiology, genetics, “omics” sciences, developmental biology, and biochemistry, will provide critical details of cell activity and signaling processes that enhance our understanding of growth and development throughout the natural world.


2009 – TALEs Identified

Two plant research groups identify TALEs (transcription activator-like effectors) as valuable tools for gene technology

2009 – The Corn Genome Published

2009 – The Corn Genome Published

The corn genome published by a consortium led by Richard Wilson. The maize sequence contains more than twice as many genes as the human genome

2008 – The BioCassava – A Day’s Worth of Nutrition in a Single Meal

2008 – The BioCassava – A Day’s Worth of Nutrition in a Single Meal

The BioCassava Plus project genetically modifies the cassava plant to fortify it with enough vitamins, minerals and protein to provide a day’s worth of nutrition in a single meal

2008 – New Lines of Maize Rich in Provitamin A are Being Bred

health of millions around the world, developed by a multi-institution research team from the U.S. and Mexico

2008 – : DOE Encourages Advance Production of Biofuels and Industrial Products

DOE selects first small-scale biorefinery projects to advance production of current and next-generation biofuels and industrial products

2008 – iPlant Forms

2008 – iPlant Forms

iPlant forms, the first national cyberinfrastructure center dedicated to tackling global “grand challenge” questions in plant biology. University of Arizona researchers led by Richard Jorgensen initiate the effort. Supported by NSF, iPlant aims to identify problems in the plant sciences that could benefit from cyberinfrastructure and develop methods to coordinate delivery of hardware and software to solve those problems.


2007 – First Nonvascular Land Plant Genome-Sequenced

An international effort of more than 40 institutions completes the first genome-sequencing project of a nonvascular land plant, the moss Physcomitrella patens.

2007 – DOE Establishes Three Bioenergy Research Centers

Three bioenergy research centers established with DOE funding. The centers’ goal is to provide transformational science needed for bioenergy breakthroughs to make cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive with gasoline.

2007 – Nanotechnology Penetrates Plant Cell Walls

Kan Wang, Victor Lin, Brian Trewyn and Francois Torney demonstrate the first use of nanotechnology to penetrate plant cell walls and simultaneously deliver a gene and a chemical that triggers its expression with controlled precision.

2007 – BP to Establish the Bioenergy Research Institute

2007 – BP to Establish the Bioenergy Research Institute

UC Berkeley, the University of Illinois and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory receive a $500 million award from BP to establish the Bioenergy Research Institute

2007 – Iron-rich Seeds a Result of Modification

Sun Kim, Tracy Punshon, Antonio Lanzirotti, Liangtao Li, Jose Alonso, Joseph Ecker, Jerry Kaplan and Mary Lou Guerinot discover that plants store iron the vacuole. This finding increases the ability to modify crops to create iron-rich seeds.


2006 – Clone from Wild Wheat Alters Content in the Grain

Researchers clone a gene from wild wheat that increases the protein, zinc and iron content in the grain

2006 – Woody Plant Tissue for Bioenergy and Biofuel Program Established

The U.S. Department of Energy and the USDA initiate a program to advance fundamental research in biomass genomics that will provide a scientific foundation to facilitate the use of woody plant tissue for bioenergy and biofuel

2006 – Molecular Chaperones are Needed

Jonathan Jones and Jeffrey Dangl, after work in Arabidopsis, show that molecular chaperones are needed to guide innate immune responses

2006 – The First Genome-wide High-density Methylation Map of an Entire Genome

X. Zhang and colleagues describe the first genome-wide high-density methylation map of an entire genome using Arabidopsis thaliana.

2006 – Rice Gene enables Tolerance to Water Submergence

Pamela Ronald, Keong Xu, Takeshi Fukao, Abdlbagi Ismael and Julia Bailey-Serres identify a gene in rice that renders the crop tolerant to water submergence.

2006 – Technology Identifies Genes that May Spur Wheat Yields

A consortium led by the University of California, Davis initiates research to advance technology that rapidly identify genes that may produce higher quality wheat


2005 – International Rice Genome Sequencing Project Publishes DNA Blueprint for Rice

A consortium led by the University of California, Davis initiates research to advance technology that rapidly identify genes that may produce higher quality wheat.

