Recent Posts

Natural selection on the Arabidopsis thaliana genome in present and future climates (Nature)

The rapidly changing climate will have profound effects on Earth’s ecosystems, but as yet it is difficult to determine exactly what these effects will be. Exposito-Alonso et al. have set up a large experiment to try to identify how a population’s genetic diversity will enable it to survive a future…

Large-effect flowering time mutations reveal conditionally adaptive paths through fitness landscapes in Arabidopsis thaliana (PNAS)

We have a tendency to think of genes carrying mutations as having a negative impact on fitness, which raises the question of why they might persist in a population. Taylor et al. tested whether large-effect mutations that affect flowering time might not be detrimental in all conditions, by comparing…

Increased atmospheric vapor pressure deficit reduces global vegetation growth (Science Advances)

Plant scientists know that when the air at the leaf surface is dry, the plant will tend to close its stomata, but we tend to think of this as a relatively localized effect. Yuan et al. have explored the global trends in vapor pressure deficit (VPD; difference between saturated and real water content…

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…

Root development is maintained by specific bacteria-bacteria interactions (bioRxiv)

Understanding plant-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions is challening. Both kinds of interactions have significant impacts on plant health and nutritional uptake. Finkel et al. address how microbe-microbe interactions shape plant phenotypes by using the synthetic microbial community (SynCom) consisting…

Functional traits and phenotypic plasticity modulate species coexistence across contrasting climatic conditions (Nature Comms)

Understanding mechanisms for assembly of plant communities involves estimating different interactions among coexisting species, and how environmental change might affect those interactions. Peréz-Ramos et al. address how functional traits and their plasticity relate to the mechanisms that allow species…

Drought conditions reduce root-feeding nematode predator populations (PNAS)

Climate change is expected to cause numerous negative impacts on plant populations. An under considered area that will be affected are the communities of soil organisms that rely on a delicate balance of environmental conditions, particularly in grasslands that receive moderate precipitation (mesic grasslands).…

Review. Chemical convergence between plants and insects: biosynthetic origins and functions of common secondary metabolites (New Phytol)

Plants and insects aren't closely related, but they have a plethora of similar chemical weapons used for their interactions (defense, attraction, etc.). Beran et al. describe the function and biosynthesis of secondary metabolites that are shared in both insects and plants. The monoterpenes and…

Cold-adapted protein kinases and thylakoid remodeling impact energy distribution in an Antarctic psychrophile (Plant Phys)

“Earth is a cold place with 80% of its biosphere permanently below 5°C,” begins this study of an Antarctic psychrophile (“cold-lover”). As Szyszka-Mroz et al. indicate, the permanently cold-adapted inhabitants of permanently frozen lakes are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change,…