Recent Posts

Bacterial biosensors for in vivo spatiotemporal mapping of root secretion

Biosensors are powerful tools that provide readouts for various small molecules so that they can be detected and located. Pini et al. have developed a set of biosensors for expression in bacteria (Rhizobium leguminosarum) that reveal  some of the small molecules (including key sugars, polyols, organic…

Towards an understanding of spiral patterning in the Sargassum muticum shoot apex

Classic studies of leaf placement (phyllotaxy) showed that two different mechanisms occur in land plants. In mosses, leaf placement is determined by the plane of cell division within the single apical cell, whereas in seed plants auxin acts as a morphogen that specifies leaf positioning. Linardić and…

Target RNA secondary structure is a major determinant of miR159 efficacy

The interactions with microRNAs (miRNAs) and their targets in plants is assumed to be dependent largely on complementarity between the two RNAs. Zheng et al. investigated the interactions between miR159 and its putative targets, mRNA of several MYB genes, each with similar complementarity to the miRNA.…

A multi-purpose toolkit to enable advanced genome engineering in plants

Precise genome editing holds tremendous promise for meeting future food security needs and sustainable agriculture. Čermák et al. describe a set of reagents that facilitate genome editing in plants, based on both TALEN (Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases) and CRISPR/Cas technologies. Precise…

Arabidopsis proteins with a transposon-related domain act in gene silencing

While screening for mutants in gene silencing, Ikeda et al. identified mail1, which shows elevated expression of transposable elements (TEs) and protein-coding genes, indicating that MAIL1 (MAINTENANCE OF MERISTEM-LIKE1) is required for epigenetic silencing of some genes. However, mail1 does not differ…

The sunflower genome provides insights into oil metabolism, flowering and Asterid evolution

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) is an important oil crop and, according to the authors, “the only major crop domesticated in North America.” Assembling its genome has been difficult as more than three quarters of it is made up of young (less than one million years old) long-terminal repeat retrotransposons.…

Insights from 292 pigeonpea genomes ($)

Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) is a widely-grown tropical legume domesticated in India about 3500 years ago. Yields have plateaued, and there is evidence for a genetic bottleneck that limits breeding potential in the elite varieties. Varshney et al. resequenced nearly 300 pigeonpea accessions including modern…

Review: Systems-wide understanding of photosynthetic acclimation in algae and higher plants ($)

Deriving energy from light is a bit like keeping your hands warm by juggling burning coals; doable but dangerous. Photosynthetic organisms constantly adjust their photosynthetic machinery to optimize energy production but avoid damage from excess light. Moejes et al.  describe a large-scale project,…

Review: Enhancing genetic gain in the era of molecular breeding ($)

Yield is determined by the crop’s genetic potential and the realization of that potential as affected by agronomic practices and environmental factors. Xu et al. address how yields can be improved through enhancing genetic gain, which they define as “the amount of increase in performance that is…