Entries by Rebecca Hayes

Fungal community assembly in drought-stressed sorghum shows stochasticity, selection, and universal ecological dynamics (Nature Comms)

Previously, crop-associated mycobiomes were thought to assemble largely under the control of deterministic selection by the plant host with limited influence from drift. This study by Gao et al., highlights the important role of stochastic processes in fungal community assembly, particularly in the hosts’ early developmental stages and following drought stress. They planted 18 plots […]

Postdocs’ lab engagement predicts trajectories of PhD students’ skill development (PNAS)

When considering the traditional structure of mentorship in doctoral programs, it is easy to credit the doctoral advisor as the primary expert and liaison to their graduate students in a mentorship strategy known as the cognitive apprenticeship model. Contrary to this strategy is the cascading mentorship model, in which senior lab members at every stage […]

Scientific societies advancing STEM workforce diversity (bioRxiv)

Due to their stability and far-reaching support at all career stages, scientific societies are uniquely well-equipped to serve as trail-blazers in promoting the advancement of under-represented minority (URM) scientists. Scientific societies that participate in diversity initiatives are ubiquitous, however studies on the long-term impact of member participation in such initiatives are largely absent. In this […]

Editorial and Special Issue. Biotechnology of the sweetpotato: Ensuring global food and nutrition security in the face of climate change (Plant Cell Reports)

Global food security is increasingly threatened by expanding industrialization and skyrocketing human populations set in the backdrop of dramatically shifting environmental conditions due to climate change. Innovations in agricultural practices and technology are required to overcome the unprecedented challenges posed by these conditions. In this editorial, Kwak suggests that the sweetpotato plant (Ipomoea batatas) is […]

Review: The challenges of delivering genetically modified crops with nutritional enhancement traits (Nature Plants) ($)

Despite the widespread success of genetically modified (GM) crops resistant to herbicides and insect herbivory, GM food crops with nutritional enhancement traits remain on the fringes of commercial agriculture. In this review, Napier et al. examine the current state of GM food crops and the obstacles that hinder the continued development of such traits in […]

Review: A fruitful journey: Pollen tube navigation from germination to fertilization ($)

When pollen is deposited on a flower’s stigma, pollen tubes penetrate the stigma and elongate towards ovules where two non-motile sperm will double fertilize an egg and a central cell, which requires cooperation between many cell types. Johnson et al. review our current understanding of these processes. Ca2+ circuits mediate the signaling events that make […]

Pollinator functional diversity and abundance enhance crop pollination and yield (Nature Comms)

Insects provide a valuable service to the agricultural industry through pollination, which increases both the quality and harvest volume for many important food crops, however little is known regarding the role of insect functional trait differences in promoting crop pollination. Woodcock et al. tested two contrasting hypotheses that propose mechanisms through which pollinator community structure […]

Seedling traits predict drought-induced mortality linked to diversity loss (PNAS)

When trying to understand the repercussions climate change will have on future plant communities, trait-based approaches provide valuable insight. Unfortunately, many trait-based studies focus only on the above-ground traits of un-stressed adult plants, ignoring the critical seedling stage. Harrison and LaForgia measured above- and below-ground traits of several native wildflowers and compared seedling mortality between […]

Review: Alternate grassy ecosystem states are determined by palatability-flammability trade-offs ($) (Trends Ecol Evol)

Grassy ecosystems tend towards two stable states. One, the grazing-lawn state, is dominated by shoter grasses that thrive when grazed by herbivores, and the other, the fire-grass state, is dominated by taller grasses thrive when periodically controlled by burning. The flux between fire-grass and grazing-lawn ecosystems can be attributed to the positive feedbacks promoted by […]