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The Week in Botany 156

June 29, 2020

The basis of this email is 'The Wisdom of Crowds'. There's no way I can keep track of all of botany, but if I look at what people following @botanyone on Twitter are sharing, I can tap into their collective expertise. I'll admit that the past couple of weeks haven't been good for anyone who wants to champion the idea that crowds have wisdom but, fortunately, botanists are bucking the trend. There are a few papers in this week chosen by you on Twitter that I wouldn't have picked up on.
As you can tell from my grouchiness, I have not been to the beach, and that improves the chances that I'll be COVID-free and emailing you again next week. Until then, take care.
Alun (

From Botany One

The refreshing tale of gin-and-tonic (well, half of it…)
Nigel Chaffey reviews 'Just the tonic', by Kim Walker and Mark Nesbitt.

Where do halophytes grow? Influence of elevation, flooding, and salinity in a non-tidal saltmarsh
Unpredictability means that the traits needed to survive in seasonally flooded marshes are different to tidally flooded marshes.

Citizen science data can complement collections well for some applications
The range and occurrence of anther smut shows very similar patterns in both collections and iNaturalist data.

Under-producers have a greater effect than super-producers on fruiting patterns in masting trees
Smaller plants are the main drag on both seed production and synchrony in their populations.

Ethnobiologists consider their impact during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
A group of scientists with diverse backgrounds reached out to each other under unprecedented times and set out new goals for their own discipline.

Individual variation in plant dispersal and fecundity increases rates of spatial spread
The highest increases in spread rates occur when variation in dispersal positively co-varies with fecundity.

Spider orchid conservation: the importance of serendipitous fungi
Mycorrhizal fungi can be isolated from related common species to propagate threatened Caladenia.

Nothofagus macrocarpa populations represent relics of a once-greater range
Today’s remaining isolated populations are highly genetically diverse and extensively hybridized.

Plastic plants?! Nanoplastics may be bad news for plants too.
More evidence that the damaging potential of small plastics needs to extend to terrestrial environments.

What makes a good invasive species – genetics or plasticity? Insights from Impatiens glandulifera
Understanding what makes invasive plant species so good at invading may help us protect vulnerable plant biodiversity.

Move over Factor 50! Can increasing their number of chromosomes help protect plants against UV?
Increased chromosome number due to UV is known to occur in lab experiments, but does it happen in real environments?

News and Views

‘National nature service’ needed for green recovery in England, groups say
Exclusive: government must ‘seize the day’ to create jobs and tackle wildlife and climate crises
The Guardian

Texas’s cactus cops battle to save rare desert beauty from smuggling gangs
Agents on US-Mexico border seize thousands of plants illegally pulled out of the ground by criminals
The Guardian

Starting in July the Physaloid Seminar Series will be expanding to include the whole family!
SolSeminar Online

Arctic Circle sees 'highest-ever' recorded temperatures
Temperatures in the Arctic Circle are likely to have hit an all-time record on Saturday, reaching a scorching 38C (100F) in Verkhoyansk, a Siberian town.
BBC News

Plant genes for defense against insect eggs (bioRxiv)
Plants can recognize eggs of herbivorous insects deposited on leaves and mount defense responses to avoid the future threat of herbivory.

The time tax put on scientists of colour
The pressure on researchers from ethnic minority groups to participate in campus diversity issues comes at a cost.

Meet Aviwe Matiwane, a black female palaeobotanist
Meet Aviwe Matiwane, a palaeobotanist, who takes us on a journey back in time, before dinosaurs walked the Earth, and tells us about how ancient forests and 260 million-year-old plants formed the coal we know today. She studies the fossils of these ancient forests and is trying to find the best way to name and describe these ancient plants.

Pandemic lockdown holding back female academics, data show
Unequal childcare burden blamed for fall in share of published research by women since schools shut, but funding bodies look to alleviate career impact
Times Higher Education (THE)

Meet the Harvard Ornithology Professor Biking Across the Country
With school out due to COVID-19, Scott Edwards decided to make a lifelong dream a reality. Now his ride has taken on even more meaning.

