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🌲The Week in Botany 181🌲

December 21, 2020

It's the darkest day of year, where I am. If you live in the better hemisphere, then you have the longest day, and summer to look forward to. Here we'll have cold winds and overcast skies. It's easy to feel grim, but I've been planning planting for wildlife, so I know what I'm doing in Spring. It's helpful to look ahead.
I'll be taking a winter break, so this will be the last round-up of links shared by people following @botanyone on Twitter for a little while. I plan to take the next two weeks off, so the next scheduled email is January 11.
If you can, you should make time for a break as it looks like it'll take a while for a vaccine to have an impact on how we live. I see that outgoing Annals editor Pat Heslop-Harrison is planning a hybrid on/offline Polyploidy meeting in China, for September.
Thank you to everyone for their emails this year. Your comments are appreciated. Now all that's left for me to this year is press the big red send button. And I hope that I get an awful lot of auto-responses back from people who left the office for holidays.
Take care.
Alun (

From Botany One

Growth responses of Melastoma malabathricum populations to aluminium
Do M. malabathricum seedlings respond positively to the addition of aluminium to the growth medium?

The Role of Adaptive Strategies in Plant Modelling
How can plant modelers introduce a genetic dimension into physiological models at different organizational scales in a meaningful way?

Special Issue of Annals of Botany ‘Polyploidy and Evolution in Plants’: Open call for papers
The special issue is due for publication in mid 2022.

δ13Cp as proxy for water use efficiency is deceptive in young leaves
During leaf expansion, the measurement gives counterintuitive results.

Tree root identification saves ancient caves and the forest above them
Barcoding and morphology combined allowed identification and targeted removal of problem trees.

News and Views

What's New in MPMI Virtual Seminar Series
MPMI is pleased to introduce What’s New in MPMI!—a new series of live online seminars highlighting recent papers, presented by our authors. We hope that our virtual seminar series will be a way to draw our research community together, providing an opportunity for us to connect with colleagues across the world.

The Werewolf Plant
It’s a warm, moonlit night in the Balkans. The landscape is crisp and dry, the rocks underneath sinuous and jumbled, the product of the ancient Himalayan Orogen and millions of subsequent years of erosion and tectonic activity (Milev and Vissileva, 2007). The Mediterranean breeze permeates the air, and the sky is a cobalt blue, framing the opalescent corona of the moon. But the moonlight is strangely refracted from a million crystal spheres hidden among the rocks, each visited in turn by moths, expertly navigating the night sky using the azimuth of the moon. This was the scene recently faced by a team of researchers studying the pollination mechanisms of the genus Ephedra, a type of Gymnosperm common in arid environments. (h/t @AndrewLHipp)
All is Leaf

Restore UK woodland by letting trees plant themselves, says report
Rewilding Britain charity says natural dispersal of seeds is cost-effective and boosts biodiversity
The Guardian

Plant Path. & Plant-Microbe Biology Projects
These are the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology projects that our Summer Research Scholars will be tackling in 2021.  Faculty members or project leaders associated with each project are also listed. You can read more about their programs by clicking on their names. More project listings coming soon.
Cornell Summer Research Scholars Program

Distant Cousins Of Food Crops Deserve Respect And Protection
Hundreds of native North American plants, often dismissed as weeds, deserve a lot more respect, according to a new study. These plants, distant cousins of foods like cranberries and pumpkins, actually represent a botanical treasure now facing increased threat from climate change, habitat loss and invasive species.

Work based training
Spend your days working with and learning from horticultural experts. Choose from a variety of opportunities specially designed to grow your skills 
RHS Gardening

‘Ugliest orchid in the world’ among 2020's new plant discoveries
Kew Gardens botanists also named a new toadstool found at Heathrow airport and a bizarre scaly shrub from Namibia
The Guardian

Top 10 species new to science in 2020
Despite 2020's challenges, botanical and mycological science has continued with a bumper list of incredible newly named species being documented with the help of our collaborators across the world.

RHS Lindley Library reveals exciting digitisation project
Tens of thousands of images of the Society’s unique collection of rare books, beautiful art and much more will be available online through a digitisation project 
RHS Gardening

Darwin Tree of Life: looking back on 2020
Despite restrictions, 2020 has been a busy year for the Darwin Tree of Life Project
Darwin Tree Of Life

Will the Slender-Yoke Moss Be Saved?
In the crush of conservation priorities, scientists grapple with how to help an endangered species with no obvious value
Smithsonian Magazine / Hakai

Scientific Papers

Natural selection maintains species despite frequent hybridization in the desert shrub Encelia
In Baja California, the deserts meet the coastal dunes in a narrow transition visible even from satellite images. DiVittorio et al. study two species pairs of desert shrubs (Encelia) that occur across this transition. Although these species can interbreed, they remain distinct. Using a combination of genetics, field experiments, three-dimensional imaging, and physiological measurements, they show that natural selection helps counteract homogenizing effects of gene exchange.

