Recent Posts

Origin of angiosperms and the puzzle of the Jurassic gap (Nature Plants)

Understanding the origin and evolution of flowering plants is key to explaining the development of major terrestrial ecosystems. The rapid diversification of angiosperms into over 360,000 extant species was famously termed ‘an abominable mystery’ by Charles Darwin. Here, Li et al reconstruct the…

Yam genomics supports West Africa as a major cradle of crop domestication (Sci Advances)

Yams (Dioscorea spp.) were domesticated independently in three continents. African yam (Dioscorea rotundata) is the second most produced crop in Africa, after cassava but ahead of maize, rice and sorghum. Scarcelli et al. use a genomic approach to learn more about its domestication, by sequencing many…

The macroevolutionary history of light signaling ($) (Mol Plant)

The ability to sense and respond to light is a fundamental feature of photosynthetic organisms like plants. Much has been learned about the molecular genetic mechanisms controlling light perception and downstream signaling processes in evolutionarily young land plant lineages like angiosperms, with comparatively…

Durum wheat genome highlights past domestication signatures and future improvement targets (Nature Genetics)

Durum wheat cultivar Svevo (Triticum turgidum L. ssp. durum) is a cereal crop predominantly grown for pasta production. It is the result of multiple rounds of domestication, originally deriving from wild emmer wheat from the Fertile Crescent approximately 10,000 years ago. Here, Maccaferri et al. report…

Chromatin signature and transcription factor binding provide a predictive basis for understanding plant gene expression (Plant Cell Physiol)

Machine learning is a booming research field, also in Plant Science. Here, Wu et al. use chromatin modifications and transcription factors to predict transcription levels in Arabidopsis and rice. This is not only important for prediction but also to understand the mechanisms underlying epigenetic regulation.…

Molecular digitization of 689 vascular plant species from the Ruili Botanical Garden (Giga Science)

Recent advances in genome sequencing have increased our understanding of plant evolution and provided insights into factors affecting agriculturally important traits (e.g., yield, stress tolerance). There is an impetus to increase the quantity and quality of genomes publically available with around 350…

Dramatic changes in repeat element content and gene family sizes underlie the high-altitude adaptation of rock-cress  (PNAS)

The ability to grow on the ‘roof of the world’ - the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, makes Crucihimalaya himalaica (Rock-cress) an important model for studying adaptive evolution. A draft genome sequence of C. himalaica reported by Zhang et al. now provides clues to its speciation and ecological adaptation.…

Review: Copy Number Variations shaping plant domestication (Trends Plant Sci)

Human-associated plant domestication is a co-evolutionary process that began at least 12,000 years ago. However, the genetic variations underlying many domestication traits are still unknown. In this review, Lye and Purugganan discuss how copy number variations (CNVs) have played an important role in…

Convergent gene loss in aquatic plants predicts new components of plant immunity and drought response (bioRxiv)

Plants transitioned from water to land around 450 Million years ago. Since their emergence onto land, there have been at least a few reversion events to aquatic environments (e.g., duckweed, humped bladderwort). These big evolutionary events imply adaptation to completely different kinds of biotic and…