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Volume 1 Issue 12, December 2015

Problem fixing 

Nitrogen shortage is a significant challenge for plant growth, yet forest trees that can fix nitrogen tend to be less, rather than more, prevalent in nitrogen poor soils. It's a matter of tactics. Outside the tropics, obligate nitrogen fixers lose out to trees with a more flexible approach, missing the opportunity to participate in mature forest ecosystems.

See Efrat Sheffer et al. 1, 15182 (2015).

Image: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.Cover design: David Shand.


  • Medical science has acknowledged that research resources are not always directed where they will be most effective. Is it time that we paid similar attention to blind spots within the plant sciences?



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Comment & Opinion

  • Agriculture is often viewed as a source of problems needing innovative solutions. But agriculture can actually be a source of innovations for the bioeconomy, if researchers embrace the cultural changes needed.

    • Angela Karp
    • Michael H. Beale
    • Achim Dobermann


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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • The genome of a tiny resurrection plant has been sequenced using PacBio's long-read single-molecule real-time sequencing technology, aiding the understanding of extreme desiccation tolerance. The genome contiguity is comparable to that of genomes sequenced using far more laborious approaches.

    • Elizabeth A. Kellogg
    News & Views
  • Causal signals for seed initiation have been sought ever since double fertilization was discovered in 1898. New research reveals that auxin is an early driver of endosperm proliferation in Arabidopsis central cells, with or without fertilization.

    • Anna Koltunow
    • David S. Rabiger
    News & Views
  • The impacts of the prokaryotic ancestry of chloroplasts extend to the occurrence of a bacterial ‘alarm’ hormone, or alarmone, in plants, which is triggered by nutrient deficiency or stress. A new study shows that chloroplast development itself is reduced by alarmone, with seemingly paradoxical consequences for plant growth.

    • Enrique López-Juez
    News & Views
  • Ethylene is a gaseous plant hormone. The finding that unveils regulation of ethylene signalling at the translational level adds complexity to the ethylene signalling ‘regulatome’ and generates insightful questions that may advance our understanding of the pathway.

    • Jingyi Zhang
    • Chi-Kuang Wen
    News & Views
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