Recent Posts

CRISPR Mutants Shed Light on Pectin’s Role in Tomato Fruit Softening

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) fruits undergo pronounced softening during ripening. Softening is important for flavor development and overall palatability, but also impacts fruit storage, transportability, and shelf life. Shelf life is a particularly important quality trait of tomato fruits affected by…

Opinion: Capsaicinoids: Pungency beyond Capsicum (Trends Plant Sci)

You probably saw this article being discussed in your favorite news channel (in the UK, coverage spanned from the Daily Mail to the Guardian). In an Opinion article, Naves et al. discuss the genetics, biochemistry, ecology and health-benefits of capsaicinoids (the “heat” in chili pepper), and consider…

Colour bio-factories: Towards scale-up production of anthocyanins in plant cell cultures (Metabolic Engineering)

Anthocyanins are common plant pigments that provide dietary benefits, leading to an increase in their use as food coloring agents. However, purifying anthocyanins from current plant sources (such as waste grape skins, red cabbage, and berries) is expensive and creates a variable product. Modifying biosynthetic…

From Golden Rice to aSTARice: Bioengineering astaxanthin biosynthesis in rice endosperm (Molecular Plant)

Zu et al., have successfully harnessed the power of synthetic biology to increase the nutritional content of rice by overexpressing only four synthetic genes in rice endosperm. Here, the authors have created a colorful gradient of carotenoid-enriched rice by expressing two, three, and then four genes…

Greatly enhanced removal of volatile organic carcinogens by a genetically modified houseplant ($)

Plants provide us with food, fiber, shelter, medicine, and fuel. In the process, they also release the oxygen that we breathe. Now, they can also help remove carcinogens from our homes. Zhang et al., have developed a genetically modified a common houseplant, Epipremnum aureum, pothos ivy, that can remove…

A femtomolar-range suicide germination stimulant for the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica (Science)($)

Striga hermonthica (Striga) parasitizes a wide range of crops including sorghum and rice, mainly  in sub-Saharan Africa. This parasite decreases crop yields and results in billions of dollars in economic damage. Striga seeds are numerous and remain dormant in the soil until prompted to germinate by…

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).…

Differential growth and shape formation in plant organs (PNAS)

This paper is kind of fun because it explores plant leaf and petal shape from an engineering perspective, identifying “fundamental mechanistic insights into how nature invokes mechanics in the evolution of commonly found shapes in plant organs by differential growth.” For each organ, the authors…

Expert View. Merging genotypes: Scion/rootstock interactions (J Exp Bot)

Grafting is an ancient technology and still extremely important in horticulture and food production, including grapes for wine. Although much is known about what scion/shoot combinations work, less is known at the molecular and cellular level about successful grafts. How do two genetically different…