Recent Posts

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…

Review: Crop breeding technologies to feed the world (Nature Biotech)

The world demands food, plant scientists and breeders have the challenge of feeding a growing population. In a recent review Hickey et al. summarize the state-of-the-art technologies used for crop improvement. In use since 2003, ‘speed breeding’ is a set of improved methods for fast-tracking plant…

Genomic regions associated with economic traits in walnut (Plant Breeding)

The bearing habit refers to the location of flower buds in woody plants. For walnut cultivars, lateral bearing is preferred for its yield superiority. Deciphering its genetic architecture would improve seedling and sapling selection. Here, Aradhya et al. performed a SNP-based linkage map to estimate…

Wheat exome sequencing and wheat ancestry (Nature Genetics)

Wheat is of course a hugely important food for humans, and has been selectively bred across the globe for millennia. Modern bread wheats are hexaploid and contain three distinct subgenomes (AABBDD). As with other crops, there is a need to understand wheat’s ancestry and explore the greater genetic…

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…

Review: Molecular networks of seed size control in plants ($) (Annu Rev Plant Biol)

Crop yield is largely determined by the size of seeds, and studies are being conducted to understand the complex molecular network controlling the seed size. Li et al. review the possible molecular mechanisms and regulatory networks underlying seed size control and growth, including the factors originating…

Q&A: Modern crop breeding for future food security (BMC Biology)

The demand for plant-based products will increase and must be doubled in the near future. Therefore, there is need for technological advancements and skillsets in all fields related to agriculture to successfully produce more efficiently than now. What could be done to speed up production to meet the…