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The Week in Botany 178

November 30, 2020

The first serious frosts have arrived and the last of the wild hedgehogs I feed has stopped coming, so it feels like Winter has arrived. But not all of the plants in my garden have got the message, including a geum that is still flowering. If you're still full of vigour, then there's (just) time to apply for the academic editor role at Botany One. The deadline is December 1, at 1800 GMT.
While plants may be sleeping for the next few months, botanists certainly aren't and there'll be another round of the stories shared by people following @botanyone on Twitter at the same time next week.
Alun (

From Botany One

Pollinators drive floral evolution in an Atlantic Forest genus
Can we use floral traits to accurately predict hummingbird and bat pollinators of the bromeliad genus Vriesea?

Floral chemistry reveals the basis of an orchid pollinator shift
A greater concentration of a compound present throughout the species allowed one morph to attract bee pollinators.

Very fine roots act as renewed carbon sink in rewetted peatland forest
New study suggests that rewetting peatland forests could increase their climate change mitigation function.

Computer simulation highlights the importance of pollinator diversity
Sharing pollinators can cause problems when pollen competes for transport.

Woodiness only indirectly responsible for embolism resistance in Arabidopsis
Its correlation with intervessel pit membrane thickness provides the missing functional link.

Global climate change and grasslands: soil microbial diversity to the rescue!
A new study in the journal New Phytologist reveals the importance of soil microbial diversity for tolerating or recovering from drought, warming and nitrogen deposition.

Nectar thieves prefer daylight robbery
Displaying flowers in light rather than shadow should help them attract pollinators, but a good display can also attract thieves.

News and Views

Plan a #Plantsgiving Feast
Turkey is the headline-grabbing star of most Thanksgiving meals. But plants are the real heavy-lifting heroes. From savory seasonings to sweet desserts, almost every dish on the dinner table will have at least one botanical ingredient. Whether you are preparing the food or just enjoying it this Thanksgiving, give thanks to the plants making this meal more delicious.
Discover + Share

Nature journals reveal terms of landmark open-access option
The journals will charge authors up to €9,500 to make research papers free to read, in a long-awaited alternative to subscription-only publishing.

Beronda Montgomery awarded prestigious AAAS Fellowship
Beronda Montgomery was among four Michigan State University faculty members to be named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). 
MSU Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Announcing The 1st North American Plant Phenotyping Annual Conference
The 1st North American Plant Phenotyping Annual Conference will be held virtually February 16-19, 2021, and highlight the most recent advances in the rapidly developing field of Plant Phenomics.

UCR helps grow massive plant portal
Project makes a million specimens publicly available
Inside UCR

How can we reduce the pressure on our early career researchers? Start by creating healthier lab environments
Being an early career researcher is becoming a dangerous job. We must urgently reduce the pressure that young scientists face and do not forget that our laboratories should be places to train scientists, not to destroy people
Behavioural and Social Sciences at Nature Research

Surprise discovery of rare plant at Norfolk 'ghost pond'
A rare plant has reappeared after more than a century in hiding.
BBC News

New variety of apple discovered by Wiltshire runner
Archie Thomas stumbled across solitary windfall fruit that could be cross between cultivated apple and European crab apple
The Guardian

How Overharvesting is Changing an Alpine Plant in China
"We are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of camouflage in the plant kingdom. By blending in with their surroundings, some plants are able to avoid attention from hungry herbivores. Amazingly, a recent investigation in Hengduan Mountains of southwest China has revealed that it can also help plants avoid being harvested for the herbal trade."
In Defense of Plants

Scientific Papers

The structural basis of Rubisco phase separation in the pyrenoid
He et al. present the structural basis of the interactions between Rubisco and its intrinsically disordered linker protein Essential Pyrenoid Component 1 (EPYC1) in the model alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. They find that EPYC1 consists of five evenly spaced Rubisco-binding regions that share sequence similarity. Single-particle cryo-electron microscopy of these regions in complex with Rubisco indicates that each Rubisco holoenzyme has eight binding sites for EPYC1, one on each Rubisco small subunit. Interface mutations disrupt binding, phase separation and pyrenoid formation. Cryo-electron tomography supports a model in which EPYC1 and Rubisco form a codependent multivalent network of specific low-affinity bonds, giving the matrix liquid-like properties.
Nature Plants

Small herbaria contribute unique biogeographic records to county, locality, and temporal scales
Marsico et al. sampled herbarium specimens of 40 plant taxa from each of eight states of the United States of America in four broad status categories: extremely rare, very rare, common native, and introduced. They gathered geographic information from specimens held by large (≥100,000 specimens) and small (<100,000 specimens) herbaria. The authors demonstrate that small herbaria contribute unique information for research. It is clear that unique contributions cannot be predicted based on herbarium size alone.
American Journal of Botany

A receptor-like protein mediates plant immune responses to herbivore-associated molecular patterns
Plants respond to biotic attack using an immune system of receptors to recognize molecules associated with danger. Steinbrenner et al. identified an immune receptor, termed inceptin receptor (INR), able to confer responses to defined inceptin peptide fragments present in caterpillar oral secretions. Like many plant immune receptors, INR is encoded only by certain plant species but can be transferred across families to confer new signaling and defense functions. While INR is only found in the genomes of cowpea, common bean, and related legumes, it confers defined elicitor responses to transgenic tobacco and suppresses the growth of attacking beet armyworm larvae.

