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The Week in Botany 161

August 3, 2020

August is here and I can sense the season starting to turn. The nights are starting to noticeably draw in earlier. The season of seedlings is over and the first harvests are approaching. In Wales we've had Gŵyl Galan Awst and, in Ireland, Lughnasadh. It's definitely the second half of the year, and I'm not sure that I feel like I've started the first half properly.
But our bloggers certainly have been productive. We have the first of our reports from Botany 2020 on the site this week, from Erin Zimmerman, with more to come over the next week or two. If you're at ESA 2020 at a virtual Salt Lake, then you can say "Hi" to Juniper Kiss, who be there for us.
The only person who isn't going anywhere is me, but I'll be taking next weekend off to see some relatives. That means that next week's round up of the things people following @botanyone share on Twitter might be a bit later than normal.
Until next week, take care.
Alun (

From Botany One

Synchronization of senescence in Arabidopsis thaliana
Is floral senescence synchronized across accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana?

Training and high quality images needed for best online annotation of digital specimens
Volunteers produced the most accurate annotations in-person, but both in-person and online volunteers gave good results.

Machine learning can help clear herbarium backlogs & potentially discover new species
Computers can combat the slow pace and shortage of expertise that plagues specimen identification and species discovery.

The role of competition, light and soil microbes on tropical tree seedling growth
Outcomes of plant-soil feedback vary depending on light availability and presence of competing plants.

Ancient grasslands take centuries to develop
Ecologists are discovering the growth of a biodiverse grassland community can take over a thousand years.

Does biodiversity make gardening less stressful?
There are a few studies saying a garden can improve wellbeing, but what if your garden is a source of stress? You’re not alone, but research gives some hints about what to change to help improve things.

Disentangling domestication and environmental effects on plant-herbivore interactions
How has domestication affected herbivory and anti-herbivore defenses of chaya, a plant crop grown for it's leaves in the Yucatan pensula?

Botany 2020: More Botany Than You can Shake a (Virtual) Stick At
The shift to an online conference has brought some benefits to Botany 2020.

What were the landscapes of the earliest humans like?
Evidence from a core at Olduvai gorge reveals some of the features of early Homo habilis habitat.

News and Views

We believe that everyone has a Plant Love Story: a story about how plants have shaped your life. We’re collecting these stories to show how plants affect us all. Please share your story!
Plant Love Stories

[REDUX] Risking Life and Limb to Catalog the World’s Plants
"It’s our third week in the Guyanese rainforest, and we’ve hiked out to the base of a small but fast-moving waterfall to see what plants we can collect around the wet rock face. Getting to it involves scrambling over a series of large boulders with long drops to one side. It would be a nerve-wracking climb at the best of times, but as we get about a third of the way up, it starts to pour in that abrupt fashion particular to the tropics. The mossy rocks instantly become slippery to the touch, and it isn’t clear whether it’s less dangerous to keep going or try descending back the way we’ve come."

Too many senior white academics still resist recognizing racism
"As a Black woman who is the chair of a university science department, people have questioned my right to exist at every stage."

Can Trees Live Forever? New Kindling for an Immortal Debate
Some trees can live for thousands of years, but we may not be around long enough to really know whether they can die of old age.
The New York Times

Sudden Oak Death Taking a Toll on U.S. West Coast
Researchers have been modeling effects of the plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum on coastal forests in California and Oregon since it arrived on the West Coast 3 decades ago.

Loss of bees causes shortage of key food crops, study finds
A lack of bees in agricultural areas is limiting the supply of some food crops, a new US-based study has found, suggesting that declines in the pollinators may have serious ramifications for global food security.
The Guardian

Boosting the signal in scientific talks
A few modest adjustments to the planning and delivery of talks can help scientists share ideas with their peers more effectively, say Scott St. George and Michael White.

27 States Issue Warnings About Seed Packets From China
State agriculture officials are urging residents not to plant the seeds, which were mailed in pouches featuring Chinese characters.
The New York Times

How Woody Vines Do the Twist
Slowly, scientists are learning how lianas quickly climb.
The New York Times

Curly Cucurbits
I’ve grown to really appreciate cucurbits (family Cucurbitaceae) in recent years. From their ambling/climbing habit and often delicious fruits to their beautiful flowers and intimate relationships with a few native bees, this family has a lot to offer.
In Defense of Plants

Scientific Papers

Hidden figures in ecology and evolution
To the Editor — Equity efforts consistently disregard the perspectives, contributions and accomplishments of Black women. Habitually, Black women’s accomplishments are marginalized in favour of white and/or male agendas. This societal disregard dates back to the women’s rights movement, includes the civil rights movement and is present in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) equity interventions.
Nature Ecology & Evolution

