About Us

Plant & Microbial Biology is one of four departments in the prestigious College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley.

PMB is split into two divisions, Plant Biology and Microbial Biology.

Watch a video about the department

Plant Division

Undergrad Shalika Gupta in the Specht Lab

The Plant Biology program focuses on contemporary basic plant research and design of biotechnologies. New discoveries have broadened our understanding of plant development and function, and provided tools for engineering plants that produce novel compoundsand new crops, with better resistance to disease and insects. With an increasing awareness of environmental problems, global changes, and emerging food needs, plants have emerged as a focal point for new research initiatives and educational training programs.

As the key research and training program of the Agricultural Experiment Station in the California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, this Division operates at a strategic location near California’s major agricultural production centers and within the San Francisco Bay Area, a hub for innovative biotechnology.

Plant Biology's partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture's Plant Gene Expression Center offers a model for successful collaborations between the University and other government agencies.

Professor Tom Bruns with a student

Micro Division

The Department established the Division of Microbial Biology to provide a timely academic focus on microbial biology at UC Berkeley.A high quality of life for human and plant populations requires microbes and microbial activities.

Moreover, we must understand the microbial world to comprehend the global ecosystem, evolutionary history, and diversity of life on earth. The twenty-first century brings a new understanding of the workings of the global ecosystem and a wealth of new technologies derived from the microbial world.

Faculty in the Division pursue a variety of fundamental and applied research in the areas of microbial physiology and biochemistry, microbial development and genetics, microbial ecology and evolution, and host-microbe interactions.


The Department also offers an extensive public education program as part of the California Cooperative Extension Service. Peggy G. Lemaux serves as the Department’s Cooperative Extension Specialist in Biotechnology. ucbiotech.org is devoted to educational resources focused broadly on issues related to agriculture, crops, animals, foods and the technologies used to improve them. The site features:

  • Biotechnology Information
  • Resources for Researchers and Educators
  • Helpful Links
  • Scientific Database
  • Resources
  • Biotechnology News