Genetic diversity targets and indicators in the CBD post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework must be improved
The 196 parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will soon agree to a post-2020 global framework for conserving the three elements of biodiversity (genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity) while ensuring sustainable development and benefit sharing. As the most significant global conservation policy mechanism, the new CBD framework has far-reaching consequences- it will guide conservation actions and reporting for each member country until 2050. In previous CBD strategies, as well as other major conservation policy mechanisms, targets and indicators for genetic diversity (variation at the DNA level within species, which facilitates species adaptation and ecosystem function) were undeveloped and focused on species of agricultural relevance. We assert that, to meet global conservation goals, genetic diversity within all species, not just domesticated species and their wild relatives, must be conserved and monitored using appropriate metrics.
The morphogenesis of fast growth in plants
Wade et al. conducted a phylogenetic comparative experiment with 74 grass species, conceptualising morphogenesis as the branching and growth of repeating modules. They aimed to establish whether faster growth in C4 and annual grasses, compared to C3 and perennial grasses, came from the faster growth of individual modules or higher rates of module initiation.
Synchrony matters more than species richness in plant community stability at a global scale
The stability of ecological communities under ongoing climate and land-use change is fundamental to the sustainable management of natural resources through its effect on critical ecosystem services. Biodiversity is hypothesized to enhance stability through compensatory effects (decreased synchrony between species). However, the relative importance and interplay between different biotic and abiotic drivers of stability remain controversial. By analyzing long-term data from natural and seminatural ecosystems across the globe, Valencia et al. found that the degree of synchrony among dominant species was the main driver of stability, rather than species richness per se. These biotic effects overrode environmental drivers, which influenced the stability of communities by modulating the effects of richness and synchrony.
Fonio millet genome unlocks African orphan crop diversity for agriculture in a changing climate
Sustainable food production in the context of climate change necessitates diversification of agriculture and a more efficient utilization of plant genetic resources. Fonio millet (Digitaria exilis) is an orphan African cereal crop with a great potential for dryland agriculture. Abrouk et al. establish high-quality genomic resources to facilitate fonio improvement through molecular breeding. These include a chromosome-scale reference assembly and deep re-sequencing of 183 cultivated and wild Digitaria accessions, enabling insights into genetic diversity, population structure, and domestication.
The distribution of biodiversity richness in the tropics
Raven et al. compare the numbers of vascular plant species in the three major tropical areas. The Afrotropical Region (Africa south of the Sahara Desert plus Madagascar), roughly equal in size to the Latin American Region (Mexico southward), has only 56,451 recorded species (about 170 being added annually), as compared with 118,308 recorded species (about 750 being added annually) in Latin America. Southeast Asia, only a quarter the size of the other two tropical areas, has approximately 50,000 recorded species, with an average of 364 being added annually. Thus, Tropical Asia is likely to be proportionately richest in plant diversity, and for biodiversity in general, for its size.
Global root traits (GRooT) database
Trait data are fundamental to the quantitative description of plant form and function. Although root traits capture key dimensions related to plant responses to changing environmental conditions and effects on ecosystem processes, they have rarely been included in large‐scale comparative studies and global models. For instance, root traits remain absent from nearly all studies that define the global spectrum of plant form and function. Thus, to overcome conceptual and methodological roadblocks preventing a widespread integration of root trait data into large‐scale analyses Guerrero‐Ramírez et al. created the Global Root Trait (GRooT) Database.
Global Ecology and Biogeography
Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy
Leclère et al. use an ensemble of land-use and biodiversity models to assess whether—and how—humanity can reverse the declines in terrestrial biodiversity caused by habitat conversion, which is a major threat to biodiversity. They show that immediate efforts, consistent with the broader sustainability agenda but of unprecedented ambition and coordination, could enable the provision of food for the growing human population while reversing the global terrestrial biodiversity trends caused by habitat conversion. If we decide to increase the extent of land under conservation management, restore degraded land and generalize landscape-level conservation planning, biodiversity trends from habitat conversion could become positive by the mid-twenty-first century on average across models (confidence interval, 2042–2061), but this was not the case for all models.
Pluripotent Pericycle Cells Trigger Different Growth Outputs by Integrating Developmental Cues into Distinct Regulatory Modules
During post-embryonic development, the pericycle specifies the stem cells that give rise to both lateral roots (LRs) and the periderm, a suberized barrier that protects the plant against biotic and abiotic stresses. Comparable auxin-mediated signaling hubs regulate meristem establishment in many developmental contexts; however, it is unknown how specific outputs are achieved. Using the Arabidopsis root as a model, Xiao et al. show that while LR formation is the main auxin-induced program after de-etiolation, plants with age become competent to form a periderm in response to auxin. The establishment of the vascular cambium acts as the developmental switch required to trigger auxin-mediated periderm initiation.
Super‐abundant C4 grasses are a mixed blessing in restored prairies
Forbs comprise most of the plant diversity in North American tallgrass prairie and provide vital ecosystem services, but their abundance in prairie restorations is highly variable. Restoration practitioners typically sow C4 grasses in high abundances because they are inexpensive, provide fuel for prescribed fires, can dominate reference sites, and suppress weeds that suppress sown forbs. However, C4 grasses can also suppress sown forbs, calling this practice into question. Grman et al. evaluated how C4 grasses influence the abundance and diversity of sown forbs in 78 restored prairies across Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. They found that the direct negative effects of C4 grasses on sown forbs outweighed indirect positive effects that occurred as C4 grasses suppressed nonsown species which in turn suppressed sown forbs. This pattern was especially strong for the C4 grass big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii). Therefore, strategies to promote big bluestem and other C4 grasses would not promote sown forbs.
Single-Cell Resolution of Lineage Trajectories in the Arabidopsis Stomatal Lineage and Developing Leaf
Lopez-Anido et al. uncovered distinct models of cell state differentiation within Arabidopsis leaf tissue by leveraging single-cell transcriptomics and molecular genetics. Their findings resolved underlying heterogeneity within cell states of the flexible epidermal stomatal lineage, which appear to exist along a continuum, with progressive cell specification. Beyond the early stages of the lineage, we discovered that the core transcriptional regulator SPEECHLESS is required for cell fate commitment to yield stomatal guard cells.