Entries by Mary Williams

Review. Use it or average it: Stochasticity in plant development (Curr. Opin. Plant Biol.)

In this interesting review, Roeder describes the importance of stochasticity in plant development. She starts off with an explanation: “A process that can be analyzed statistically but not predicted precisely is stochastic. Stochasticity does not imply the absence of regulation, just that the regulation does not cause an exactly determined output in all cases.” She […]

Review. Rhizobia: From saprophytes to endosymbionts (Nat. Rev. Microbiol.) ($)

One of the best characterized plant-bacteria interactions is that between legumes and rhizobia. This review by Poole et al. explores rhizobia in their non-plant associated state (as saprophytes that derive energy and nutrients from organic matter in the soil), through the complex signals that lead to their attraction and attachment to the root, and finally […]

A virus-targeted plant receptor-like kinase promotes cell-to-cell spread of RNAi (PNAS) ($)

Viruses can move from cell to cell through plasmodesmata. Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are key components in the plant’s arsenal against viruses. They function by harnessing the AGO system to target and cleave viral RNA, thus silencing the viruses. Like the viruses they target, siRNAs move from cell to cell through plasmodesmata. Previous work showed […]

What We’re Reading: February 9th

Review. Use it or average it: Stochasticity in plant development (Curr. Opin. Plant Biol.) In this interesting review, Roeder describes the importance of stochasticity in plant development. She starts off with an explanation: “A process that can be analyzed statistically but not predicted precisely is stochastic. Stochasticity does not imply the absence of regulation, just […]

Nature news feature: The lost art of looking at plants

Nature.  With the advent of advanced molecular techniques and tools, the detailed scrutiny of a plant’s physical attributes fell to the wayside. Focus has shifted from physiological characterization of a board range of species to detailed genomic work being done on a few select model organisms and, consequently, botany departments were forgotten and dismantled. Then […]

Review: 25 years of resistance (R) gene cloning identifies nine mechanisms for R protein function (Plant Cell)

Genes that confer pathogen resistance have been recognized for a very long time, and the first of these R genes was cloned 25 years ago. Kourelis and van der Hoorn examine lessons from the more than 300 R genes whose gene products are known, and from this analysis identify nine different mechanisms for their function. […]

Where do all the ecologists go? An investigation of US Doctorate recipients (Ecosphere)

Ecosphere. Hampton and Labou investigated the employment figures for recent recipients of PhDs (degree awarded between 2000 and 2011) in ecology from US-based institutions. They found that less than 20% of the PhD recipients are in tenure-track positions at research-focused, PhD-granting universities. Similar numbers were on the tenure track of non-PhD granting institutions, or in […]

Network-guided discovery of transcription factors epistasis in glucosinolate biosynthesis (Plant Cell)

Plant Cell.  Li et al. studied epistatic (non-additive) interactions amongst the network of transcription factors controlling aliphatic glucosinolate biosynthetic pathways, which are well-described and have diverse roles in plant defense. Specifically, the authors measured metabolite levels and transcript abundance in combinations of double mutnats of 20 transcription factors involved in glucosinolate production. They found that […]

What We’re Reading: February 2nd

Nature news feature: The lost art of looking at plants Nature.  With the advent of advanced molecular techniques and tools, the detailed scrutiny of a plant’s physical attributes fell to the wayside. Focus has shifted from physiological characterization of a board range of species to detailed genomic work being done on a few select model […]