Entries by Alex Harkess

Six Days, Seven Nights: The Transcriptional Speed of Seed Development

The development of the seed is a complex dance of cell division and differentiation, including transcriptional and genomic repatterning. Measuring gene expression by high-throughput RNA-Seq is routine in laboratories, and numerous seed transcriptomes and microarrays have long been published for maize (Grimanelli et al., 2005), but an important caveat is that an RNA-Seq library represents […]

Blocking the Guards: The ALY1 Nuclear Export Protein Is Required for DNA Methylation Machinery to Function

Plants constantly face the threat of attack from many directions. Organisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi must be blocked from entering a plant’s cells, or quickly targeted for destruction once inside. Within the plant genome itself, transposable elements lie in wait for reactivation. In addition, a multitude of environmental conditions leave plants even more susceptible […]

Smashing barriers in biolistic plant transformation

A foundation of modern biotechnology is the ability to stably introduce foreign DNA into an organism. The two most widely used methods, Agrobacterium-mediated transformation and biolistics, are both steeped in a rich history of creative exploration into the molecular unknown. Agrobacterium research accelerated in the early 1970s, particularly with the discovery of the large Ti […]

How resurrection plants survive being hung out to dry

Resurrection plants have the unique ability to survive extreme dehydration (desiccation), lying dormant for months or sometimes years until rehydration is possible. This formidable survival strategy has independently evolved several times across the land plant phylogeny, and several phylogenetically diverse resurrection plant genomes have been sequenced and assembled in an attempt to understand the causal […]

Handling the Heat – Methylome Variation Underlying Heat Tolerance in Cotton

Plants must accommodate many stresses in order to grow and reproduce normally. Heat stress in particular can negatively affect anther development in flowering plants, leading to male-sterile flowers that produce indehiscent anthers and sterile pollen, and consequently are not capable of sexual reproduction. Increasing global temperatures may lead to decreased yield in cotton, wheat, corn, […]