Recent Posts

Nanoscale movements of cellulose microfibrils in primary cell walls ($)

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Cell walls are complex mixtures of cellulose microfibrils, proteins and other materials. Their mechanical properties can be measured and modeled, but it is not always simple to translate these measurements to changes at the molecular level. Zhang et al. used atomic force microscopy to provide an unprecedented…

Update: The multiple signals that control tuber formation

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Potato is an important food crop, but unlike most of the other major foods, it is a tuber, not a seed. Classic studies showed that there is a mobile, photoperiod-induced signal that moves from the shoot to the stolen tip (an underground, stem-like structure) to initiate tuberization. Experimental studies…

Update: Diurnal variation in gas exchange: the balance between carbon fixation and water loss

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Stomatal control of transpiration is critical for maintaining important processes, such as plant water status, leaf temperature, as well as permitting sufficient CO2 diffusion into the leaf to maintain photosynthetic rates (A). Stomatal conductance (gs) often closely correlates with A and is thought…

Update: Ion transport at the vacuole during stomatal movement

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Gas exchange and transpiration are regulated by the stomatal aperture, which is itself regulated by the changes in volume of the guard cells that overlay the stomatal pore. When triggered to open, solutes such as K+ and Cl– enter the guard cell through ion transporters, followed osmotically by water;…

Freeze-Thaw-Induced Embolism and Ultrasonic Emissions in Angiosperms

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All organisms including plants share the tetrapyrrole biosynthesis pathway that is critical for the production of compounds such as heme and chlorophyll. During tetrapyrrole biosynthesis, coproporphyrinogen III oxidase (CPO) catalyzes the conversion of coproporphyrinogen III into protoporphyrinogen IX.…

Nematode Cysts and DNA Methylation

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Plant-parasitic cyst nematodes (Heterodera species) are among the most devastating pathogens of plant roots. These obligate parasites initiate a long period of biotic interactions with their host plants where formation of an operative feeding structure, the syncytium, is vital for nematode survival and…

Thapisgargin Formation in Thapsia

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The Mediterranean plant Thapsia garganica (Apiaceae), also known as deadly carrot, produces the highly toxic compound thapsigargin. This compound is a potent inhibitor of the sarcoplasmic-endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase calcium pump in mammals and is of industrial importance as the active moiety of…

Suberin and Seed Dormancy

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Environmental signals during seed production are important determinants of seed properties, including seed dormancy and seed longevity. The mother plant plays an important role in this signaling process, collecting signals throughout her life history and modulating dormancy by providing hormones to maturing…

Blue Light Photoreception by Chlamydomonas

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Cryptochromes are flavin-binding proteins that act as blue light receptors in bacteria, fungi, plants and insects and are components of the circadian oscillator in mammals. Animal and plant cryptochromes are evolutionarily divergent, although the unicellular alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii has both an…

A Controller of Leaf Angle in Soybean

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Soybean (Glycine max) is one of the most important oilseed crops that provides edible oil for humans and is a major renewable feedstock for biodiesel production around the world. As such, increasing soybean yield potential has become a long-term breeding objective. Soybean leaf petiole angle is an important…