Recent Posts

Drastic genome reduction in an herbivore’s pectinolytic symbiont

Cell. In a very interesting report, Salem et al., showed evidence of an alternative mechanism supporting how the degradation of pectin, a very hard to metabolize component of the cell wall, has directed the evolution of herbivory in insects and arthropods. Recent reports have indicated that horizontally…

Hidden shift of the ionome of plants exposed to elevated CO2 depletes minerals at the base of human nutrition

eLife. Free air CO2 enrichment (FACE) has been used to surround plants with an elevated concentration of CO2 (eCO2) during growth, and has consistently conferred an increase in carbon assimilation and plant productivity.  However, the effect of eCO2 on nutrient status of the plant is unclear due to…

Spatial and temporal patterns of mass bleaching of corals in the Anthropocene

Science. As our ecosystems are changing rapidly, more studies are needed to document them. One of these important events is “coral bleaching”, a phenomenon that occurs due to environmental stress and when coral hosts lose their algal symbionts or zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium spp.), showing the white…

Review: Declining oxygen in the global ocean and coastal waters ($)

Science. Oxygen levels have been declining in oceans since the middle of the 20th century, largely because of global warming phenomena and human-driven nutrient enrichment of coastal regions. These effects have enhanced microbial oxygen intake, altering the cycles of nutrients and carbon, and lowering…

Review. Grasses: The original Vikings ($)

The Vikings were notorious raiders for centuries, pillaging and looting the shores throughout the northern hemisphere. Through their successful raids, the Vikings established colonies that grew into states and countries, among these Normandy, England, Sicily, and Russia. The success of the Vikings is…

Ecosystem responses to elevated CO2 are governed by plant-soil interactions and the cost of nitrogen acquisition

How does the cost of nitrogen acquisition affect how an ecosystem responds to elevated CO2? Terrer et al. have addressed this question in a comprehensive review of findings from elevated CO2 experiments, using a plant economics framework. The authors describe ecosystem responses, particularly those of…

A root hair-seeking endophytic microbe from an unusual volcanic swamp corn enhances phosphate uptake

In plants the location of microbes to specific cell types, including endophytes, is still scarcely described in contrast with the situation in the animal kingdom. Shehata et al. describe a bacterial endophyte (Strain 3F11, possibly Enterobacter asburiae) from Zea nicaraguensis, a wild corn growing at…

A Plant Protein That Foils Aphid Feeding

Kloth et al. probe aphid feeding behavior. The Plant Cell 2017  doi: 10.1105/tpc.16.00424 By Karen Kloth Background: Aphids are phloem-feeding insects. They penetrate plants with a piercing-sucking mouth. Once they reach a tube where the plant transports its sugar-rich phloem sap, they can take…

Atmospheric evidence for a global secular increase in carbon isotopic discrimination of land photosynthesis ($)

Carbon exist in two stable isotopic forms; 99% as 12C and 1% as 13C. The carbon-fixing enzyme Rubisco preferentially fixes 12C, so fossil fuels are enriched for 12C, and since the industrial revolution the atmospheric 13C / 12C ratio has been increasing as the 12C-enriched fossil fuels are reconverted…