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The Week in Botany 173

October 26, 2020

I hope you're all doing well. The results for stories shared by people following @botanyone on Twitter look a bit more normal this week.
The other only news I have this week is that we'll be resuming our search for an Academic Editor for the website soon. We'll be looking for an early career researcher with a knowledge of plant science, in one field or another and an interest in science communication. We'll be taking applications from anywhere in the world, and you'll be able to work from home. I'm hoping we'll get the formal announcement out next week.
Alun (webmaster@botany.one)

From Botany One

Quantifying root and shoot growth in wheat using X-ray Computed Tomography
How are relationships between root and shoot growth incluenced by drought and soil type in wheat?

State of the World’s Plants and Fungi: 2 in 5 plants are threatened by extinction (Part 2)
The first afternoon session of the SOTWPF symposium focused on the recent research projects that aim to assess and predict extinction threats of plants and fungi.

Burn it all down: leaf traits change more than species composition
In a fire-adapted ecosystem, increased fire frequency altered community composition and structure of the ecosystem through changes in the position of the shrub line.

‘What’s your favorite isP article and why?’
The editors of in silico Plants are delighted to share with you an Editor's Choice selection of key papers that highlight some of the best current plant modelling research published in the journal.

Within a mixed species, annuals self-pollinate more than perennials
A smaller stigma-anther separation in annuals seems to indicate a genetic basis for mating system differences.



News and Views

 

[REDUX] How Many Plants Have We Wiped Out? Here Are 5 Extinction Stories
Botanists have laid out evidence that dozens of North American trees, herbs, plants and shrubs have gone extinct since European settlers arrived.
The New York Times

Gardens help towns and cities beat countryside for tree cover
Urban areas are not all high-rise flats and offices, they are also where you'll find many of the country's trees. 
BBC News

Nature journals announce first open-access agreement
The arrangement will allow some researchers in Germany to publish openly — but critics say it comes with a high price.
Nature

Former tree of the year felled in Warwickshire to make way for HS2
Locals say loss of 250-year-old pear tree in Cubbington is ‘absolutely devastating’.
The Guardian

Bongekile Kuhlase: Plant distribution on remote Marion Island
Bongekile Kuhlase is a Plant Ecology student from South Africa. Her research focusses on modelling plant distribution on Marion Island. Bongekile is sharing her story as part of the BES journal’s Black History Month blog series. We are promoting and celebrating research from Black ecologists around the world, and will be publishing BHM blog posts throughout October 2020.
Journal of Ecology Blog

Plans for £3.5bn theme park on Kent marsh dismay conservationists
London Resort planned for Swanscombe Peninsula despite site being home to rare species such as distinguished jumping spider.
The Guardian

Floras
New Flora of the Southeastern United States now available for download h/t @herbarium keeper.
North Carolina Botanical Garden

HS2: Moving ancient woodland habitat for rail line flawed, ecologists say
Moving ancient woodland habitat cut down to make way for HS2 is a fundamentally flawed idea, leading ecologists say.
BBC News

Norway funds satellite map of world's tropical forests
A unique satellite dataset on the world's tropical forests is now available for all to see and use.
BBC News

DePaul scientist promotes anti-racism in the STEM community
Environmental scientist and ecologist Bala Chaudhary is used to her published papers on microbes getting, maybe, 100 clicks. But the DePaul University assistant professor’s latest paper, “Ten simple rules for building an antiracist lab,” (co-authored with Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, a University of California at Merced professor of soil biogeochemistry) has been viewed over 13,000 times and downloaded more than 7,000 times.
Chicago Tribune



Scientific Papers

The tomato receptor CuRe1 senses a cell wall protein to identify Cuscuta as a pathogen
Hegenauer et al. show a molecular mechanism of how plants can sense parasitic Cuscuta. They isolated an 11 kDa protein of the parasite cell wall and identified it as a glycine-rich protein (GRP). This GRP, as well as its minimal peptide epitope Crip21, serve as a pathogen-associated molecular pattern and specifically bind and activate a membrane-bound immune receptor of tomato, the Cuscuta Receptor 1 (CuRe1), leading to defense responses in resistant hosts. These findings provide the initial steps to understand the resistance mechanisms against parasitic plants and further offer great potential for protecting crops by engineering resistance against parasitic plants.
Nature Communications

Evolutionary dynamics of genome size in a radiation of woody plants
Moeglein et al. discovered nine independent polyploidization events, two reductions in base chromosome number, and substantial variation in genome size with a slight trend toward genome size reduction in polyploids. They did not find strong relationships between genome size and the functional and morphological traits that have been highlighted at broader phylogenetic scales.
American Journal of Botany

