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The Week in Botany 149

May 11, 2020

I'm half happy to share another collection of the stories people following @botanyone on Twitter are sharing. I like reading the shares to see what I've missed, but only I'm only half-happy, as I get all the auto-replies people have on their email accounts when I send this out. The out-of-office-due-to-furlough auto-replies are increasing in number.
This is why after I send this email, I'll spend the next half hour or so creatively swearing as I see how bad things are. These are difficult times. So I'll add a shout out for Plantae's webinars they're recording and putting online. If you can't catch them live, they're going up on their YouTube Channel.
Until next week, stay safe.
Alun (

From Botany One

Microscopes and roots: investigating whether cell wall thickenings are phi (Φ) or “C” shaped
Noccaea caerulescens has some tricks that help it cope with heavy metals.

How is flower diversity produced? Insights from Asarum
The core Heterotropa group was divided into nine subclades, each of which had a narrow geographic distribution.

Hydraulic adjustments are of limited use in bracken fern
Changes in leaf anatomy, more than hydraulics, allowed the ferns to thrive in a high light environment.

Climate-driven population divergence and future extinction risk in wild tomato
Lin et al. propose a hypothesis that Solanum pimpinellifolium, a wild relative of tomato, originated from Ecuador and diverged southwards into genetically differentiated groups in Peru.

Plants to dye for…
Nigel Chaffey on a plant source for blue dye in medieval times.

in silico Plants now listed on Directory of Open Access Journals
Listing in Directory of Open Access Journals verifies isP’s high level of openness and adherence to best practice and also increases your article’s discoverability.

News and Views

Stopping Deforestation Can Prevent Pandemics
Destroying habitats makes viruses and other pathogens more likely to infect humans
Scientific American

PhD Studentship: Epigenetic contribution to grafting induced vigour in Solanaceous plants
In the proposed project, we aim to investigate the epigenetic contribution to grafting-induced vigour in tomato and eggplants, which are the most important herbaceous species commercially grafted in the Solanaceous family. Taking advantage of a collection of characterized commercial rootstocks developed by ENZA ZADEN, we aim to correlate the induced vigour with differences in the scion DNA methylation. Birmingham UK
Birmingham UK

Resources for Online Teaching
"While experimenting with how I would move my teaching to asynchronous online lectures, I have tested several solutions. To save others some work and unnecessary trial-and-errors, I created a series of video summarizing what I am using."
Maizel Lab

Primate Experts Support Inclusive Process to Decide Future of Cameroon’s Biologically Rich Ebo Forest
The Forest is Home to the World’s Only Population of Chimpanzees That Both Fish for Termites and Crack Nuts.
Global Wildlife Conservation

New comprehensive database seeks contributions to ever expanding knowledge of the mycorrhizal colonization of vascular plants
The importance of mycorrhizal associations for functioning of terrestrial ecosystems is increasingly recognized. However, there are many more questions that remain to be answered: How do mycorrhizas impact carbon and nutrient flow between plants and soil?
Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative

Global Forest Resource Assessment 2020
This interactive report contains the main findings of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA 2020).
The Food and Agriculture Organization

Some landscapes show resistance to ash dieback
A study suggests that some types of environment help block the spread of ash dieback disease, which threatens millions of ash trees in the UK.
BBC News

'Not just weeds': how rebel botanists are using graffiti to name forgotten flora
Pavement chalking to draw attention to wild flowers and plants in urban areas has gone viral across Europe – but UK chalkers could face legal action.
The Guardian

Want to be an intern? | Between the Fjords
Are you a biology student who is interested in alpine ecology, vegetation science, functional traits and ecosystem ecology, and how climate change will affect alpine and/or high-latitude ecosystems? Then you are the right person for a research internship with RECITE. DEADLINE PRONTO!
Bergen NO

Every Flower Counts
Leave your mower in the shed for #NoMowMay and let the flowers grow! You can even make a #Scaremow to protect them.

Scientific Papers

Climate-tracking species are not invasive
Applying an invasive framework to native species that are shifting their ranges in response to climate change adopts an adversarial, local and static paradigm that is often at odds with protecting global biodiversity.
Nature Climate Change

Multiple origins of dichotomous and lateral branching during root evolution
Hetherington et that many euphyllophytes that were extant during the Devonian and Carboniferous periods developed dichotomous roots. Their data indicate that dichotomous root branching evolved in both lycophytes and euphyllophytes. Lateral roots then evolved at different times in three major lineages of extant euphyllophytes—the lignophytes, ferns and horsetails. The multiple origins of dichotomous and lateral root branching are extreme cases of convergent evolution that occurred during the Devonian and Carboniferous periods when the land-plant flora underwent a radiation in morphological diversity.
Nature Plants

The maleness of larger angiosperm flowers
Paterno et al. show that heavier hermaphrodite flowers tend to be male-biased and invest strongly in petals to export their pollen, while lighter flowers tend to be female-biased and invest more in sepals to ensure the success of their own ovules. Strong male–male competition, represented by the ecological contest among pollen donors, helps to explain why flower biomass varies several orders of magnitude across the angiosperms and many aspects of their pollination biology.

