Entries by Mary Williams

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 […]

Auxin production in the endosperm drives seed coat development in Arabidopsis

Seed vitality is critical for plants’ evolutionary survival and food production by economic crops such as rice, wheat, etc. Seed formation is preceded by well-coordinated events involving mainly fertilization, endosperm and seed coat formation in chronological order. How is the signal relayed from one event to another to make seeds? Is this signal maternally or […]

Clustering of sorghum defense-compound dhurrin proteins into a metabolon ($)

A metabolon is a physical clustering of metabolic pathway proteins. Until now, evidence for metabolons has been patchy, but Laursen et al. convincingly demonstrate the physical association of several enzymes involved in the production of dhurrin, a defense compound of sorghum. They use a method involving styrene maleic acid to stabilize the membrane-bound metabolon, which […]

Two-cell metabolism in multicellular cyanobacteria ($)

Nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria such as Anabaena sp. PCC 7120 have the challenge of supporting nitrogenase, an enzyme that is highly sensitive to oxygen, and simultaneously photosynthesis, an oxygen-producing set of reactions. They accomplish this by segregating these reactions into two cells, heterocysts and vegetative cells. Malatinszky et al. curate and compile a stoichiometric model of the […]

Technical Advance: A robust, high-throughput method for computing maize ear, cob and kernel attributes automatically from images

The yield of a maize plant is correlated with the size, shape and number of kernels it produces. Miller et al. have developed an automated system to quantify these crucial attributes from photographs of kernels both on and off the cob. Their methods will enable researchers and breeders to record maize traits with greater precision […]

Review: Advances on plant-pathogen interactions from molecular through systems biology perspectives ($)

In an interesting and accessible review, Peyraud et al. provide a big-picture view of how systems biology can be used to address plant-pathogen interactions. They describe the core interactions scaling from molecular to ecosystem / environment, and describe the different types of models that can be used to assess and predict the outcomes, as well […]