Integrating the evidence for a terrestrial carbon sink caused by increasing atmospheric CO2
Walker et al. synthesize theory and broad, multidisciplinary evidence for the effects of increasing [CO2] (iCO2) on the global terrestrial carbon sink. Evidence suggests a substantial increase in global photosynthesis since pre‐industrial times. Established theory, supported by experiments, indicates that iCO2 is likely responsible for about half of the increase. Global carbon budgeting, atmospheric data, and forest inventories indicate a historical carbon sink, and these apparent iCO2 responses are high in comparison to experiments and predictions from theory. Plant mortality and soil carbon iCO2 responses are highly uncertain.
New Phytologist

[REDUX] Origins and evolution of cuticle biosynthetic machinery in land plants
Kong et al. performed a comparative genomic analysis of core components that mediate cuticle biosynthesis, and characterized the chemical compositions and physiological parameters of cuticles from a broad set of embryophytes. Phylogenomic analysis revealed that the cuticle biosynthetic machinery originated in the last common ancestor of embryophytes. Co-expansion and coordinated expression are evident in core genes involved in the biosynthesis of two major cuticle components: the polymer cutin and cuticular waxes.
Plant Physiology

Set ambitious goals for biodiversity and sustainability
In response to the goals proposed in the draft post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) made public by the CBD, Diaz et al. urge negotiators to consider three points that are critical if the agreed goals are to stabilize or reverse nature's decline. First, multiple goals are required because of nature's complexity, with different facets—genes, populations, species, deep evolutionary history, ecosystems, and their contributions to people—having markedly different geographic distributions and responses to human drivers. Second, interlinkages among these facets mean that goals must be defined and developed holistically rather than in isolation, with potential to advance multiple goals simultaneously and minimize trade-offs between them. Third, only the highest level of ambition in setting each goal, and implementing all goals in an integrated manner, will give a realistic chance of stopping—and beginning to reverse—biodiversity loss by 2050.
Science

Oxygen-sensing mechanisms across eukaryotic kingdoms and their roles in complex multicellularity
In our current oxygen-rich atmosphere, the ability of eukaryotic cells to sense variation in oxygen concentrations is essential for adapting to low-oxygen conditions. However, Earth's atmosphere has not always contained such high oxygen concentrations. Hammarlund et al. discuss oxygen-sensing systems across both plants and animals and argue that the systems are functionally convergent and that their emergence in an initially hypoxic environment shaped how they operate today.
Science

V.PhyloMaker: an R package that can generate very large phylogenies for vascular plants
Jin and Qian present V.PhyloMaker, a freely available package for R designed to generate phylogenies for vascular plants. The mega‐tree implemented in V.PhyloMaker (i.e. GBOTB.extended.tre), which was derived from two recently published mega‐trees and includes 74 533 species and all families of extant vascular plants, is the largest dated phylogeny for vascular plants. V.PhyloMaker can generate phylogenies for very large species lists (the largest species list that we tested included 314 686 species). V.PhyloMaker generates phylogenies at a fast speed, much faster than other phylogeny‐generating packages.
Ecography

Plant genomes: Markers of evolutionary history and drivers of evolutionary change
Soltis and Soltis describe how plant genomes have been harnessed for studies of plant phylogeny and diversification, with examples spanning all green plants, a clade of nearly half a million species spanning nearly a billion years of evolutionary time. Then focusing on angiosperms, they suggest how the process of whole‐genome duplication (polyploidy) has driven, and continues to drive, major innovations in morphology, stress response, and more. Together, these perspectives will begin to reveal how genomic change can lead to novelty and diversity at the organismal level.
Plants People Planet

The effects of drought on plant–pollinator interactions: What to expect? - ScienceDirect
Although a majority of flowering plants (87 % of all angiosperms) is insect-pollinated, the effects of drought on plant–pollinator interactions are not well studied. However, plant pollination and reproduction phases are highly sensitive to this abiotic stress. At plant individual scale, Descamps et al. hypothesize that drought will alter plant–pollinator interactions via (i) signals or cues for insect visitors (floral display, plant height, number of flowers per plant, flower color, shape and size, olfactory compound quantity and composition) and (ii) floral rewards (nectar volume, total sugar concentration, sugar composition, pollen quantity and chemical composition). In this review, they synthesize evidence related to the effects of drought on floral signals and rewards, and discuss how they may disrupt plant–pollinator relationships.
Environmental and Experimental Botany

A TAL effector-like protein of an endofungal bacterium increases the stress tolerance and alters the transcriptome of the host
Endosymbiotic bacteria are found in diverse fungi, but little is known about how they communicate with their hosts. Some plant pathogenic bacteria use type III-translocated TAL effectors to control host transcription, and TAL-like proteins are encoded in genomes of the fungal endosymbiotic bacterium Mycetohabitans rhizoxinica. Carter et al. present evidence that these proteins are, like TAL effectors, type III-secreted, nuclear-localizing effectors that perturb host transcription and show that one enhances tolerance of the fungal host to cell membrane stress.
PNAS


     

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