Skip to main content

Phytotron Facelift and Plant Research

Phytotron director Dr. Carole Saravitz inside and outside of the chambers.
Phytotron director Dr. Carole Saravitz inside and outside of the chambers. Photo by Marc Hall

The NC State University Phytotron is ready to tackle 21st century challenges of food and energy security.┬áThe laboratory, highlighted in a recent episode of the National Science Foundation’s Science Nation video series, is a┬ásingular facility for growing plants under various combinations of strictly controlled environmental conditions. Scientists are able to conduct all types of plant research here, from studies of disease-resistant crops to drought-proof grasses to new biofuels.

The Phytotron was built in the 1960s with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was used a decade later to help prevent a collapse in the U.S. corn crop from fungal disease.

Now, after more than a generation of such research breakthroughs, the Phytotron has received additional support from NSF for a 21st century makeover. The renovations include a new Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) lab with a greenhouse that houses high security research, such as experiments with viral and bacterial pathogens.