Editorials

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  • Now we are volume six — a perfect opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights, personal and professional, of the past five years.

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  • Plant blindness is a pernicious force, even affecting the coming festive season. How can we increase the plant-based content of a well-known list of Christmas gifts?

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  • The past month has seen a couple of significant dates in the science calendar: one an annual event, the other an anniversary. At least one of these has far less to do with plant research than perhaps it ought to.

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  • In the Amazon basin, farmers and ranchers contest land use with environmental and indigenous groups. Does that make widespread fires the inevitable ‘new normal’?

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  • Scientific journals are entirely dependent on the multitude of researchers prepared to spend precious time on peer review. Are we asking too much, especially when there is so much else they could be doing?

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  • Literature is full of descriptions of future utopias and dystopias, but tomorrow’s tomorrows are too important to be left to fiction to consider. What qualities will be needed in plants in the coming decades?

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  • In supporting the 1909 land reform bill, Winston Churchill called land “by far the greatest of monopolies”, being the source of all wealth, strictly limited and fixed. One hundred and ten years later, land usage is again under scrutiny.

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  • Plants are different and amazingly diverse. We should not be embarrassed to study them independently of their many uses.

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  • Cryo-electron microscopy is currently one of the most productive structural techniques, especially for large protein complexes such as photosystems. This success is built on a very long history of technological advances.

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  • In June 2019, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations will elect a new Director General, an individual who will be central to global development for the next decade.

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  • Two recent Escherichia coli outbreaks, a United States government shutdown and the imminent departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union bring into focus the fragility of global food supply systems.

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  • The belated arrival of the Antirrhinum genome sequence brings this classic model plant into the genomic age and opens up increased avenues for plant biology research.

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  • We live in uncertain times, but the changing of the year provides a time not only to look back on the year that has passed, but also to look forward to what might happen in the year to come.

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  • Despite depressingly common misconceptions, fungi are not plants. However, the alliances made between these two forms of life could be an inspiration for the research communities that study them.

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  • Plant science, like all specialist disciplines, has its own particular language. But when this lexicon is used in other contexts, we may find words do not mean what we think they do.

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  • Just what do plants mean to you? To a plant biologist, they are objects of infinite fascination, but to many, plants are background — living wallpaper at best. However, the symbolic and cultural significance of plants is considerable, if often overused and undeserved.

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  • A recent ruling against Monsanto highlights the many ways that glyphosate has not only embedded itself within agriculture, but also tied agribusiness, science and politics together in unprecedented ways.

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  • Review by one’s peers has been a keystone of scientific progress since before the word ‘scientist’ was coined, but it can be an abrasive and dispiriting experience. How do young career-scientists think it can be improved?

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  • In the last decade, high-throughput sequencing approaches have revolutionized the field of plant genomics. With the pace of technical improvement showing no sign of slowing what advances could be just around the corner.

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  • The work of many plant biologists has garnered prizes and plaudits in recent months. But will we continue to see plant researchers overlooked for the ultimate scientific awards?

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