Recent Posts

Critical plant gene takes unexpected detour that could boost biofuel yields

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 15, 2018 - For decades, biologists have believed a key enzyme in plants had one function--produce amino acids, which are vital to plant survival and also essential to human diets. But for Wellington Muchero, Meng Xie and their colleagues, this enzyme does more than advertised.…

Improving on the Humble Spud

The humble spud. Simple, unassuming, yet vital in supporting a large proportion of the world’s population. Historically speaking, much of the research performed on potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) has gone into enhancing their disease resistance, justifiably so given the severe famines brought about through…

Gravisensors in plant cells behave like an active granular liquid (PNAS)

When you try to tip rocks out of a bucket, nothing happens until the steepness of the angle is sufficient to start them shifting (the “avalanche angle”). By contrast, water starts moving with even the slightest tilt to the bucket. Now think about the gravity sensing particles in plant cells, starch-rich…

Sulfur partitioning between glutathione and protein synthesis determines plant growth (Plant Physiol.)

Sulfur is incorporated into the amino acid cysteine (Cys) and also the reactive-oxygen scavenger glutathione (GSH). Speiser et al. investigated the effect of restricting both Cys and glutathione production through a double-mutant analysis in Arabidopsis; sir1-1 is a slow-growing sulfite-reductase deficient…

Review: Auxin: a molecular trigger of seed development (Genes Devel.) ($)

Seeds are hugely important, providing the opportunity for reproductive dormancy in seed-bearing plants and as a nutrient-dense food source for animals. Seed development involves the formation of three genetically distinct tissues, the embryo, seed coat and endosperm. Although normally dependent on fertilization…

Review: The road to auxin-dependent growth repression and promotion in apical hooks (Curr. Biol.)

We often hear that auxin controls plant growth. In a special issue of Current Biology focused on membranes, Béziat and Kleine-Vehn observe that due to its role in controlling the distribution of auxin transporters (and therefore auxin), it is also reasonable to say that vesicle trafficking controls…

Adaptive diversification of growth allometry in Arabidopsis thaliana (PNAS)

Most students learn that metabolism does not increase at the same rate as an animal’s size – an elephant eats much less per unit of body mouse than a mouse does. This non-linear scaling, described through metabolic scaling theory, also occurs in plants – the growth rate of large plants is relatively…

BRI1 and BAK1 interact with G proteins and regulate sugar-responsive growth and development (Nature Comms.)

Sensing sugar is important, especially if you are a plant, as it helps you to decide whether to invest it in new tissues, or rather store it for later. Low levels of glucose promote seedling growth, while high concentrations repress the development. Peng et al. discovered that brassinosteroid signaling…

Comparative analysis of Arabidopsis ecotypes reveals a role for brassinosteroids in root hydrotropism (Plant Physiol.)

Plastic plant growth serves them well, as it ensures efficient exploration of the environment. A plant can direct the growth of its roots towards the water, but the mechanisms behind hydrotropism are still to be fully understood. Miao et al. performed a screen of 30 Arabidopsis accessions for altered…