Recent Posts

Primer: Rhynie chert ($) (Curr. Biol.)

This short Primer by Strullu-Derrien et al. introduces the amazing early vascular plant fossils from the Rhynie chert. The fossils' high level of detail is a consequence of their being embedded in a glass-like silica matrix, possibly derived from hydrothermal springs. The fossils are approximately 407…

Evolution of carnivorous traps from planar leaves through simple shifts in gene expression (Science)

When is a leaf not a leaf? When it’s a trap. Just about everyone, including Charles Darwin, has been fascinated by carnivory in plants, which involves the development of structures that capture or trap food. Whitewoods, Gonçalves, Cheng et al. investigated how traps form in the humped bladderwort…

Genetic contribution of paleopolyploidy to adaptive evolution in angiosperms (Mol Plant)

Genetic contribution of paleopolyploidy to adaptive evolution in angiosperms Comparative genomics has revealed that the angiosperms have experienced numerous whole-genome duplications (WGD), which have been proposed to have contributed to their global dominance. Following WGD, many of the…

Penium margaritaceum genome bears footprints of evolutionary origins of land plants (bioRxiv)

The Zygnematophyceae are the green algae that are most closely related to land plants. Some species in this clade are considered subaerial, meaning that they can live under air (as opposed to under water). The green films you see on tree trunks and walls are often Zygnematophycaea. Several new insights…

Genomes of subaerial Zygnematophyceae provide insights into land plant evolution ($) (Cell)

The availability of charophyte algae genomic information is helping to understand how the plant transition to a terrestrial environment occurred at the molecular level. Here, Cheng et al. are releasing two genomes from the Zygnematophyceae clade (Spirogloea muscicola and Mesotaenium endlicherianum),…

A ligand-independent origin of abscisic acid perception ($) (PNAS)

The origins of ABA signaling have long been puzzling. Green algae make ABA but don't respond to it, and ABA receptors have appeared to be missing from their genomes. Reccently, Sun et al. identified a gene encoding an ortholog of PYL family of ABA receptor proteins in the transcriptome of an alga from…

Emergence of the Ug99 lineage of the wheat stem rust pathogen through somatic hybridization (Nature Comms)

The Ug99 strain of wheat stem rust pathogen Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt) emerged in Uganda in 1999 and presents a significant threat to global wheat production. Genetic analysis indicates it is distinct from other Pgt races. Li et al. set out to understand its origins. Puccinia graminis are…

Pollination of Cretaceous flowers (PNAS)

Like something from Jurassic Park, a tiny insect embedded in amber has provided new insights into life millions of years ago. But in this case, the 99 million year old insect shows us that, as Darwin surmised, insects really were important contributors to angiosperm pollination from their origins. In…

Essay: Reconstructing trait evolution in plant evo–devo studies (Curr. Biol.)

Plant evo-devo studies are thriving thanks to new genetic engineering tools and the emergence of model systems such as the moss Physcomitrella patens, the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha, and the fern Ceratopteris richardii. In the past few years many debates have taken place among the community, in…