Recent Posts

Review: Cycling in a crowd: coordination of plant cell division, growth and cell fate (Plant Cell)

Unlike animal cells, plant cells cannot migrate due to the presence of interconnected rigid cell walls, thus plant development relies on a continuous supply of new cells, (fueled by the cell cycle) to form new organs throughout their life. This excellent review by Sablowski and Gutierrez focuses on the…
Manuel and his grandfather, Antonio Mora who continues to farm and tend his crops every day, except for Sundays which he reserves for family and church. This image was taken during a hike we shared in Santiago Tangamandapio Michoacan during December 2019, where he took Manuel to share the site and tree where his own grandfather passed.

URM Plant Scientist Highlights - Manuel Mora (he/him)

Manuel Mora (he/him) is a doctoral student in the Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Developmental Program (MBIDP)  at UCLA. Born in Santa Ana, CA, Manuel was raised between California and the town of Santiago Tangamandapio in Michoacan, Mexico. Growing up he enjoyed playing soccer, but when living…

Innovation, conservation, and repurposing of gene function in root cell type development (Cell)

Plants demonstrate a gorgeous diversity in cell types to adapt to their unique environments. Certain cell types, such as the epidermal, cortex, and vascular cells within plant roots, or the classically-defined root developmental zones (meristematic, elongation, and maturation), are homologous in angiosperms.…

A spatiotemporal molecular switch governs plant asymmetric cell division (Nature Plants)

In multicellular organisms, stem cells produce various cell types through asymmetric cell division (ACD), which is achieved is through polarization of cell-fate determinant proteins in the ACD progenitor cells. In Arabidopsis stomatal development, an ACD progenitor cell, the meristemoid mother cell (MMC),…

A tale of two morphs: seed coat differentiation in the dimorphic diaspore model Aethionema arabicum (Brassicaceae) (Plant J.)

While most plants have a single fruit and seed form, several species produce two or more distinct fruit and seed types, although the mechanisms behind this phenomenon remain unknown. Here, Arshad and colleagues assess the differences in the internal morphology and transcriptomic profile throughout development…

Endosperm turgor pressure both promotes and restricts seed growth and size (bioRxiv)

Seed size is a plant trait with agricultural and ecological relevance. However, the mechanisms that determine the final size of seeds are still subject to debate. Here, Creff and colleagues use computational models and mutant experiments to dissect the role of endosperm turgor in Arabidopsis seed size.…

Natural variation identifies a Pxy gene controlling vascular organization and formation of nodules and lateral roots in Lotus japonicus (New Phytol.)

Symbiosis between legumes and nitrogen-fixing bacteria such as Mesorhizobium loti requires an exchange of signals. Plants recognize both specific nod factors (lipochitooligosaccharides) as well as cell-surface exopolysaccharides through distinct pathways. The M. loti exoU mutant fails to properly form…

Update: Lateral root formation and nutrients: nitrogen in the spotlight (Plant Physiol)

We marvel at the ability of starfish to regenerate an arm, or a lizard a new tail, but even more impressive than these feats is the ability of a plant root system to create lateral roots when and where they are needed. This root system plasticity has been long studied, with a wealth of insights into…

Phytochrome regulates cellular response plasticity and the basic molecular machinery of leaf development (Plant Physiol)

The effects of light on plant growth are incredibly complex and depend on where it is perceived, light quantity, light quality (wavelength), and when within the circadian cycle it is perceived. Romanowski et al. examined the effect of late-day far-red light perception in Arabidopsis leaves. This treatment…