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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…

Plant gene editing through de novo induction of meristems ($) (Nature Biotechnol)

A fast method of gene editing using Agrobacterium was developed to deliver combinations of the developmental regulators including WUSCHEL and SHOOT MERISTEMLESS along with gene-editing reagents. The expression of specific developmental regulators led to the induction of meristems and expression of the…

Increasing risks of multiple breadbasket failure under 1.5 and 2 °C global warming (Ag Systems)

Crop yields are vulnerable to rising temperatures and changes in precipitation. Here, Gaupp et al. model the projected crop yields at 1.5 versus 2.0 degrees of additional warming, as part of the HAPPI experiment (perhaps a misnomer: Half a degree Additional warming, Prognosis and Projected Impacts).…

Phage combination therapies for bacterial wilt disease in tomato ($) (Nature Biotech)

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. As agents that weaken or destroy pathogens, they have shown therapeutic promise in human and plant disease treatment. Wang et al. studied the effect on pathogenic Ralstonia solanacearum of different phages individually and in combinations in the rhizosphere…

Perspective: Revolutionizing agriculture with synthetic biology (Nature Plants)

In a new Perspective by Wurtzel et al., the authors lay out SynBio’s tremendous potential to transform agriculture. Consider how we might leverage the “vast design space that plants have not occupied.” As an example, plants employ two pathways to fix carbon, and prokaryotes another six, but scientists…

Review: Ready-to-eat salad crops: A plant pathogen’s heaven (Plant Disease)

For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving next weekend, here’s an article full of fun facts to share over the salad. Gullino et al. describe the history of salad (mentioned by Virgil and Pliny) and the rapid growth in the prepared salad industry. They describe the challenge of growing and getting these…

Review: Genetic strategies for improving crop yields (Nature)

Simply put, as food demand increases due to population growth and increased affluence, crop yields are likely to decrease due to the changing climate. Plant scientists will be familiar with many research avenues that aim to address this disconnect, ranging from increasing crop resilience to abiotic stresses,…

Review: Mosses in biotechnology (Curr. Opin. Biotechnol.)

Plant biotechnology often refers to crops and, more recently, algae, but biotechnology also applies to mosses. As Decker and Reski summarize, mosses have some of the same desirable features as algae, including a largely haploid lifecycle that facilitates genetic studies (including homologous recombination…