The Plant Physiology Laboratory and plant growth facilities span 2,200 square feet and are located on the 11th floor of the CNRC. Under the direction of a USDA plant physiologist, this laboratory is dedicated to understanding the nutrient transport systems of plants as a means of improving food crops.
Plant scientists also assist other CNRC investigators by growing and "labeling" food plants like peas, green beans, spinach, broccoli and rice with traceable, non-radioactive stable isotopes. These isotopes, heavier versions of common elements including calcium, iron and nitrogen, can then be easily traced using special instrumentation. Isotopically labeled plants are grown in specially designed semiautomated, recirculating hydroponics systems.