Entries by Saima Shahid

Century-old museum specimens predict a timeline for declines in monarch butterflies and their host milkweed (PNAS)

Milkweeds are often found in agriculture fields, and are susceptible to herbicides sprayed in such fields. A decline in milkweeds, which provide food for monarch butterflies, has been historically linked to the wide cultivation of herbicide-resistant genetically modified (GM) crops. Boyle et al. attempt to reconstruct a timeline of monarch and milkweed abundance based on […]

A rich evolutionary history of transposable element families in the maize genome (bioRxiv)

Transposable elements (TEs) make up nearly ~85% of the maize genome. Stitzer et al. report a comprehensive analysis of diverse TE families in maize based on the improved annotation of the updated B73 genome assembly. The authors found all of the known plant TE superfamilies in the maize genome, with Long Terminal Repeats (LTRs) occupying […]

The volatile indole primes rice defense against caterpillar attack (Plant Cell)

Herbivore-induced volatiles have been shown to prime plant defense response in multiple species. A new study by Ye et al. unveils some of the early signaling events in volatile-mediated defense priming in rice. The authors show that rice plants release increased amounts of the volatile indole when attacked by fall armyworm caterpillars. Indole pre-exposure induces […]

Tapping into the genetic diversity of wild crops for engineering disease resistance (Nature Biotech)

Lack of sequence information makes harnessing the diversity of disease resistance (R) genes in wild crops highly challenging. Arora and Steuernagel et al. report AgRenSeq, a reference genome-free technique, for rapid cloning of nucleotide binding/Leucine-rich repeat (NLR) resistance genes from wild crops. Using R gene enrichment sequencing, the authors captured thousands of NLR-specific contigs from 151 […]

Plant-pathogen arms race: A pathogen effector protein inhibits trans-kingdom RNAi (Cell Host & Microbe)

Phytophthora spp. are highly aggressive fungus-like pathogens that cause various blight and rot diseases in many crops. Upon invasion of host cells, Phytophthora delivers thousands of effector proteins. Some of these effectors suppress the host RNA silencing pathway, which is mediated by a diverse group of small RNAs including microRNAs (miRNAs), and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Hou et […]