Recent Posts

Review: Challenges to improving plant growth through introduced microbes

Plants are closely associated with large numbers of microbes that live in, on, and around them; these are collectively called the plant microbiota. Microbes can be pathogenic, neutral, or beneficial. Beneficial microbes might enhance nutrient uptake by the plant or suppress pathogenic microbes. There…

A transient approach reduces the time required for transgene-free gene editing

Gene editing in plants is a time-consuming process. One of the challenges of gene editing is to produce transgene-free plants. The transgenes required to carry out selection and editing, such as antibiotic resistance markers and editing enzymes, must be removed, while the edited part of the genome is…

Plant Physiology Focus Issue: Fruit Crops

July brings delicious fruit harvests in the Northern Hemisphere, and a very special focus issue of Plant Physiology. I particularly like this issue because of the wide variety of species covered, starting with apple, banana, blueberry, cherry, citrus, and so on. It’s a nice departure from our usual…

SSR markers are useful tools in wheat varietal purity and genetic diversity assessment

Different breeding programs worldwide have developed various cultivars that can cope with changing and increasingly unpredictable environments while meeting market needs. These developments have brought a new challenge: creating tools to distinguish such varieties and trace their genetic purity. Using…

Review. Climate change impacts on seed production and quality

As the effects of climate change become increasingly severe and evident, there is growing concern about the future of food production. However, unlike its impact on crop yields, there is little clarity on the effects of climate change on the foundation of most agricultural systems: seed production and…

Plants cultivated for ecosystem restoration can evolve towards a domestication syndrome

The pressing need to restore degraded areas has led to an unprecedented demand for native seeds. However, seeds are not always available in sufficient quantity and quality in nature, so some restoration practitioners might opt to source their seeds from wild plants grown on farms, just like any crop.…

Review: Salt-tolerant crops: Time to deliver

Few topics are as inherently interesting from both fundamental and applied perspectives as salt tolerance in crop plants. From the basic science side, cells have several strategies that they use to keep Na+ levels low in their cytosol in spite of what can be a very steep concentration gradient from out…

Inspired by nature: Self-burying seeds

Self-burying seeds are high on the list of “aren’t plants amazing”. Seeds of several species carry appendages that change shape when exposed to moisture and that are oriented in such a way so that their shape changes push the seed underground (don’t take our word for it – see https://youtu.be/TOJG5mF6OLs).…

Review: Hypes, hopes, and the way forward for microalgal biotechnology

Microalgae are small, photosynthetic algae that have emerged as important contributors to food and nutrient production. This review describes the many ways they can be grown (e.g., autotrophic, with sunlight or artificial light; heterotrophic, with sugar inputs; or mixotrophic, a combination of both)…