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Volume 5 Issue 6, June 2019

Vintage genomics

The European grapevine (Vitis vinifera) was first domesticated 6,000 years ago and is often cultivated through cloning. Analysis of the genomes of seeds from archaeological sites identify grapes closely related or even identical to modern varieties being used for wine production as far back as the Iron Age.

See Ramos-Madrigal, J. et al.

Image: Westend61/Getty. Cover Design: L. Heslop.


  • Plants are different and amazingly diverse. We should not be embarrassed to study them independently of their many uses.



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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • Ion channels and transporters can integrate environmental cues in the cell. In addition to governing calcium homeostasis, a chloroplast envelope-localized calcium channel is now characterized to implicate chloroplast calcium signalling in drought tolerance.

    • Simon Stael
    News & Views
  • Root growth depends on the shoot-to-root transport of assimilates through the phloem, which is connected to the meristems by plasmodesmata pores. A PHLOEM UNLOADING MODULATOR is now identified to regulate plasmodesmata internal organisation, leading to pores that appear tighter but are more efficient for transport.

    • Sam Amsbury
    • Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso
    News & Views
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  • Volatile organic compounds from plants are an integral part of atmospheric chemistry and ecosystem interactions, especially in an Arctic region impacted by climate change. Observed increases in insect herbivores leads to a substantial increase in VOC emissions, showing a link between warming and plant impacts.

    • Tao Li
    • Thomas Holst
    • Riikka Rinnan
  • By map-based cloning and knockout experiments, a study identified and validated ZmDMP to be one of the two genes known to control haploid induction in maize. A single-nucleotide mutation in ZmDMP causes a 2–3-fold increase in the haploid induction rate.

    • Yu Zhong
    • Chenxu Liu
    • Shaojiang Chen
  • A study reports the crystal structures of the Arabidopsis thaliana cytochrome P450 monooxygenase CYP90B1—a rate-limiting enzyme of the brassinosteroid biosynthetic pathway—complexed with its substrate or inhibitors for brassinosteroid biosynthesis, providing insights into its function.

    • Keisuke Fujiyama
    • Tomoya Hino
    • Shingo Nagano
  • Thousands of varieties of wine grapes have been recorded and described in historical accounts, some going back as far as the Middle Ages, but genetic relationships between ancient and modern varieties were unknown. Genomic sequencing of 28 seeds, dating back as far as the Iron Age, finds close relationships to today’s cultivars, including a genetic match to Savagnin Blanc from 1100 ce.

    • Jazmín Ramos-Madrigal
    • Anne Kathrine Wiborg Runge
    • Nathan Wales
  • Plasmodesmata channel substance transportation between neighbouring cells, including the sieve tube elements and the phloem companion cells. Now, the plasmodesmal ultrastructure is shown to be regulated by a newly identified phloem unloading modulator that participates in sphingolipid biosynthesis in Arabidopsis.

    • Dawei Yan
    • Shri Ram Yadav
    • Ykä Helariutta
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