Reviews & Analysis

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  • In a feat of protein engineering alchemy, a FRET biosensor for tryptophan has been engineered into a direct biosensor for auxin, after a determined journey of over 2,800 steps to switch to a sensitivity appropriate for a plant hormone.

    • Martin Balcerowicz
    • Kartika N. Shetty
    • Alexander M. Jones
    News & Views
  • Upon first exposure to light, plants initiate the synchronized biogenesis of chlorophyll and thylakoid membranes. Two new studies have revealed a molecular view of the light-dependent step of chlorophyll synthesis within the membranes of developing angiosperm chloroplasts.

    • Wojciech Wietrzynski
    • Benjamin D. Engel
    News & Views
  • This Review summarizes the available and missing reference genomes in the seed-free plant lineages, compares the genomic and epigenomic features between seed-free and seed plants, and highlights the model systems of seed-free plants.

    • Péter Szövényi
    • Andika Gunadi
    • Fay-Wei Li
    Review Article
  • Plant defence is based on a two-tiered immune system comprising pattern-triggered immunity (PTI) and effector-triggered immunity (ETI). Effective defence against host-adapted microbial pathogens relies on mutual potentiation of immunity by both PTI and ETI components.

    • Rory N. Pruitt
    • Andrea A. Gust
    • Thorsten Nürnberger
    News & Views
  • Increases in tree mortality affect the ability of forests to absorb and store atmospheric carbon, but how the largest trees die is still relatively understudied. This Perspective posits and examines several biotic and abiotic drivers affecting these trees and their disproportionate impacts.

    • Evan M. Gora
    • Adriane Esquivel-Muelbert
  • Agriculture attempts to satisfy the demand for food of a growing human population but contributes to environmental degradation. However, there are technological options for agriculture to deliver food security and potentially reduce atmospheric CO2.

    • Peter Horton
    • Stephen P. Long
    • David J. Beerling
  • Root nodules that form on legumes, such as garden pea and soybean, are the salient feature of symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria. It is now shown that formation of these unique lateral root organs necessitates co-option of elements mediating radial root patterning.

    • Krzysztof Szczyglowski
    • Loretta Ross
    News & Views
  • Managing root nitrate transport is required by plants to meet ongoing nitrogen demands, and is coordinated by bidirectional communication between roots and shoots. Shoot-derived signals can now be directly linked to the activation of nitrate transport by CEPH, a targeted NRT2;1-specific phosphatase.

    • Brent N. Kaiser
    News & Views
  • The lipid biopolymer suberin is an integral component of the root diffusion barrier, yet its deposition changes dynamically in response to both developmental and physiological cues. A new study identified GELP family proteins as strong candidates for suberin polymerases and degradases acting in suberin remodelling.

    • Keiji Nakajima
    News & Views
  • Light-dependent protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase (LPOR) is a light-activated enzyme that catalyses a vital step in chlorophyll biosynthesis and acts as a key regulator of plant greening. In this Review, the authors summarize recent progress in the functional, chemical and structural understanding of LPOR photocatalysis in plants.

    • Derren J. Heyes
    • Shaowei Zhang
    • Nigel S. Scrutton
    Review Article
  • Managing agricultural microbiomes is an efficient approach to improve crop performance in agroecosystems. This Review summarizes the current state of knowledge from less to more targeted approaches to manage soil, plant and pest-associated microbiomes. The authors also identify the knowledge gaps in relation to current agricultural practices in microbiome management.

    • Elizabeth French
    • Ian Kaplan
    • Laramy Enders
    Review Article
  • Manipulating three important genes in the CLAVATA–WUSCHEL signalling pathway quantitatively enhances grain-yield-related traits in maize.

    • Qiuyue Chen
    • Feng Tian
    News & Views
  • In plants, the absence of the retinal cofactor hinders the implementation of light-gated ion channels and optogenetic control of membrane potentials through rhodopsins. The engineering of β-carotene conversion into retinal now makes this powerful approach possible.

    • Uriel Urquiza-Garcia
    • Matias D. Zurbriggen
    News & Views
  • The genetic control of crop growth and behaviour can be modified through traditional plant breeding or genetic engineering, but is fixed once a variety is sown. New spray-on viral transfection technology can transiently alter gene expression to fine-tune agronomic traits within the season while avoiding modifications to the genome.

    • Karen Massel
    • Ian Godwin
    • Lee Hickey
    News & Views
  • Asia has a rich variety of nutritious ‘neglected crops’, including cereals, roots and pulses. Adopting a diverse cropping portfolio using these forgotten crops is a promising approach to closing the current production and nutrition gaps.

    • Kadambot H. M. Siddique
    • Xuan Li
    • Karl Gruber
  • All living organisms require proper environmental pH for normal growth and development. Unlike in bacteria, fungi and animal cells, the mechanisms for environmental pH sensing in plants are underexamined. In this Perspective, the authors summarize the current understanding of the process in various organisms and propose possible molecular mechanisms underlying the perception of external pH in plants.

    • Huei-Hsuan Tsai
    • Wolfgang Schmidt