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The Week in Botany 158

July 13, 2020

I took a couple of days off this week, so I'll be catching up with #BlackBotanistsWeek this morning to see what I missed. It'll be quite a bit, if the news shares by people following @botanyone on Twitter are anything to go by.
The days off mean that I haven't been keeping up with the job market. If people are sharing opportunities, then they'll be back next week. At least they will be if COVID doesn't grab me in the meantime. Until then, have a good week.
Alun (

From Botany One

Understanding the connections between plant hormones and cellulose synthesis in plants: still a great unknown!
Wang and colleagues review the relationships between key phytohormone classes and cellulose deposition in plant systems.

An author spins a black cloud of depression into gold
A diary written during depression explores the healing power of nature.

Ants a principal pollinator for a threatened member of the Proteaceae
The plant is impervious to the pollen damage ants usually cause.

Are ants a benefit or a detriment when they occupy a plant? New research says they may be both.
Research in two new papers shows how ants can interfere with pollination, but this interference is complicated.

Key Eucalyptus traits for high yield under climate change identified
Global sensitivity analysis was used to identify key traits for Eucalyptus adaptation to climate variability and change in Brazil.

Uncovering the evolutionary history of the Potentilla genus
Can new genomic tools help us to understand the evolution of polyploid species?

Corner’s rules hold up across the growing season
The relationship between twig cross-sectional area and leaf surface area varied little over the course of the season.

Green ‘blooded’ trees in New Caledonia: nickel hyperaccumulation in the tropics
Mines in the future might be greener than they are now.

Some ways to dodge the feelings of low productivity in lockdown – for a while
A few people are finding home working difficult during lockdown. Here are some ways I've found to make working from home a bit more bearable.

News and Views

5 Things About Me: Biologist Lafayette Frederick
Lafayette Frederick, Ph.D. AAAS, Fellow Emeritus Professor of Biology, Tuskegee University
American Association for the Advancement of Science

ICE tells students on visas they must leave US if schools go online-only
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Monday that international students in the U.S. whose schools switch to online classes for the fall semester will have to leave the country or risk violating their visa status.

UC Riverside discovers first effective treatment for citrus-destroying disease
UC Riverside scientists have found the first substance capable of controlling Citrus Greening Disease, which has devastated citrus farms in Florida and also threatens California. 
UC Riverside

The Evolution of a ggplot (Ep. 1)
"In this series of blog posts, I aim to show you how to turn a default ggplot into a plot that visualizes information in an appealing and easily understandable way. The goal of each blog post is to provide a step-by-step tutorial explaining how my visualization have evolved from a typical basic ggplot. All plots are going to be created with 100% {ggplot2} and 0% Inkscape."
Cédric Scherer

Black Botanists Week 2020
A conversation between the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT) President, Dr. Pam Soltis, and Dr. Tanisha Williams.

#BlackBotanistsWeek Honors Field Museum Scientist Who Died from COVID-19 | Chicago News
Following on the heels of the celebratory and empowering #BlackBirdersWeek and #BlackHikerWeek social media campaigns, a group of Black plant scientists from around the world created #BlackBotanistsWeek, running through Saturday on platforms including Twitter and Instagram

Tanisha Williams, Ph.D., On The Goal Of #BlackBotanistsWeek
This Monday, when Tanisha Williams, Ph.D., launched #BlackBotanistsWeek—a social media campaign to give Black botanists (which she defines as anyone who loves plants) a space to connect with one another and share stories—she expected the week would draw in a couple of scientists and maybe a few hundred posts. But by the end of that day, the hashtag had already been used nearly 3,000 times.

Black Botanists Work Towards Gaining More Visibility
A few weeks after the racist encounter between a Black birder and a white woman in Central Park, conversations among Black botanists, birders and environmentalists have manifested as an awareness campaign. #BlackBotanistsWeek is celebrating Black people who love plants and the outdoors. Co-founder of the campaign and director of the Washington Park Eco Projects Dr. Georgia Silvera Seamans spoke WNYC host Jami Floyd. 

