Recent Posts

Fungal community assembly in drought-stressed sorghum shows stochasticity, selection, and universal ecological dynamics (Nature Comms)

Previously, crop-associated mycobiomes were thought to assemble largely under the control of deterministic selection by the plant host with limited influence from drift. This study by Gao et al., highlights the important role of stochastic processes in fungal community assembly, particularly in the hosts’…

Opinion. A return to the wild: Root exudates and food security (Trends Plant Sci)

My dog is a fantastic companion, but it’s obvious he could never fend for himself; domestication has eliminated his ancestral survival skills. Likewise, most crop plants thrive under human care, but have lost many of the traits that would help them survive in harsh conditions. Preece and Peñuelas…

Successive passaging of plant associated microbiome reveals robust habitat and host genotype-dependent selection (PNAS)

Study of the plant microbiome can contribute to sustainable agricultural systems through improvements to plant health and nutrition. One goal has been to select and design microbiome communities for specific functions. In a recent article, Morella et al. have used an experimental evolution approach to…

A mutualistic interaction between Streptomyces bacteria, strawberry plants and pollinating bees (Nature Comms)

Some species of Streptomyces bacteria produce antimicrobial compounds that have been shown to enhance plant resistance to pathogens. Kim et al. show that his protection can extend to a pollinator.  The Streptomyces defends the plant against Botrytis cinerea and protects the bees against insect pathogens…

Ongoing accumulation of plant diversity through habitat connectivity in an 18-year experiment ($) (Science)

During the course of time, we have realized the importance of biodiversity for the maintenance of the ecosystem. However, the world has already been fragmented in small parts which resulted in a huge loss of habitat and threatening to biodiversity. Habitat connectivity, which means the degree to which…

Insect herbivory selects for volatile-mediated plant-plant communication ($) (Current Biology)

Plants release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in response to insect herbivory. The potential for VOCs to serve as diffusible signals has long been recognized. For example, VOCs can signal neighbors to prime for defense, signal distant parts of the emitting plant, and even attract predatory insects…

Genome editing retraces the evolution of toxin resistance in the monarch butterfly ($) (Nature)

When a few species from several distantly related groups produce a similar but unusual trait, we usually assume that this trait is an example of convergent evolution; starting from different places but ending up at the same place. The ability to eat plants that produce cardiac glycosides, which are toxic…

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…