Recent Posts

The secret to leaf forever: Mechanisms controlling simple leaf development (Nature Plants)

The final shape of a leaf is a consequence of differential growth at its margins. Simple (or lightly serrated) leaves result from limited growth in the margins, while compound leaves result from a constant initiation of leaflets. A recent work by Challa, Rath, and colleagues dissected the regulatory…

A slicing mechanism facilitates host entry by plant-pathogenic Phytophthora (Nature Microbiol)

A plant has many layers of defense against a pathogen. One of the first challenges a pathogen faces is how to get inside the plant. Some bacteria sneak in through open stomatal pores, and some fungi form high-pressure appressoria that burst through walls. Here, Bronkhorst et al. investigated how the…

Relevance of hop terroir for beer flavor (J. Inst. Brew.)

Beer is a simple beverage, basically fermented barley sugars. But recently, it’s been all about the hops. Hops are buds of Humulus lupulus, a member of the Cannabaceae family, and from humble origins they have been carefully bred and selected, resulting in many varieties with different aroma and flavor…
An arrow points from left to right, showing steps to sustainable nitrogen use. These include traditional agricultural practices, improved agricultural practices, plant breeding, beneficia N-fixation, and soi N-cycling.

A research road map for responsible use of agricultural nitrogen (Front. Sustain. Food Syst.)

Recently, the UN Environment Programme identified excessive reactive nitrogen (N) resulting from anthropogenic activity as one of the five emerging threats facing our planet. Much of this derives from agricultural practices in which N fertilizers are inefficiently applied to crops, a significant proportion…

A Central Role for Genetics in Plant Biology (Annu. Rev. Plant Biol.)

Plant biology as a field of study encompasses a rich plethora of subjects, some of which themselves are their own fields. Maarten Koornneef, in this memoir-style article, describes how genetics in particular shaped his career that saw the rise of Arabidopsis as the lovable poster child of plant biology…

Large-scale whole-genome resequencing unravels the domestication history of Cannabis sativa (Science Advances)

Throughout history, many cultures have exploited the properties of Cannabis sativa, either as a source of fiber extracts (hemp) or as a medicinal and recreational drug (drug type). It is thought that cannabis was originally cultivated in Asia from where it spread to other regions around the globe, and…

Plant scientists’ research attention is skewed towards colourful, conspicuous and broadly distributed flowers (Nature Plants)

Chicana feminist writer Cherríe Moraga wrote in her anthology This Bridge Called My Back, with regards to the necessary inclusion of women of color in contemporary progressive politics: “It is not always a matter of the actual bodies in the room, but of a life dedicated to a growing awareness of who…

Guard cell endomembrane Ca2+-ATPases underpin a ‘carbon memory’ of photosynthetic assimilation that impacts on water-use efficiency (Nature Plants)

Stomatal guard cells control both carbon dioxide uptake and transpirational water loss. Guard cell control over the stomatal pore  aperture is sensitive to water status (through ABA) as well as the amount of CO2 available within the leaf air space. Several studies have indicated that stomatal aperture…

A prion-like protein regulator of seed germination undergoes hydration-dependent phase separation ($) (Cell)

Seed imbibition (i.e., water uptake) marks the beginning of germination, an irreversible process that might lead plants to death if it occurs under unsuitable conditions for seedling development. Therefore, it is expected that seeds only germinate when water is readably available. However, the molecular…