CSIRO scientists discover how to grow coloured cotton, removing need for harmful chemical dyes
A few dozen petri dishes in a high-tech greenhouse in Canberra hold the potential to transform the global textiles industry.
ABC News

Jobs etc.

PhD scholarship: Regulators of female reproductive development in cowpea 
This project will involve the characterization of a repertoire of genes with the opportunity to examine their functions in transgenic plants. The genes under examination would involve those that impact on pre-fertilization gametophyte development and post fertilization seed initiation. This PhD is based at St Lucia, Brisbane.
University of Queensland - AU

PhD scholarship: Exploring the genome landscape of heterosis in sorghum - Scholarships - University of Queensland
This project will characterise the chromatin structure in sorghum and investigate the association between chromatin type and structural variation, using data identified in the sorghum pan-genome. The project will further identify genomic regions, and candidate genes, associated with heterosis using a large diversity panel, to investigate which portions of the genome contribute to quantitative heterotic traits in sorghum. This PhD is based at Warwick, Qld.
University of Queensland - AU

Doctoral Student in Statistical Genomics, Mathematical Sciences
Applications are invited for a full-time doctoral student position for a maximum of four years, starting at the earliest on 1.10.2020 or as agreed in an Academy of Finland research project “Forest Tree Evolution Via Regulation”.
Oulu - FI

Research assistant (m/f/d, 50%)
We are looking for a research assistant (50%, E13 TV-L) in the field plant ecology to begin on 01.09.2020. The position is initially limited for a duration of three years (extension possible) and includes the possibility to obtain a doctorate.
University of Hohenheim - DE

Postdoctoral associate position
We offer an exciting opportunity for a long term postdoctoral associate position in tropical plant biology with a collegial group based in Miami and Hawaii.
Florida International University - US

Development leader biotron, SLU Alnarp
We are looking for a person with a doctoral degree in a subject area relevant to the position, e.g. horticultural or agricultural science, biology, environmental science, sustainable development, etc.
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences - SE

Scientific Papers

Global synthesis of the effectiveness of flower strips and hedgerows on pest control, pollination services and crop yield
Albrecht et al. quantified the impacts of flower strips and hedgerows on pest control and pollination services in adjacent crops using a global dataset of 529 sites. Flower strips, but not hedgerows, enhanced pest control services in adjacent fields by 16% on average. However, effects on crop pollination and yield were more variable. Their synthesis identifies several important drivers of variability in effectiveness of plantings: pollination services declined exponentially with distance from plantings, and perennial and older flower strips with higher flowering plant diversity enhanced pollination more effectively.
Ecology Letters

R-Loop Mediated trans Action of the APOLO Long Noncoding RNA
Ariel et al. show that the lncRNA APOLO ( AUXIN-REGULATED PROMOTER LOOP) recognizes multiple distant independent loci in the Arabidopsis thaliana genome. They found that APOLO targets are not spatially associated in the nucleus and that APOLO recognizes its targets by short sequence complementarity and the formation of DNA-RNA duplexes (R-loops). The invasion of APOLO to the target DNA decoys the plant Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 component LHP1, modulating local chromatin 3D conformation. APOLO lncRNA coordinates the expression of distal unrelated auxin-responsive genes during lateral root development in Arabidopsis. Hence, R-loop formation and chromatin protein decoy mediate trans action of lncRNAs on distant loci.
Molecular Cell

ERULUS Is a Plasma Membrane-Localized Receptor-Like Kinase That Specifies Root Hair Growth by Maintaining Tip-Focused Cytoplasmic Calcium Oscillations
Kwon et al. independently isolated the recessive eru-3 mutant in a forward-genetic screen for root hair mutants that resembled wild-type root hairs treated with low concentrations of the actin-disrupting compound latrunculin B. When they expressed an ERU-GFP construct under the control of the constitutive UBIQUITIN10 (UBQ10) promoter (UBQ10:ERU-GFP) in the eru-3 mutants, their root hairs were restored to wild-type lengths, indicating that the fusion protein was functional
Plant Cell

