Volume 2 Issue 3, March 2016

Volume 2 Issue 3

Preserved petals

The first asterid flower fossil from the New World tropics has been found in mid-Tertiary Dominican amber. The specimens belong to the family Loganiaceae, part of the asterid group, which includes over 80,000 species of flowering plants. Only two flowers are known for this new plant species named Strychnos electri.

See Nature Plants 2, 16005 (2016).

Image: G. Poinar Cover design: S. Whitham


  • Editorial |

    To ensure that political and societal decisions safeguard the sustainability of humanity, it is vital that the work of plant biologists is understood by policymakers and the public alike. Perhaps then issues could be discussed directly, not through the potentially biased lens of the media.


  • Comment |

    The world's ecosystems are losing biodiversity fast. A satellite mission designed to track changes in plant functional diversity around the globe could deepen our understanding of the pace and consequences of this change, and how to manage it.

    • Walter Jetz
    • , Jeannine Cavender-Bares
    • , Ryan Pavlick
    • , David Schimel
    • , Frank W. Davis
    • , Gregory P. Asner
    • , Robert Guralnick
    • , Jens Kattge
    • , Andrew M. Latimer
    • , Paul Moorcroft
    • , Michael E. Schaepman
    • , Mark P. Schildhauer
    • , Fabian D. Schneider
    • , Franziska Schrodt
    • , Ulrike Stahl
    •  & Susan L. Ustin

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Brassinosteroids and gibberellins are two principal growth-promoting hormones in plants. A transcription factor called JUB1 connects their signalling and biosynthesis through positive and negative feedback loops to finely coordinate developmental output.

    • Jun-Xian He
  • News & Views |

    Unable to run away, plants adapt to environmental changes by adjusting their development. Two recent publications explore the unexpected contribution of blue light photoreceptors in the growth response to shade and warm temperatures.

    • Ziqiang Zhu
    •  & Chentao Lin
  • News & Views |

    Transcriptional gene silencing is a pivotal mechanism for regulating gene expression and genome stability. In Arabidopsis, combined analyses of small RNAs (sRNAs) and DNA methylation reveals that mobile 24-nt sRNAs are involved in reinforcing genome-wide silencing of transposons through DNA methylation.

    • Zhaoliang Zhang
    • , Byung-Kook Ham
    •  & William J. Lucas
  • News & Views |

    Different types of transcribed RNAs are processed by distinct RNases. Arabidopsis thaliana RNASE THREE LIKE2 (RTL2) is likely to play two opposing roles by both positively and negatively modulating the accumulation of 24-nucleotide siRNAs.

    • Zhaobo Lang
    •  & Zhizhong Gong
  • News & Views |

    Flavodiiron proteins help to protect cyanobacteria from excess light through the dissipation of excess electrons. Introducing moss flavodiiron proteins into Arabidopsis raises its resilience to fluctuating light, illustrating the potential for augmenting higher plants with photosynthetic components from lower plants, algae and cyanobacteria.

    • Conrad W. Mullineaux



  • Letter |

    Current food production systems are heavily dependent on synthetic inputs that threaten the environment and human wellbeing. Results from multi-site field experiments in Thailand, China and Vietnam reveal that surrounding rice fields with nectar-producing plants significantly reduces pest numbers and the need for insecticide applications, while increasing yields.

    • Geoff M. Gurr
    • , Zhongxian Lu
    • , Xusong Zheng
    • , Hongxing Xu
    • , Pingyang Zhu
    • , Guihua Chen
    • , Xiaoming Yao
    • , Jiaan Cheng
    • , Zengrong Zhu
    • , Josie Lynn Catindig
    • , Sylvia Villareal
    • , Ho Van Chien
    • , Le Quoc Cuong
    • , Chairat Channoo
    • , Nalinee Chengwattana
    • , La Pham Lan
    • , Le Huu Hai
    • , Jintana Chaiwong
    • , Helen I. Nicol
    • , David J. Perovic
    • , Steve D. Wratten
    •  & Kong Luen Heong
  • Letter |

    Fossil plants preserved in amber can give detailed palaeoevolutionary and biogeographical insights; the same degree of preservation can be found for vascular plant remains as for arthropods. This paper presents the earliest member of the highly diverse and widespread asterid clade of angiosperms preserved in mid-Tertiary Dominican amber, Strychnos electri sp. nov.

    • George O. Poinar Jr
    •  & Lena Struwe
  • Article |

    Crosstalk in plant hormone signalling is important for growth and development. The Arabidopsis transcription factor JUB1 is at the core of a gibberellin/brassinosteroid transcriptional network that controls cell elongation and stress tolerance.

    • Sara Shahnejat-Bushehri
    • , Danuse Tarkowska
    • , Yasuhito Sakuraba
    •  & Salma Balazadeh
  • Article |

    Two rice WRKY45 alleles show enigmatically opposite effects on resistance to Xanthomonas oryzae. A study now finds that an allele-specific transposon-derived small RNA abolishes WRKY45-mediated resistance by repressing the ST1 gene through DNA methylation.

    • Haitao Zhang
    • , Zeng Tao
    • , Hanming Hong
    • , Zhihui Chen
    • , Changyin Wu
    • , Xianghua Li
    • , Jinghua Xiao
    •  & Shiping Wang
  • Article |

    Flavodiiron proteins are the main mediator of pseudocyclic electron transport in photosynthetic organisms spanning cyanobacteria to gymnosperms, but are missing in angiosperms. Experiments with Arabidopsis plants expressing moss flavodiiron proteins suggest that flavodiiron-dependent electron transport can help to protect angiosperms under fluctuating light.

    • Hiroshi Yamamoto
    • , Shunichi Takahashi
    • , Murray R. Badger
    •  & Toshiharu Shikanai