An Incubator for Plant Research

Many of the foods you eat every day – from fresh vegetables to common ingredients like oats – trace their history back to UW-Madison. As they have for generations, UW plant scientists explore environmental impact, pathogen control and nutritional content of plants while developing new traits and recommending best practices for growing conditions.

Research greenhouses are critical to this work. The Walnut Street Greenhouses provide space for a wide range of crops to be studied year-round and provide hands-on training to more than 150 post-docs, undergraduate and graduate students.

But the greenhouses, built in the 1960s, pre-date genetic sequencing, the discovery of RNA, and many other innovations central to our future success. Synthetic biology will allow us to “build” new bioproducts from disparate organisms, including plants, but requires greenhouses with strict controls. Greenhouse space is critical to develop bioenergy technologies to turn plants into fuel. Our plant breeders require greenhouses to develop varieties optimized for specific growing conditions ranging from organic production systems to drought or other extreme weather conditions.

Plans for new greenhouses to replace those built in the 1960s include modern features such as isolatable chambers, precision temperature controls and bio-security features. Your generosity will ensure new research is limited only by the imagination of our scientists and not the facilities in which they work.