2005 – Barbara McClintock Honored with Postage Stamp

2005 – Barbara McClintock Honored with Postage Stamp

U.S. Postal Services honors plant genetics pioneer and Nobel Prize winner Barbara McClintock with a postage stamp. International Rice Genome Sequencing Project publishes DNA blueprint for the crop in Nature. The final “map” reveals the location and sequence of more than 37,500 protein-encoding genes among 389 million base pairs of DNA.

2005 – Synthesizing Fibrous Carbohydrates Creates Advanced Food

Aaron Liepman and Kenneth Keegstra characterize enzymes responsible for synthesizing fibrous carbohydrates that make up plant cell walls. The work enables development of plants that provide increased nutrition, cheaper food additives and easily digestible animal feed.

2003 – An Arabidopsis Root Gene Expression Map is Developed

2003 – An Arabidopsis Root Gene Expression Map is Developed

Researchers at Duke, New York University and the University of Arizona develop an Arabidopsis root gene expression map

2001 – Rice Modified to Contain Beta Carotene

2001 – Rice Modified to Contain Beta Carotene

Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer succeed in developing “Golden Rice,” a modified rice plant yellowish in color that contains beta carotene, a building block of vitamin A. The crop could help prevent blindness in malnourished children. However, a lack of awareness concerning GMOs curtails production of the crop for over a decade.

2000 – Algae Produces Hydrogen Gas

2000 – Algae Produces Hydrogen Gas

Tasios Melis and Liping Zhang of UC Berkeley along with Maria Ghiardi and Marc Forestier of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory discover a metabolic “switch” in algae that allows the plant to produce hydrogen gas. The finding has the potential to create a commercial source of hydrogen gas produced by photosynthesis.

2000 – NSF Unveils the 2010 Project

NSF unveils the 2010 Project, a functional genomics research project for Arabidopsis

2000 – Blue-Light Perception in Organisms Characterized

Winslow Briggs’ lab characterizes the LOV domain as the chromopeptide responsible for blue-light perception in organisms from higher plants to algae, fungi and even the most primitive bacteria


2000 – Arabidopsis genome sequencing completed

Arabidopsis genome sequencing completed, one year prior to completion of the human genome. Knowing the Arabidopsis genome eliminates the need to clone genes via traditional methods.

2000s : The decade of the genomes

 As genetics research matures, both the research and development aspects of plant physiology become more diverse.


1999 – Nutritional Genomics Originates

Dean DellaPenna outlines nutritional genomics, a novel area of plant physiology in which researchers combine plant biochemistry and genomics to improve human nutrition.

1999 – Clinton Orders to Triple U.S. use of Bioenergy and Bioproducts by 2010

1999 – Clinton Orders to Triple U.S. use of Bioenergy and Bioproducts by 2010

Bill Clinton issues executive order to spur plant technologies and other bio-based technologies. The order called for coordinating federal efforts to accelerate technologies that can convert crops, trees and other biomass into a wide array of fuels and materials. The goal: to triple U.S. use of bioenergy and bioproducts by 2010.

1999 – A New Path for Gene Silencing

Andrew Hamilton and David Baulcombe discover a short antisense RNA that can induce gene silencing


1998 – A New Path for Gene Silencing

The IWG for Plant Genomes establishes the National Plant Genome Initiative.

1998 – Genetically Engineered Food to Deliver a Pharmaceutical

Potatoes, genetically engineered by Charles Arntzen and Hugh Mason, are used in the first ever clinical trial of a genetically engineered food to deliver a pharmaceutical. The trial determines the safety and efficacy of an edible vaccine.

1998 – Phototropin Serves as the Photoreceptor for Phototropism

John Christie and colleagues in Winslow Briggs’ lab discover that phototropin serves as the photoreceptor for phototropism

1998 – What Genetic Interactions Happen During Arabidopsis Development?

Michael Neff and Joanne Chory describe the genetic interactions between phytochrome A, phytochrome B and cryptochrome 1 during Arabidopsis development



1997 – Activation of an Anion Channel is Described

Peter Ryan, Martha Skerrett, Geoffrey Findlay, Emmanuel Delhaize and Stephen Tyerman describe activation of an anion channel in apical cells of wheat roots


1997 – The International Rice Genome Sequencing Project Established

1997 – The International Rice Genome Sequencing Project Established

The International Rice Genome Sequencing Project consortium established. Members include the U.S., China, Taiwan, Korea, India, Thailand, France, Brazil and the U.K.

