Recent Posts

Zygotic genome activation occurs shortly after fertilization in maize

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A plant’s life begins with the fusion of haploid egg and sperm cells to produce a diploid zygote. Many of the processes that control early development are under the control of the maternal genome, but at some point there is a shift towards zygotic control. Chen et al. investigated when this shift occurs…

Emergence of subgenome dominance across time and ploidy

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Many plants are not simple diploids (two copies of each chromosome) but are instead are the result of various forms of polyploidization (for example, whole-genome duplication or interspecific hybridization). Polyploidization can disrupt well-established controls over gene expression levels, transposon…

Temporal and spatial transcriptomic and miRNA dynamics of CAM photosynthesis in pineapple ($)

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CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) is the form of photosynthesis in which carbon assimilation occurs at night. CAM allows plants, especially those growing in arid regions, to avoid excessive water loss. With the long-term goal of eventually engineering this water-conserving trait into crop plants, Wai…

Ash dieback epidemic in Europe: How can molecular technologies help?

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The fungal pathogen  Hymenoscyphus fraxineus that infects European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) has caused a huge epidemic and cost millions of trees their lives. Downie describes the employment of molecular techniques to trace the origin of the fungus in Europe, and describes how the fungal life cycle…

The sequences of 1,504 mutants in the model rice variety Kitaake facilitate rapid functional genomic studies

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Li et al. describe an important new genetic resource, a huge database of Kitaake rice mutants. Kitaake is a short-generation variety of Oryza sativa L. ssp. japonica well suited for genetic studies. The authors sequenced more than 1500 fast-neutron-induced mutants and identified more than 91,000 mutations…

A multi-purpose toolkit to enable advanced genome engineering in plants

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Precise genome editing holds tremendous promise for meeting future food security needs and sustainable agriculture. Čermák et al. describe a set of reagents that facilitate genome editing in plants, based on both TALEN (Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases) and CRISPR/Cas technologies. Precise…

The sunflower genome provides insights into oil metabolism, flowering and Asterid evolution

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Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) is an important oil crop and, according to the authors, “the only major crop domesticated in North America.” Assembling its genome has been difficult as more than three quarters of it is made up of young (less than one million years old) long-terminal repeat retrotransposons.…

Insights from 292 pigeonpea genomes ($)

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Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) is a widely-grown tropical legume domesticated in India about 3500 years ago. Yields have plateaued, and there is evidence for a genetic bottleneck that limits breeding potential in the elite varieties. Varshney et al. resequenced nearly 300 pigeonpea accessions including modern…

A nice cuppa genome: The tea (Camellia sinensis) genome

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The release of the tea (Camellia sinensis) genome completes the set of the three major caffeine-producing plants (also coffee and cacao). (Note that the title of this article refers to the “tea tree”, a name that is often used for a different plant, Melaleuca alternifolia, the source of tea tree…