Recent Posts

Review: Biogeochemical effects of early life on land

Earth colonization by life happened billions of years ago. Weathering of soils by microbial mats leave a characteristic signal that can be used to shed light on the mechanisms involved in colonization. In this review, Lenton and Daines discuss the growing mass of evidence that points to the biogeochemical…

Review: Intracellular innate immune surveillance devices in plants and animals ($)

Cells recognize invaders through both cell-surface receptors and intracellular receptors, the latter of which can recognize the invader directly or indirectly, for example through its effects on host proteins. Intracellular surveillance proteins in animals and plants share a core domain, the nucleotide…

Review: Evolutionary perspective on auxin’s role in shoot branching

Shoot branching increases the photosynthetic surface area and the points at which reproductive structures can form. In angiosperms, auxin (specifically, auxin depletion) has been shown to be involved in the initiation and outgrowth of shoot branches. For example, in apical dominance the primary shoot…

Pushing back the dawn of life

Our understandings of the forces that have shaped Earth and the forces that have shaped life on Earth have common roots. Charles Darwin was famously inspired by the work of early geologists such as Charles Lyell, who proposed that Earth was subject to slow but gradual change. This idea recurs in Darwin’s…

Adaptive evolution of complex traits explored through genome biogeography

It has been stated that adaptive evolution occurs in plant populations with respect to various complex traits. Olofsson et al. validated the hypothesis that different components of a complex trait can evolve in isolation and later be combined by gene flow by using C4 photosynthesis as a study system.…

From LUCA to Lily: 12 perspectives for teaching about plants

The other day I was talking to a friend about the need to demystify plants, so that teachers feel as confident in their teaching of plant biology as they do about animal biology. I wonder if sometimes we teach plants too much in isolation, so it’s not always clear how plants relate to other organisms…