1997 – Interagency Working Group for Plant Genomes Begins

President Clinton’s science advisor John Gibbons appoints an Interagency Working Group for Plant Genomes to identify science-based priorities for a plant genome initiative and to plan for a comprehensive effort on expanding knowledge of plant genomes, especially for those plants that contribute significantly to the U.S. agricultural sector.


1996 – Crystal Structure of the Photosynthetic Light-harvesting Complex Revealed

Juergen Koepke, Xiche Hu, Cornelia Muenke, Klaus Schulten and Hartmut Michel identify the crystal structure of the photosynthetic light-harvesting complex


1996 – The Entire Arabidopsis Genome is Sequenced

A multinational consortium funds the sequencing of the entire Arabidopsis genome

1996 – Brassinosteroids are Reported On

S.D. Clouse, M. Langford and T.C. McMorris report on the mechanism by which the plant cell regulators called brassinosteroids modulate cell elongation and division


1995 – Mechanisms Underlying the Phototropic Response

Emmanuel Liscum and Winslow Briggs explain the mechanisms underlying the phototropic response

1995 – A Novel Class of Plant Peptides Established

Willem Broekaert, Franky Terras, Bruno Cammue and Rupert Osborn characterize a novel class of plant peptides that resemble insect and mammalian defensins and act as a defense system


1995 – XA21 Pattern is Characterized

Pamela Ronald leads a research group that isolates and characterizes the XA21 pattern recognition receptor gene. A genetically engineered XA21 strain of rice resists bacterial blight, one of the most serious crop diseases in Africa and Asia.


1994 – Tomato Offers Clone Resistance Genes

David Jones, Colwyn Thomas, Kim Hammond-Kosack, Peter Balint-Kurti and Jonathan Jones clone resistance genes from tomato


1994 – Plants to Clean up Toxic Metal Wastes

Rufus Chaney is the first U.S. researcher to publish data on phytoremediation, the practice of using plants to clean up toxic metal wastes


1993 – Plant Phylogenies Constructed Through Use of Restriction Enzymes

Jeffrey Palmer pioneers the use of restriction enzymes to construct plant phylogenies

1993 – Cryptochrome 1 is Discovered

Margaret Ahmad and Anthony Cashmore discover the first blue light receptor, cryptochrome 1, in Arabidopsis


1992 – Potassium Channel is Cloned

Julie Anderson, Shirish Huprikar, Leon Kochian, William Lucas and Richard Gaber report the first potassium channel clone


1990 – The Dawn of Gene Silencing

The April issue of Plant Cell includes two papers on gene silencing. In one, Richard Jorgensen, Carolyn Napoli and Christine Lemieux uncover a sequence-specific gene silencing response in petunias.

In the other, Alexander van der Krol, Leon Mur, Marcel Beld, Joseph Mol and Antoine Stuitje report on the suppression of gene expression when gene copies are added to the petunia.

1990 – Tomato Plasma Membrane H+-ATPase is Cloned

Nicholas Ewing and colleagues clone tomato plasma membrane H+

1990 – Biotechnology Enables Allergens to be Removed from Food

Research by Bob Buchanan leads to discovery of a new type of biotechnology to remove certain allergens from foods. Buchanan used thioredoxin to change the shape of proteins in wheat and milk so that they lose much of their ability to trigger allergies

1990 – Arabidopsis thaliana Genome Research Project Launched

The Multinational Coordinated Arabidopsis thaliana Genome Research Project launched by an international team of scientists who recognized the need to examine in detail one simple plant with basic features common to all plants. NSF, DOE, USDA, NIH and international partners jointly support the project.

1990 – Flowers Redesigned to Have Specific Organ Types

Elliot Meyerowitz and Enrico Coen derive a model for organ-type specification allowing researchers to redesign flowers to have specific organ types in each part of the flower


1989 – Photoaffinity Labeling is Used

Several research groups use photoaffinity labeling to localize an auxin-binding protein (ABP1), but despite cloning and sequencing of the gene, conclusive evidence that ABP1 is an auxin receptor remains elusive.

1989 – Molecular Genetics Reveals Complex Signaling

Molecular genetics reveal the complex signaling between Rhizobium and its legume host in the formation of root nodules and symbiotic nitrogen fixation.

