Volume 2 Issue 4, April 2016

Volume 2 Issue 4

Growing tall

When asked how do plants grow, 9-year-old Emily drew a sunflower growing in multicoloured light. Emily's father says that levels of the hormone auxin are kept low in Arabidopsis stems grown under normal conditions by the action of the VAS2 gene. This allows the stem to act as a sink to accept new auxin from leaves, triggering rapid growth.

See Nature Plants 2, 16025 (2016).

Image: E. Zheng Cover Design: S. Whitham


  • Editorial |

    Wild relatives of modern crops, and varieties that have fallen from common usage, contain traits that may be of great value to modern plant breeders. How can these valuable genetic resources be best maintained?

News Feature

  • News |

    Our hungry world relies on a small army of crop varieties that have been developed over the past few decades. They have been bred to grow faster, sweeter and bigger, often at the expense of their nutritional value. Looking into the history of these crops could provide a solution.

    • Karl Gruber


Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Cultivated peanut has a large, complex genome, so obtaining its entire sequence is challenging. De novo assemblies of two diploid ancestor genomes provide high-quality reference sequences for decoding allotetraploid peanut genomes, and will become valuable resources for breeding and evolutionary studies.

    • Bin Han
  • News & Views |

    A series of genetic experiments demonstrates that small RNAs can direct gene silencing within germ cells in a non-cell-autonomous manner. This provides evidence for how plant germ and non-germ cells may communicate to maintain genome integrity during reproductive transitions.

    • Michael D. Nodine
  • News & Views |

    Plants must adapt to unfavourable environmental conditions. Shade avoidance by organ elongation is an important mechanism to move towards sunlight. A new mutant affected in auxin conjugation shows that auxin homeostasis controls hypocotyl elongation.

    • Jutta Ludwig-Müller
  • News & Views |

    A comprehensive analysis of transcripts in grafted cucumber–watermelon plants substantiates specific transcript transport to diverse tissues and provides new insights into phosphate starvation responses.

    • Dirk Walther
    •  & Friedrich Kragler


  • Article |

    The genetic diversity of wild relatives of domesticated crops can be useful for developing more productive, nutritious and resilient crop varieties. A comparison of the modelled diversity of crop wild relatives with their representation in gene banks suggests that a systematic effort is needed to improve their conservation and availability for use in plant breeding.

    • Nora P. Castañeda-Álvarez
    • , Colin K. Khoury
    • , Harold A. Achicanoy
    • , Vivian Bernau
    • , Hannes Dempewolf
    • , Ruth J. Eastwood
    • , Luigi Guarino
    • , Ruth H. Harker
    • , Andy Jarvis
    • , Nigel Maxted
    • , Jonas V. Müller
    • , Julian Ramirez-Villegas
    • , Chrystian C. Sosa
    • , Paul C. Struik
    • , Holly Vincent
    •  & Jane Toll
  • Article |

    Signalling events of early phosphate (Pi) stress in plants are not well known. A study combining transcriptome analyses and grafting experiments now reveals tissue-specific transcriptomic responses to early Pi stress, and a major role for the vascular system in this process.

    • Zhaoliang Zhang
    • , Yi Zheng
    • , Byung-Kook Ham
    • , Jieyu Chen
    • , Akiko Yoshida
    • , Leon V. Kochian
    • , Zhangjun Fei
    •  & William J. Lucas
  • Article |

    The plant growth hormone auxin is involved in hypocotyl elongation in response to shade and high temperatures. The vas3 mutant now shows that local auxin conjugation is as important for controlling hormone homeostasis as biosynthesis and transport.

    • Zuyu Zheng
    • , Yongxia Guo
    • , Ondřej Novák
    • , William Chen
    • , Karin Ljung
    • , Joseph P. Noel
    •  & Joanne Chory
  • Article |

    The sorting of soluble proteins for degradation in the vacuole is of vital importance in plant cells, and relies on the activity of vacuolar sorting receptors (VSRs). Laboratory experiments with tobacco mesophyll protoplasts suggest that VSRs are required for the transport of ligands from the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi to the trans-Golgi network/early endosome.

    • Fabian Künzl
    • , Simone Früholz
    • , Florian Fäßler
    • , Beibei Li
    •  & Peter Pimpl
  • Article |

    It is thought that siRNA derived from the transcription of transposable elements (TEs) in pollen nurse cells moves to sperm cells and represses TE activity. A study has now generated solid molecular data supporting this tantalizing but controversial hypothesis.

    • Germán Martínez
    • , Kaushik Panda
    • , Claudia Köhler
    •  & R. Keith Slotkin
  • Article |

    Photosystem I (PSI) is thought to be protected from photoinhibition by controlling electron flow from photosystem II. This report shows that PSI is sensitive to light stress but, following photodamage, functions in non-photochemical energy quenching.

    • Arjun Tiwari
    • , Fikret Mamedov
    • , Michele Grieco
    • , Marjaana Suorsa
    • , Anjana Jajoo
    • , Stenbjörn Styring
    • , Mikko Tikkanen
    •  & Eva-Mari Aro