Recent Posts

Secret Talents: STARCH SYNTHASE 5—Not an Enzyme, but Very Active!

Abt et al. found that Arabidopsis SS5, a protein homologous to typical starch-synthesizing enzymes, is itself enzymatically inactive, but rather has an important role in the starch granule initiation process. Plant Cell https://doi.org/10.1105/tpc.19.00946 By Melanie R. Abt and Samuel C. Zeeman, Institute…

Natural variations at the Stay-Green gene promoter control lifespan and yield in rice cultivars (Nature Comms)

Crop production is greatly influenced by the duration of the last stage of plant life cycle, senescence, through degradation of resources in leaves and remobilization of nutrients to developing seeds. Indeed, higher grain yield of important cereals such as maize and sorghum can be achieved by using stay-green…

Co‐catabolism of arginine and succinate drives symbiotic nitrogen fixation (Mol Sys Biol)

Symbiotic nitrogen fixation is a mutualistic relationship between plants and microbes in which plants supply fixed carbon to bacteria in exchange for nitrogen. During this process, the microbes use nitrogenase enzyme to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a plant-usable form, but the metabolic interaction…

Multiple metabolic innovations and losses are associated with major transitions in land plant evolution (Curr. Biol.)

The colonization of land by a single streptophyte algae lineage around 450 million years ago culminated in the evolution and radiation of all terrestrial flora, the embryophytes. Adapting and thriving in the land environment required many morphological and physiological innovations, as well as the acquisition…

Melatonin represses oil and anthocyanin accumulation in seeds (Plant Physiol.)

Seed oils and anthocyanins play several roles in plant physiology and are promising substances for crop engineering given their benefits for human health. Recent studies proposed that melatonin –a potent antioxidant present in all plant species– regulates the deposition of these metabolites in seeds,…

Special Issue: New perspectives on crassulacean acid metabolism biology

Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is a water-conserving strategy in which stomata open at night and carbon is stored until daytime photosynthesis provides the energy to fix it. This special issue of the Journal of Experimental Botany, edited by Hultine, Cushman, and Williams, brings together a set of…

Metabolite regulatory interactions control plant respiratory metabolism via Target of Rapamycin (TOR) kinase activation

The rate of mitochondrial respiration is highly dynamic and responds to numerous endogenous and exogenous factors. Here, O’Leary et al. have measured mitochondrial respiration (through O2 production) in response to various metabolites in leaf discs over several hours, to address not only post-translational…

Identification of low-abundant lipid droplet proteins in seeds and seedlings (Plant Physiol)

The ability of seeds to pack nutrients into dense stable capsules transformed plants’ and animals’ ability to thrive on land (imagine getting through your day without eating any foods derived from seeds or animals that eat seeds). Within many seeds, nutrients are packaged in lipid droplets, with…

Conversion of Escherichia coli to generate all biomass carbon from CO2 (Cell)

Plants are photosynthetic autotrophs, meaning they use light energy to feed themselves, with carbon dioxide as a carbon source. Heterotrophs like E. coli require organic carbon. Here, Gleizer et al. have rewired the metabolism of E. coli to make it into a (non-photosynthetic) autotroph, meaning it can…