Reviews & Analysis

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  • A major bottleneck in plant breeding is the establishment or breakage of genetic linkages by random, naturally occurring meiotic recombination. This problem can be overcome by CRISPR–Cas-mediated chromosome engineering. By inverting ~17 Mb of chromosome 2 of Arabidopsis thaliana, we almost completely suppressed genetic crossovers in nearly the entire chromosome.

    Research Briefing
  • Cooperation between nitrogen assimilation and photosynthesis is central for plant growth and development in adaption to changing environmental conditions. This work reveals that the plant energy sensor SnRK1 represses nitrate signalling by phosphorylating NODULE INCEPTION PROTEIN-LIKE PROTEIN (NLP7) to promote its degradation in response to carbon deficiency or nitrate depletion.

    Research Briefing
  • Crop production depends to a very large extent on phosphorus fertilization, yet the sustainability of this practice is limited by the predicted exhaustion of phosphorus resources. A new molecular pathway regulating phosphorus accumulation in plants has been identified, with PHO1 found to play a pivotal role in mediating it.

    • Jaspreet Sandhu
    • Hatem Rouached
    News & Views
  • Plant microtubules align along directions of anisotropic mechanical stress. Live cell imaging of epidermal pavement cells reveals that cellulose synthase complexes (CSCs) are present in regions of anisotropic mechanical stress in patterns similar to those of microtubules. The coupling of microtubules and CSCs hampers the response of microtubules to mechanical stresses.

    Research Briefing
  • Changes in climate, including increases in the frequency of lightning, will differentially affect the fitness and mortality of tropical tree species. Variation in the sensitivity of species to climate change will in turn lead to shifts in the composition of tropical forests and the services that they provide.

    • Kenneth J. Feeley
    • Daniel Zuleta
    News & Views
  • Cellular responses to environmental and developmental signals depend on the recruitment of transcription factors to specific genes. Although PIF4 and CDF2 belong to different transcription factor families in Arabidopsis thaliana, data suggest that they act co-operatively to bind to specific target genes in the gene network that regulates hypocotyl cell elongation.

    Research Briefing
  • 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
    Perspective
  • 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