Editorials

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  • Editorial |

    The COVID-19 pandemic has been cutting us all off from the social aspects of human community for several months. High time we checked in on our plant science colleagues to see how they are faring.

  • Editorial |

    Disease is often said to be a great leveller, striking the rich and poor alike. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into stark contrast the inequalities inherent in our food systems.

  • Editorial |

    Scale can be as problematic in genetics as it is in microscopy or astronomy. Luckily, pan-genomics is here to tackle the complexity of genetics on the large scale.

  • Editorial |

    Epidemic diseases are not a new phenomenon, but easy access to transport in the modern world has accelerated their spread. Perhaps some botanical understanding can help slow them down.

  • Editorial |

    Plant diseases have brought misery and suffering to human populations across the world and across millennia. Declaring 2020 the International Year of Plant Health will hopefully raise awareness of this ancient yet very modern threat.

  • Editorial |

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

  • Editorial |

    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?

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

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

  • Editorial |

    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?

  • Editorial |

    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?

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

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

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

    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?

  • Editorial |

    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.

  • Editorial |

    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?

  • Editorial |

    Gene editing techniques have the potential to substantially accelerate plant breeding. Now, officials in the United States and Europe are arguing that it is not genetic modification — and that is a good thing!

  • Editorial |

    Part of the role of any country or state should be to provide a basic level of nutrition to all its citizens. A recent proposal in the United States may make this even more difficult to achieve.

  • Editorial |

    On 28 March 2017, UK Prime Minister Theresa May signed the letter invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (EU) signalling the UK’s intention to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. How then, can scientific collaborations be maintained?

  • Editorial |

    Sixty years ago, Francis Crick articulated the central dogma of molecular biology to explain the sequential information flow between genes and proteins. Nowadays our understanding of genes and the information they convey is no longer limited to the single-molecule level.

  • Editorial |

    Breeding crops with a high yield and superior adaptability is vital to maintaining global food security. New technologies on multiple scales are re-engineering traditional plant breeding to meet these challenges.

  • Editorial |

    The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals contain a commitment to abolish world hunger. Sounds like a job for a plant scientist!

  • Editorial |

    The sciences and arts are often described as two separate cultures, but fruitful collaborations across this divide highlight the artificiality of such distinctions.

  • Editorial |

    Cities need green spaces to maintain the well-being of their citizens. But is the realization of their value making them more private luxury than public commons?

  • Editorial |

    The recent International Botanical Congress in Shenzhen was the largest meeting in its history. That a gathering rooted in the superficially traditional science of taxonomy is thriving in the age of genomics and biotechnology shows the strength and adaptability of modern botany and botanists.

  • Editorial |

    Fire has always been one of the more dramatic routes by which humanity and the plant kingdom interact. Forest management practices, urban planning and global warming are conspiring to make the relationship ever more destructive.

  • Editorial |

    Science is a competitive business and in any competition there can be ‘shortcuts’ to success. Transparency is the only way to guarantee that research results can be trusted more than some sporting achievements.

  • Editorial |

    In the March for Science, held on 22 April in cities around the world, many placards bore Galileo's assertion that scientific truth is unaffected by political circumstance, “Eppur si muove”. But scientific research is inevitably shaped by the political climate in which it takes place.

  • Editorial |

    A long and almost uncrossable distance separates fundamental plant research carried out predominantly in rich countries, and the production of better crops in the fields of poor farmers from developing regions. A unique network of international organizations involved in global agriculture helps bridge that chasm.

  • Editorial |

    If, as the former editor of The Washington Post Phil Graham said, “[journalism] is the first rough draft of history”, then it is sometimes worth looking back at recent news to try to identify the significant events among the noise.

  • Editorial |

    Plant biology has a long history in helping to illuminate the most detailed workings of living organisms. This tradition is amply represented by a trio of structures appearing this month.

  • Editorial |

    For millennia, Chinese knowledge of agriculture and crop breeding influenced the whole world. After an extended period of introspection, Chinese plant biology is once again establishing global eminence.

  • Editorial |

    January is traditionally a time for reflections and resolutions. By looking back on the past year at Nature Plants, we can perhaps see what might be in store for the year to come.

  • Editorial |

    With the year drawing to a close, what hope is there for a ‘golden’ future for plant sciences in 2017 and beyond?

  • Editorial |

    Whether by accident or design, plants have accompanied people on many historical migrations. It is of little wonder then, that the history of humanity is recorded in the plants whose polysaccharides, proteins and oils keep us alive.

  • Editorial |

    Scientific investigation is often a reductive process involving precise experiments in artificial environments. Perhaps some advice from a romantic poet will help to avoid the pitfalls of too narrow a view of plant research.

  • Editorial |

    Plants exist within a complex network of interactions with organisms both closely and distantly related to them. That none can survive ‘entire of itself’ is as true of plant science as the plants we study.

  • Editorial |

    Science is not a solo endeavour but a social one, and the most social part is conference attendance. Regardless of their other strengths and weaknesses, scientific meetings are critical for encouraging researchers early in their careers.

  • Editorial |

    The use of preprints has been well established in physical science research for decades. Is it time for the plant sciences to also embrace the format?

  • Editorial |

    No scientist works in isolation, but not all scientists can inspire the collaborations needed for more modern research. Good mentors have never been more important.

  • Editorial |

    The past century or so has seen a growing divide between the sciences and the arts. But a recent bout of exhibitions, biographies and documentaries illustrates how arbitrary the distinction between plant scientist and botanical artist really is.