Recent Posts

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…

Less is more: Gene loss in flower pollination evolution ($)

The evolution of flowers solved one of the largest obstacles of plant reproduction, finding a compatible mate. Since plants are sedentary, they are unable to search for a compatible mate like other organisms. Instead they use pollinators to do the searching for them. Flowers use scent and color to attract…

A worldwide-scale relationship between leaf size and climate ($)

Leaf size varies by over 100,000-fold across the plant kingdom. Leaf area has a direct impact on tissue temperature and thus directly affects photosynthetic efficiency. Empirical observations by 19th century plant geographers described that larger leaves are usually restricted to plants growing in wet…

Review: Embracing the unknown: disentangling the complexities of the soil microbiome ($)

The soils microbiome is of course hugely complex and immensely variable. Metagenomics tools allow us to describe the diversity of the soil microbiome, but what that diversity means is best grasped when the microbiome is considered in terms of its ecological functions, as described in this Tansley Insight…

Field-based species identification of closely-related plants using real-time nanopore sequencing

DNA sequencing was slow before the development of high throughput sequencing. Portable DNA sequencing, which would make sequencing on-site a reality, was impossible until recently. Parker et al. report on the on-site use of MinION from Oxford Nanopore Technologies for DNA barcoding, which yields data…

Review: Biotechnological advances for restoring degraded land for sustainable development ($)

One of the challenges of future food security is to feed a growing population without further impinging on undisturbed ecosystems, which is a primary goal of efforts to increase yields. At the other end of the equation, Tripathi et al. address opportunities to recover degraded lands for sustainable development.…

Interaction of seed dormancy and flowering time on phenology, life history and fitness in the field ($)

Local adaptation and plant fitness (how plants perform on those localities) are strongly influenced by the seasonal timing of germination and flowering. Germination timing affects when a plant flowers and the selective environment under which flowering occurs. The other way around is also true, timing…