Recent Posts

Nanoscale movements of cellulose microfibrils in primary cell walls ($)

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Cell walls are complex mixtures of cellulose microfibrils, proteins and other materials. Their mechanical properties can be measured and modeled, but it is not always simple to translate these measurements to changes at the molecular level. Zhang et al. used atomic force microscopy to provide an unprecedented…

A single gene underlies the dynamic evolution of poplar sex determination (Nature Plants)

Dioecy (male and female flowers residing on distinct individuals) has independently arisen several times in angiosperms, yet the genetic basis of dioecy remains obscure. Here, Müller et al. reveal a single gene that acts as a sex-determination switch throughout the Populus genus. A negative regulator…

Genomic history and ecology of the geographic spread of rice (Nature Plants)

Originating in China’s Yangtze Valley ~9,000 years ago, rice (Oryza sativa) is a staple food for over half of the world’s population. While rice domestication has been well-researched, studies addressing the species' diversification and spread post-domestication are lacking. Here, Gutaker et al. tell…

Mutations PETALOSA cause a dominant double-flower phenotype (J. Exp. Bot.)

Flower development has always been a fascinating field of research in plant biology. While molecular studies in the past focused on regulatory genes involved in the formation of floral organs in model species, current investigations are addressing the genetic determinants underlying the huge variety…

No-Genome-Required-GWAS (Nature Genetics)

Conventional approaches to connect phenotype to genotype, including genome-wide association studies (GWAS), are often limited by the quality of the species’ reference genome, and frequently neglect to detect structural variants that are common in plant genomes. Here, Voichek and Weigel present a “No-Genome-Required-GWAS”…

Evolution of tetraploid meiosis (PNAS)

Genome duplications are common in plants and thought to be an important contributor to evolutionary innovations, but the increase in ploidy that results from a genome duplication also presents challenges for reproduction. Because there are four sets of homologous chromosomes in the derived tetraploid…

Genome-phenome wide association in maize and Arabidopsis identifies a common molecular and evolutionary signature (Mol. Plant)

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are widely used to link natural genetic variation to trait variation, with a single or a select few correlated traits assessed. High-throughput phenotyping allows the scoring of hundreds of individuals for various traits at several time points. An undeniable consequence…

Opinion: We aren’t good at picking candidate genes, and it’s slowing us down (COPB)

Recent advances have facilitated the generation of huge phenotypic datasets from plant populations. However, the means to inexpensively organise such datasets to unequivocally determine causal genes has evaded researchers. Here, Baxter discusses how human bias when selecting candidate genes is compromising…

Opinion. Anthropogenic seed dispersal: Rethinking the origins of plant domestication (Trends Plant Sci)

Studies regarding the development of agriculture have started to integrate a plant evolutionary perspective. In this context, Spengler explores how changes in seed dispersal allowed plant domestication during the first half of the Holocene (e.g., more than 5000 years ago). He starts by redefining domestication…

Base-editing-mediated artificial evolution of OsALS1 in planta to develop novel herbicide-tolerant rice germplasms (Mol. Plant)

The trait of herbicide tolerance allows farmers to use chemical means to eliminate weed competitors. Acetolactate synthase (ALS) is an enzyme targeted by more than 50 different herbicides. In order to generate novel herbicide tolerance traits, Kuang et al. used a base-editing artificial evolution approach,…