Recent Posts

Spotlight: Super-pangenomes for improved breeding

Sometimes more really is better, and I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to genomic information, more is better. Here, Raza et al. highlight the great value of super-pangenomes. A pan-genome is defined as the entire set of genes within a species, created by combining sequences of many individuals.…

When and how did carrots turn orange?

Carrots were not always orange, and a new paper by Coe, Bostan, Rolling et al. sheds new light into the history of carrot domestication and improvement, i.e., how we went from white, knotty carrots to the orange, smooth ones that are now consumed all over the world. The authors published a new version…

Commentary: Time to fight the over-hype

A year ago, graduate student Merritt Khaipho-Burch Tweeted a reaction to an article about a gene described as enhancing yield, which led to lively on-line and in-the-lunchroom discussions about how to realistically measure yield, and, maybe more importantly, where to draw the line between potential and…

Plant Physiology Focus Issue: Fruit Crops

July brings delicious fruit harvests in the Northern Hemisphere, and a very special focus issue of Plant Physiology. I particularly like this issue because of the wide variety of species covered, starting with apple, banana, blueberry, cherry, citrus, and so on. It’s a nice departure from our usual…

Review: Salt-tolerant crops: Time to deliver

Few topics are as inherently interesting from both fundamental and applied perspectives as salt tolerance in crop plants. From the basic science side, cells have several strategies that they use to keep Na+ levels low in their cytosol in spite of what can be a very steep concentration gradient from out…

Genome editing: An update on global policies and perceptions

The CRISPR/Cas system has become a popular genome editing (GEd) method in animals and plants, which allows very fine alterations in target genes and avoids the concerns that accompany introducing genes from other organisms. To improve food security and accelerate breeding. this technology has been applied…

A paternal perspective on maternal inheritance

Nuclear DNA is inherited from both parents during sexual reproduction, but organellar DNA is (usually) exclusively received from the mother. However, stable biparental inheritance of organellar DNA has also been reported in plants and animals but its molecular mechanism is unknown. Using quantitative…

Genome-wide dissection of maize root system architecture

Root system architecture (RSA) is a complex trait that directly or indirectly influences most aspects of plant survival, largely through its effects on nutrient and water uptake as well as support and anchoring. Its hidden nature has made it harder to study than the architecture of the shoot, and led…

Review: Power and perils of de novo domestication

I’m excited by the ways that knowledge about plant developmental and metabolic programs is being used to make new varieties of plants. This excellent review describes some of these applications such as changes in fruit size or seed number. De novo domestication is a specific type of application that…