Recent Posts

Productivity and agronomic potential of perennial rice

Modern rice is descended from a perennial grass, which through millennia of selection evolved into an annual “one-sow, one-harvest” crop. However, it has become apparent that perennial grains have the potential to decrease soil erosion and competition, as well as lower the labor required to produce…

DREB1C is a regulator of nitrogen use efficiency and flowering time in rice (Science)

To improve the profitability and sustainability of agriculture, there has been an extensive quest to identify regulators that boost nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) without compromising yield. Wei et al. identified a DREB family transcription factor based on RNAseq analysis of rice plants exposed to low…

A boost to plant transformation: Agrobacterium expressing type III secretion system (Nature Comms)

Gene manipulation in most plant species faces two major hurdles, transformation efficiency of tissue and regeneration of callus. Agrobacterium-mediated transformation is the most common method of plant transformation. Transformation efficiency can range from more than half  the  tissue to less than…

Biofortified tomatoes provide a new route to vitamin D sufficiency (Nature Plants)

Vitamin D deficiency in humans is correlated with malfunction of the immune system and inflammation together with cancer, Parkinson disease, depression, neurocognitive decline, dementia, and severe COVID-19 infection. In humans, exposure of the skin to UV light promotes the production of Vitamin D from…

Seed biologists beware: End-of-trial estimation of initial viability may be error-prone (preprints)

Assessing the viability of ungerminated seeds at the end of a trial is a common practice in seed germination experiments. By doing this, researchers aim to establish the number of viable seeds that were sown in an experiment and estimate germination parameters accordingly. Still, can we be sure that…

Lessons on textile history and fibre durability from a 4,000-year-old Egyptian flax yarn (Nature Plants)

“Food, fuel, and fiber” sometimes is used to describe our utter dependence on plants, but often, other than cotton, the “fiber” part is under appreciated. However, there is a growing interest in bio-based materials, both for their greater recyclability and as an alternative to petroleum-derived…

Plants People Planet Special Issue: Mycorrhizas for a changing world

Plants People Planet is a relatively young journal that launched in 2019. It’s aim is to explore aspects of plant science directly relevant to our daily lives, and how plant science is communicated to the public. The Sept 2021 issue has a focus on mychorrhizas, which it explores through several opinion,…

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…