Entries by Alexander Bowles

Origin of angiosperms and the puzzle of the Jurassic gap (Nature Plants)

Understanding the origin and evolution of flowering plants is key to explaining the development of major terrestrial ecosystems. The rapid diversification of angiosperms into over 360,000 extant species was famously termed ‘an abominable mystery’ by Charles Darwin. Here, Li et al reconstruct the angiosperm phylogeny based on 80 genes from 2881 plant plastomes, providing the […]

Durum wheat genome highlights past domestication signatures and future improvement targets (Nature Genetics)

Durum wheat cultivar Svevo (Triticum turgidum L. ssp. durum) is a cereal crop predominantly grown for pasta production. It is the result of multiple rounds of domestication, originally deriving from wild emmer wheat from the Fertile Crescent approximately 10,000 years ago. Here, Maccaferri et al. report the high quality genome of durum wheat, creating an […]

Shared expression of crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) genes pre-dates the origin of CAM in the genus Yucca (J Exp Bot)

Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is a carbon fixation pathway that reduces photorespiration and increases water use efficiency, enabling CAM plants to survive in inhospitable environments. The evolution of CAM on 35 independent occasions across angiosperms makes it a notable case study of convergent evolution. Here, Heyduk et al. perform transcriptomic and metabolomic analysis on a […]

Molecular digitization of 689 vascular plant species from the Ruili Botanical Garden (Giga Science)

Recent advances in genome sequencing have increased our understanding of plant evolution and provided insights into factors affecting agriculturally important traits (e.g., yield, stress tolerance). There is an impetus to increase the quantity and quality of genomes publically available with around 350 of the 391,000 vascular plant species having received sequencing. Here, Liu et al. […]

Review: Exploiting natural variation and genetic manipulation of stomatal conductance for crop improvement (COPB)

Identifying methods to improve crop productivity is vital considering the devastating consequences of climate change (e.g., frequent droughts). Stomatal conductance influences photosynthesis and water use efficiency, which are two important indicators of crop yield. Here, Faralli et al. discuss advances in understanding how stomatal traits vary and how these may be manipulated to improve stomatal […]

De novo origins of multicellularity in response to predation (Sci Reports)

Multicellularity has evolved independently many times in eukaryotes (e.g. land plants, fungi, animals). Predation is one driver that is hypothesised to lead to this evolution from unicellular ancestors. Here, using evolution experiments, Herron et al. demonstrate that the unicellular green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii develops multicellular structures under selective pressure of the predatory filter feeder Paramecium […]

Review. Feeding the world: improving photosynthetic efficiency for sustainable crop production (J Exp Bot)

The global population is estimated to rise by 2 billion by 2050 placing strains on major food crops. To sustainably feed future populations and reduce the environmental damage of intensive agriculture, crop yields must be improved without increasing the amount of cultivatable land. In this review, Simkin et al. discuss recent progress of increasing crop […]

PILS6 is a temperature-sensitive regulator of nuclear auxin input and organ growth (PNAS)

Auxin, a plant hormone and major growth regulator, is fundamental for adaptations to climatic variation in shoots but its role in roots under elevated temperatures is more controversial. PIN-LIKES (PILS) 2, 3 and 5 proteins have previously been identified to restrict nuclear auxin signalling but the role of PILS6 is less studied. Here, by developing […]

­Single-cell RNA sequencing resolves molecular relationships among individual plant cells (Plant Physiol)

Single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) has transformed our understanding of gene expression within and amongst individual cells. These techniques have been applied extensively to animal cell populations to discover the development of specific cell lines and identify rare cell types but are not commonly used in plant biology. The study here presents high-throughput scRNA-seq data […]