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Volume 1 Issue 11, November 2015

Tree ring circus

The wood of conifer trees is mainly composed of thick-walled cells called tracheids. After their production by the cambium, new tracheids enlarge (in a few days) and then build their thick and lignified secondary walls (stained red). This is the basis for the significant time lag between the increase in size and the increase in biomass in tree stems.

See Henri E. Cuny et al. 1, 15160 (2015).

Image: Marleen Vos, modified by Henri E. Cuny. Cover design: Karen Moore


  • Plants are often the subjects of paintings but their involvement in literature and drama is rarely centre stage. With the inauguration of a new literary festival it is time for a reassessment of the plant kingdom's dramatic potential.



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Comment & Opinion

  • Plant science has an important part to play in meeting the global food security challenge. But, advances will be most effective if better coupled with agronomic science and the broader food security agenda.

    • John S. I. Ingram
    • John R. Porter


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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • Plants adapt to changing environments by optimizing the fitness costs associated with key biological functions. A comparison of a laboratory strain with other wild Australian accessions of Nicotiana benthamiana reveals that trading viral defence for vigour confers an adaptive advantage in arid habitats.

    • Alberto Carbonell
    News & Views
  • Wood formation drives the storage of carbon in trees and other woody plants. A detailed analysis of conifer xylem tissue formation reveals how the intra-annual dynamics of biomass production are recorded in wood.

    • Ute Sass-Klaassen
    News & Views
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  • High-resolution microscopies have recently provided new insights into the structure of the chloroplast thylakoid membrane. Its dynamics are vital to its function as the site of photosynthesis and so the source of energy for almost all life on earth.

    • Alexander V. Ruban
    • Matthew P. Johnson
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  • Plant survival is greatly impaired when oxygen levels are limiting, such as during flooding events. A series of laboratory experiments with Arabidopsis thaliana suggests that the universal stress protein HRU1 coordinates oxygen sensing with ROS signalling under anoxic conditions.

    • Silvia Gonzali
    • Elena Loreti
    • Pierdomenico Perata
  • The model and geographic location(s) of Asian rice domestication has been a controversial topic. Now a reanalysis of a previously published large genomic dataset, supports three geographically separate domestications of Asian rice.

    • Peter Civáň
    • Hayley Craig
    • Terence A. Brown
  • The viral hypersensitivity of Nicotiana benthamiana results from an insertion in the RNA polymerase, Rdr1. Population analyses showed that the Rdr1 insertion originated from a population that trades viral defence for vigour in an extreme Australian habitat.

    • Julia Bally
    • Kenlee Nakasugi
    • Peter M. Waterhouse
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