Recent Posts

Promotion of BR biosynthesis by miR444 is required for ammonium-triggered inhibition of root growth (Plant Physiol.) ($)

Nitrogen, as one of the most important plant nutrients, profoundly affects root growth. Nitrogen is usually taken up in one of two forms, nitrate (NO3-) or ammonium (NH4+), and the two forms affect root growth differently. Here, Jiao et al. demonstrate a connection between ammonium, a small RNA, and…

Medicago-Sinorhizobium-Ralstonia  co-infection reveals legume nodules as pathogen confined infection sites developing weak defenses (Curr. Biol.)

The pathogenic bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum enters roots through wounds and also at root tips. It can also infect legume nodules. Benezech et al. investigated how this infection occurs, and how it is affected by and affects nitrogen fixation. The authors found that nodules are as permissive of Ralstonia…

Control of nitrogen fixation in bacteria that associate with cereals (Nature Microbiol)

Legumes benefit from mutualistic symbioses with Rhizobia bacteria, which are induced to fix nitrogen when inside of the nodules produced by the plant. Cereals also associate with Rhizobia, but without nodules they don’t fix nitrogen. Ryu et al. set out to engineer inducible nitrogenase activity in…

Rice nitrogen nutrition is improved by association with a fungus carrying nitrogen-fixing endobacteria ($) (Plant Cell)

Previously, growth-promoting endophytic (living within the plant) microbes were isolated from plants (narrowleaf cattail, Typha angustifolia) growing in a nutrient-poor site in an effort to identify new beneficial microbes. One of these identified is the fungus Rhodotorula mucilaginosa. Now, Paul et…

Biosynthesis of the nitrogenase active-site cofactor precursor NifB-co in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (PNAS)

Nitrogenases are large, multisubunit enzymes that require complex metal cofactors. They are the only enzymes capable of fixing N2 into usable form, and are only produced by some archaea and bacteria; “nitrogen-fixing” legumes actually depend on the presence of their bacterial symbionts for this function.…

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,…

ATP binding cassette proteins ABCG37 and ABCG33 are required for potassium-independent cesium uptake in Arabidopsis roots (bioRxiv)

Potassium is one of the major nutrients for plant growth and development. Plants have a well-studied potassium uptake system mediated by transporters and ion channels. Unfortunately, due to the chemical similarity of potassium and cesium, which is toxic for plant growth, cesium is able to to get into…

Review: Celebrating 20 years of genetic discoveries in legume nodulation and symbiotic nitrogen fixation (Plant Cell)

Legumes are important crops because they are protein-rich, as a consequence of symbiotic nitrogen fixation (SNF). In the past 20 years, through forward and reverse genetics more than 200 genes have been identified that are involved in this process, from recognition through nodule differentiation and…

Approaches to improve soil fertility in sub-Saharan Africa (J Exp Bot)

Food security is a major issue in sub-Saharan Africa, aggravated by rapid population growth and low soil fertility. Stewart et al. explore approaches to improve soil fertility, hence food production, in this region. They argue for a holistic approach that addresses not only yields, but also poverty reduction…