UC Riverside plant scientist's research ranked on top 10 breakthrough list for 2009

December 18, 2009

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Research contribution by Sean Cutler, a young scientist at the University of California, Riverside has been named by Science magazine as one of the top 10 breakthroughs of the year.

In April 2009, Cutler showed how abscisic acid (ABA), a naturally-produced plant stress hormone, helps plants survive by inhibiting their growth in times of drought - research that has important agricultural implications.

The openness with which Cutler, an assistant professor of plant cell biology in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, shared information with other scientists in his highly competitive field of plant cell biology led, in just months, to six research papers in journals like Science and Nature that were authored by collaborator and other labs working in the field.

Today, because of Cutler's significant contribution to finding ABA, scientists are getting closer to determining how plants survive drought, with huge implications for agriculture particularly in regions where water and drought are such big concerns.

Read about Cutler's research here.

Read here about how his work spawned intense interest among plant scientists to nail down how exactly plants and crops survive drought.

"I believe Sean's discovery is the most significant finding in plant biology this year and will have profound effects on agriculture worldwide," said Natasha Raikhel, the director of UC Riverside's Center for Plant Cell Biology, of which Cutler is a member.

Science magazine tapped the discovery of Ardipithecus ramidus, the 4.4 million year old creature that may be a human ancestor, as the most important scientific breakthrough this year. Team leader Tim D. White earned his undergraduate degrees in anthropology and biology at UCR in 1972.
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The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment of about 18,000 is expected to grow to 21,000 students by 2020. The campus is planning a medical school and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Graduate Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.


University of California - Riverside

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