No. 12 December 2019Masting economics
Masting, the irregular production of seeds in synchrony with local plants of the same species, is employed by many plants often growing under nutrient-poor conditions. Understanding different masting amongst species and the selective pressures behind them will help predict if a favourite nut will be produced next autumn.
See Fernández-Martínez, M. et al.
No. 11 November 2019Branching out into clock regulation
TRANSPARENT TESTA GLABRA 1 WD-repeat proteins regulate many diverse processes, including trichome and root hair development, pigment production and the circadian clock. Changes in their otherwise highly conserved protein sequences track the functionalization of the group during the evolution of land plants.
See Airoldi, C. et al.
No. 10 October 2019Hydroxylase suppression of germination
The hormone gibberellin has a large number of structural variants with different bioactivity. The conversion of high-activity GA4 to low-activity GA1 by the hydroxylase enzyme CYP72A9 ensures seed dormancy in Brassicaceae.
See He, J. et al.
No. 9 September 2019Defensive origami
Isodons are a diverse tribe of plants in the mint family (Lamiaceae). The unusual, multi-lobed shape of Isodon umbrosus var. hakusanensis leaves appears to be a defence mechanism. The complex shape deters the herbivorous weevil, Apoderus praecellens, from laying its eggs here by disrupting their leaf-processing behaviour.
See Higuchi, Y. & Kawakita, A.
No. 8 August 2019Kiwi sex
Some plants, such as kiwifruit, are diecious with the sex of individuals determined by a pair of sex chromosomes. Expressing one Y-chromosome-encoded gene Friendly boy, FrBy, in the rapid flowering female kiwifruit plants resulted in self-fertile and continuously fruiting plants. This could increase the yield and sustainability of kiwifruit production.
See Akagi, T. et al.
No. 7 July 2019Pore relations
The heterodimer of SPEECHLESS and SCREAM directs differentiation of stomata on the plant epidermis, which facilitate gas exchange while minimizing water loss. Without SCREAM’s recruitment of inhibitory MAP kinases, all cells in the epidermis become stomata.
See Putarjunan, A. et al.
No. 6 June 2019Vintage 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.
No. 5 May 2019Jasmonate therapy
Wounding triggers regeneration. The jasmonate family plant hormones act as a wound signal to promote tissue regrowth. Dynamic waves of jasmonate promote auxin production by upregulating ANTHRANILATE SYNTHASE α1, a tryptophan biosynthesis enzyme.
See Zhang, G. et al.
No. 4 April 2019Short days, long stems
The rice transcription factor PREMATURE INTERNODE ELONGATION 1 (PINE1) represses internode elongation during long days by reducing sensitivity to gibberellin. Localization of PINE1 gives characteristic patterns in cross sections of stems along their length.
See Gómez-Ariza, J. et al.
No. 3 March 2019Unleashing witchweed’s voracious thirst
Witchweed (Striga sp.) is a scourge of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. An aberrant protein phosphatase 2C makes the parasite insensitive to abscisic acid, letting it maintain high transpiration levels with which to drain water and nutrients from host crops.
See Fujioka, H. et al.
No. 2 February 2019Storing carbon in the understory
Forgotten tree tags in African forests show that small trees can outlive large canopy trees. The understory thus contributes disproportionately to long-term carbon storage and needs appropriate conservation management.
See Hubau, W. et al.
No. 1 January 2019Pine pollen’s polymer protection
Land plants synthesize the chemically inert polymer sporopollenin at the outer wall of spores and pollen to protect the vulnerable gametes. Its structure is polyvinyl alcohol and coumaroylated aliphatic units, crosslinked through a distinctive dioxane moiety.
See Li, F-S.