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…

A cis-regulatory atlas in maize at single-cell resolution (bioRxiv)

Cis-regulatory elements (CREs) are DNA sequences found near or within genic regions that drive proper gene expression in time and space. Thus, CREs play essential roles in the diversification of spatially distinct cell-types with specialized function in multicellular organisms. To identify CREs underlying…

Multidimensional gene regulatory landscape of a bacterial pathogen in plants (Nature Plants)

The outcome of a plant-bacteria interaction is determined by the bacterial virulence and plant immune systems. Individually, these systems, and to an extent their interactions, have been well studied. However, certain aspects of their interactions remain elusive, particularly how plant immunity affects…

Review Single-cell genomics and epigenomics: Technologies and applications in plants ($) (Trends Plant Sci)

Plants (embryophytes) are by definition multicellular, but we seek to understand them as the sum of the activities of individual cells. Much of this knowledge rests on information obtained through grinding up tissues  made up from several cell types. This review by Luo et al. describes methods for plant…

Structural basis for WUSCHEL binding (bioRxiv)

The transcription factor WUSCHEL (WUS) plays a central role in organization of the shoot meristem. The three-helix bundle homeodomain in WUS can bind to several distinct DNA sequence motifs in many target genes promoters, but a structural view of these binding events has been lacking. Here Sloan et al.…

The Way Out: A Transcriptionally Unique Group of Endosperm Cells Implicated in Nutrient Export to the Embryo

Successful development of the maize (Zea mays) kernel requires proper nutrient transport and signaling among its genetically distinct components: the embryo that gives rise to the next generation, the endosperm that nourishes the embryo, and the maternal tissues that surround the embryo and the endosperm…

Metabolic labeling of RNAs uncovers hidden features and dynamics of the Arabidopsis transcriptome (Plant Cell)

The ability to directly sequence RNAs (RNA-seq) has revolutionized our understanding of gene expression, but it can miss or underestimate short-lived RNAs. Several methods have been developed to identify newly-synthesized mRNAs to provide a snapshot of transcription as it happens. Szabo present Neu-seq,…

Reprogramming of root cells during nitrogen-fixing symbiosis involves dynamic polysome association of coding and noncoding RNAs ($) (Plant Cell)

The symbiotic relationship between Rhizobium bacteria and leguminous plants like Medicago results in the development of secondary root organs called nodules. The bacteria housed in the nodule infection zone assimilate atmospheric nitrogen for plant growth. In this paper, Traubenik et al. used (RNA-seq)…

Transcriptomic and cell wall analysis of stinging nettle, an underutilized fibre crop (Plant Direct)

Plant fibres from crops such as flax and hemp have diverse uses from rope to clothing, and are increasingly being incorporated into eco-friendly biocomposite materials.  These long, flexible, useful fibres, called “bast” fibres, are not derived from the xylem, but instead are derived from specialized…

Male sterility in maize after transient heat stress (Plant Physiol)

The corn we eat is a seed, which is a product of fertilization. It is widely known that corn yields are highly susceptible to abiotic stress conditions that occur during the repdroductive stage of development. Begcy et al. used a metabolomic / transcriptomic approach to understand why transient heat…