Entries by Jennifer Lockhart

Unearthing Root Growth Dynamics Through 3-D Time-lapse Imaging

Plants blindly probe the soil for ever-changing pockets of water and nutrients and continuously adjust their root system architecture (RSA) accordingly. Whether they invest more energy in growing existing roots or sending out new lateral roots depends on both genetic programs and environmental factors. Although RSA profoundly affects plant health and crop productivity, little is […]

Methionine-Derived Glucosinolates: The Compounds that Give Brassicas their Bite

The compounds that give wasabi (Eutrema japonicum) its kick and bok choy (Brassica rapa ssp. chinensis) its distinctive flavor are breakdown products of glucosinolates derived from not so pungent amino acids. These zesty phytochemicals help Brassica plants adapt to their many environmental niches worldwide (reviewed in Halkier and Gershenzon, 2006). While these compounds are craved […]

Shedding New Light on the Ancient Process of Photosynthesis in Cyanobacteria

All photosynthetic organisms, from cyanobacteria to flowering plants, must continuously adjust to changing light conditions to maximize photosynthetic efficiency while protecting their delicate photochemical centers. During photosynthesis, light energy is preferentially captured by photosystem I (PSI) or PSII, depending on light levels and quality. The specific illumination of either pigment–protein complex creates an energy imbalance, […]

Suspended Animation: A Transcriptional Module Triggers Embryo Formation in Suspensor Cells

Of all plant behaviors, ectopic embryogenesis (reviewed in Radoeva and Weijers, 2014) might be one of the coolest. Zygotic embryogenesis begins with fertilization, followed by an asymmetric cell division that generates two cells with distinct fates. The small apical cell gives rise to the pro-embryo, which develops into (most of) the plant body. The larger […]

Self Control: SLF Proteins are Essential for Preventing Self-Fertilization in Petunia

A pollen grain lands on a stigma, swells with water, and sprouts a pollen tube, which races through the style to deliver sperm to the ovule below. When the pollen arises from the flower itself, this process often stops in its tracks. Self-incompatibility (SI) between pollen and pistil promotes outcrossing to generate the genetic variability […]

Natural Artist: How a Protein Kinase Helps Sculpt the Pollen Grain Surface From the Inside Out

Finding genes that function in plant development often requires mutant screening, but probing the wealth of natural variation can provide important insights as well. A major focus of developmental biology is uncovering the mechanism behind cell polarity, that is, how components are deposited asymmetrically in a cell at precisely the right place and time. An […]

A Tale of Three Studies: Uncovering the Crucial Roles of m6A Readers

The story behind m6A (methylation of the N6 position of adenosine), the most common internal mRNA modification in eukaryotes, has long been a source of intrigue. This epitranscriptomic mark is deposited at specific mRNA sequences by m6A writers and removed by m6A erasers. The m6A marks recruit and anchor m6A-binding proteins (readers) that function in […]