A rare late Mississipian flora from Northwestern Europe (Maine-et-Loire Coalfield, Pays de la Loire, France)
Numerous localities in the Maine-et-Loire coalfield in northwestern France have yielded diverse adpression floras belonging to the Calymmotheca stangeri Zone, indicating an early Namurian (Serpukhovian–late Mississippian) age. The floristic affinities are with the South European Palaeoprovince, although there is some evidence of an ecotonal relationship with the Central European Palaeoprovince to the north. The geological context of the deposits suggest that the floras may represent vegetation from an intra-montane setting, although at lower elevations compared with the Pennsylvanian-age Variscan intra-montane basins. This represents some of the earliest known examples of coal swamp vegetation, although compared with the Pennsylvanian-aged coal swamps there was a significantly higher proportion of lycopsid species and a lower proportion of medullosaleans.
Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology

Functional innovations of PIN auxin transporters mark crucial evolutionary transitions during rise of flowering plants
Flowering plants display the highest diversity among plant species and have notably shaped terrestrial landscapes. Nonetheless, the evolutionary origin of their unprecedented morphological complexity remains largely an enigma. Zhang et al. show that the coevolution of cis-regulatory and coding regions of PIN-FORMED (PIN) auxin transporters confined their expression to certain cell types and directed their subcellular localization to particular cell sides, which together enabled dynamic auxin gradients across tissues critical to the complex architecture of flowering plants.
Science Advances

Plant stem-cell organization and differentiation at single-cell resolution
Satterlee et al. isolated individual cells from the microscopic shoot apical meristem (SAM) of maize and provide single-cell transcriptomic analysis of a plant shoot meristem. This study enabled an unbiased analysis of the developmental genetic organization of the maize shoot apex and uncovered evolutionarily divergent and conserved signatures of SAM homeostasis. The fine-scale resolution of single-cell analysis was used to reconstruct the process of shoot cell differentiation, whereby stem cells acquire diverse and distinct cell fates over developmental time in wild-type and mutant maize seedlings.

Widespread premature transcription termination of Arabidopsis thaliana NLR genes by the spen protein FPA
Parker et al. show that the RNA-binding protein FPA mediates widespread premature cleavage and polyadenylation of NLR transcripts, controlling their functional expression and impacting immunity. Using long-read nanopore direct RNA sequencing they resolve the complexity of NLR transcript processing and gene annotation. Their results uncover a co-transcriptional layer of NLR control with implications for understanding the regulatory and evolutionary dynamics of NLRs in the immune responses of plants.

[REDUX] The End of Botany
Biologists unable to recognize common plants, and a decline in botany students, faculty, courses, university departments, and herbaria, highlight the current erosion of botany. How did we reach this crisis, knowing that plants form the basis for life? What are the causes? What can we do to reverse it?
Trends in Plant Science

Adaptive Evolution in Cities: Progress and Misconceptions
There has been a recent, explosive interest in studying adaptive evolution in cities. However, many responses to urbanization may be misattributed as adaptation because sufficient evidence is lacking. Lambert et al. identified only six systems that offer strong evidence for urban–nonurban divergence that is both genetically based and adaptive.
Trends in Ecology & Evolution

Novel trophic interactions under climate change promote alpine plant coexistence
Climate warming causes shifts in the distributions of organisms and different organisms may move at different rates, resulting in changes in the composition and functioning of ecological communities. These effects are rarely considered in forecasts about the effects of climate change on biodiversity. Using experimental translocations, Descombes et al. investigated how differential upslope migration in alpine plants and their insect herbivores affects community interactions. Lowland herbivores modify the three-dimensional vegetation structure at higher altitudes, and this modified vegetation structure favors the coexistence of plant species, especially by favoring small-stature species.

Nesting habitat of ground‐nesting bees: a review 
Antoine and Forrest reveal enormous variation among bee species in their associations with such nesting‐habitat attributes as soil texture, compaction, moisture, temperature, ground surface features, and proximity to conspecifics or floral resources. However, more studies—particularly experimental ones—are needed to segregate the influence of each factor on bees' choices of nesting location, since multiple factors are often correlated. They argue that studies using established habitat‐selection methods are essential to properly identify nesting‐habitat preferences of ground‐nesting species.
Ecological Entomology

Plant genomes: Markers of evolutionary history and drivers of evolutionary change
Plant genomes hold the key to understanding the evolutionary history of plants, a lineage that goes back nearly a billion years and contains nearly half a million living species. This history—or phylogeny—is both a record of life now past and a powerful predictive tool for both basic and applied plant science. Coupled phylogenetic and genomic studies can reveal the processes by which new species arise and go extinct, and phylogenies can guide our efforts to improve crop plants, discover new medicines, and develop effective conservation strategies.
Plants, People, Planet

Molecular oxygen as a signaling component in plant development
While traditionally hypoxia has been studied as a detrimental component of flooding stress, the last decade has flourished with studies reporting the involvement of molecular oxygen availability in plant developmental processes. Moreover, proliferating and undifferentiated cells from different plant tissues were found to reside in endogenously generated hypoxic niches. Thus, stress‐associated acute hypoxia may be distinguished from constitutively generated chronic hypoxia. Weits et al. review recent findings regarding oxygen‐regulated development, and discuss outstanding questions that spring from these discoveries.
New Phytologist


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