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…

The Sounds of Silence: Cell Fate Restriction and RNA Silencing in Plant Ovules

Gamete formation in sexually reproducing plants begins with formation of a “mother cell” that undergoes meiosis to generate haploid spores. Haploid spores further develop into gametophytes within which gametes differentiate. In flowering plants (angiosperms), including crop systems, the female mother…

On UPF Proteins, Baking Cookies, and the Many Targets of Nonsense-Mediated RNA Decay

When we cut out cookies from rolled-out dough, we often end up with unwanted dough scraps, and sometimes the dough sticks to the cookie-cutter, resulting in misshapen cookies. Just like these misshapen cookies, faulty or aberrant RNAs can arise in cells due to mistakes during transcription, RNA processing,…

A damascene moment: the genetic basis of complex petals in Nigella

From the flat white sheets of our favourite weed Arabidopsis thaliana to the colourful cups and spirals of orchids, petals come in a spectacular array of shapes, sizes, colours and textures. These elaborate forms have often evolved to attract pollinators. For example, bee orchids produce petals that…

RDR6 is essential for double-strand break formation during male meiosis in rice

Plant RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RDRs) are essential for the biogenesis of small, interfering RNAs (siRNAs). These polymerases function by converting single-stranded RNA transcripts into double-stranded RNAs, which are processed by Dicer-like ribonucleases into 21- to 24-nucleotide siRNAs (reviewed…

It takes two to be you: promoter motif pairs keep immune responses within cell identity boundaries

Being a multicellular organism is not an easy task. Proper functioning of individual cell types with different functions requires coordination of gene expression to determine cell identity, but also regulatory mechanisms to respond to environmental cues. The root may appear simple at first sight, but…

SnRK1-ZmRFWD3-Opaque2: A Nexus of Seed Nutrient Accumulation and Diurnal Cycles

Plant seeds store nutrients in the form of protein, starch, and oil to support seed germination and seedling establishment. The seed nutrient reserves are supplied with carbon and nitrogen assimilated in vegetative tissues, where primary metabolism oscillates in a circadian manner (Farré and Weise,…

Back to where it came from: chloroplast expression of both Rubisco subunits helps functional enzyme analysis

Rubisco catalyzes the key carboxylation step in photosynthetic CO2 fixation and is probably the most abundant protein on Earth. The enzyme is famous for inefficient catalysis and the habit of binding oxygen instead of CO2 in one out of every four binding events, leading to photorespiration reactions…

OsGSK2 integrates jasmonic acid and brassinosteroid signalling in rice

Plant defenses against herbivore or pathogen attack involve the coordination of multiple hormone-mediated signalling networks, including the jasmonate (JA) and brassinosteroid (BR) pathways. Jasmonate is an oxylipin phytohormone that triggers the transcription of defence-related proteins and secondary…

Feasting While Fasting: How Autophagy Helps Maize Survive Carbon Starvation

Most macro-molecular components of plant cells (e.g., proteins, lipids, and even entire organelles) are subject to an ongoing process of recycling to both rejuvenate aging structures and optimize the allocation of cellular nutrients. A major recycling route is autophagy, which occurs under normal conditions…