Mutually opposing activity of PIN7 splicing isoforms is required for auxin-mediated tropic responses in Arabidopsis thaliana
Kashkan et al. reveal, in the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana, that the PIN7 gene, which encodes a polarly localized transporter for the phytohormone auxin, produces two evolutionarily conserved transcripts. These isoforms PIN7a and PIN7b, differing in a 4 amino acid motif, are present at nearly equal levels in most cells, except some early developing tissues where the expression of PIN7b is moderately prevalent. Both proteins also transport auxin with similar capacity and directionality. However, only PIN7a but not PIN7b cDNA rescues the phenotypes associated with the pin7 knock-out mutation, consistent with their differences in the subcellular trafficking and dynamics at the plasma membrane.

Chromatin Regulates Bipartite-Classified Small RNA Expression to Maintain Epigenome Homeostasis in Arabidopsis
Eukaryotic genomes are partitioned into euchromatic and heterochromatic domains to regulate gene expression and other fundamental cellular processes. However, chromatin is dynamic during growth and development, and must be properly re-established after its decondensation. Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) promote heterochromatin formation in eukaryotes, but little is known about how chromatin regulates siRNA transcription. Papareddy et al. demonstrated that thousands of transposable elements (TEs) produce exceptionally high levels of siRNAs in Arabidopsis thaliana embryos. Depending on whether they are located in euchromatic or heterochromatic regions of the genome, bipartite-classified TEs generate siRNAs throughout embryogenesis according to two distinct patterns. siRNAs are transcribed in embryos and required to direct the re-establishment of DNA methylation on TEs from which they are derived in the new generation.

Freezing and water availability structure the evolutionary diversity of trees across the Americas
Segovia et al. find a fundamental divide in tree lineage composition between tropical and extratropical environments, defined by the absence versus presence of freezing temperatures. Within the Neotropics, they uncover a further evolutionary split between moist and dry forests. Their results demonstrate that American tree lineages tend to retain their ancestral environmental relationships and that phylogenetic niche conservatism is the primary force structuring the distribution of tree biodiversity. Their study establishes the pervasive importance of niche conservatism to community assembly even at intercontinental scales.
Science Advances

Sex‐chrom, a database on plant sex chromosomes
Baránková et al. present Sex‐chrom: a database on plant sex chromosomes (, which aims to provide an easily accessible and organized information source for scientists and a general audience interested in this field. Basic data such as complete taxonomic classification of the species, chromosome number, genome size (2C), ploidy level, sex determination mechanism, presence of homomorphic or heteromorphic sex chromosomes and their corresponding sources are easily available for 178 species of 84 genera and 65 families. Besides, the database contains specific sections for ten selected model systems in plant sex chromosome research such as Silene latifolia and Rumex acetosa.
New Phytologist

No evidence for transient transformation via pollen magnetofection in several monocot species
The development of rapid and efficient transformation methods for many plant species remains an obstacle in both the basic and applied plant sciences. A novel method described by Zhao et al. (2017) used magnetic nanoparticles to deliver DNA into pollen grains of several dicot species, and one monocot (lily), to achieve transformation (“pollen magnetofection”). Using the published protocol, extensive trials by two independent research groups showed no indication of transient transformation success with pollen from two monocots, maize and sorghum. To further address the feasibility of magnetofection, lily pollen was used for side-by-side trials of magnetofection with a proven methodology for transient transformation, biolistics. Using a Green Fluorescent Protein reporter plasmid, transformation efficiency with the biolistic approach averaged 0.7% over three trials. However, the same plasmid produced no recognizable transformants via magnetofection, despite screening >3500 individual pollen grains. Vejlupkova et al. conclude that pollen magnetofection is not effective for transient transformation of pollen for at least three species of monocots, and suggest that efforts to replicate the magnetofection protocol in dicot species would be useful to fully assess its potential.

Flexibility of intrinsically disordered degrons in AUX/IAA proteins reinforces auxin co-receptor assemblies
Cullin RING-type E3 ubiquitin ligases SCFTIR1/AFB1-5 and their AUX/IAA targets perceive the phytohormone auxin. The F-box protein TIR1 binds a surface-exposed degron in AUX/IAAs promoting their ubiquitylation and rapid auxin-regulated proteasomal degradation. By adopting biochemical, structural proteomics and in vivo approaches Niemeyer et al. unveil how flexibility in AUX/IAAs and regions in TIR1 affect their conformational ensemble allowing surface accessibility of degrons.
Nature Communications

Light-powered CO2 fixation in a chloroplast mimic with natural and synthetic parts
Plant chloroplasts enclose two major photosynthetic processes: light reactions, which generate the energy carriers adenosine triphosphate and reduced nicotinamide dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH), and dark reactions, which use these molecules to fix carbon dioxide and build biomass. Miller et al. appropriated natural components, thylakoid membranes from spinach, for the light reactions and showed that these could be coupled to a synthetic enzymatic cycle that fixes carbon dioxide within water-in-oil droplets.

Landscape epidemiology of ash dieback
Grosdidier et al. showed that the landscape characteristics strongly affect the development and spread of ash dieback. The disease is far less severe in forest conditions when ash density is low or in open canopies such as hedges and isolated trees. Ash trees are often in these types of landscapes, which should strongly limit the overall impact of ash dieback.
Journal of Ecology


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