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…

Review: The second decade of synthetic biology: 2010–2020 (Nature Comms.)

I guess if this were a normal year, we’d be spending time looking back over the past decade, but Covid-19 has made anything pre-2019 seem like a different lifetime. Still, here’s a retrospective you don’t want to miss. Meng and Ellis take us on a short walk down memory lane through the “second…

Review: Gemma cup and gemma development in Marchantia polymorpha (New Phytol.)

Plants have the astounding capacity to generate new plants derived from specialized organs (i.e., roots, leaves, and stems). This capacity, known as vegetative propagation, is used by horticulturists and farmers to propagate clonal varieties. This form of reproduction is fueled by the ability to…

The love potion made by soil-borne fungi (Plant Cell Environ.)

The basic requirements for plant growth are water, nutrients, and light. There are many other factors contributing to plant growth, including the interactions between plants and soil microorganisms. Soil microorganisms produce a large array of volatiles that can affect root architecture (e.g., some volatiles…

Multi-omics analyses of wild tomato introgression lines reveal a set of gene expression-metabolite-pathogen sensitivity interactions (Nat. Genet.)

Domesticated tomato has been subjected to human selection to satisfy marketing and economic desires, leading to a loss of genetic diversity and elimination of fruits traits such as flavor, aroma and pathogen resistance. Introgression lines (ILs) that capture the genome of wild desert-adapted tomato Solanum…

Active DNA demethylation controls defense gene regulation and antibacterial resistance (bioRxiv)

Epigenetic reprogramming, such as DNA methylation changes, has emerged as a crucial regulator of plant defense responses. Homeostasis of DNA methylation is controlled by a balance between methylation and demethylation. ROS1 (Repressor Of Silencing 1) is an Arabidopsis demethylases that is known to…

A GRF–GIF chimeric protein improves the regeneration efficiency of transgenic plants (Nature Biotechnol.)

Producing a genetically-modified or -edited plant requires two distinct processes: DNA modification, followed by regeneration of a plant from the edited cells. The first process has been greatly enhanced by CRISPR/Cas9, but the second has continued to present challenges. Here, Debernardi et al. demonstrate…

Highly efficient DNA-free plant genome editing using virally delivered CRISPR–Cas9 (Nature Plants)

CRISPR-Cas is a revolutionary technology that has taken the science of genetic manipulation to higher levels by leaps and bounds. In spite of the ease with which it is used for genome editing, the present delivery methods are not without shortcomings; undesirable effects on non-target regions and…

Burning grasses, poor seeds: Post-fire reproduction of early-flowering Neotropical savanna grasses produces low-quality seeds (Plant Ecol.) ($)

Fire is a disturbance that underpins several ecological processes in tropical savannas. For instance, some plant species from these ecosystems are traditionally known for relying on fires to reproduce. However, this dependency remains to be formally tested. Also, the impact of fire on seed quality…

Seed germination of mudflat species responds differently to prior exposure to hypoxic (flooded) environments (Seed Sci. Res.) ($)

Mudflats species experience rapid changes in their environment due to wetlands' drawdown and refill throughout the year. For instance, species that inhabit these sites deal with contrasting oxygen environments: hypoxic when the water level is high, and aerobic when it recedes. Most studies have aimed…