Entries by Mary Williams

What We’re Reading: May 26th

Review: Enhancing genetic gain in the era of molecular breeding ($) Yield is determined by the crop’s genetic potential and the realization of that potential as affected by agronomic practices and environmental factors. Xu et al. address how yields can be improved through enhancing genetic gain, which they define as “the amount of increase in […]

Why can’t scientists be better communicators? (SciAm blog)

Author Katherine Wu highlights some of the challenges that interfere with scientists communicating. She says, “Both scientists and non-scientists must commit to not only communication, but also a drastic reassessment of how we communicate with each other. I believe mending the rift starts with disabusing ourselves of three key assumption ns. First, we often assume […]

Interview with Bob Furbank on “Turbocharging Crops”

The Science Show on Radio National, Australia, interviewed Robert Furbank, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis, Australian National University, on efforts to engineer C4 photosynthesis into rice. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/turbo-charging-crops-to-feed-the-billions/8541396

Widespread biological response to rapid warming on the Antarctic Peninsula

Amesbury et al. examined stratified cores from moss banks across the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) as a paleoclimate archive. They measured moss accumulation rate, growth rate, microbial productivity, and carbon-isotope discrimination (Δ13C, as a proxy for photosynthetic assimilation rate). Their data reveal a “widespread biological response to recent rapid warming” especially since about 1950, with spatial […]

Global translational reprogramming of plant immune response, and engineering of disease resistance through regulated translation ($)

Plants fight back when pathogens attack, and in the first of a pair of papers Xu et al. have revealed a new insight into this response by demonstrating a significant translational upregulation of many defense-response mRNAs (10.1038/nature22371).  Previously, this group showed that the translation of a key regulator of transcriptional responses to pathogens, TBF1, is […]

The RxLR motif of the Phytophthora infestans effector AVR3a is cleaved before secretion ($)

RxLR effectors are proteins secreted from pathogens that enter the cells of the host and support the effectiveness of the pathogen in various ways. Their name refers to the sequence RxLR (Arg-Xxx-Leu-Arg). Previously, this sequence has been thought to be involved the effector’s entry into the host cell.  Wawra et al. used mass spectrometry and […]

Bacterial biosensors for in vivo spatiotemporal mapping of root secretion

Biosensors are powerful tools that provide readouts for various small molecules so that they can be detected and located. Pini et al. have developed a set of biosensors for expression in bacteria (Rhizobium leguminosarum) that reveal  some of the small molecules (including key sugars, polyols, organic acids, amino acids and flavonoids) secreted by the roots […]

Towards an understanding of spiral patterning in the Sargassum muticum shoot apex

Classic studies of leaf placement (phyllotaxy) showed that two different mechanisms occur in land plants. In mosses, leaf placement is determined by the plane of cell division within the single apical cell, whereas in seed plants auxin acts as a morphogen that specifies leaf positioning. Linardić and Braybrook examined how the spiral pattern of phyllotaxy […]

Target RNA secondary structure is a major determinant of miR159 efficacy

The interactions with microRNAs (miRNAs) and their targets in plants is assumed to be dependent largely on complementarity between the two RNAs. Zheng et al. investigated the interactions between miR159 and its putative targets, mRNA of several MYB genes, each with similar complementarity to the miRNA. Genetic data however suggest that miR159 silences some of […]