Recent Posts

Review. Message in a Bubble: Shuttling small RNAs and proteins between cells and interacting organisms using extracellular vesicles (Annu. Rev. Plant Biol.)

Small RNAs have big effects and can serve to shut down or silence gene expression. Recently, studies have found that small RNAs can contribute to plant defense beyond the boundary of the plant, by being packed into extracellular vesicles (EVs) and delivered to a pathogen. Cai et al. review our current…

Review: Functional morphology of plants - a key to biomimetic applications (New Phytol.)

Humans have derived inspiration from innumerable corners of the natural world. Plants of diverse forms have inspired many “biomimetics,” or technical products derived from biological models. Speck and Speck review how plant-based biomimetics have developed over time and elaborate on their current…

Gaseous environment modulates volatile emission and viability loss during seed artificial ageing (Planta)

The gaseous environment is thought to play a fundamental role in seed longevity in storage conditions, given the role of oxygen and other volatile compounds in seed viability loss. However, formal tests of its influence are still scarce compared to other storage parameters such as temperature and humidity.…

Perspective: Multiplying the efficiency and impact of biofortification through metabolic engineering (Nature Comms.)

As heterotrophs, we are what we eat. One of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is to end all forms of hunger, including the “hidden hunger” that results from nutrient deficiencies. Van Der Straeten et al. provide an overview of biofortification strategies. They review current successes from…

Review. The soil-borne identity and microbiome-assisted agriculture: Looking back to the future (Molecular Plant)

Bakker et al. begin their review of plant-soil microbiome concepts with a Lorentz Hiltner quote from 1904: “However, I am convinced that soil bacteriology will finally provide results that are not only of explanatory nature, but will also directly affect and determine agricultural practice… I would…

Combinatorial engineering of signaling networks for drought tolerance (Plant Biotechnol. J.)

Several potential targets have been suggested to improve drought tolerance and water-use efficiency of crops, but many genes when upregulated can cause negative growth trade-offs. Stress recognition and signaling proteins are attractive targets as they may exert control over multiple downstream pathways…

Wheat yield potential in controlled-environment vertical farms (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA)

When I think of vertical farms, I imagine baby lettuces and basil: small, leaf crops that benefit from growing close to the consumer. Here, Asseng et al. evaluate the potential to grow wheat, a staple seed crop, in a vertical farm system. Previous studies have demonstrated that wheat can be grown successfully…

Review: Potential applications of plant biotechnology against SARS-CoV-2 (Trends Plant Sci.)

For those of you about to start teaching again, here’s a great article to share with your plant science students, showcasing the ways that plant biologists are contributing to the international efforts to develop diagnostic reagents, vaccines, and antiviral drugs to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic.…

Modifying plant photosynthesis and growth via simultaneous chloroplast transformation of Rubisco large and small subunits (Plant Cell)

In an interesting evolutionary artifact, the genes encoding the small subunit of Rubisco, rbcS, reside in the nuclear genome, whilst those encoding RbcL persists in the chloroplast. The RbcS protein is translocated into the chloroplast where the holoenzyme forms. This complexity adds to the challenge…