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Rapid development of crop varieties is hampered by the slow breeding times of crop plants. Manipulating the light regime within controlled environment rooms can at least halve generation times of a range of crops and their wild relatives.
Breeding crops with a high yield and superior adaptability is vital to maintaining global food security. New technologies on multiple scales are re-engineering traditional plant breeding to meet these challenges.
It is hypothesized that morphological evolution occurs through a variety of molecular mechanisms. The position and patterning of petal spots in Clarkia evolved through changes to the regulatory region of a gene that encodes a transcriptional activator of pigment synthesis, prompting its control by novel positional cues.
New capabilities for assembling plant Rubisco in bacteria offer a revolution for enhancing photosynthesis. The technology provides a breakthrough to identify and test solutions for improving CO2 fixation by crop Rubisco.
In Clarkia species, petals have spots at specific positions, an important ecological trait that affects pollination. The evolution of this trait is explained by mutations in a single promoter that rewire a developmental transcription factor network.
Fully enclosed, controlled-environment growth chambers can accelerate plant development. Such ‘speed breeding’ reduces generation times to accelerate crop breeding and research programmes, and can integrate with other modern crop breeding technologies.
The seed coat of many leguminous species has a powdery bloom containing hazardous allergens. In wild soybeans, the bloom is controlled by the BLOOM1 gene, a mutation in which abolishes bloom and elevates seed oil content in domesticated strains.
The function of MADS-box genes has been extensively studied in fungi, animals and flowering plants. Now, researchers report their role in non-flowering plants and further explore the evolution of this gene family in land plants.
Photorespiration was considered to be wasteful because it reduces photosynthetic efficiency. However, here a modified photosynthesis model, which incorporates photorespiratory nitrogen assimilation, suggests that photorespiration also has beneficial effects on carbon uptake.