The ability to manipulate plant development could also increase resilience in the face of global climate change, Nikolov said.

“The stable environments we are used to are becoming more unpredictable,” Nikolov said. “If there is any way to build resilience into plants, that would be very valuable to use.”

Pikaard said he is excited about Nikolov’s research and what it will yield.

“One of the things I find most interesting about Luke’s work is that for some genes whose mutation causes complete loss of floral organs, limiting what more can be learned, Luke can see that gene at work in multiple different cell types, allowing new insights into just why that gene is so important,” Pikaard said. “It is technically demanding work that also requires considerable skill in the fields of genomics and bioinformatics.”