Our Research

Our group seeks to understand fundamental principles that govern the behavior and evolution of plants, using a combination of experiments, and theory. We use broad range of approaches including molecular biology, classical morphology, and experimental physiology. While we are aiming in extending basic knowledge of plant biology, we also apply learn biological principles in development of sustainable agriculture.


Plant biophysics

The exchange of water for CO2 to synthesize sugars in plant leaves is the most fundamental process of terrestrial life. Traits related to plant structure, biochemistry, and physiology evolved to optimize this exchange with in each environment. We aim to understand the fundamental physical limits to plant form and function to explain patterns of adaptation and acclimation.


Study of plant water relations

Water is essential to life. Our focus is to understand intra- and intercellular transport processes in plants from the perspective of fluid dynamics, chemistry, and biology.


Study of plant non-structural carbohydrates

Carbohydrates metabolism constitutes the major physiological activity allowing plant function. Non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs) constitute a dynamic pool of plant energy resources that fluctuate in response to environmental conditions and plant phonological status. We aim to understand physiological and biological activity of plant related to NSCs management, across spatial and temporal scales from cell to whole organism and from seconds to years.


Biologically inspired agricultural innovation - Carbohydrate Observatory

Translation of basic knowledge to applied technologies is very changing. We use a citizen science approach to involve stakeholders in our research of carbohydrate management by trees to both accelerate research discover and provide an interface between research and stakeholders in the form of new tool to determine orchards, health, physiological activity to facilitate and guide agricultural practices to conserve water, reduce nitrogen input and better predict yield potential.

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Z-Lab NEWS



Chill removal from almond buds biophysical bases of predicting bud break time - resaerch program developed and run by Dr. Aude Tixier



Acclimation of Pistacia integerrima trees to frost in semi-arid environments depends on autumn's drought - accepted in Planta (O. Sperling, F. Secchi, J Godfrey, and M.A. Zwieniecki)



Special lab meeting in PES 2004 - Thursday (17th of November) at 3:00 pm - Kaare Jensen will discuss his research on phloem and leaves



Lab meeting - Friday PES 3001 4:30pm Friday 18 of November - Jessica will be presenting her progress in almond resurection project



We are getting new liquid handler to increase precision starch analysis



Paula's paper got accepted in Tree Physiology - 11/14/16



People of the Lab

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Carbohydrate Observatory

The Carbohydrate Observatory uses a “citizen science approach”, the citizens being almond, pistachio and walnut growers who send us monthly wood and bark samples from their orchards to be analyzed for sugars and starch. The results are made available through a website that each grower has access to. He or she then track the carbohydrate levels of their nut trees throughout the year while pairing it with pheneological events such as dormancy, pollination, bud break, flowering, fruiting, harvest and leaf drop. The goal is to have a better biological understanding of the role carbohydrates and use this massive data set as a tool to predict yield and understand environmental stresses such as lack of chilling hours and drought.


Our goal is to:


• Understand how annual patterns of starch and TNC differ throughout the Central Valley, which will aid in the improvement of spring/fall management practices and our understanding of chilling requirements.
• To develop a tool that uses starch and TNC levels as a predictor of yield for the following year and to understand variable crop yields.
• Create an easy interactive map for growers to use that displays all of the data across the Central Valley.



Carbohydrate Observatory NEWS



Small setback - our grinder (~$6000) broke - all new measuremnts are on hold till we get it repired or get a new one.



Our map interface (beta version) is life-online - now you can track changes in concentration of carbohydrates in twigs of almond, pistachio and walnut in CA



Over 50 participating farms and growers - Ask Anna how to join our Citizen science research project



Anna drove over 2000 miles in October



We are getting new liquid handler to increase precision starch analysis



Learn more about Carbohydrate observatory

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Recent Publications and Press

Full bibliography

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Grant Support


Big thanks to gifts givers, donors and in-kind contributions


If you would like to contribute to Carbon Observatory Z-Lab research effort please contact Maciej Zwieniecki at mzwienie@ucdavis.edu (gifts to UC Davis may be tax deductible)



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Contact Us

Maciej Zwieniecki
Department of Plant Sciences
PES #2316, One Shields Avenue
UC Davis , Davis, CA 95616
Phone 530-752-9880