Recent Posts

Review. Multicellular systems biology: Applying network science to plant organ patterning and function (Mol Plant)

I really enjoyed this review article, which very successfully introduces the reader to the why and how of how to apply network science to plant science. Bassel never veers off into abstraction or “math-speak”, but instead roots his explanations in familiar biological or ordinary terms. As an example,…

Review: Towards a sustainable bio-based economy through plant synthetic biology ($) (Plant Sci)

Plant synthetic biology is heating up, as ideas and methods initially developed for single-celled organisms are moving into the more interesting and complicated space of multicellular organisms; this leads to greater potentials as well as greater challenges. Why plants? One important reason is that they…

Review: Synthetic switches and regulatory circuits in plants (Plant Physiol)

Switches and circuits are key parts of a synthetic biologist’s toolbox. Andres et al. provide historical background and core ideas as well as current understanding of these devices. Switches are defined as components that detect an input signal and transform it into an output signal. Inputs can be…

Review: Applications of protein engineering and directed evolution in plant research (Plant Physiol)

Half of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Frances Arnold “for the directed evolution of enzymes”. Essentially, this involves modifying an enzyme and screening its properties repeatedly to develop an enzyme with novel attributes.  Engqvist and Rabe review this powerful method and its…

Review: The plant immune system in heterogeneous environments (Curr Opin Plant Bio)

Nobori and Tsuda review how the plant immune system is able to function in heterogeneous environments through its properties of resilience, tunability and balance. They define a resilient system as one where “output remains stable even when part of the system is disabled.” Abiotic factors such as…

Structure and activation of a plant NLR resistosome ($) (Science)

The 2017 Chemistry Nobel Prize went to the developers of cryo-electron microscopy, and this method is transforming plant science as well as other life sciences. In a pair of back-to-back papers, Wang et al. used cryo-EM to examine how ZAR1, a CC-NLR protein [Coiled-coil (CC) nucleotide-binding (NB),…

Detection and stealth at the wall: glycosidases and glycans in flagellin peptide recognition ($) (Science)

Bacterial flagellin is a well-known microbial pattern that triggers plant immune responses. Flagellin is a glycosylated protein polymer. The immunogenic domain is buried within the protein structure as well as beneath a glycan layer. Buscaill et al. set out to identify how this immunogenic elicitor is…

A high‐throughput transient expression system for rice (Plant Cell Environ)

Transient expression platforms allow short-term expression of candidate genes in the host plant, without the integration of DNA into the host genome. The expression cassettes are delivered to the host cells either by Agrobacterium- or microprojectile-mediated approaches. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation…

EXPANSIN A1-mediated radial swelling of pericycle cells positions anticlinal cell divisions during lateral root initiation ($) (PNAS)

Lateral root development helps plants explore the soil for mineral nutrients and water, and there are environmental and internal cues that precede the formation of lateral root primordia. In Arabidopsis thaliana, some of these internal cues include increased auxin concentrations around lateral root founder…