Entries by Mary Williams

Recognizing featured Plant Cell first authors, June 2017

Guotian Li, Rashmi Jain, and Mawsheng Chern, featured first authors of The Sequences of 1504 Mutants in the Model Rice Variety Kitaake Facilitate Rapid Functional Genomic Studies Guotian Li Current Position: Deputy Director of Grass Genetics/Project Scientist at the Joint BioEnergy Institute, a joint position between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, […]

Prof Sir David Baulcombe on new £30million Cambridge Centre for Crop Science

By 2050, the planet’s population is predicted to have reached 9.6 billion and pressure on our food sources will have intensified. Eminent plant scientist and molecular biologist Professor Sir David Baulcombe believes science and technology must provide the answers to this challenge. “I think it’s quite clear that modern agricultural methods are not sustainable,” says […]

Young Wha Lee on leaving academia for industry and finding career fulfillment

Young Wha Lee, Data Scientist at Monsanto, talks about searching for a career that bridges interests and gives joy, and how to approach industry jobs.  In the Decoding Life series, we talk to geneticists with diverse career paths, tracing the many directions possible after research training. This series is brought to you by the GSA […]

Review: Uncovering gene regulatory networks controlling plant cell differentiation ($)

The transparency and simplicity of the Arabidopsis root apex has made it an excellent model through which to understand the processes that lead from undifferentiated meristem cells to mature root tissues. Drapek et al. review the gene regulatory networks (GRNs) that underlie the development of the endodermis in Arabidopsis root tips. They first summarize the […]

Update: Shining light on the function of NPH3/RPT2-like proteins in phototropin signalling

Blue light regulates diverse functions including phototropism and chloroplast movements. Christie et al. summarize recent updates in understanding the signalling pathway between light perception by phototropins and downstream responses. They describe the central roles for the 33 members (in Arabidopsis) of the NRL protein family, named for the founding members NON-PHOTOTROPIC HYPOCOTYL (NPH3) and ROOT […]

Review: The evolution of calcium-based signalling in plants

Calcium signalling is a ubiquitous process in plants and other organisms. Transporters at the plasma and vacuolar (tonoplast) membranes control entry and exit of calcium ion into the cytoplasm, and it is the cytoplasmic calcium level ([Ca2+]cyt) that affects cellular responses, as calcium-binding proteins alter their activities or binding properties in response to changing calcium […]

What We’re Reading: July 21

Review: The evolution of calcium-based signalling in plants Calcium signalling is a ubiquitous process in plants and other organisms. Transporters at the plasma and vacuolar (tonoplast) membranes control entry and exit of calcium ion into the cytoplasm, and it is the cytoplasmic calcium level ([Ca2+]cyt) that affects cellular responses, as calcium-binding proteins alter their activities […]

Report: Undergraduate research experiences for STEM students: Successes, challenges, and opportunities

A new report (free to download) from the National Academies, edited by Gentile et al., provides insights into how undergraduate research experiences (UREs) enhance and support undergraduate education, whether they are faculty-mentored lab or field-based research or research embedded in a course. This report describes many forms of URE with recommendations for how to design […]

Special Issue: Plant epigenomics

The current issue of Genome Biology features a collection of review and research articles on the topic of plant epigenomics, with an overview editorial by Köhler and Springer. This collection “highlights advances in our understanding of the functions of epigenetic modifications, and the application of this knowledge.” Topics include how chromatin marks contribute to stress responses […]

Convergent evolution of sesterterpene biosynthetic repertoire in the Brassicaceae

Sesterterpenes are a family of natural products; some (derived from corals and fungi) have been shown to have antitumor, antimicrobial and antiinflamatrory activities. Huang et al. used genome mining to identify sesterterpene biosynthetic genes in the Brassicaceae. The first committed step is carried out in fungi by a bifunctional enzyme, but by two enzymes in […]

Synthesis of the anti-HIV compound daurichromenic 1 acid in Rhododendron dauricum

Daurichromenic 1 acid (DCA) is a meroterpenoid with anti-HIV properties that is produced in young leaves of Rhododendron dauicum. In this study, Iijimi et al. identified a DCA synthase gene. Starting with their previous observations that this enzyme is a stereoselective meroterpenoid oxidocyclase, similar to cannabinoid synthases of Cannabis sativa, the authors looked in a […]

Photosynthesis-dependent H2O2 transfer from chloroplasts to nuclei provides a high-light signalling mechanism

Because most chloroplast proteins are encoded in the nuclear genome, there must be ways for signals from the chloroplast to inform the nucleus and direct changes in gene expression. Several candidates have been proposed as chloroplast-to-nucleus (retrograde) signals. Using hydrogen-peroxide (H2O2) specific sensors, Exposito-Rodriguez et al. show that upon illumination with high light, hydrogen peroxide […]

Embryo/endosperm separation through formation of an extra-cuticular sheath at the embryo surface

Following double fertilization, the embryo and the endosperm form within a developing seed. In Arabidopsis, the endosperm is somewhat transient, as most of the space it occupies is eventually taken over by the embryo. The question of how the embryo pushes aside the endosperm has not been fully clear. Previous studies showed that the surface […]

Emission of volatile organic compounds from petunia flowers is facilitated by an ABC transporter

Plants can emit up to 10% of the carbon they fix as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which function in abiotic stress tolerance, pollinator attraction, signalling between plants, and defending against pathogens and herbivores. It has been an open question whether these small molecules pass directly and passively through the plasma membrane or whether their transport […]

Acetate-mediated novel survival strategy against drought in plants ($)

Kim et al. explored the molecular basis for the drought tolerance previously observed for mutants of histone deacetylase HDA6. They observed that genes involved in acetate production are upregulated in hda6 mutants and in drought-stressed plants. Furthermore, acetate biosynthesis mutants are more sensitive to drought, indicating a role for acetate in drought tolerance. Finally, they […]

Review: Quantitative monitoring and control of plant signalling through novel theoretical–experimental approaches

Samodelov and Zurbriggen describe approaches to exquisitely fine-tune protein and metabolite expression levels through a variety of synthetic and semi-synthetic biology approaches. For example, optigenetics tools enable gene expression to be activated precisely via a light beam; when combined with downstream regulators including miRNAs and inducible protein degradation tags, the gene product can be reliably […]

Review: Exploiting induced and natural epigenetic variation for crop improvement

Variation provides the raw material for selection and improvement. Springer and Schmitz describe how natural and induced epigenetic variation supplements genetic variation. This review starts with a description of epigenetics, epigenomics (the genome-wide distribution of epigenetic information), and the origin and maintenance of epigenetic marks. Epigenetic variation can arise spontaneously but also from chemical treatments […]

What We’re Reading: July 14

Review: Exploiting induced and natural epigenetic variation for crop improvement Variation provides the raw material for selection and improvement. Springer and Schmitz describe how natural and induced epigenetic variation supplements genetic variation. This review starts with a description of epigenetics, epigenomics (the genome-wide distribution of epigenetic information), and the origin and maintenance of epigenetic marks. […]

Speed breeding: a powerful tool to accelerate crop research and breeding

Watson and Ghosh et al. describe protocols to accelerate the lifecycle of several crop species using “speed breeding”, which essentially involves extending the daylength to 22 hours with supplemental lighting. They describe methods and results from glasshouse and growth chamber speed breeding. In spite of greatly shortened generation times, seed production was similar for the […]