Volume 3 Issue 5 May 2017

Volume 3 Issue 5

Lichen treasury

The fossil record of lichens, symbioses of fungi and either algae or cyanobacteria, has been increased more than tenfold by the recovery of 152 new specimens preserved in European ambers formed in the Palaeogene. Pictured here is a fruticose lichen from Eocene Baltic amber.

See Nature Plants 3, 17049 (2017).

Image: A. R. Schmidt Cover Design: L. Heslop


  • Editorial |

    A long and almost uncrossable distance separates fundamental plant research carried out predominantly in rich countries, and the production of better crops in the fields of poor farmers from developing regions. A unique network of international organizations involved in global agriculture helps bridge that chasm.

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News and Views |

    Circular RNAs can regulate the alternative splicing profile of their parental genes by physically interacting with the DNA to form RNA:DNA hybrids.

    • Federico Ariel
    •  & Martin Crespi
  • News and Views |

    “Neither you nor I nor anyone know, how oats, peas, beans, and barley grow.” Like all fine nursery rhymes, this couplet rings true, but a new study brings us a step closer to being able to retort: “Do so!”

    • Tobias I. Baskin
  • News and Views |

    A genetic screen in the model panicoid grass Setaria viridis reveals the importance of the auxin transporter AUX1 for inflorescence branching in maize, highlighting how model plants can accelerate gene discovery in complex crops.

    • Richard Sibout



  • Article |

    Lichens are symbioses of fungi and green algae or cyanobacteria. Here, the finding of 152 fossil lichens from Palaeogene amber greatly increases the number of known fossil lichens. Their morphologies show that the European Palaeogene amber forests were temperate and humid.

    • Ulla Kaasalainen
    • , Alexander R. Schmidt
    •  & Jouko Rikkinen
  • Letter |

    Setaria viridis is a panicoid grass that can serve as a simpler genetic model for crops, such as maize, and accelerate gene discovery. Here, an auxin influx transporter is identified in both plants as an inflorescence architecture regulator.

    • Pu Huang
    • , Hui Jiang
    • , Chuanmei Zhu
    • , Kerrie Barry
    • , Jerry Jenkins
    • , Laura Sandor
    • , Jeremy Schmutz
    • , Mathew S. Box
    • , Elizabeth A. Kellogg
    •  & Thomas P. Brutnell
  • Letter |

    While circular RNAs (circRNAs) have been identified in all eukaryotic kingdoms of life, their functions have remained elusive. Now, a study shows that circRNAs can promote alternative splicing of their cognate mRNA, thus driving homeotic phenotypes.

    • Vanessa M. Conn
    • , Véronique Hugouvieux
    • , Aditya Nayak
    • , Stephanie A. Conos
    • , Giovanna Capovilla
    • , Gökhan Cildir
    • , Agnès Jourdain
    • , Vinay Tergaonkar
    • , Markus Schmid
    • , Chloe Zubieta
    •  & Simon J. Conn
  • Letter |

    GW5 is a major rice quantitative trait locus for grain size. Through genetics experiments, and unlike previous reports, the causal gene is now linked to a calmodulin-binding protein that affects brassinosteroid signalling.

    • Jiafan Liu
    • , Jun Chen
    • , Xiaoming Zheng
    • , Fuqing Wu
    • , Qibing Lin
    • , Yueqin Heng
    • , Peng Tian
    • , ZhiJun Cheng
    • , Xiaowen Yu
    • , Kunneng Zhou
    • , Xin Zhang
    • , Xiuping Guo
    • , Jiulin Wang
    • , Haiyang Wang
    •  & Jianmin Wan
  • Article |

    A new screen for Arabidopsis defective in Casparian strip formation identifies EXO70A1 as a central player. This subunit of the exocyst complex is needed for correct ring-like CASP1 localization, but its role is uncoupled from secretion.

    • Lothar Kalmbach
    • , Kian Hématy
    • , Damien De Bellis
    • , Marie Barberon
    • , Satoshi Fujita
    • , Robertas Ursache
    • , Jean Daraspe
    •  & Niko Geldner
  • Letter |

    Plant cell growth requires cell wall extension. Here, the nanoscale movement of cellulose microfibrils in onion primary cell wall is imaged by atomic force microscopy and compared under mechanical extension versus enzymatic loosening.

    • Tian Zhang
    • , Dimitrios Vavylonis
    • , Daniel M. Durachko
    •  & Daniel J. Cosgrove
  • Article |

    Plants protect their photosynthetic apparatus from excess light energy through non-photochemical quenching (NPQ). This study shows that NPQ is catalysed by two independent mechanisms, only one of which is dependent on lutein.

    • Luca Dall'Osto
    • , Stefano Cazzaniga
    • , Mauro Bressan
    • , David Paleček
    • , Karel Židek
    • , Krishna K. Niyogi
    • , Graham R. Fleming
    • , Donatas Zigmantas
    •  & Roberto Bassi