News & Comment

  • Editorial |

    Ending hunger is a major objective of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. A cross-journal collection of articles takes a systematic look at what we might already know about achieving it.

  • News & Views |

    Polar cell growth requires spatiotemporal regulation of Rho of plants (ROPs) small G proteins in membrane domains. In addition to localized activation of membrane-anchored ROPs, a mechanism for their local inactivation has now been identified.

    • Gil Feiguelman
    •  & Shaul Yalovsky
  • News & Views |

    Rubisco is a complex, ubiquitous protein composed of eight large and eight small subunits. By assembling Rubisco in bacterial cells, the specific characteristics of individual small subunits have been investigated with a view to engineering more efficient carbon fixation.

    • Robert E. Sharwood
  • Editorial |

    In the Gospel According to Matthew Chapter seven, Verse five, Jesus says “first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye”. We should remember this entreaty before too casually casting accusations of ‘plant blindness’.

  • News & Views |

    Plant roots have to orchestrate their growth pattern to access available nutrients. Root architecture is governed by auxin that locally steers growth and development of lateral roots, thereby increasing the uptake capacity. A new mechanism for ammonium acquisition by influencing cellular auxin import has been defined.

    • Hans Motte
    •  & Tom Beeckman
  • News & Views |

    Quinones are small secondary metabolites synthesized by a broad range of organisms. Perception of these aromatic molecules in plants involves membrane-bound LRR-RLKs to induce downstream cellular responses in plants such as calcium fluxes, specific gene expression and MAPK activation.

    • Max Körner
    • , Peter Slaby
    •  & Markus Albert
  • News & Views |

    A new model system for C4 plants has been established based on an indoor-cultivated rapid-cycling foxtail millet mutant xiaomi. This mutant, together with its reference genome and an efficient transformation protocol, paves the way for understanding the unique and interesting biology of C4 photosynthesis.

    • Hong Yu
  • News & Views |

    The excess application of nitrogen fertilizer in agriculture and the limitation of nitrogen uptake by crops raise the alarm about the urgency to breed crops with higher nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). Recently, a novel strategy has been developed to enhance NUE and crop production by manipulating nitrate remobilization.

    • Nai-Qian Dong
    •  & Hong-Xuan Lin
  • News & Views |

    Salicylic acid (SA) is an essential hormone for plant immune responses. In Arabidopsis, SA is perceived by two groups of receptors, NPR1 and NPR3/4, which play opposite roles in regulating defence gene expression. How SA binds to its receptors is now revealed by crystal structure analysis.

    • Xin Li
    •  & Yuelin Zhang
  • Editorial |

    The motto of the Royal Society, “nullius in verba”, enjoins scientists to ‘take nobody’s word for it’. Its call to trust nothing unless it can be replicated is no less relevant now than it was 360 years ago.

  • Comment |

    The battle between humans and plant pests is as old as agriculture, but the movement of pests as a consequence of human activities has been exacerbated only recently. International research collaboration is increasingly important to tackle pests causing serious damage to economies.

    • Baldissera Giovani
    • , Sylvia Blümel
    • , Ralf Lopian
    • , David Teulon
    • , Stephanie Bloem
    • , Cristina Galeano Martínez
    • , Camilo Beltrán Montoya
    • , Carlos Ramon Urias Morales
    • , Sridhar Dharmapuri
    • , Visoni Timote
    • , Nico Horn
    • , Mekki Chouibani
    • , Jean Gérard Mezui M’Ella
    • , Veronica Herrera
    • , Aurélie Castinel
    • , Con Goletsos
    • , Carina Moeller
    • , Ian Naumann
    • , Giuseppe Stancanelli
    • , Stef Bronzwaer
    • , Sara Tramontini
    • , Philip MacDonald
    • , Loren Matheson
    • , Géraldine Anthoine
    • , Kris De Jonghe
    • , Martijn Schenk
    • , Silke Steinmöller
    • , Elena Rodriguez
    • , Maria Leonor Cruz
    • , Jo Luck
    • , Greg Fraser
    • , Sarah Brunel
    • , Mirko Montuori
    • , Craig Fedchock
    • , Elspeth Steel
    • , Helen Grace Pennington
    • , Roger Day
    • , Jean Pierre Rossi
    •  & Jingyuan Xia
  • News & Views |

    Alternative splicing provides a fundamental and ubiquitous mechanism of gene regulation. Stimuli-induced retention of introns introduces novel proteoforms with altered signalling output: full-length CPK28 blocks immune signalling, while a truncated variant, lacking calcium responsiveness, promotes it.

