Recent Posts

High-throughput CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis streamlines trait gene identification in maize (Plant Cell)

Maize has provided some fascinating mutants and developmental insights, but its genomic complexity has made it more difficult (for example as compared to rice) to identify agronomically important genes. Liu et al. describe a new high-throughput method to integrate forward- and reverse-genetics to identify…

Base-editing-mediated artificial evolution of OsALS1 in planta to develop novel herbicide-tolerant rice germplasms (Mol. Plant)

The trait of herbicide tolerance allows farmers to use chemical means to eliminate weed competitors. Acetolactate synthase (ALS) is an enzyme targeted by more than 50 different herbicides. In order to generate novel herbicide tolerance traits, Kuang et al. used a base-editing artificial evolution approach,…

Review: Tropical trees as time capsules of anthropogenic activity (Trends Plant Sci.)

Trees will help us ensure our future, but they are also a valuable record of our past. This fascinating review article by Caetano-Andrade et al. describes how anthropologists are taking advantage of data recorded in trees to understand more about not only the atmospheric and geological events of the…

High productivity in hybrid-poplar plantations without isoprene emission to the atmosphere ($) (PNAS)

Many trees emit isoprene (C5H8, a small volatile carbon compound) during hot weather, and isoprenes have been shown to help trees tolerate short bursts of high temperatures (heat flecks). Isoprenes are not themselves harmful, but are reactive and can lead to the production of high levels of ground-level…

Using CRISPR/Cas9 editing to inactivate an endogenous virus impacting bananas (Commun. Biol.)

Banana streak virus (BSV) is a plant pathogenic pararetrovirus that has integrated into the genome of banana Musa spp., reducing crop production. When BSV-infected banana plants become stressed, BSV reactivates to create functional infectious viruses that can cause lethal tissue necrosis. Tripathi et…

Review. Flowering plants in the Anthropocene: A political agenda (Trends Plant Sci)

For the past 100 million years, flowering plants have been the main producers of land biomass. They also are indirectly responsible for the origin of agriculture, setting the ball rolling for the onset of the Anthropocene. Negrutiu et al. argue that the accompanying rapid global changes require a reconsideration…

Monitoring and mitigation of toxic heavy metals and arsenic accumulation in food crops: A case study of an urban community garden (Plant Direct)

Urban gardens are a great way to introduce people to plant science, to bring fresh food into areas underserved by grocery stores (“food deserts”), and can promote a sense of community. But as Cooper et al. observe, many potential sites can be contaminated with heavy metals (lead, cadmium) and metalloids…

Special Current Opinion in Biotechnology issue Issue: Plant Biotechnology

Since most of us will have a few days off this coming week as we welcome in 2020, I’d like to highlight some of the engrossing reviews in this special issue of Current Opinion in Biotechnology, edited by Ralf Reski, Gary Foster & Ed Rybicki.  Several of the articles focus on Molecular Pharming,…

Rapid customization of Solanaceae fruit crops for urban agriculture ($) (Nature Biotech)

Numerous genes have been identified that modify shoot architecture, which has allowed breeding of varieties for specific purposes and environments. Here, Kwon et al. describe how they have used gene editing to modify several of these genes to produce tomatoes and groundcherries that are compact and rapid…