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The Week in Botany 165

August 31, 2020

Here's a (slightly) briefer than usual round-up of things shared this week by people following @botanyone on Twitter. It's slightly shorter as I'm in the middle of a break. The plan was to sit, relax, and read some pop-ecology books that I'd bought. What's actually happened is that I've slept a lot. I'm counting that as a success.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, there'll be another email with you the same time next week.
Alun (

From Botany One

The 2020 AoBP ECOS Awards
Elise Gornish, Chris Muir and Larry York are the 2020 recipents of the AoBP ECOS Awards.

Three words to describe #ESA2020: Ecology, students and inspiration
Juniper Kiss reports on the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America.

The strength of a stalk
Stalks carrying fruit may have very different stresses compared to when they carried flowers.

AoBP ECOS 2020 Awardee Chris Muir
"Open science is one of the best tools we have to change scientific culture by incentivizing good scientific practice."

Microanatomical leaf traits vary across climate gradients in a Great Plains grass
Microanatomical variations underlie the whole-leaf variation seen across the species’ large range.

News and Views

Introducing the African Researchers Network
A bridge between ASPB and the African plant science community
Plantae Community

Racism and harassment are common in field research — scientists are speaking up
Researchers call on universities to offer inclusive policies that make fieldwork safer.

Special Issue : Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Organ Symmetry in Plants
A call for papers for a special issue on "Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Organ Symmetry in Plants" from guest editor, Dr. Laila Moubayidin.
MDPI Genes

The Role of Leaf Shape on Insect Herbivory
Plants can defend themselves from herbivores in a variety of ways - thorns, spines, hairs, toxins, etc. - but have you ever considered the role of leaf shape in preventing herbivory? It’s okay if you haven’t because leaf shape rarely, if ever, makes it into conversations of plants defense. A recent experiment from Japan has changed that by demonstrating that leaf shape can actually deter a specialist leaf-rolling weevil.
In Defense of Plants

Online Plant Science-Related Courses
A list of plant-science related online courses, including peripheral courses which might be useful to plant scientists e.g. bioinformatics.
Plantae Community

Rampant destruction of forests ‘will unleash more pandemics’
Researchers to tell UN that loss of biodiversity enables rapid spread of new diseases from animals to humans
The Guardian

Plant Postdoc Slack
We envision Plant Postdoc Slack to be a safe community for postdocs working in plant-related fields to share, discuss, and plan for our next career move. As postdocs, we are all going through the same process or trying to achieve the same objectives of landing a more independent position in industry or academia. Together as a community, we can peer-review our application materials, provide advice, share information about opportunities, and benefit everyone in the process.
Plant Postdoc Slack

Ecologist’s wild garden is a challenge to lawn order
Nina-Marie Lister does not believe in lawns. The front garden of her house in Toronto’s Hillcrest Village neighbourhood has no cut grass; but it does have milkweed, boneset and black-eyed Susans, among other plants largely native to the region.“It is a lush and layered landscape,” says Prof. Lister, an urban planner and ecologist. “But I suppose it depends on what you see when you look at the garden.”
Some of her neighbours see a mess.
The Globe and Mail

Scientific Papers

The Floral Microbiome: Plant, Pollinator, and Microbial Perspectives
Ecological processes drive variation in microbial abundance and composition at multiple scales, including among plant species, among flower tissues, and among flowers on the same plant. Variation in microbial effects on floral phenotype suggests that microbial metabolites could cue the presence or quality of rewards for pollinators, but most plants are unlikely to rely on microbes for pollinator attraction or reproduction. From a microbial perspective, flowers offer opportunities to disperse between flowers, but microbial species differ in requirements for and benefits received from such dispersal. The extent to which floral microbes shape the evolution of floral traits, influence fitness of floral visitors, and respond to anthropogenic change is unclear.
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics

A Defense Pathway Linking Plasma Membrane and Chloroplasts and Co-opted by Pathogens
Chloroplasts are crucial players in the activation of defensive hormonal responses during plant-pathogen interactions. Medina-Puche et al. show that a plant virus-encoded protein re-localizes from the plasma membrane to chloroplasts upon activation of plant defense, interfering with the chloroplast-dependent anti-viral salicylic acid (SA) biosynthesis. They have found that plant pathogens from different kingdoms seem to have convergently evolved to target chloroplasts and impair SA-dependent defenses following an association with membranes, which relies on the co-existence of two subcellular targeting signals, an N-myristoylation site and a chloroplast transit peptide. This pattern is also present in plant proteins, at least one of which conversely activates SA defenses from the chloroplast.

Overexpression of the transcription factor GROWTH-REGULATING FACTOR5 improves transformation of dicot and monocot species
Kong et al. report that developmental genes encoding GROWTH-REGULATING FACTORS positively enhance regeneration and transformation in both monocot and dicot species. In sugar beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris), ectopic expression of Arabidopsis GRF5 (AtGRF5) in callus cells accelerates shoot formation and dramatically increases transformation efficiency. More importantly, overexpression of AtGRF5 enables the production of stable transformants in recalcitrant sugar beet varieties. The introduction of AtGRF5 and GRF5 orthologs into canola (Brassica napus L.), soybean (Glycine max L.), and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) results in significant increases in genetic transformation of the explant tissue. A positive effect on proliferation of transgenic callus cells in canola was observed upon overexpression of GRF5 genes and AtGRF6 and AtGRF9. In soybean and sunflower, the overexpression of GRF5 genes seems to increase the proliferation of transformed cells, promoting transgenic shoot formation.

