Entries by Mary Williams

E/quality and Diversity

Recently, I was asked it if is ethical to give a job to a woman rather than to a man of higher quality. I replied, “How do we measure “quality”? This is the longer answer that I didn’t have time to provide. The opinions expressed are my own. Achievement does not equal quality Imagining that […]

Transcript, protein and metabolite dynamics in CAM-plant Agave ($)

Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is a specialized form of photosynthesis that greatly increases water-use efficiency by taking up CO2 through stomata that are open at night (when evapotranspiration is low). Engineering plants that can switch to CAM during periods of drought is a key goal towards improving agricultural water efficiency, but how CAM plants achieve […]

Construction of a male sterility system for hybrid rice production via nuclear male sterility gene

Traditionally, the production of hybrid maize seed involved the removal of male flowers to prevent self-fertilization of the female flowers. Rice produces bisexual flowers, so mechanical emasculation is not as amenable. Therefore, hybrid rice production requires that the female parent be genetically male sterile. There are several tactics to achieve this including conditional male sterility […]

Bacteria establish an aqueous living space in plants crucial for virulence ($)

Although it is widely accepted that high humidity has a strong influence on plant diseases of the phyllosphere (the above-ground portions of the plant), the molecular basis is not understood.  Xin et al. report that an important step in bacterial infection of the phyllosphere is a pathogen-driven humidity-dependent establishment of an aqueous intercellular space (apoplast). The authors […]

Stimulation of sugar import for antibacterial defense ($)

When villagers see the marauding hordes approaching, they secure their food sources. Similarly, when the cell-surface FLS2 receptor detects a bacterial pathogen, it (through its co-receptor BAK1) phosphorylates and stimulates the activity of a cell-surface sugar transporter (STP13), leading to the uptake into the plant cell of apoplastic sugars, thus depriving the pathogen of food […]

Happy 50th Birthday IR8!

November of this year marked the 50th anniversary of the official release of IR8, the “miracle rice” that changed the world. The rice, developed at IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) greatly increased yields compared to other varieties of the time, and is thought to have saved the lives millions of people who would otherwise have […]

Molecular basis for plant growth responses in shade and under competition for light ($)

The wavelenghts of light perceived by a plant are information-rich, and plants integrate information from photoreceptors tuned to different wavelenghts to optimize their growth and development. Because plants absorb red light but not far-red light, a low ratio of red to far-red light indicates vegetative shading and promotes an elongation response; the ratio of red […]

Light suppresses ethylene response by direct interaction between phyB and EIN3

A seedling in the dark produces ethylene, which in a dicot such as Arabidopsis leads to apical hook formation that protects the cotyledons from damage as the seedling pushes through the soil. The emergence of the seedling into the soil causes a rapid transition to photomorphogenesis and a suppression of the ethylene-mediated apical hook. Shi […]