Recent Posts

UDP-glucosyltransferase regulates grain size and abiotic stress tolerance associated with metabolic flux redirection in rice (Nature Comms.)

Climate change severely affects plant growth and jeopardizes yields of essential seed crops such as rice. Still, the mechanisms underlying the synergistic regulation of abiotic stress response and important agronomic traits remain poorly understood. Dong et al. cloned and characterized a major QTL in…

Review: The domestication syndrome in vegetatively propagated field crops (Ann. Bot.)

Archeological remains and genetic analyses of ancient DNA have revealed that the loss of seed dispersal marks the onset of domestication for sexually reproduced crops such as cereal, legume and oils seed crops, for which annual cultivation is based on sowing seeds. In contrast, less is known about the…

Opinion: We aren’t good at picking candidate genes, and it’s slowing us down (COPB)

Recent advances have facilitated the generation of huge phenotypic datasets from plant populations. However, the means to inexpensively organise such datasets to unequivocally determine causal genes has evaded researchers. Here, Baxter discusses how human bias when selecting candidate genes is compromising…

High-throughput CRISPR/Cas9 mutagenesis streamlines trait gene identification in maize (Plant Cell)

Maize has provided some fascinating mutants and developmental insights, but its genomic complexity has made it more difficult (for example as compared to rice) to identify agronomically important genes. Liu et al. describe a new high-throughput method to integrate forward- and reverse-genetics to identify…

Base-editing-mediated artificial evolution of OsALS1 in planta to develop novel herbicide-tolerant rice germplasms (Mol. Plant)

The trait of herbicide tolerance allows farmers to use chemical means to eliminate weed competitors. Acetolactate synthase (ALS) is an enzyme targeted by more than 50 different herbicides. In order to generate novel herbicide tolerance traits, Kuang et al. used a base-editing artificial evolution approach,…

Enhanced sustainable green revolution yield via nitrogen-responsive chromatin modulation in rice ($) (Science)

The well-known success of the green-revolution was accomplished through the development of semi-dwarf grasses (rice and wheat), which led to decreased losses to lodging and higher yields; however, the benefits of these improved varieties depends on the application of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. As N-rich…

Review: Genetic strategies for improving crop yields (Nature)

Simply put, as food demand increases due to population growth and increased affluence, crop yields are likely to decrease due to the changing climate. Plant scientists will be familiar with many research avenues that aim to address this disconnect, ranging from increasing crop resilience to abiotic stresses,…

Overexpression of zmm28 increases maize grain yield in the field (PNAS)

This study, from scientists at Corteva Agriscience, demonstrates a yield boost in transgenic maize overexpressing a gene encoding a transcription factor. Expression of zmm28, a maize MADS-box transcription factor gene, is elevated through fusion to a maize GOS2 promoter, which provides moderate, constitutive…

A large transposon insertion in the stiff1 promoter increases stalk strength in maize (Plant Cell)

We all know the importance of staying upright, especially for our grass crops. Here, Zhang et al. identified a gene underlying a large-effect quantitative trait locus that confers stiff stalks, so prevents lodging. They show that the stiff-stock allele carries a large transposon that strongly represses…