Recent Posts

Hierarchically aligning 10 legume genomes establishes a family-level genomics platform

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Many legumes are important crops, and to date ten legume genomes have been sequenced, including soybean, common bean, mung bean, and two species of wild peanut. Wang et al. used hierarchical comparative genomics analysis of the ten legume genomes, which enabled them to detected gene colinearity between…

Living on the edge: conservation genetics of seven thermophilous plant species in a high Arctic archipelago

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The Arctic provides numerous opportunities to study how climate change and isolation affect plant populations. Birkeland et al. queried the genetic diversity within isolated populations of seven heat-loving (thermophilous) species in the high Arctic (74° – 81° N) Svalbard Archipelago, near the well-known…

Letter: Picking up the ball at the K/Pg boundary: Ancient polyploidies as a spandrel of asexuality

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Roughly 66 million years ago Earth was hit by a huge asteroid, resulting in climate changes that led to mass extinctions, most famously of the non-avian dinosaurs. This catastrophic event, which marks the boundary between the Cretaceous (K) and Paleogene (Pg) periods, also caused widespread mass extinctions…

Review: The evo-devo of plant speciation

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Speciation events result from a combination of molecular, environmental and stochastic (random) factors. Several models developed in the last 150 years help to explain how species emerge, but more recently evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) approaches give us tools to decipher plant speciation.…

Update: Origins and evolution of stomatal development

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The fossil record suggests stomata-like pores were present on the surfaces of land plants over 400 million years ago. Whether stomata arose once or whether they arose independently across newly evolving land plant lineages has long been a matter of debate. In Arabidopsis, a genetic toolbox has been identified…

Signatures of local adaptation in lowland and highland teosintes from whole genome sequencing of pooled samples ($)

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Teosinte, the ancestor of maize, grows in a range of environments in México. Teosinte parviglumis (Zea mays ssp parviglumis) is more prevalent in lowland regions while teosinte mexicana (Zea mays ssp mexicana) occupies highland territory (>2000 m above sea level). Admixture between parviglumis and…

Divergent evolution driven by pollinators

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A great variety of plants rely on pollinators to be fertilized successfully. This close relationship is thought to drive evolutionary diversification in plants, making the presence or absence of pollinators in response to climate change an increasingly relevant matter. Gervasi and Schiestl addressed…

Evidence for Ancient Origins of Bowman-Birk Inhibitors from Selaginella moellendorffii

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Many seeds produce protease inhibitors that are thought to help protect them from pathogens and predation. One class are the Bowman-Birk Inhibitors (BBIs), which form folded loops that specifically bind to and inhibit trypsin and/or chymotrypsin proteases. Originally characterized from legumes, BBIs…

Review: Palaeobotanical redux: revisiting the age of the angiosperms

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Although angiosperms are the dominant autotrophs in most parts of the world, their evolutionary origins remain somewhat mysterious. Herendeen et al. review the earliest evidence for angiosperms from the Early Cretaceous, and discuss fossil remains from earlier periods (Jurassic, Triassic) that have some…