Recent Posts

A key role for flavanols in the promotion of pollen success (PNAS) ($)

The reproductive success of angiosperms relies on the fertilization of the female gametophyte (egg sac) by pollen that travels long-distances in the pistil. Previous studies suggest a role for phenylpropanoid-related metabolites (flavonoids and anthocyanins) in controlling pollen growth and fertilization,…

Review: Nicotiana benthamiana: a workhorse of model plants (Annu Rev Phytopathol)

For years, scientists have relied on model species to investigate the fundamental nature of plants. Not surprisingly, these systems have facilitated our combined efforts for a deeper understanding of complex plant phenomena, from the coordinated orchestration of developmental programs to the emerging…

Opinion: A canopy conundrum: wind-induced movement, crop productivity and photosynthetic limitations? (J Exp Bot) ($)

High wind speeds may result in substantial damage to crop canopies, resulting in a loss of productivity.  Lower wind speeds affect crop canopies in different ways – while physical damage does not occur, the movement of plant tissues impacts photosynthetic capacity by altering the light environment,…

Special Issue - Plant Biotechnology, focus on lignin (Curr Opin Biotechnol) ($)

A forthcoming issue of Current Opinion in Biotechnology features a set of reviews on the topic of lignin, particularly its chemistry and applications. Lignin is a complex set of polymers that provide structural support to vascular plants (See Renault et al. for insights into lignin's evolutionary origins).…

The role of ER stress-depending autophagy under phosphate deprivation (Plant Physiol)

In the Brassicaceae, inorganic phosphate (Pi) deprivation modifies root system architecture to favor Pi foraging, through the inhibition of primary root growth and the stimulation of lateral root growth. Root growth inhibition is triggered by Fe-stimulated ROS generation and cell wall modifications,…

Genomic diversification of LATE EMBRYOGENESIS ABUNDANT (LEA) protein gene families (GBE)

LEA genes were first identified as being highly abundant during seed desiccation (hence their name), but later were also shown to accumulate in other tissues in response to drought stress, and to confer desiccation tolerance in “resurrection plants”. These small proteins are characterized by having…

Pseudogenization and resurrection of a speciation gene (Curr. Biol)

Many flowers have evolved to attract pollinators through scent, shape, nectar production and color. Small changes in any of these attributes can be sufficient to dramatically shift pollinator preferences and pollination efficiency. Petunia has recently diverged into several species, characterized as…

Synthetic apomixis: Asexual propagation through seeds (Nature) ($)

Sexual reproduction mixes up genes and provides genetically diverse progeny, key for survival and fodder for evolution. Sexual reproduction is detrimental to the propagation of hybrid crops though, as mixing up the genes leads to progeny that will be inferior to the hybrid parent. Khanday et al. have…

Meeting review: Energy costs of salinity tolerance in crop plants (New Phytol)

Plants use diverse strategies for salt tolerance, including regulated transport of several different ions and production of compatible organic solutes. In April 2018, a workshop was held to discuss strategies for breeding salt tolerance in plants, with a focus on the energy requirements of various strategies.…