Recent Posts

Small RNAs in the maillot jaune: transcriptional analysis of the plant cell cycle

The cell cycle is a tightly coordinated dance with the ultimate goal of dividing one cell into two. Eukaryotic cells tend to divide in the same general pattern, broadly reduced to four phases; cells increase organelle content in the G1 phase, DNA replication occurs in S phase, cells grow in size and…

Resistance on Tap: PDR Transporters Direct Antimicrobial Metabolites Towards Invading Pathogens

In Arabidopsis thaliana and related species within the Mustard family (Brassicaceae), the tryptophan (trp)-derived antimicrobial metabolite camalexin (3-thiazol-2-yl-indole) plays a central role in defense against bacterial, fungal, and oomycete pathogens. Upon pathogen attack, cytochrome P450 monooxygenases…

Senescence: the genetics behind stay-green corn

Senescence results from two ineluctable laws of nature: every living entity will eventually die and when it does, nothing will be lost, as everything will be recycled. At the organism level, senescence is an integral part of the plant life cycle, under strict age-dependent genetic control.  This dismantlement…

Barreling down the Chloroplast Highway: Protein Sorting of Outer-Membrane β-Barrel Proteins

Modern-day chloroplasts are the descendants of a photosynthetic cyanobacterium that took up residence inside the cytoplasm of a eukaryotic cell. Since this initial cohabitation agreement, the cyanobacterial endosymbiont has dumped most of its genome into the host eukaryotic genome. This creates an engineering…

Designer PPR Proteins as Tools to Explore RNA Binding in vivo

Techniques to isolate the RNA molecules bound to a specific protein, via co-immunoprecipitation, for instance, have been available for years. The converse—methods to identify the proteins bound to a specific RNA—have been harder to come by, in part because of difficulty in elucidating the determinants…

Mediator Skills: MED16 Controls Endoreduplication

The discovery of Mediator began with the observation that two transcriptional activators could interfere with each other’s function in vitro, even though they did not bind to the same promoter (Kelleher, Flanagan and Kornberg, 1990). The hypothesis, since then well-validated, was that each transcription…

Setting Time for a Hot Date: Paused Embryo Development and Protective Organogenesis Allow Dates to Cope with the Desert Environment

Adaptive developmental plasticity, in which changing environmental conditions modulate morphogenesis, can help organisms survive harsh conditions. Common examples include the protection of shoot apical meristems by transient arrest and sequestration into bud-like structures in wintering evergreens (e.g.…

State of (in)flux: Action of a CNGC Ca2+ channel in defense against herbivory

Plants have evolved highly sophisticated signalling systems that enable them to coordinate growth and development and respond rapidly to environmental fluctuations. These long-range signals can take the form of mobile small molecules such as phytohormones and RNAs, but can also be electrical signals…

Unearthing Root Growth Dynamics Through 3-D Time-lapse Imaging

Plants blindly probe the soil for ever-changing pockets of water and nutrients and continuously adjust their root system architecture (RSA) accordingly. Whether they invest more energy in growing existing roots or sending out new lateral roots depends on both genetic programs and environmental factors.…