Recent Posts

Nanoscale movements of cellulose microfibrils in primary cell walls ($)

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Cell walls are complex mixtures of cellulose microfibrils, proteins and other materials. Their mechanical properties can be measured and modeled, but it is not always simple to translate these measurements to changes at the molecular level. Zhang et al. used atomic force microscopy to provide an unprecedented…

Perspective. Plant awareness disparity: A case for renaming plant blindness (Plants People Planet)

If there is one thing we agree on, it is that plants are underappreciated, leading to consequences spanning from ecosystem collapse to poor rates of funding. This effect, and efforts to remedy it, have been discussed in terms of “plant blindness”. In this Perspective, Parsley summarizes many…

Review: Trade‐off between seed dispersal in space and time (Ecol. Lett.)

Seeds can be dispersed in space (i.e., away from their mother plants) or time (i.e., delayed germination via seed dormancy or persistent soil seed banks). These contrasting strategies have traditionally been considered to increase reproductive success, but our understanding of their relationship is…

Review: Sequencing and analyzing the transcriptomes of a thousand plant species (Annu. Rev. Plant Biol.)

Over the past decade, Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) has been used for de novo assembly of crop genomes (i.e., tomato, potato) under the motto “If it tastes good, let’s sequence it”. By contrast, the One Thousand Plant (1KP) Initiative set out to obtain transcriptomic data of phylogenetically…

One thousand plant transcriptomes and the phylogenomics of green plants (Nature)

With a collaborative effort by multiple laboratories across the world, a database of transcriptomics data has been generated for 1124 species encompassing green plants, glaucophytes, and red algae. This extensive work referred to as onekp (one thousand plant transcriptomes) will aid in researchers to…

Divergent gene expression networks underlie morphological diversity of abscission zones in grasses ($)

Grasses scatter their seeds through the process of cell abscission. Losing this trait, in a process known as loss of shattering, was an early step in the domestication of cereals. Interestingly, the abscission zone (AZ) is positionally and morphologically different in different cereals. In order to understand…

Single-cell genomics unveils an ectosymbiont cyanobacteria associated with a dinoflagellate host (PNAS)

Cyanobacteria are important contributors to global carbon fixation. They can be free-living in many different environments, but also form close symbiotic associations with various eukaryotic organisms. Nakayama et al. have idea identified a new type of cyanobacteria that lives as an ectosymbiont in a…

Perspective: Grazing animals drove domestication of grain crops (Nature Plants)

Here’s an interesting question: Without human intervention, why would one find a dense stand of plants, growing in rather nutrient-rich soil? Perhaps you recognized that these conditions suggest seed dispersal by endozoochory, which involves passage through an animal's digestive tract. Spengler and…

12 inquiry-based labs to explore the 12 principles of plant biology

The 12 Principles of Plant Biology are a framework to support understanding of the critical roles of plants to create, improve and sustain life These 12 inquiry-based activities were developed to support the teaching of plant biology, and are developed for use by students in middle school (approximately…

Origin of angiosperms and the puzzle of the Jurassic gap (Nature Plants)

Understanding the origin and evolution of flowering plants is key to explaining the development of major terrestrial ecosystems. The rapid diversification of angiosperms into over 360,000 extant species was famously termed ‘an abominable mystery’ by Charles Darwin. Here, Li et al reconstruct the…