Entries by Mary Williams

Improving Rubisco

Rubisco (Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase / oxygenase) is the enzyme responsible for fixing almost all inorganic carbon into organic form, but it is not optimized for current conditions. As temperature and CO2 levels increase, there is an opportunity to increase photosynthetic efficiency by engineering greater Rubisco efficiency. Sharwood et al. examine the kinetic properties of Rubisco enzymes […]

Gibberellin biosynthesis in bacteria: Still more convergent evolution ($)

Gibberellin hormones were famously identified as the product of Gibberella fujikuroi, a fungal pathogen that stimulates host cell elongation, and then subsequently recognized as a hormone produced by plants as well. Fungi and plants produce gibberellins from distinct biochemical pathways, in an example of convergent evolution. Symbiotic rhizobacteria are known to produce gibberellins too. Nett […]

Review: Intracellular innate immune surveillance devices in plants and animals ($)

Cells recognize invaders through both cell-surface receptors and intracellular receptors, the latter of which can recognize the invader directly or indirectly, for example through its effects on host proteins. Intracellular surveillance proteins in animals and plants share a core domain, the nucleotide binding domain leucine-rich repeat (NLR) domain. Jones et al. describe similarities and differences […]

Review: Evolutionary perspective on auxin’s role in shoot branching

Shoot branching increases the photosynthetic surface area and the points at which reproductive structures can form. In angiosperms, auxin (specifically, auxin depletion) has been shown to be involved in the initiation and outgrowth of shoot branches. For example, in apical dominance the primary shoot meristem suppresses bud outgrowth by producing auxin; when the source of […]

Review: Endosperm and Imprinting

“The endosperm is often viewed as a complicated and rather strange tissue” begins this review by Gehring and Satyaki. They go on to describe that the endosperm is the site of expression of imprinted genes, which are genes that are expressed soley when inherited from the mother or father.  The authors summarize the unique epigenetic […]

Biofortification of plants: New Reviews ($)

Biofortification is the nutritional enhancement (using conventional or genetic engineering approaches) of food with vitamins or micronutrients with the goal of improving the human diet. A set of new reviews in Current Opinion in Biotechnology summarizes progress towards biofortification of plants to increase their thiamin (vitamin B1), iron and iodine levels. Each article discusses the […]

Review: Plasmodesmata, pores between cells ($)

The cytosol of most plant cells are connected by plasmodesmata, tiny channels that form bridges between adjoining cells (guard cells notably lack plasmodesmatal connections). Water, ions, small molecules, proteins and viruses can move through plasmodesmata. Upon wounding or infection, plasmodesmatal channels are sealed off by callose (polysaccharide) deposition. Brunkard and Zambryski review the developmental physiological […]

NSF – NIFA Plant Biotic Interactions Program (PBI)

The Plant Biotic Interactions (PBI) program supports research on the processes that mediate beneficial and antagonistic interactions between plants and their viral, bacterial, oomycete, fungal, plant, and invertebrate symbionts, pathogens and pests. This joint NSF-NIFA program supports projects focused on current and emerging model and non-model systems and agriculturally relevant plants. http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?WT.z_pims_id=505267&ods_key=nsf16551 Who Is Eligible […]

Research Awards and Fellowships at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University promotes and supports research consistent with its mission to discover and disseminate knowledge of the plant kingdom. To foster both independent and collaborative work, the Arboretum offers fellowships and awards to students, post-doctoral researchers, and professionals of the biological and horticultural sciences. Applicants are encouraged to define and develop […]