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…

Wisconsin Fast Plants

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Instructions for activities using brassica, suitable for students of all ages. Through activities spanning the life cycle of Wisconsin Fast Plants®, you and your students can explore many aspects of plant growth and development and reproduction. In its 35 – 45 day life cycle, the Wisconsin Fast…

Pamela Ronald: The case for engineering our food

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2015 TED talk by Pamela Ronald. http://www.ted.com/talks/pamela_ronald_the_case_for_engineering_our_food

Two clustered NLR genes with opposing functions in rice blast resistance and yield ($)

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The indigenous Chinese rice variety Gumei 4 (GM4) shows durable and specific resistance to the rice blast fungal pathogen Manaporthe oryzae. Deng et al. mapped and sequenced the resistance locus Pigm, and found that it contains a cluster of 13 NLR (nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat) genes, three…

Breakthrough Technology: High-throughput phenotyping and QTL mapping of maize

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Zhang et al. identify the goal of high-throughput phenotyping as to “bridge the gap between genomics and phenomics”. In this Breakthrough Technology report, they used automatic phenotyping to quantify more than 100 traits across 16 developmental stages in a maize recombinant inbred line population,…

A chemical genetic roadmap to improved tomato flavor ($)

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They say that “chacun à son gout” (each has his own taste), but when it comes to tomatoes there is near universal agreement that they don’t taste as good as they used to: a fact that is borne out by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and the panel of taste-testers employed by Tieman et al. in…

MATRILINEAL, a sperm-specific phospholipase, triggers maize haploid induction ($)

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Sexual reproduction, with all that recombination and independent assortment, is an excellent way to generate genetic diversity and increase the likelihood that some progeny will survive. However, the seed industry strives to produce genetically uniform seeds. Although there are various ways to circumvent…

Network-based integration of systems genetics data reveals lignocellulosic metabolic pathways

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Eucalypts are fast-growing trees increasingly exploited for pulp, paper, bioenergy and other wood-based products. Using genetics tools and a network-based data integration (NBDI) approach, Mizrachi et al. explore a segregating Eucalyptus hybrid population for genes and pathways underlying biomass / bioenergy…

Uncovering hidden variation in polyploid wheat

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One of the big challenges of working with wheat, as compared to rice, is that the wheat we eat is polyploid; bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is hexaploid (six copies of each gene) and pasta wheat (Triticum turgidum) is tetraploid (four copies each). Polyploidy makes forward genetics difficult; knocking…

Gain-of-function variants of cytokinin receptors ($)

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Arabidopsis has three membrane-located, histidine-kinase cytokinin (CK) receptors (AHK2, 3, and 4). Loss-of-function mutants suggest that AHK2 and AHK3 function somewhat redundantly. To further explore the roles of these receptors, Bartrina and Jensen et al. isolated dominant gain-of-function mutants,…