Boyce Thompson joins forces with other plant nonprofits to benefit humanity

The Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) at Cornell has joined forces with three other U.S. nonprofit plant science research institutions to form the Association of Independent Plant Research Institutes (AIPI) in an effort to target research to meet the profound challenges facing society in a more coordinated and rapid fashion.

Scientific leaders from BTI, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Mo., and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla., have formed the AIPI to facilitate scientific discovery through intellectual and technical collaborations. The group also will disseminate research outcomes and provide a forum for discussion of approaches to the challenges facing agriculture.

Collectively, AIPI member institutions operate nearly 60 laboratories with more than 400 personnel. Each organization offers different but complementary technical expertise that ranges from measuring individual chemicals and proteins within plants to the ability to obtain 3-D images of plant structures and proteins in living tissue. In addition, state-of-the-art greenhouse and field resources allow science to mature beyond the laboratory and into tangible outcomes to benefit consumers and provide for tomorrow.

"Each of these institutions possesses skilled and dedicated researchers," said David Stern, president of BTI. "Researchers at each institution have had tremendous success. Together, we will be even better. AIPI is a tool to allow our collective resources to respond faster to opportunities in an organized and collaborative manner. We will achieve more. And humanity will be the beneficiary."

In a recent meeting, AIPI affirmed its initial research objectives:

To accomplish these objectives, AIPI scientists will coordinate projects that study plant growth, development and chemistry; plant interactions with insects, fungi and bacteria; and metabolic processes, such as oil production and photosynthesis.

Coordinated deployment of the member institutions' expertise will lead to a deeper understanding of how plants react to the environment and other organisms, and how they acquire and use nutrients, as well as revealing the genetic potential within plants, the researchers noted.

BTI is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and U.S. Departments of Defense, Energy and Agriculture.

Susan S. Lang, ssl4@cornell.edu607-255-3613