Regulation of Vacuole Morphology by PIEZO Channels in Spreading Earth Moss
Radin et al. investigate PIEZO channel function in the moss Physcomitrium patens, a representative of one of the first land plant lineages. PpPIEZO1 and PpPIEZO2 were redundantly required for normal growth, size, and shape of tip-growing caulonema cells. Both were localized to vacuolar membranes and facilitated the release of calcium into the cytosol in response to hypoosmotic shock. Loss-of-function (DPppiezo1/2) and gain-of-function (PpPIEZO2-R2508K and -R2508H) mutants revealed a role for moss PIEZO homologs in regulating vacuole morphology. Their work shows that plant and animal PIEZO homologs have diverged in both subcellular localization and in function, likely co-opted to serve different needs in each lineage.

The lncRNA APOLO interacts with the transcription factor WRKY42 to trigger root hair cell expansion in response to cold
Plant long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have emerged as important regulators of chromatin dynamics, impacting on transcriptional programs leading to different developmental outputs. The lncRNA AUXIN REGULATED PROMOTER LOOP (APOLO) directly recognizes multiple independent loci across the Arabidopsis genome and modulates their three-dimensional chromatin conformation, leading to transcriptional shifts. Moison Sr. et al. show that APOLO recognizes the locus encoding the root hair (RH) master regulator ROOT HAIR DEFECTIVE 6 (RHD6) and controls RHD6 transcriptional activity leading to cold-enhanced RH elongation.

A prion-like domain in ELF3 functions as a thermosensor in Arabidopsis
Temperature controls plant growth and development, and climate change has already altered the phenology of wild plants and crops. However, the mechanisms by which plants sense temperature are not well understood. The evening complex is a major signalling hub and a core component of the plant circadian clock. The evening complex acts as a temperature-responsive transcriptional repressor, providing rhythmicity and temperature responsiveness to growth through unknown mechanisms. The evening complex consists of EARLY FLOWERING 3 (ELF3), a large scaffold protein and key component of temperature sensing; ELF4, a small α-helical protein; and LUX ARRYTHMO (LUX), a DNA-binding protein required to recruit the evening complex to transcriptional targets. ELF3 contains a polyglutamine (polyQ) repeat, embedded within a predicted prion domain (PrD). Jung et al. find that the length of the polyQ repeat correlates with thermal responsiveness. They show that ELF3 proteins in plants from hotter climates, with no detectable PrD, are active at high temperatures, and lack thermal responsiveness.

A chimera including a GROWTH-REGULATING FACTOR (GRF) and its cofactor GRF-INTERACTING FACTOR (GIF) increases transgenic plant regeneration efficiency
Genome editing allows precise DNA manipulation, but its potential is limited in many crops by low regeneration efficiencies and few transformable genotypes. Debernardi et al. show that expression of a chimeric protein including wheat GROWTH-REGULATING FACTOR 4 (GRF4) and its cofactor GRF-INTERACTING FACTOR 1 (GIF1) dramatically increases the efficiency and speed of regeneration in wheat, triticale and rice and expands the number of transformable wheat genotypes. Moreover, GRF4-GIF1 induces efficient wheat regeneration in the absence of exogenous cytokinins, which facilitates selection of transgenic plants without selectable markers.

A cross-kingdom conserved ER-phagy receptor maintains endoplasmic reticulum homeostasis during stress
Stephani et al. identify a cytosolic protein, C53, that is specifically recruited to autophagosomes during ER-stress, in both plant and mammalian cells. C53 interacts with ATG8 via a distinct binding epitope, featuring a shuffled ATG8 interacting motif (sAIM). C53 senses proteotoxic stress in the ER lumen by forming a tripartite receptor complex with the ER-associated ufmylation ligase UFL1 and its membrane adaptor DDRGK1. The C53/UFL1/DDRGK1 receptor complex is activated by stalled ribosomes and induces the degradation of internal or passenger proteins in the ER. Consistently, the C53 receptor complex and ufmylation mutants are highly susceptible to ER stress. Thus, C53 forms an ancient quality control pathway that bridges selective autophagy with ribosome-associated quality control in the ER.

Latitudinal Biogeographic Structuring in the Globally Distributed Moss Ceratodon purpureus
Biogeographic patterns of globally widespread species are expected to reflect regional structure, as well as connectivity caused by occasional long-distance dispersal. Biersma et al. assessed the level and drivers of population structure, connectivity, and timescales of population isolation in one of the most widespread and ruderal plants in the world — the common moss Ceratodon purpureus. They applied phylogenetic, population genetic, and molecular dating analyses to a global (n = 147) sampling data set, using three chloroplast loci and one nuclear locus. The plastid data revealed several distinct and geographically structured lineages, with connectivity patterns associated with worldwide, latitudinal “bands.” These imply that connectivity is strongly influenced by global atmospheric circulation patterns, with dispersal and establishment beyond these latitudinal bands less common
Frontiers in Plant Science

New chromosome number and cyto-molecular characterization of the African Baobab ( Adansonia digitata L.) - “The Tree of Life”
The African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.), also referred to as the “Tree of Life”, is a majestic, long-lived and multipurpose tree of sub-Saharan Africa. Internationally, a growing demand for baobab products in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries has been observed. Considering this, there is a need for scientific information on the genetics and breeding of A. digitata, including cytogenetics, genetic diversity and reproductive biology. The objectives of Islam-Faridi et al.'s cytogenetic research were to determine the genome size, chromosome number, and organization of ribosomal DNA (45S and 5SrDNA) of A. digitata. Flow cytometry analysis revealed a 2C-DNA value of 3.8 ± 0.6 pg (1Cx monoploid genome size 919.1 ± 62.9 Mbp). Using their improved chromosome preparation technique, they were able to unequivocally count the chromosomes resulting in 2n = 4x = 168, a revised chromosome number for A. digitata.
Scientific Reports


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