Recent Posts

Early origins of diversification in the Solanaceae family ($)

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The Solanaceae family is, nowadays, one of the most valuable for humankind as it contains several economically important crops as potato, tobacco, tomatoes, etc. However, fossil records that help as understand how and where this family has evolved are elusive. In this paper, Wilf et al. walk us through…

Edge effects enhance vulnerability to climate change in temperate forests

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Much of the data used to predict forest responses to climate change comes from unfragmented forests, but much of the world’s forests are highly fragmented. Reinmann and Hutyra examined edge effects in a temperate forest in New England, and observed both an increase in biomass with proximity to the…

Ancient human disturbances may be skewing our understanding of Amazonian forests ($)

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The Amazonian forest is an enormous and crucial ecosystem that encompasses a huge proportion of Earth’s biodiversity and stored carbon. By overlaying maps showing forest inventory plots and sites of ancient human impact, McMichael et al. observe that the inventoried plots from which we draw conclusions…

Effect of selective logging on recovery of stored carbon in Amazonian forests

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The Amazon rainforest stores 30% of land-based ecosystem carbon. How are carbon stores affected by selective tree removal and subsequent regrowth? Stored carbon continues to be lost for several years after logging due to damage-associated mortality of surviving trees. Piponoit et al. use data from more…

Unexpected effect of “public good” mutants in a pathogen population

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Disease-causing organisms attack as a population of diverse individuals. Is it possible to reduce the virulence of this population by introducing less-virulent individuals?  Some studies have shown such an effect; as an example, application of low-virulence strains of Aspergillus flavus can protect…

Gain and loss of floral scent with shifts in pollination strategies

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Two papers in Current Biology examine the genetics behind plant-pollinator interactions , focusing on genes controlling floral scent. Amrad et al. 10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.023 explore differences between bee, hawkmoth and hummingbird pollinated species of Petunia. They identify changes in expression in…

ATG9 regulates autophagosome progression from the endoplasmic reticulum

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The autophagosome, a cellular compartment involved in the turnover of macromolecules, contributes to nutrient homeostasis, stress resilience and defense. Although several proteins have been identified as contributing to autophagosome formation and function, the precise origins of the autophagosome have…

Transcriptional response to microbial pattern conferred by three WRKY transcription factors ($)

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Plants perceive microbial pathogens though cell-surface receptors that recognize conserved microbial patterns such as flagellin. Previous studies have identified the WRKY family of transcription factors as contributors to Microbial-Associated Molecular Pattern (MAMP)-Triggered Immunity (MTI). Birkenbihl…

Review: Impacts of fungal hitchhikers on biosecurity

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When a plant species is introduced to a new region, it brings with it “hitchhikers” – other associated organisms. Sometimes, these hitchhikers negatively impact the environment into which they are introduced, for example by facilitating the host’s invasiveness, or through direct detrimental effects…