Recent Posts

A plant gene that shapes its ecosystem (Science)

Keystone species shape the structure of an entire ecosystem, but can a gene determine structure of the whole ecosystem?  A recent study indicates yes, some genes can, and such genes are called keystone genes. Barbour et al. set up a small ecosystem containing two herbivore aphids, one predator of these…

Make two from one: How embryonic algal cells divide in an orchestrated flow of subcellular structures

Von der Heyde and Hallmann uncover the enormous dynamics of early cell divisions in Volvox embryos.  https://doi.org/10.1093/plcell/koac004 Eva Laura von der Heyde and Armin Hallmann Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology of Plants, University of Bielefeld, Universitätsstr. 25, 33615…

Special issue: Sex determination and sex chromosome evolution in land plants (Philosophical Transactions B)

At some point, most biology students learn the term “dioecy” (two houses), which refers to the separation of male and female function into different individuals, a characteristic that is common in animals but less so in flowering plants. About 6% of angiosperms and 65% of gymnosperms are dioecious,…

The urban environment led to unintended adaptive evolution in plants (Science)

Generally, evolution is driven by natural selection, but not always. Human activities lead to the creation of unique niches, and other organisms must adapt accordingly. Cities are unique niches that are significantly different from rural areas and natural conditions. The urban habitat provides plants…

Seed dormancy in space and time: global distribution, paleo- and present climatic drivers and evolutionary adaptations ($) (New Phytol.)

Seed dormancy is widely recognized as a key mechanism to ensure that germination takes place under the most suitable conditions. Such is its importance that multiple studies have described the morphological, physiological, and genetic mechanisms behind it, yet its global distribution and the past and…

A species-specific partial duplicate gene in Arabidopsis thaliana evolved novel morphological effects

Huang, Chen and colleagues take advantage of a partial duplicated gene to compare the functions of the partial duplicate and its parental copy.  By Yuan Huang, Jiahui Chen, Shengqian Xia and Manyuan Long, Department of Ecology and Evolution, The University of Chicago, Chicago, USA  Background:…

Water-related innovations in land plants evolved by different patterns of gene cooption and novelty (New Phytol)

The availability of genome data from across the kingdom of plants has provided insights into plant evolution, and particularly the emergence of land plants. Here, Bowles et al. explore the genetic origins of three key innovations that supported the expansion of land plants: stomata, vascular tissues,…

Convergent evolution of red nectar in vertebrate-pollinated flowers (PNAS)

Nesocodon mauritianus is about one out of 70 plant species that produce colored nectar. The nectar of Nesocodon starts off yellow in newly opened flowers and progresses to blood-red in color as the flowers mature. The authors showed that the red colored nectar is both visible and attractive to geckos,…

Dynamic Evolution of Self-Incompatibility in Angiosperms

Zhao et al. demonstrate the dynamic evolutionary processes of self-incompatibility in angiosperms.  By Hong Zhao and Yongbiao Xue, State Key Laboratory of Plant Cell and Chromosome Engineering, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, and the Innovation Academy of Seed Design, Chinese Academy…