Composite modeling of leaf shape across shoots discriminates Vitis species better than individual leaves
Using homologous universal landmarks found in grapevine leaves, Bryson et al. modeled various morphological features as a polynomial function of leaf node. The resulting functions are used to reconstruct modeled leaf shapes across shoots, generating composite leaves that comprehensively capture the spectrum of possible leaf morphologies.

A secreted LysM effector protects fungal hyphae through chitin-dependent homodimer polymerization
Sánchez-Vallet et al. determined a crystal structure of the single LysM domain-containing effector Mg1LysM of the wheat pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici and reveal that Mg1LysM is involved in the formation of two kinds of dimers; a chitin-dependent dimer as well as a chitin-independent homodimer. In this manner, Mg1LysM gains the capacity to form a supramolecular structure by chitin-induced oligomerization of chitin-independent Mg1LysM homodimers, a property that confers protection to fungal cell walls against host chitinases.
PLOS Pathogens

DNA surface exploration and operator bypassing during target search
Many proteins that bind specific DNA sequences search the genome by combining three-dimensional diffusion with one-dimensional sliding on nonspecific DNA. Marklund et al. combine resonance energy transfer and fluorescence correlation measurements to characterize how individual lac repressor (LacI) molecules explore the DNA surface during the one-dimensional phase of target search. To track the rotation of sliding LacI molecules on the microsecond timescale, they use real-time single-molecule confocal laser tracking combined with fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (SMCT–FCS). The fluctuations in fluorescence signal are accurately described by rotation-coupled sliding, in which LacI traverses about 40 base pairs (bp) per revolution. This distance substantially exceeds the 10.5-bp helical pitch of DNA; this suggests that the sliding protein frequently hops out of the DNA groove, which would result in the frequent bypassing of target sequences.

Physiology of drought stress in grapevine: towards an integrative definition of drought tolerance
This review synthesizes the most recent results on grapevine drought responses, the impact of water deficit on fruit yield and composition, and the identification of drought-tolerant varieties. Given the existing gaps in our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying grapevine drought responses, we aim to answer the following question: how can we move towards a more integrative definition of grapevine drought tolerance?
Journal of Experimental Botany

Short-lived plants have stronger demographic responses to climate
Comagnoni et al. synthesized time series of structured population models from 165 populations from 62 plants around the globe to link plant population growth rates to precipitation and temperature drivers. They expected: (1) more pronounced demographic responses to precipitation than temperature, especially in arid biomes; (2) a higher climate sensitivity in short-lived rather than long-lived species; and (3) a stronger response to climate by species that reproduce more frequently. They found that precipitation anomalies have a nearly three-fold larger effect on λ than temperature.

The rise and fall of genes: origins and functions of plant pathogen pangenomes - ScienceDirect
Badet and Croll show how the construction and analysis of pathogen pangenomes provide deep insights into the dynamic host adaptation process. They also discuss how pangenomes should ideally be built and how geography, niche and lifestyle likely determine pangenome sizes.
Current Opinion in Plant Biology

Biased-corrected richness estimates for the Amazonian tree flora
ter Steege et al. show that the species abundance distribution of Amazonia is best approximated by a logseries with aggregated individuals, where aggregation increases with rarity. By averaging several methods to estimate total richness, they confirm that over 15,000 tree species are expected to occur in Amazonia. They also show that using ten times the number of plots would result in an increase to just ~50% of those 15,000 estimated species. To get a more complete sample of all tree species, rigorous field campaigns may be needed but the number of trees in Amazonia will remain an estimate for years to come.
Scientific Reports


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