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 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…

Special Issue: Legumes – From Food Security to Climate Change

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The April issue of J. Exp. Bot is a special issue on Legumes. The Editorial introduction, by Considine et al. (10.1093/jxb/erx099) observes that grain legumes “will form a cornerstone of future food and nutritional security and a global web of biodiversity.” Issue articles span topics including genomics…

Student-driven plant breeding symposium addresses global challenges in the 21st century

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This week we spoke to Francisco Gomez and Ammani Kyanam, graduate students in the Soil and Crop Science Department at Texas A&M University, USA. They were part of the organizing committee for the recent Texas A&M Plant Breeding Symposium, a successful meeting run entirely by students at the University.   Could…

Folate, DNA Methylation and Flowering Time

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Tetrahydrofolate (THF) and its derivatives, collectively termed folates, are a group of essential B-complex vitamins that have long been recognized as necessary nutrients to support normal cell differentiation and growth. Folates function as co-enzymes in one-carbon transfer reactions and play a central…

Early history of Arabidopsis thaliana

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Arabidopsis thaliana is a good study system to shed light on evolutionary processes. Its broad native range and genetic diversity provide resources to study speciation and local adaptation. Durvasula et al. studied the early history and transition to selfing of this species by comparing genome sequences…

Silver birch: genome sequence and population genomic analyses

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Salojärvi et al. have assembled the genome of silver birch (Betula pendula) and examined genomic diversity across 150 individuals collected from across Northern Europe and Asia. Their study shows that there have been several genetic bottlenecks associated with climate upheaval (e.g., at the K-Pg boundary…

Just add water: Could resurrection plants help feed the world?

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This week we spoke to Professor Henk Hilhorst (Wageningen University and Research) about his research on desiccation tolerance in seeds and plants.   Could you begin by telling us a little about your research? I am a plant physiologist specializing in seed biology. I have a long research…

A chromosome conformation capture ordered sequence of the barley genome

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Cereal grasses are of course economically important, but they also have large repetitive genomes with large pericentromeric regions that have been difficult to map and sequence. Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is used for human and animal food and fermented to produce beer and whisky. A barley sequence assembly…

Tissue-specific transcriptomics shows the unfolded protein response’s role in maintaining fertility upon heat stress ($)

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Plant reproduction is particularly sensitive to heat stress, so rising temperature is a major threat to food security.  Zhang et al. surveyed the transcriptional responses to heat stress (3 h at 37º) in Arabidopsis and identified large differences between vegetative and reproductive tissue responses…