Recent Posts

Nanoscale movements of cellulose microfibrils in primary cell walls ($)

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Cell walls are complex mixtures of cellulose microfibrils, proteins and other materials. Their mechanical properties can be measured and modeled, but it is not always simple to translate these measurements to changes at the molecular level. Zhang et al. used atomic force microscopy to provide an unprecedented…

Perspective: Multiplying the efficiency and impact of biofortification through metabolic engineering (Nature Comms.)

As heterotrophs, we are what we eat. One of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is to end all forms of hunger, including the “hidden hunger” that results from nutrient deficiencies. Van Der Straeten et al. provide an overview of biofortification strategies. They review current successes from…

Review: Applications of CRISPR–Cas in agriculture and plant biotechnology (Nature Rev. Mol. Cell Biol.)

This week’s announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry being awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna “for the development of a method for genome editing” comes as no surprise to many. CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)– Cas (CRISPR-associated…

Haplotype-resolved genome analyses of a heterozygous diploid potato (Nature Genetics)

Potato (Solanum tuberosum) is the third most important food crop worldwide. It is also a clonally propagated tetraploid, making progress in breeding genetically improved cultivars extremely difficult. Therefore, there are ongoing efforts to redomesticate potato from a tetraploid, tuber-propagated crop…

Multiple QTL mapping in autopolyploids: A random-effect model approach with application in a hexaploid sweetpotato full-sib population (Genetics)

Gene mapping and QTL identification for the improvement of important traits have not been fully explored in an autopolyploid species like sweetpotatoes (2n=6x=90) due to its genetic complexity. Most sweet potato QTL mapping efforts have relied on models used for diploid species, leading to low density…

REVIEW: Multi-parent populations in crops: a toolbox integrating genomics and genetic mapping with breeding (Heredity)

Biparental populations (BPPs) obtained by crossing two diverse inbred lines have long been used for dissecting the complex traits owing to their simplicity, ease of development and high power of detecting QTLs with a few hundred markers genotyped. Nonetheless, poor resolution and low genetic diversity…

Improvement of predictive ability in maize hybrids by including dominance effects and marker x environment models ($) (Crop Sci.)

Heterosis is phenomenon that occurs when crossbred individuals show qualities (such as such as size, growth rate, fertility, and yield) that are superior to those of both parents. In maize, heterosis can be explained in terms of hybrid vigor, and this has been well studied using traditional breeding.…

A gene knock-out that leads to seedless parthenocarpic fruits in Solanaceae plants ($) (PNAS)

Parthenocarpy, or the ability to make fruit without fertilization, is desirable for many reasons including the opportunity to make seedless fruits and a greater resiliency in crop production in the face of climate change. Matsuo et al. identified a new gene involved in parthenocarpy, starting with a…

Allelic mutations in the Ripening-inhibitor (RIN) locus generate extensive variation in tomato ripening ($) (Plant Physiol)

Ripened fruits attract animals to eat and disperse seeds, allowing propagation. Slowing down the fruit ripening process is often used commercially to decrease damage during transport and extend shelf life. Molecular (increased pigment, aroma, and flavor) and physiological (softened flesh) changes of…

Review. Gossypium genomics: Trends, scope, and utilization for cotton improvement (Trends Plant Sci)

Cotton (Gossypium spp.) provides the world’s most important natural fiber, and I suspect with our growing realization of the problems with plastics there will be still more demand for it. Yang et al. review the current state of Gossypium genomics. As a crop that has been domesticated for millennia,…