Volume 3

  • No. 12 December 2017

    Preserving plant genome integrity

    Comparison of the genome of two terminal branches of a 234-year-old oak tree reveals a low number of fixed somatic mutations. Data suggest that stem cells of shoot meristems (the ‘germline’) in trees are robustly protected from the accumulation of mutations.

    See Schmid-Siegert et al.

  • No. 11 November 2017

    Role reversal

    Tomato rin mutants completely fail to ripen. The fruits do not soften and they do not turn from green to red, orange or yellow. However, RIN is not an inducer of ripening. Rather rin is a gain-of-function mutation that produces a repressor of ripening.

    See Nature Plants 3, 866–874 (2017).

  • No. 10 October 2017

    Conservation bias

    Thirty per cent of the world’s plant species are conserved in botanic gardens, over forty per cent of species known to be threatened. However, there are geographic disparities. Temperate species are more likely to be held by a botanic garden than tropical species, reflecting the high cost of maintaining tropical conditions.

    See Nature Plants 3, 795–802 (2017).

  • No. 9 September 2017

    Shape Shifting

    How do essentially flat leaves develop their complex curves? Polarity signals produce changes in mechanical properties – related to the methyl-esterification of cell-wall pectins – of cell walls on opposite sides of the leaf. This mechanical heterogeneity is sufficient to create the leaves' asymmetry.

    See Nature Plants 3, 724–733 (2017).

  • No. 8 August 2017

    Orange order

    The orange carotenoid protein (OCP) is a modular photoactive protein governing cyanobacterial photoprotection. Comparing a newly discovered family of OCP with the canonical form provides insight into the fine-tuning of antenna energy quenching, which will help in the engineering of ‘smart’ cyanobacterial photoprotection.

    See Nature Plants 3, 17089 (2017).

  • No. 7 July 2017

    Trouble brewing

    Ethiopian coffee farming faces major challenges in the decades to come, not least due to climate change. Significant resilience, and even a substantial increase in coffee production area, could be acheived by precise and timely relocation of coffee-growing areas. But longer-term prospects are less optimistic.

    See Nature Plants 3, 17081 (2017).

  • No. 6 June 2017

    African parallels

    Grain size and seed shattering are important agronomic traits, both of which are controlled by the GL4 gene. Selection of a SNP in GL4 causes small seeds and loss of seed shattering during African rice domestication, and may help enhance future crop yields to meet the challenge of food demand in West Africa.

    See Nature Plants 3, 17064 (2017).

  • No. 5 May 2017

    Lichen treasury

    The fossil record of lichens, symbioses of fungi and either algae or cyanobacteria, has been increased more than tenfold by the recovery of 152 new specimens preserved in European ambers formed in the Palaeogene. Pictured here is a fruticose lichen from Eocene Baltic amber.

    See Nature Plants 3, 17049 (2017).

  • No. 4 April 2017

    Duplex silencing

    Plants convert aberrant transcripts into double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs), which trigger their post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS). The poly(A) tail, a hallmark of canonical mRNAs, inhibits such dsRNA conversion by RNA-DEPENDENT RNA POLYMERASE6 (RDR6), preventing 'self-attack' by PTGS.

    See Nature Plants 3, 17036 (2017).

  • No. 3 March 2017

    Wall planner

    Xa4 is a widely exploited and lasting disease resistance gene in rice breeding. It encodes a cell wall-associated kinase that slightly reduces plant height by partially preventing culm cell elongation.

    See Nature Plants 3, 17009 (2017).

  • No. 2 February 2017

    Weighting palms

    Fruits of the palm Mauritia flexuosa are used as food by Amazonian cultures. Understanding which traits are linked to particular human needs reveals the processes that underpin ecosystem service realization.

    See Nature Plants 3, 16220 (2016).

  • No. 1 January 2017

    Dominance constrained

    Self-fertilization in Brassica rapa is prevented by the interaction of multiple alleles at the self-incompatibility locus. The complicated hierarchy among many alleles is epigenetically controlled by a discrete number of polymorphic small RNAs.

    See Nature Plants 3, 16206 (2016).