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…

It’s Not Easy Not Being Green: Breakthroughs in Chlorophyll Breakdown

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IN BRIEF by Jennifer Mach jmach@aspb.org Plants can dispose of organs such as leaves and recycle the nutrients in these organs into new leaves, seeds, or storage organs. However, when separated from its photosystem proteins, chlorophyll can be phototoxic, absorbing light and producing high-energy…

Field of Genes: Uncovering EGRINs (Environmental Gene Regulatory Influence Networks) in Rice That Function during High-Temperature and Drought Stress

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IN BRIEF by Jennifer Lockhart jlockhart@aspb.org Heat and drought stress greatly restrict crop productivity, but most of what we know about a plant’s response to these stresses comes from controlled laboratory studies. This factor, along with the complex nature of these responses, has hampered efforts…

A Breakthrough in Monocot Transformation Methods

IN BRIEF by Nancy Hofmann nhoffman@aspb.org The ability to generate transgenic plants without regard to cultivar or genotype can be considered a holy grail of cereal crop transformation. Despite years of effort, it has been remarkably difficult to develop efficient methods for transformation of…

Examination of Protein Complexes Gets SiMPull

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IN BRIEF by Jennifer Mach jmach@aspb.org Assessing protein-protein interactions remains a fundamental challenge for plant biologists. Current methods such as coimmunoprecipitation (co-IP), yeast two-hybrid, bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC), and others can produce artifacts and also yield…

Divide and Conquer: Introducing a Novel Player in Cell Plate Formation

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IN BRIEF by Kathleen L. Farquharson kfarquharson@aspb.org Polysaccharide-rich cell walls are a distinguishing feature of plants that influence many aspects of growth and development, including cell division. Whereas contractile rings pinch dividing cells into two daughter cells in other eukaryotes,…

Invisible No Longer: Peptidoglycan in Moss Chloroplasts

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IN BRIEF by Nancy Hofmann nhofmann@aspb.org Most bacteria have a peptidoglycan layer between the inner and outer membranes (reviewed in Typas et al., 2012). The cyanobacterial endosymbiont that gave rise to plastids would have contained such a peptidoglycan wall including d-amino acids. Indeed, peptidoglycan…

Shape-Shifters: How Strigolactone Signaling Helps Shape the Shoot

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IN BRIEF by Jennifer Lockhart jlockhart@aspb.org When a deer eats the primary shoot of a plant, this can activate a nearby dormant axillary bud, causing it to form a secondary shoot. Genetic and environmental factors also affect shoot architecture, which strongly influences crop productivity. Changes…

Ticket to Ride: tRNA-Related Sequences and Systemic Movement of mRNAs

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IN BRIEF by Jennifer Mach jmach@aspb.org Movement of macromolecules through the plant phloem provides a mechanism for long-distance signaling that plants use in development, disease resistance, and other adaptive responses (reviewed in Spiegelman et al., 2013). For example, full-length RNAs, such…

Thinking Outside the Plant: Exploring Phloem Development Using VISUAL

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IN BRIEF by Jennifer Lockhart  jlockhart@aspb.org Investigating how plants grow and develop often requires a bit of creativity. For example, deep within the plant, the vascular cambium, a layer of embryonic, highly cytoplasmic cells, gives rise to xylem and phloem tissue, which must expand throughout…