1989 – Flavr Savr Tomato Introduced to FDA

Calgene Corporation initiates discussions with U.S. FDA regarding Flavr Savr tomato, engineered to provide extended shelf-life. First effort at marketing a crop food modified through biotechnology. The plant’s own gene that produces an enzyme that naturally softens the fruit was disabled by inserting it “backwards” within the tomato genome. FDA approves in 1994.



1988 – Pest-resistant Corn Created

The first pest-resistant corn, Bt corn, produced

1988 – An Ethylene Receptor is Encoded

Anthony Bleecker reports on the effects of a dominant mutation in Arabidopsis thaliana. The mutation causes insensitivity to ethylene. Subsequently, the wild type allele proved to encode an ethylene receptor.

1988 – Can Blue Light Activate Phosphorylation?

Sean Gallagher and colleagues report that blue light could activate phosphorylation of a plasma membrane protein from the growing regions of etiolated seedlings

1988 – A 3-D Structure Revealed

X-ray crystallography reveals the three-dimensional structure of the photosynthetic reaction center of the purple bacterium, Rhodopseudomonas viridis. Hartmut Michael, Johann Deisenhofer and Robert Huber receive the Nobel Prize for their work.


1986 – GUS Reporter System Developed in Plants

Β Glucuronidase (GUS) reporter system developed in plants

1986 – Entire Chloroplast Genome is Sequenced

Entire chloroplast genome of Marchantia polymorpha and Nicotiana tabacum sequenced opening the way for further studies of chloroplast gene expression, genome organization and evolution.


1985 – Blue Light Functions as an Activator

Sally Assmann, L. Simoncini, Julian Schroeder and others begin patch-clamping guard cell membranes and elucidate the ion currents during turgor-dependent stomatal movements.



1984 – Phytochrome is Cloned

Peter Quail and colleagues clone phytochrome and describes the first expression of the full-length photoreceptor


1984 – Mutants Isolated on Arabidopsis thaliana

Arabidopsis thaliana emerged as the experimental model plant of choice for isolating mutants and elucidating biochemical and developmental pathways by means of molecular genetics



1983 – Gene Tagging Originates

influence on gene expression in maize. Her work makes possible gene tagging that enables isolation, cloning, and functional analysis of specific genes.

1983 – Tobacco is the First Genetically Engineered Organism

Tobacco is the first eukaryotic organism that is stably and reproducibly transformed using genetic engineering

1983 – A Vector in Genetic Transformation of Plants

L.W. Ream, M.P. Gordon and E. W. Nester bioengineer the tumor-inducing plasmid of the crown gall bacterium (Agrobacterium tumefaciens) which begins to serve as a vector in genetic transformation of plants


1981 – Plants Use Osmosis

Bruria Hill and Geoffrey Findlay discuss movement in plants using osmosis


1979 – The Dawn of Plant Gene Cloning Begins

John Bedbrook and W.L. Gerlach report successful cloning of ribosomal DNA and telomeric repeated sequences from wheat. This begins the era of plant gene cloning. They also established that plant DNA was similar to that of all other organisms and could be manipulated using the same enzymes, cells and vector systems.


1978 – USDA Competitive Research Grants Program Commences

USDA Competitive Research Grants Program begins with Joe Key as first director


1977 – The Revolution in Plant Genetic Engineering Begins

Mary-Dell Chilton, Marc Van Montagu and Robert Fraley show that Agrobacterium tumafaciens T-DNA was integrated into the chromosomes of plant cells, setting the stage for the revolution in plant genetic engineering. The trio shared the 2013 World Food Prize for their early contributions to the field.


1976 – Gene Cloning Establishes New Concepts in Plant Biology

Plant genomes investigated by quantitative DNA reassociation tools such as Cot curves


1970 – “Imprinting” is Revealed

Jerry Kermicle’s studies with maize reveal that phenotypic specification depends on the inheritance of parental or maternal alleles. This activity is later described as “imprinting”

1970 – Father of the “Green Revolution,” Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Plant breeder and father of the “Green Revolution,” Norman Borlaug wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to develop improved, high-yield wheat varieties for Mexico


1969 – “Plant and Soil Water Relationships: A Modern Synthesis” is Published

Paul Kramer’s work on plant and soil water relations culminates in the highly regarded book, “Plant and Soil Water Relationships: A Modern Synthesis”



