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…

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,…

Review. Gossypium genomics: Trends, scope, and utilization for cotton improvement (Trends Plant Sci)

Cotton (Gossypium spp.) provides the world’s most important natural fiber, and I suspect with our growing realization of the problems with plastics there will be still more demand for it. Yang et al. review the current state of Gossypium genomics. As a crop that has been domesticated for millennia,…

Reciprocal cybrids reveal how organellar genomes affect plant phenotypes (Nature Plants)

A cybrid is a cytoplasmic hybrid; in other words, a cell or organism in which the cytosolic genomes (mitochondria and plastid) have a different origin than the nuclear genome; the nuclear genome is inherited solely from the paternal parent, and the cytosolic genomes from the maternal parent. Starting…

A SAC phosphoinositide phosphatase controls rice development via hydrolyzing PI4P and PI(4,5)P2 (Plant Physiol)

As their name suggests, phosphoinositide (PI) phosphatases remove phosphates from phosphoinositides (try saying that fast!). Because the phosphorylation status of a membrane-bound PI determines which proteins it interacts with, PI phosphatases and kinases contribute to membrane functions and dynamics.…

Rapid customization of Solanaceae fruit crops for urban agriculture ($) (Nature Biotech)

Numerous genes have been identified that modify shoot architecture, which has allowed breeding of varieties for specific purposes and environments. Here, Kwon et al. describe how they have used gene editing to modify several of these genes to produce tomatoes and groundcherries that are compact and rapid…

Unraveling cis and trans regulatory evolution during cotton domestication (Nature Comms)

Polyploidization leads to a myriad of changes in gene expression and organization of genomes and can supply the material for speciation, adaptation, and morphological innovation. The most cultivated cotton species, Gossypium hirsutum, is an allotetraploid species (AD genome) containing two subgenomes…