Entries by Caroline Dowling

Genomic mechanisms of climate adaptation in polyploid bioenergy switchgrass (Nature)

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a tall, perennial species native to the prairies of North America. Switchgrass is well-known for its uses as a biofuel and forage crop. However, switchgrass is also a fascinating model to investigate how plants adapt to changing environments, as historical glacial cycles caused the switchgrass habitat to expand and contract several […]

Longer telomeres, earlier flowering: Natural variation in plant telomere length is associated with flowering time (Plant Cell)

Telomeres (from Greek words meaning “end part”) are highly repetitive DNA sequences at chromosome ends that guard against degeneration during cell division. Though all eukaryotes possess telomeres, extensive interspecific variation exists for telomere lengths (300bp in yeast to 150kb in tobacco). Telomere length differences could have fitness effects subject to natural selection. In mammals, telomere […]

Allelic variation of MYB10 controls natural variation in skin and flesh color in strawberry (Plant Cell)

Few fruits have a more distinctive color than strawberry (Fragaria spp). Anthocyanins are responsible for strawberry’s characteristic red pigmentation with variations in receptacle color caused by altered anthocyanin levels. While the flavonoid synthesis pathway accountable for anthocyanin accumulation is well-characterized, a knowledge gap exists for the upstream network controlling this trait. Here, Castillejo et al. illustrate a […]

Haplotype-resolved genome analyses of a heterozygous diploid potato (Nature Genetics)

Potato (Solanum tuberosum) is the third most important food crop worldwide. It is also a clonally propagated tetraploid, making progress in breeding genetically improved cultivars extremely difficult. Therefore, there are ongoing efforts to redomesticate potato from a tetraploid, tuber-propagated crop into one that is diploid, inbred-line based, and propagated by seed. However, to do so […]

Pan-genome of wild and cultivated soybeans (Cell)

Widespread genome sequencing of individuals has revealed the high level of intraspecific variability in plant species. As such, constructing high-quality pan-genomes is a growing necessity to study dynamic plant genomes. Here, Liu et al. release the soybean pan-genome formed from sequencing 2,898 accessions, including landraces, wild, and cultivated soybeans. The authors de novo assembled 26 […]

Mutation bias shapes gene evolution in Arabidopsis thaliana (bioRxiv)

Classical evolutionary theory states that the probability of a mutation occurring is independent of fitness consequences. However, reassessment of traditional assumptions is warranted with recent discoveries showing that cytogenetic (DNA sequences and epigenetic) features can affect local mutation probabilities. Cytogenetic features have distinct states among certain gene classes which may facilitate the evolution of beneficial […]

Major impacts of widespread structural variation on gene expression and crop improvement in tomato (Cell)

Structural Variants (SVs) are large genomic deletions, insertions, and duplications with underexplored roles in determining plant phenotypes. Recognizing the extent to which SVs define quantitative trait variation was previously constrained by the fact that popular short-read sequencing technologies preferentially characterize smaller variants. However, innovative long-read technologies are facilitating extensive population-level surveys of SVs. Here, Alonge, […]

A single gene underlies the dynamic evolution of poplar sex determination (Nature Plants)

Dioecy (male and female flowers residing on distinct individuals) has independently arisen several times in angiosperms, yet the genetic basis of dioecy remains obscure. Here, Müller et al. reveal a single gene that acts as a sex-determination switch throughout the Populus genus. A negative regulator of cytokinin, the Populus ortholog of ARABIDOPSIS RESPONSE REGULATOR 17 (ARR17) initiates female development when […]

Genomic history and ecology of the geographic spread of rice (Nature Plants)

Originating in China’s Yangtze Valley ~9,000 years ago, rice (Oryza sativa) is a staple food for over half of the world’s population. While rice domestication has been well-researched, studies addressing the species’ diversification and spread post-domestication are lacking. Here, Gutaker et al. tell the “first draft of the story” of how rice was dispersed across Asia (check […]