Volume 3 Issue 3 March 2017

Volume 3 Issue 3

Wall planner

Xa4 is a widely exploited and lasting disease resistance gene in rice breeding. It encodes a cell wall-associated kinase that slightly reduces plant height by partially preventing culm cell elongation.

See Nature Plants 3, 17009 (2017).

Image: S. Wang Cover Design: L. Heslop


  • Editorial |

    Plant biology has a long history in helping to illuminate the most detailed workings of living organisms. This tradition is amply represented by a trio of structures appearing this month.

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News and Views |

    The novel features of the CRISPR–Cpf1 RNA-guided endonuclease system facilitate precise and efficient genome engineering. Application of CRISPR–Cpf1 in plants shows promise for robust gene editing and regulation, opening exciting possibilities for targeted trait improvement in crops.

    • Magdy M. Mahfouz
  • News and Views |

    A large-scale study covering a wide range of arable farming systems reveals that, besides the obvious environmental benefits, low pesticide use rarely decreases productivity and profitability.

    • Vasileios P. Vasileiadis
  • News and Views |

    Trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P) is an essential signalling molecule in plants. A novel chemical intervention strategy to increase in planta T6P levels has now been presented, with remarkable effects on plant yield and drought tolerance.

    • Sjef Smeekens
  • News and Views |

    The rice gene Xa4 encodes a wall-associated kinase and controls disease resistance and mechanical strength, possibly through a common mechanism.

    • Simon G. Krattinger
    •  & Beat Keller
  • News and Views |

    Plant cell walls incorporate a variety of acetylated polysaccharides. In addition to enzymes catalysing acetylation (acetyltransferases), plants could produce enzymes to remove acetyl groups (acetylesterases). Previously, pectin acetylesterases were known and now a xylan acetylesterase has been identified — and it has many surprises.

    • Henrik V. Scheller
  • News and Views |

    The chloroplast evolved from a symbiotic cyanobacterium and it still divides like one. Bacterial inner division machinery recruits the eukaryotic outer complex, which in turn condenses the inner ring. This reciprocal communication across the double membrane is essential for coordinated fission of the organelle.

    • Shin-ya Miyagishima


  • Review Article |

    Molecular dating has suggested that angiosperms existed earlier than the Late Cretaceous. Scattered fossil evidence for Triassic or Jurassic angiosperms exists but this Review concludes that the case remains unproven at best.

    • Patrick S. Herendeen
    • , Else Marie Friis
    • , Kaj Raunsgaard Pedersen
    •  & Peter R. Crane


  • Brief Communication |

    CRISPR–Cpf1 has emerged as an effective genome editing tool in animals. Now, a study shows that this system can edit plant genomes at nearly 100% efficiency at independent sites. Moreover, it can be repurposed for modulating plant transcriptome.

    • Xu Tang
    • , Levi G. Lowder
    • , Tao Zhang
    • , Aimee A. Malzahn
    • , Xuelian Zheng
    • , Daniel F. Voytas
    • , Zhaohui Zhong
    • , Yiyi Chen
    • , Qiurong Ren
    • , Qian Li
    • , Elida R. Kirkland
    • , Yong Zhang
    •  & Yiping Qi
  • Letter |

    Food production causes a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. This life-cycle assessment of the supply chain of a loaf of bread finds that over half of its environmental impacts arise from wheat cultivation, with 40% from the use of nitrate fertiliser.

    • Liam Goucher
    • , Richard Bruce
    • , Duncan D. Cameron
    • , S. C. Lenny Koh
    •  & Peter Horton
  • Article |

    The rice resistance gene Xa4, which protects rice against Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae, is widely used in global rice production. Now, a study reveals that Xa4 encodes a cell-wall-associated kinase that improves multiple agronomic traits by regulating cell wall strength.

    • Keming Hu
    • , Jianbo Cao
    • , Jie Zhang
    • , Fan Xia
    • , Yinggen Ke
    • , Haitao Zhang
    • , Wenya Xie
    • , Hongbo Liu
    • , Ying Cui
    • , Yinglong Cao
    • , Xinli Sun
    • , Jinghua Xiao
    • , Xianghua Li
    • , Qinglu Zhang
    •  & Shiping Wang
  • Article |

    BRITTLE LEAF SHEATH1, which belongs to a novel class of Golgi-localized esterases, acts as a xylan deacetylase in rice. This is the first report that shows the importance of xylan deacetylation for proper function of the plant secondary cell wall.

    • Baocai Zhang
    • , Lanjun Zhang
    • , Feng Li
    • , Dongmei Zhang
    • , Xiangling Liu
    • , Hang Wang
    • , Zuopeng Xu
    • , Chengcai Chu
    •  & Yihua Zhou
  • Article |

    The two GRAS transcription factors SHR and SCR play a role in root development by interacting with proteins of the BIRD/IDD family, such as JACKDAW. Structural and biochemical characterization of the three components explains how the subunits interact together and with DNA.

    • Yoshinori Hirano
    • , Masahiro Nakagawa
    • , Tomoe Suyama
    • , Kohji Murase
    • , Maya Shirakawa
    • , Seiji Takayama
    • , Tai-ping Sun
    •  & Toshio Hakoshima
  • Article |

    Chloroplasts are ancient prokaryotes that divide by constriction of a ring-like division machinery. Structural determination of the intermembrane region of the ARC6–PDV2 complex helps to understand the coordination between inner and outer rings.

    • Wenhe Wang
    • , Jinyu Li
    • , Qingqing Sun
    • , Xiaoyu Yu
    • , Weiwei Zhang
    • , Ning Jia
    • , Chuanjing An
    • , Yiqiong Li
    • , Yanan Dong
    • , Fengjiao Han
    • , Ning Chang
    • , Xiaomin Liu
    • , Zhiling Zhu
    • , You Yu
    • , Shilong Fan
    • , Maojun Yang
    • , Shi-zhong Luo
    • , Hongbo Gao
    •  & Yue Feng
  • Article |

    In thylakoid membranes, photosystem I (PSI) forms a supercomplex with its light-harvesting antenna, light-harvesting complex I (LHC1). This crystal structure of plant PSI–LHCI shows details of the configuration of PsaK and integral networks of water molecules and lipids.

    • Yuval Mazor
    • , Anna Borovikova
    • , Ido Caspy
    •  & Nathan Nelson