Volume 2 Issue 5, May 2016

Volume 2 Issue 5

Mercenary support

These ants are not feeding on this bittersweet nightshade leaf  they are, in fact, collecting nectar released from herbivore-inflicted wounds and in return defending the plant from further herbivory. That defensive nectar is secreted directly from wounds and not just from nectaries may reflect the evolutionary origins of nectaries and nectar secretion.

See Nature Plants 2, 16056 (2016).

Image: D. Geuß Cover Design: S. Whitham


  • Editorial |

    The past century or so has seen a growing divide between the sciences and the arts. But a recent bout of exhibitions, biographies and documentaries illustrates how arbitrary the distinction between plant scientist and botanical artist really is.

Features & comment

  • News |

    Medicinal plants, often harvested directly from the wild, are under increasing pressure from climate change, development and over-exploitation in response to increasing demand. Is cultivation the answer, or can a certification programme create incentives to achieve sustainable harvests?

    • Jim Kling
  • Comment |

    Sustainable intensification is a concept of growing importance, yet it is in danger of becoming scientifically obsolete because of the diversity of meanings it has acquired. To avoid this, it is important to consider the various scales on which it can aid progress towards feeding human populations while also protecting the environment.

    • Richard M. Gunton
    • , Leslie G. Firbank
    • , Alex Inman
    •  & D. Michael Winter


Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Micronutrient deficiency in human diets that are over-reliant on cereals can have grave consequences for health. Combining genetics, grafting and multi-elemental image analysis, new research shows that two P1B-ATPases maternally export zinc inside the developing seed in Arabidopsis, offering a new strategy for crop biofortification.

    • Mary Lou Guerinot


  • Letter |

    Future food demand may require agricultural intensification, which depends on material input such as phosphorous fertilizers. This paper quantifies the necessary P input to intensify global crop production on P-fixing soils, based on Brazilian data.

    • Eric D. Roy
    • , Peter D. Richards
    • , Luiz A. Martinelli
    • , Luciana Della Coletta
    • , Silvia Rafaela Machado Lins
    • , Felipe Ferraz Vazquez
    • , Edwin Willig
    • , Stephanie A. Spera
    • , Leah K. VanWey
    •  & Stephen Porder
  • Letter |

    The bittersweet nightshade Solanum dulcamara produces extrafloral nectar from herbivore-inflicted wounds, without the need for any specialized structure. This nectar attracts ants that defend the plant against two of its native herbivores.

    • Tobias Lortzing
    • , Onno W. Calf
    • , Marlene Böhlke
    • , Jens Schwachtje
    • , Joachim Kopka
    • , Daniel Geuß
    • , Susanne Kosanke
    • , Nicole M. van Dam
    •  & Anke Steppuhn
  • Letter |

    C4 photosynthesis is thought to be more efficient than the ancestral C3 form, but data directly comparing the two are inconsistent. This study compares 382 grasses and finds a consistent increase in growth and greater investment in water and nutrient acquisition in C4 species.

    • Rebecca R. L. Atkinson
    • , Emily J. Mockford
    • , Christopher Bennett
    • , Pascal-Antoine Christin
    • , Elizabeth L. Spriggs
    • , Robert P. Freckleton
    • , Ken Thompson
    • , Mark Rees
    •  & Colin P. Osborne
  • Article |

    Non-photochemical quenching protects the photosynthetic apparatus of plants from damage in high light conditions. High-resolution time-resolved fluorescence measurements now show that the level of this photoprotection is regulated by subtle changes in the number of LHCIIs in a quenched state.

    • Jevgenij Chmeliov
    • , Andrius Gelzinis
    • , Egidijus Songaila
    • , Ramūnas Augulis
    • , Christopher D. P. Duffy
    • , Alexander V. Ruban
    •  & Leonas Valkunas
  • Letter |

    Micronutrient deficiency in a cereal-based human diet can have grave consequences. Combining genetics, grafting and multi-elemental image analysis, the authors show how two maternal P1B-ATPases export zinc to the developing seed in Arabidopsis.

    • Lene Irene Olsen
    • , Thomas H. Hansen
    • , Camille Larue
    • , Jeppe Thulin Østerberg
    • , Robert D. Hoffmann
    • , Johannes Liesche
    • , Ute Krämer
    • , Suzy Surblé
    • , Stéphanie Cadarsi
    • , Vallerie Ann Samson
    • , Daniel Grolimund
    • , Søren Husted
    •  & Michael Palmgren
  • Letter |

    Most Arabidopsis AGO proteins have been well studied, but the function of AGO3 remains elusive. Now a study has shown that, unexpectedly, AGO3 is functionally different from its closest paralogue AGO2, and instead shares similar function with AGO4 in the epigenetic pathway.

    • Zhonghui Zhang
    • , Xiuying Liu
    • , Xinwei Guo
    • , Xiu-Jie Wang
    •  & Xiuren Zhang
  • Article |

    Cell-type-specific DNA methylation in plants has only been studied for reproductive tissues. Now a study reports cell-type-specific methylomes of the Arabidopsis root meristem, providing insights into the epigenetic diversity between somatic cell types.

    • Taiji Kawakatsu
    • , Tim Stuart
    • , Manuel Valdes
    • , Natalie Breakfield
    • , Robert J. Schmitz
    • , Joseph R. Nery
    • , Mark A. Urich
    • , Xinwei Han
    • , Ryan Lister
    • , Philip N. Benfey
    •  & Joseph R. Ecker