1968 – Senescence and Nucleic Acids

G.J. Von Abrams and Harlan Pratt describe the role of nucleic acids in senescence

1968 – Dormancy and Nucleic Acids

B.C. Jarvis, B. Frankland and J.H. Cherry reveal the role nucleic acids play in dormancy

1968 – Nucleic Acids Impact Fruit Ripening

Chaim Frenkel, Isaac Klein and D.R. Dilley shows the importance of nucleic acids to fruit ripening

1968 – The Role of Ethylene

Stanley Burg describes ethylene’s role in plant aging (senescence) and leaf drop (abscission)


1967 – Characterized RNA from Cytokinin-containing Tissue

J. Eugene Fox and Chong-Maw Chen characterize RNA from cytokinin-containing tissue

1967 – Evidence for RNA and Protein Synthesis

Joe Key, N.M. Barnett and C.Y. Lin provide evidence for RNA and protein synthesis in auxin regulation of cell elongation


1967 – Phytochrome Mechanisms, Unraveled

William Hillman unravels phytochrome mechanisms


1966 – The Correlation of Nucleic Acids to Germination

Hisao Fujisawa shows the importance of nucleic acids to germination

1966 – Thigmotropism is Described

M.J. Jaffe and A.W. Galston describe thigmotropism exhibited by pea tendrils

1966 – C4 Photosynthesis

Hugo Kortschak discovers C4 photosynthesis


1964 – The Importance of Gibberellin to Reproduction

J.E. Varner demonstrates the importance of gibberellin to reproduction

1964 – The role of Mitochondrial Membranes

James Lyons, T.A. Wheaton and Harlan Pratt describe the role played by mitochondrial membranes during plant stress


1964 – Synthetic Growth Regulators

H.M. Cathey describes synthetic growth regulators

1964 – The Chloroplast Genome is Mapped

Marvin Edelman is the first to isolate chloroplast DNA and among the first to map the chloroplast genome h


1962 – Respiratory Climacteric

Stanley and Ellen Burg describe the respiratory climacteric

1962 – The Basis for an H Pump

Clifford and Carolyn Slayman report on the basis for an H pump


1962 – Ion Transport and Electrical Potentials in Plant Cells

Jack Dainty describes ion transport and electrical potentials in plant cells

1962 – Culture Medium Created for Optimal Growth of Plant Tissues

Toshio Murashige and Folke Skoog create a culture medium of defined composition designed for the optimal growth of plant tissues


1961 – The Role of Senescence is Defined

A.C. Leopold describes the role of senescence in plant development


1961 – Nobel Prize for Research on Carbon Dioxide Assimilation in Plants

Melvin Calvin earns Nobel Prize for research on carbon dioxide assimilation in plants


1960 – Nucleic Acids Effect Flowering

Frank Salsbury and James Bonner show the importance of nucleic acids to flowering


1959 – Green Alga’s Chromatic “Transients” is Described

L.R. Blinks describes chromatic “transients” in the photosynthesis of green alga


1959 – A Protein is Purified from a Dark-brown Plant

plants that is photoreversible on sequential red and far-red illumination. The action spectrum matches anthocyanin production, light-induced seed germination, and photoperiodism


1958 – Ion Transport

Enid MacRobbie and Jack Dainty report on ion transport in Nitellopsis obtuse


1957 – Kinetin is Identified

Folke Skoog and F.M. Strong identify kinetin, the first cytokinin isolated, and show that a high ratio of kinetin to auxin enhances bud formation in tissue cultures of tobacco pith. Skoog also regenerates whole plants from somatic cells

1957 – Redistribution of Auxin Confirmed

Winslow Briggs, Richard Tocher and James Wilson confirm that redistribution of auxin occurs in the absence of photodestruction during the phototropic response of corn coleoptiles

1957 – Gibberellins Gain Popularity

Bruce Stowe and Toshio Yamaki’s review of the largely Japanese literature on gibberellins brings this group of natural plant hormones to the attention of western scientists


1956 – Effect of Temperature on Far-red Light Limits During Photosynthesis

Robert Emerson, Ruth Chalmers, Carl Cederstrand and Marcia Brody report on the effect of temperature on far-red light limits during photosynthesis



