Reviews & Analysis

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  • Charles Darwin suggested that phylogenetic distance between introduced aliens and natives might determine invasion success, but he was inconclusive about the direction of the relationship. An analysis of alien plants introduced to Southern Africa for cultivation reveals that the relationship changes direction from one invasion stage to the other.

    Research Briefing
  • The biological importance of centromere distribution in the nucleus, which is classified as polarized or dispersed, has been debated. Molecular and cytogenic analyses have revealed that two regulatory processes establish a dispersed distribution and that centromere distribution might be linked to the maintenance of genome integrity.

    Research Briefing
  • A national survey of organic farmers shows that the use of sustainable farming practices differs with farm size. Although organic agriculture is often considered to be homogeneous, this survey suggests that a greater focus on farm size and socio-technical change is needed to improve the sustainability of food production.

    Research Briefing
  • CLE peptides control stem-cell activity in meristems. Recent studies in Marchantia and Arabidopsis support the idea that an ancestral function of CLE peptides was to promote stem cells. After gene duplication in angiosperms, a subset of CLE peptides became stem-cell suppressors.

    • Yuki Hirakawa
  • Grain yield in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is largely determined by spike architecture. Mutations in DUO-B1, encoding an AP2/ERF protein, result in a spike architecture with extra spikelets that increases both grain number per spike and yield under field conditions. Genetically modifying DUO-B1 has the potential to increase cereal production.

    Research Briefing
  • Comparative and evolutionary genomics analyses for more than 1,600 re-sequenced maize lines identified vast amounts of differentially and complementary selected regions and genes among female and male heterotic groups used in modern hybrid maize breeding.

    • Georg Haberer
    • Klaus F. X. Mayer
    News & Views
  • Regulation of organ growth involves multiple pathways that coordinate cell number and size in a process that is highly dependent on nutrient supply and energy levels. The simplicity of the Arabidopsis root tip provides a suitable model for the genetic dissection of plant organ growth regulation.

    • José-Manuel Pérez-Pérez
    News & Views
  • In the phloem of vascular plants, distinct cell types are arranged in precise positions to ensure effective loading, transport and unloading of photosynthates and signalling molecules. Feedback between transcription factors and mobile peptides triggers and controls the differentiation of phloem at the growing root tip.

    • George Janes
    • Anthony Bishopp
    News & Views
  • Organisms living at elevation are exposed to a constant state of hypoxia compared to those at low altitude. A recent study1 has shown that flowering plants acclimatize to high altitude through natural variation in molecular oxygen (O2) sensing, with high-altitude populations exhibiting increased O2 sensitivity to balance physiological and metabolic outputs. This finding demonstrates convergent mechanisms for altitude adaptation across eukaryotic kingdoms despite differences in the hypoxia-signalling pathways of plants and animals.

    • Daniel J. Gibbs
    • Rory Osborne
    News & Views
  • Arabidopsis embryonic root development involves the formation of distinct cell types and tissues in a tightly regulated and thereby highly predictable spatio-temporal manner. A crosstalk between maternal and embryonic genes orchestrates division orientation and fate specification to control root development.

    • Jana Wittmer
    • Renze Heidstra
    News & Views
  • Methylation is a frequent modification of glycans and polysaccharides. This process relies on the transport of cytosolic S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) into the Golgi lumen. This work identifies Golgi-localized major facilitator superfamily transporter members as putative SAM transporters in plants and reveals their importance for polysaccharide methylation and maintenance of the properties of cell walls.

    Research Briefing
  • The analysis of the 11-gigabase, hexaploid oat genome reveals a mosaic chromosome structure with complex rearrangements related to polyploidization. The high-quality oat reference genome will facilitate the molecular identification of health food traits and the implementation of genomics-based oat breeding.

    • Simon G. Krattinger
    • Beat Keller
    News & Views
  • Worldwide, vitamin D deficiency affects around 1 billion people. A recent study indicates that blocking a duplicated branch of phytosterol biosynthesis in tomato leads to provitamin D3 accumulation.

    • Dominique Van Der Straeten
    • Simon Strobbe
    News & Views
  • How T-DNAs become incorporated into the host chromosome has been a subject of lively debate for the last quarter century. Kralemann et al. report data revealing the mechanism of genomic capture of the right border and validating the role of DNA polymerase θ in the capture of the left border.

    • Anne B. Britt
    News & Views
  • Same Cas9 protein, two different jobs: the CRISPR-Combo genome engineering strategy enables simultaneous gene activation and genome editing for different targets through changes to the guide RNA structure.

    • Juan M. Debernardi
    • Beth A. Rowan
    News & Views
  • Next-generation crop protection strategies must be clean and green as well as effective. Delivery of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) as a BioClay spray to control the sap-sucking pest whitefly is one such strategy. This tool disrupts multiple whitefly life cycle stages in planta, with adjuvant-enhanced foliar uptake complementing the clay-mediated delivery of dsRNA.

    Research Briefing
  • Theory and single-cell experiments outline a new role for upstream open reading frames in buffering cellular heterogeneity in protein abundance at the translation level.

    • Simon Alamos
    News & Views
  • Xylan-rich nanodomains at pit borders of xylem vessels determine a pitted wall pattern by anchoring cellulosic nanofibrils at the pit edges and are crucial to support vessel robustness, water transport and leaf transpiration. These nanocompartments are mostly produced by the de novo xylan synthase IRREGULAR XYLEM (IRX)10 and its homologues.

    Research Briefing
  • Extensive genetics and genomics analyses reveal the co-transcriptional processing mode of primary substrates of microRNAs in Arabidopsis, and an unexpected promoting role of R-loops in the process.

    • Jiaying Zhu
    • Xingxing Yan
    • Xiuren Zhang
    News & Views