Parasite dodder enables transfer of bidirectional systemic nitrogen signals between host plants
Dodder (Cuscuta spp., Convolvulaceae) is a genus of parasitic plants with worldwide distribution. Dodders are able to simultaneously parasitize two or more adjacent hosts, forming dodder-connected plant clusters. Nitrogen (N) deficiency is a common challenge to plants. To date, it has been unclear whether dodder transfers N-systemic signals between hosts grown in N-heterogeneous soil. Transcriptome and methylome analyses were carried out to investigate whether dodder (Cuscuta campestris) transfers N-systemic signals between N-replete and N-depleted cucumber (Cucumis sativus) hosts, and it was found that N-systemic signals from the N-deficient cucumber plants were rapidly translocated through C. campestris to the N-replete cucumber plants.
Plant Physiology

Multiple wheat genomes reveal global variation in modern breeding
Walkowiak et al. generated ten chromosome pseudomolecule and five scaffold assemblies of hexaploid wheat to explore the genomic diversity among wheat lines from global breeding programs. Comparative analysis revealed extensive structural rearrangements, introgressions from wild relatives and differences in gene content resulting from complex breeding histories aimed at improving adaptation to diverse environments, grain yield and quality, and resistance to stresses. They provide examples outlining the utility of these genomes, including a detailed multi-genome-derived nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat protein repertoire involved in disease resistance and the characterization of Sm16, a gene associated with insect resistance.

The barley pan-genome reveals the hidden legacy of mutation breeding
Jayakodi et al. report the construction of chromosome-scale sequence assemblies for the genotypes of 20 varieties of barley—comprising landraces, cultivars and a wild barley—that were selected as representatives of global barley diversity. They catalogued genomic presence/absence variants and explored the use of structural variants for quantitative genetic analysis through whole-genome shotgun sequencing of 300 gene bank accessions. They discovered abundant large inversion polymorphisms and analysed in detail two inversions that are frequently found in current elite barley germplasm; one is probably the product of mutation breeding and the other is tightly linked to a locus that is involved in the expansion of geographical range.

Species richness promotes ecosystem carbon storage: evidence from biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiments
Xu et al. performed a meta-analysis by collecting data from 95 biodiversity-ecosystem functioning (BEF) studies across 60 sites to explore the effects of plant diversity on different C pools, including aboveground and belowground plant biomass, soil microbial biomass C and soil C content across different ecosystem types. The results showed that ecosystem C storage was significantly enhanced by plant diversity, with stronger effects on aboveground biomass than on soil C content. Moreover, the response magnitudes of ecosystem C storage increased with the level of species richness and experimental duration across all ecosystems. The effects of plant diversity were more pronounced in grasslands than in forests.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

World Flora Online: Placing taxonomists at the heart of a definitive and comprehensive global resource on the world's plants
It is time to synthesize the knowledge that has been generated through more than 260 years of botanical exploration, taxonomic and, more recently, phylogenetic research throughout the world. The adoption of an updated Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) in 2011 provided the essential impetus for the development of the World Flora Online (WFO) project. The project represents an international, coordinated effort by the botanical community to achieve GSPC Target 1, an electronic Flora of all plants. It will be a first‐ever unique and authoritative global source of information on the world's plant diversity, compiled, curated, moderated and updated by an expert and specialist‐based community (Taxonomic Expert Networks – “TENs” – covering a taxonomic group such as family or order) and actively managed by those who have compiled and contributed the data it includes

Increased growing-season productivity drives earlier autumn leaf senescence in temperate trees
The length of the growing season in temperate forests has been increasing under recent climate change because of earlier leaf emergence and later leaf senescence. However, Zani et al. show that this trend might be reversed as increasing photosynthetic productivity begins to drive earlier autumn leaf senescence. Using a combination of experimental, observational, and modeling studies based on European forest trees, the researchers conclude that leaf senescence will advance by 3 to 6 days by the end of the 21st century rather than lengthening by 1 to 3 weeks as current phenological models have predicted.

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi enhance mineralization of organic phosphorus (P) by carrying bacteria along their extraradical hyphae
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi gain access to nutrient patches outside the rhizosphere by producing an extensive network of fine hyphae. Jiang et al. focused on establishing the mechanism by which AM fungal hyphae reach discrete organic patches with a cohort of functional bacteria transported in a biofilm on their surface. They investigated the mechanisms and impact of the translocation of phosphate solubilizing bacteria (PSB) along AM fungal hyphae in bespoke microcosms. An in vitro culture experiment was also conducted to determine the direct impact of hyphal exudates of AM fungi upon the growth of PSB.
New Phytologist


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