1955 – Gibberellic Acid Restores Growth

Bernard Phinney shows that gibberellic acid restores growth of certain single gene dwarf mutants of maize to normal


1954 – Connecting Leaf Blade Expansion

Ian Sussex publishes initial studies connecting leaf blade expansion to the development of abaxial/adaxial (top/bottom) polarity

Nature 174, 352–353;

1954 – Light-driven Synthesis of ATP

Daniel Arnon, Mary Belle Allen and F.R. Whatley publish the first demonstration of direct, light-driven synthesis of ATP by isolated chloroplasts and photophosphorylation in chloroplasts



1951 – Oxidative Phosphorylation within Plant Mitochondria

Adele Millerd, James Bonner, Bernard Axelrod, and Robert Bandurski demonstrate that plant mitochondria are capable of oxidative phosphorylation

1951 – Dwarfing Gene in Wheat = Greater Yields

Orville Vogel introduces a dwarfing gene into wheat. This work led to improved grain yields


1949 – Polyphenoloxidase is Discovered

Daniel Arnon isolates chloroplasts and shows that they contain a copper enzyme, polyphenoloxidase



1942 – Gene-for- Gene Theory Introduced

Harold Flor introduces gene-for- gene theory



1941 – A Keystone in the Development of Molecular Biology

George Beadle and Edward Tatum investigate the transmission of hereditary traits in the fungus Neurospora. They showed that particular genes were responsible for particular enzymes and that genes regulated all biochemical functions. Along with Joshua Lederberg, they received the 1958 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

1941 – Phloem Transport

T.G. Mason and E. Phillis describe the mechanism of phloem transport


1939 – First-ever Measurement of Changes in Membrane Electrical Conductance

Using Nitella, Kenneth Cole and Howard Curtis make the first-ever measurement of changes in membrane electrical conductance during an action potential movement


1938 – Flowering Stimulus Moves Through Plant

Researchers, among them Mikhail Chailakhyan, Karl Hamner and James Bonner, show the flowering stimulus, induced by photoperiod, moves through the plant and across a graft union

1938 – The Roles of Telomere and Centromere

Barbara McClintock demonstrates the role of the telomere and centromere, regions of the chromosome important in conserving genetic information


1937 – The “Hill Reaction” is Established

Robin Hill demonstrates oxygen evolution by cell-free chloroplasts (grana). His work leads to discovery of the “Hill reaction”


1935 – Tobacco Mosaic Virus Isolated

Wendell Stanley isolates the tobacco mosaic virus

1935 – Gibberellin is Discovered

Teijiro Yabuta produces a non-crystalline solid that stimulates growth of rice seedlings and names the compound gibberellin


1932 – Photosynthetic Unit is Measured for the First Time

Robert Emerson and William Arnold discover the photosynthetic unit through elegant, single-turnover flash experiments


1931 – First Genetic Map for Maize

Barbara McClintock publishes the first genetic map for maize, linking regions of the chromosome to physical traits

1931 – Correlation between Chromosomal Crossover and Genetic Traits

Barbara McClintock and Harriet Creighton prove the link between chromosomal crossover during meiosis and the recombination of genetic traits


1930 – Chromosomes Exchange Information

Barbara McClintock is the first to describe genetic recombination by crossing-over during meiosis—a mechanism by which chromosomes exchange information


1929 – Triploid Maize Chromosomes are Characterized

Barbara McClintock characterizes triploid maize chromosomes


1928 – The first Quantitative Measurements of Chlorophyll

F. M. Shertz provides the first quantitative measurements of chlorophyll

1928 – Studies on Long-Distance Transport in Plants

T.G. Mason and E. J. Maskell contribute to studies on long-distance transport in plants with studies of solute movement in phloem by mass flow


1926 – Went Isolates Auxin

F.W. Went isolates a plant growth substance (auxin). Two years later he develops a method to quantify the substance


1923 – A Sweet Pea Supports Chromosome Theory

R.C. Punnett’s comprehensive analysis of the sweet pea supports the chromosome theory of linkage


1922 – Agar Germinates Orchid Seeds

Lewis Knudson devises a method to germinate orchid seeds on sterile nutrient agar


1920 – Photoperiodism is Discovered

While studying the induction of flowering in tobacco and soybean, W.W. Garner and H.A. Allard discovers photoperiodism