The NC State University Phytotron is ready to tackle 21st century challenges of food and energy security. The laboratory, highlighted in a recent episode of the National Science Foundation’s Science Nation video series, is a singular 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.