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Volume 3 Issue 9, September 2017

Volume 3 Issue 9

Shape Shifting

How do essentially flat leaves develop their complex curves? Polarity signals produce changes in mechanical properties – related to the methyl-esterification of cell-wall pectins – of cell walls on opposite sides of the leaf. This mechanical heterogeneity is sufficient to create the leaves' asymmetry.

See Nature Plants 3, 724–733 (2017) .

Image: Jiyan Qi. Cover Design: L. Heslop.


  • Editorial |

    The recent International Botanical Congress in Shenzhen was the largest meeting in its history. That a gathering rooted in the superficially traditional science of taxonomy is thriving in the age of genomics and biotechnology shows the strength and adaptability of modern botany and botanists.

Research Highlights

News and Views

  • News & Views |

    Semi-dwarf cereal varieties have greatly increased crop yields due to their reduced stature, but they also reduce individual spike (ear) size. However, these traits appear to be regulated by distinct pathways, opening new opportunities to develop higher yielding crops.

    • Jonathan Atkinson
    • Daniel von Wangenheim
    • Malcolm J. Bennett
  • News & Views |

    The sequencing and draft assembly of the sweet potato genome has resolved much of its complex genetic redundancies, allowing a better inference of the botanical origin of the staple crop.

    • Haibao Tang
  • News & Views |

    Hi-C experiments in rice reveal that the rice genome is partitioned into well-defined three-dimensional structures similar to so-called topologically associating domains found in metazoans.

    • Stefan Grob
  • News & Views |

    New genomic maps reveal that R-loop structures formed upon hybridization of nascent RNA transcripts to the DNA template are a common characteristic of Arabidopsis chromatin that may have a broad impact on gene expression.

    • Frédéric Chédin
  • News & Views |

    The genes in maize that influence environmental sensitivity are largely independent of the genes that influence mean trait values.

    • Bruce Walsh


  • Article |

    A study reports a high-efficient approach, ssDRIP-seq, for genome-wide identification of chromatin R-loops. Using this approach, researchers present the first genome-wide profile of Arabidopsis R-loops, showing that the R-loop is a common chromatin feature.

    • Wei Xu
    • Hui Xu
    • Qianwen Sun
  • Article |

    Whether phenotypic mean values and plasticity share similar genetic architectures remains elusive. A study examining multiple traits in a maize NAM population using GWAS showed that genes underlying mean and plasticity measures form distinct groups.

    • Aaron Kusmec
    • Srikant Srinivasan
    • Patrick S. Schnable
  • Article |

    Mechanical heterogeneity due to differences in methyl-esterification of cell wall pectins is sufficient to produce asymmetric leaf morphology, as predicted by a mathematical model and validated in Arabidopsis and tomato.

    • Jiyan Qi
    • Binbin Wu
    • Yuling Jiao
  • Letter |

    The uptake of CO2 by leaves, and its conversion to sugars, is the basis for life on land. This study proposes a model unifying light-use efficiency relationships and a standard model of photosynthesis across species and ecosystems, and globally.

    • Han Wang
    • I. Colin Prentice
    • Changhui Peng
  • Letter |

    During gibberellic acid signalling, DELLAs restrict the size of the shoot apical meristem by targeting the cell cycle regulator KRP2. The roles of DELLAs in the shoot apical meristem and stem growth can be genetically uncoupled in Arabidopsis and barley.

    • Antonio Serrano-Mislata
    • Stefano Bencivenga
    • Robert Sablowski


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