Recent Posts

Guard cell endomembrane Ca2+-ATPases underpin a ‘carbon memory’ of photosynthetic assimilation that impacts on water-use efficiency (Nature Plants)

Stomatal guard cells control both carbon dioxide uptake and transpirational water loss. Guard cell control over the stomatal pore  aperture is sensitive to water status (through ABA) as well as the amount of CO2 available within the leaf air space. Several studies have indicated that stomatal aperture…

Molecular switch architecture determines response properties of signaling pathways (PNAS)

Genetic studies have provided us with countless examples of regulatory switches that transduce a signal into a response. Mutant analysis is usually sufficient to identify these controlling elements, but often in an all-or-nothing way. Here, Ghusinga et al. have taken a theoretical kinetic approach to…

CO2 diffusion in tobacco: a link between mesophyll conductance and leaf anatomy (Interface Focus)

Three key factors affect a plant’s ability to fix carbon: enzymatic activity of Rubisco, stomatal conductance, and the journey from sub-stomatal cavity to Rubisco, also known as mesophyll conductance (gm). This latter is the focus of this new work by Clarke et al. They delightfully compare this journey…

Alternative CAM and water-saving flux modes into C3 leaf metabolic model (Plant Cell)

Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) is a photosynthetic adaptation pathway in arid environments to minimize water loss by opening the stomata at night, when the temperature and therefore water loss due to transpiration is lower. Carbon dioxide is initially fixed at night and stored in the vacuole. Engineering…

Wheat yield potential in controlled-environment vertical farms (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA)

When I think of vertical farms, I imagine baby lettuces and basil: small, leaf crops that benefit from growing close to the consumer. Here, Asseng et al. evaluate the potential to grow wheat, a staple seed crop, in a vertical farm system. Previous studies have demonstrated that wheat can be grown successfully…

Ancient seeds reconstruction and the evolution of integuments (New Phytologist)

The origin of seeds - the specialized structures that contain and protect the developing embryos- is a key event in plant evolution. Primitive seeds comprise an exposed nucellus surrounded by a lobate integument; in contrast, extant seeds have one or more integuments fully enclosing the nucellus.…

Protein complex stoichiometry and expression dynamics of transcription factors modulate stem cell division (PNAS)

Stem cells are a group of undifferentiated cells that can divide and differentiate to form new organs. In Arabidopsis roots, the quiescent center (QC: the mitotically inactive group of cells) helps regulate the division of surrounding initials and maintain the stem cell fate. What makes the QC different…

Review: Deep learning for plant genomics and crop improvement (Curr. Opin. Plant Biol.)

One of the goals of plant science is to use the molecular phenotype (genome, transcriptome, proteome) to predict the whole-plant phenotype. Deep learning approaches can potentially begin to do this, starting with a training dataset, and testing it with a validation dataset. Wang et al. review advances…

From plasmodesma geometry to effective symplasmic permeability through biophysical modelling (eLIFE)

Plasmodesmata are tiny regulated channels that connect adjacent plant cells through which nutrients, signaling molecules and viruses can move. To try to resolve discrepancies between functional and structural studies, Deinum et al. have developed a model for plasmodesmatal permeability that predicts…