An immune receptor complex evolved in soybean to perceive a polymorphic bacterial flagellin
Wei et al. show that soybean has developed polymorphic versions of the flg22 receptors that are able to perceive flg22Rso. Furthermore, they identify key residues responsible for both the evasion of perception by flg22Rso in Arabidopsis and the gain of perception by the soybean receptors. Heterologous expression of the soybean flg22 receptors in susceptible plant species, such as tomato, enhances resistance to bacterial wilt disease, demonstrating the potential of these receptors to enhance disease resistance in crop plants.
Nature Communications

Devastating intimacy: the cell biology of plant–Phytophthora interactions
An understanding of the cell biology underlying the burgeoning molecular genetic and genomic knowledge of oomycete pathogenicity is essential to gain the full context of how these pathogens cause disease on plants. An intense research focus on secreted Phytophthora effector proteins, especially those containing a conserved N‐terminal RXLR motif, has meant that most cell biological studies into Phytophthora diseases have focussed on the effectors and their host target proteins. While these effector studies have provided novel insights into effector secretion and host defence mechanisms, there remain many unanswered questions about fundamental processes involved in spore biology, host penetration and haustorium formation and function.
New Phytologist

The Use of High-Throughput Phenotyping for Assessment of Heat Stress-Induced Changes in Arabidopsis
Gao et al. describe a protocol focusing on the daily changes in plant morphology and photosynthetic performance after exposure to heat stress using an automated noninvasive phenotyping system. Heat stress exposure resulted in an acute reduction of the quantum yield of photosystem II and increased leaf angle. In longer term, the exposure to heat also affected plant growth and morphology.
Plant Phenomics

Accurate and versatile 3D segmentation of plant tissues at cellular resolution
Wolny et al. present PlantSeg, a pipeline for volumetric segmentation of plant tissues into cells. PlantSeg employs a convolutional neural network to predict cell boundaries and graph partitioning to segment cells based on the neural network predictions. PlantSeg was trained on 1xed and live plant organs imaged with confocal and light sheet microscopes. PlantSeg delivers accurate results and generalizes well across different tissues, scales, acquisition settings even on non plant samples.

Recent accelerated diversification in rosids occurred outside the tropics
Sun et al. use a supermatrix comprising nearly 20,000 species of rosids—a clade of ~25% of all angiosperm species—to understand global patterns of diversification and its climatic association. Their approach incorporates historical global temperature, assessment of species’ temperature niche, and two broad-scale characterizations of tropical versus non-tropical niche occupancy. They find the diversification rates of most subclades dramatically increased over the last 15 million years (Myr) during cooling associated with global expansion of temperate habitats.
Nature Communications

A Bacterial Effector Protein Hijacks Plant Metabolism to Support Pathogen Nutrition
Xian et al. show that Ralstonia solanacearum, the causal agent of bacterial wilt disease, secretes the effector protein RipI, which interacts with plant glutamate decarboxylases (GADs) to alter plant metabolism and support bacterial growth. GADs are activated by calmodulin and catalyze the biosynthesis of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an important signaling molecule in plants and animals. RipI promotes the interaction of GADs with calmodulin, enhancing the production of GABA. R. solanacearum is able to replicate efficiently using GABA as a nutrient, and both RipI and plant GABA contribute to a successful infection.
Cell Host & Microbe

Ecosystem decay exacerbates biodiversity loss with habitat loss
Chase et al. analyse 123 studies of assemblage-level abundances of focal taxa taken from multiple habitat fragments of varying size to evaluate the influence of passive sampling and ecosystem decay on biodiversity loss. They found overall support for the ecosystem decay hypothesis. Across all studies, ecosystems and taxa, biodiversity estimates from smaller habitat fragments—when controlled for sampling effort—contain fewer individuals, fewer species and less-even communities than expected from a sample of larger fragments. However, the diversity loss due to ecosystem decay in some studies (for example, those in which habitat loss took place more than 100 years ago) was less than expected from the overall pattern, as a result of compositional turnover by species that were not originally present in the intact habitats

Ancient orogenic and monsoon-driven assembly of the world’s richest temperate alpine flora
The evolution of high mountain floras is strongly influenced by tectonic and climatic history. Ding et al. document the timing, tempo, and mode by which the world's most species-rich alpine flora, that of the Tibet-Himalaya-Hengduan region, was assembled. Alpine assemblages in the region are older than previously thought, with lineages tracing their alpine ancestry to the early Oligocene—older than any other modern alpine system.

Diversification, disparification, and hybridization in the desert shrubs Encelia
Singhal et al. show that Encelia originated and diversified recently (mid-Pleistocene) and rapidly, with rates comparable to notable adaptive radiations in plants. Encelia probably originated in the hot deserts of North America, with subsequent diversification across steep environmental gradients. They uncover multiple instances of gene flow between species. The radiation of Encelia is characterized by fast rates of phenotypic evolution, trait lability, and extreme disparity across environments and between species-pairs with overlapping geographic ranges.


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