Recent Posts

Marginal differences play a central role in complex leaf development

Development involves a delicate patterning of cell division and differentiation in three dimensions. This is beautifully illustrated in leaves, where three axes are visible: proximo-distal (from base to tip), medio-lateral (from the midvein to the margin/edge of the blade) and adaxial-abaxial (from upper…

A Hub of Hubs: The Central Role of ZmABI19 in the Regulatory Network of Maize Grain Filling

Cereal grains accumulate large amounts of proteins and starch and are a major source of dietary calories for humans and animals. In maize (Zea mays), most of the storage compounds are synthesized during the grain-filling period of kernel development. Several key transcription factors (TFs) that regulate…

Hold Me, Fold Me...or Not!

It's not just human relationships that may require a chaperone to prevent inappropriate interactions. Numerous proteins in organisms from Escherichia coli to us, especially hydrophobic membrane proteins, also require chaperones in aqueous environments to prevent inappropriate interactions such as aggregation…

Slice and Dice: DCL2 Mediates the Production of 22-nt siRNAs That Influence Trait Variation in Soybean

In plants, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) serve as key regulators of gene expression. While 24-nucleotide (nt) siRNAs are produced by DCL3 and mediate transcriptional silencing of transposons and pericentromeric chromatin through RdDM (Borges and Martienssen, 2015), 22-nt siRNAs are processed by DCL2…

Got Rosettes? Phenotype Them Fast, Accurately, and Easily with ARADEEPOPSIS!

“Deep learning” is a buzz term that seems to be cropping up in plant biology research these days. Originally reserved, perhaps, for computer nerds rather than us biology ones, deep learning is a type of machine learning used in the field of artificial intelligence. Modeled on the human brain, deep…

Zones of Defense? SA Receptors Have it Under Control

The constant evolutionary arms race with pathogens has equipped plants with a layered immune system. As the first line of defense, membrane-localized pattern recognition receptors perceive microbe-associated molecular patterns and activate pattern-triggered immunity (PTI). In parallel, R proteins –…

How to Eat One’s Feelings: Autophagy and Phosphatidylinositol 3-Phosphate

Moving around taught me two essential skills, only one being relevant here: how to put up wallpaper, and how critical it is to label boxes to help the moving company drop them at their intended location. Now think of a cell: the boxes are vesicles, their contents are proteins and metabolites, and the…

The Lure of Lignin: Deciphering High-value Lignin Formation in Seed Coats

Lignin is a major functional component of plant secondary cell walls and the second most abundant biological polymer on Earth after cellulose. Understanding the biosynthesis of lignin has huge practical implications because lignin is a major by-product of processes that use cellulosic biomass for industrial…

Ripe for the Picking: Finding the Gene Behind Variation in Strawberry Fruit Color

Sweet ripe strawberries (Fragaria spp.) come in colors ranging from deep burgundy to white and everything in between. Such variation attracts consumers and gardeners alike, making fruit color an important breeding target. Strawberry fruit receptacles vary in color due to different levels of anthocyanins.…