    • Lennart Wirthmueller
    •  & Tina Romeis
  • Editorial |

    The last three months have been a dispiriting experience for most plant scientists. But this period of collective isolation is demonstrating the usefulness of alternative ways to come together as a community.

  • Comment |

    Although the ‘rebound effect’ is well established in environmental economics, the sometimes paradoxical effects of yield increase are rarely questioned within the plant science community. Acknowledging the curse of efficiency can help us to reframe our societal goals from performance at all cost to resilience.

    • Olivier Hamant
  • News & Views |

    Analysis of genomic and phenotypic data in Helianthus species demonstrates that large chromosomal regions contribute to multiple traits associated with distinct ecotypes.

    • Yongfeng Zhou
    •  & Brandon S. Gaut
  • News & Views |

    RNA virus-mediated delivery of guide RNA decorated with a mobile signal enables plant genome editing without tissue culture.

    • Sang-Gyu Kim
  • News & Views |

    Exudates released from plant roots can recruit beneficial microorganisms that boost plant growth and immunity. In Arabidopsis thaliana and tomato, active DNA demethylation regulates the production of myo-inositol, a root exudate which recruits a specific plant growth-promoting rhizobacterium.

    • Samuel W. Wilkinson
    •  & Jurriaan Ton
  • News & Views |

    Identifying protein components of the nuclear envelope is a slow and challenging process. Now a proximity labelling technique adapted for plants reveals novel protein components in this under-researched membrane.

    • Katja Graumann
    •  & David E. Evans
  • News & Views |

    A negative-strand RNA virus is engineered to express both CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) and single-guide RNAs, enabling gene editing as the virus infects the plant.

    • Savithramma P. Dinesh-Kumar
    •  & Daniel F. Voytas
  • 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.

  • News & Views |

    The diel cycle controls the rhythmic changes in photosynthesis. Now, magnesium levels in the chloroplast are shown to follow a diurnal rhythmic change, and a transporter appears to facilitate such a fluctuation, thereby fine-tuning plant photosynthesis on a diel basis.

    • Ren-Jie Tang
    •  & Sheng Luan
  • News & Views |

    The critical epigenetic features that characterize remethylable and non-remethylable loci in Arabidopsis determine the capacity of RNA-directed DNA methylation (RdDM)-targeted genomic regions to form stable epialleles.

    • Jean Molinier
  • News & Views |

    Plant elicitor peptides (Peps) enhance immunity against diverse pathogens. Engineering a naturally occurring rhizobacterium to deliver Peps to the plant root system offers a new opportunity in integrated pest management.

    • Clarissa Hiltl
    •  & Shahid Siddique
  • News & Views |

    Plants need to respond swiftly against attacks, but when pathogen pressure is weak, defence genes must be repressed as they impede development and growth. Three RNA helicases are now found to control decapping-dependant mRNA decay and negatively regulate plant immunity.

    • Rémy Merret
    •  & Cécile Bousquet-Antonelli
  • News & Views |

    The need for increased crop yields has led to growing interest and research in agricultural intensification, which has a myriad of environmental impacts. Intercropping can bring the benefits of intensification within a reasonable footprint.

    • David Tilman
  • News & Views |

    Seed germination is tightly regulated so that it only occurs in optimal environmental conditions; for root parasitic plants, this is the presence of a potential host plant revealed by strigolactone exudates. New research shows that, unexpectedly, this response to strigolactone bypasses the core gibberellin-dependent pathway for germination.

    • Darren C. Machin
    •  & Tom Bennett
  • 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.

  • Comment |

    Keeping pace with food demand and climate change requires continuous genetic improvement of crops that, in turn, relies on the availability of genetic resources. Access to these resources is complicated by the need to establish benefit-sharing arrangements when accessing and using such genetic resources.

    • Brad Sherman
    •  & Robert James Henry
  • News & Views |

    Genetic redundancy is a problem when studying auxin in flowering plants. The minimal auxin response system in the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha allows a detailed and thorough probing of the specificity of auxin response factors in planta.

    • C. S. Bascom Jr.
    •  & M. Estelle
  • News & Views |

    Leaf development follows a common principle but is also flexibly tuned in different species in a spatiotemporal manner. A novel regulatory mechanism controlling leaflet formation has been identified in Medicago.

    • Ying Wang
    •  & Yuling Jiao