Jane Eleanor Datcher: First African-American woman to obtain an advanced degree at Cornell
Jane Eleanor Datcher (Nellie to her friends) was the first African-American woman to obtain an advanced degree at Cornell. She grew up in Washington, D.C. where she attended private and public schools. In 1877, she was awarded a certificate for her scholarship from the “Public Schools of the District of Columbia”.
SIPS history in photos

Making a beeline: wildflower paths across UK could save species
Conservation charity aims to help restore 150,000 hectares of bee-friendly corridors to save the insects from extinction.
The Guardian

Scientific Papers

The delayed and geographically heterogeneous diversification of flowering plant families
The Early Cretaceous (145–100 million years ago (Ma)) witnessed the rise of flowering plants (angiosperms), which ultimately lead to profound changes in terrestrial plant communities. However, palaeobotanical evidence shows that the transition to widespread angiosperm-dominated biomes was delayed until the Palaeocene (66–56 Ma). Important aspects of the timing and geographical setting of angiosperm diversification during this period, and the groups involved, remain uncertain. Ramírez-Barahona et al. address these aspects by constructing and dating a new and complete family-level phylogeny, which they integrate with 16 million geographic occurrence records for angiosperms on a global scale. We show substantial time lags (mean, 37–56 Myr) between the origin of families (stem age) and the diversification leading to extant species (crown ages) across the entire angiosperm tree of life. In turn, their results show that families with the shortest lags are overrepresented in temperate and arid biomes compared with tropical biomes.
Nature Ecology & Evolution

LeafMachine: Using machine learning to automate leaf trait extraction from digitized herbarium specimens
Weaver and colleagues trained LeafMachine on 2685 randomly sampled specimens from 138 herbaria and evaluated its performance on specimens spanning 20 diverse families and varying widely in resolution, quality, and layout. LeafMachine successfully extracted at least one leaf measurement from 82.0% and 60.8% of high‐ and low‐resolution images, respectively. Of the unmeasured specimens, only 0.9% and 2.1% of high‐ and low‐resolution images, respectively, were visually judged to have measurable leaves.
Applications in Plant Sciences

Strategies and support for Black, Indigenous, and people of colour in ecology and evolutionary biology
We know that it can be tough to be a person of colour working in ecology and evolution. Here is what has worked for us.
Nature Ecology & Evolution

Massive haplotypes underlie ecotypic differentiation in sunflowers
Species often include multiple ecotypes that are adapted to different environments. However, it is unclear how ecotypes arise and how their distinctive combinations of adaptive alleles are maintained despite hybridization with non-adapted populations. Here, by resequencing 1,506 wild sunflowers from 3 species (Helianthus annuus, Helianthus petiolaris and Helianthus argophyllus), Todesco and colleagues identify 37 large (1–100 Mbp in size), non-recombining haplotype blocks that are associated with numerous ecologically relevant traits, as well as soil and climate characteristics.

Plant secondary metabolites as defenses, regulators, and primary metabolites: the blurred functional trichotomy
Recent work unveils the limits of our current functional classification system for plant metabolites. Viewing secondary metabolites as integrated components of metabolic networks that are dynamically shaped by environmental selection pressures and transcend multiple trophic levels can improve our understanding of plant metabolism and plant–environment interactions.
Plant Physiology

The global abundance of tree palms
Muscarella et al. assembled a pantropical dataset of 2,548 forest plots (covering 1,191 ha) and quantified tree palm (i.e., ≥10 cm diameter at breast height) abundance relative to co‐occurring non‐palm trees. They compared the relative abundance of tree palms across biogeographical realms and tested for associations with palaeoclimate stability, current climate, edaphic conditions and metrics of forest structure.
Global Ecology and Biogeography

RefPlantNLR: a comprehensive collection of experimentally validated plant NLRs
Kourelis and Kamoun describe a comprehensive reference dataset of experimentally validated plant NLR immune receptors. RefPlantNLR consists of 415 NLRs from 31 genera belonging to 11 orders of flowering plants. They used RefPlantNLR to determine the canonical features of functionally validated plant NLRs. This reference dataset should prove useful for benchmarking NLR annotation tools, guiding comparative analyses of NLRs across the wide spectrum of plant diversity and identifying under-studied taxa.

Cytoskeletal organization in isolated plant cells under geometry control
The cytoskeleton, a network of polymers including microtubules and actin, supports many functions in cells. In plants, the cytoskeleton orientation is an important parameter dictating the direction of cell growth. While light, hormonal, or mechanical signals can affect the cytoskeleton organization, the role of cell geometry remains to be clarified. With a microwell-based approach, Durand-Smet et al. confined plant cells lacking walls in different geometries and found that the cytoskeletons align with the long axis in cells in rectangular wells. Basic geometrical rules of the microtubules are computationally modeled in three dimensions and reveal the role of severing proteins in the shape response, which was observed experimentally. These findings demonstrate how cell geometry feeds back on cytoskeletal organization in plant cells.

Good things take time – diversity effects on tree growth shift from negative to positive during stand development in boreal forests
Jucker et al. explore whether diversity effects on tree growth change predictably during stand development in Finland’s boreal forests. Using tree ring records from mature forests, they tested whether diameter growth trajectories of dominant tree species growing in mixture differed from those in monoculture. They then compared these results with data from the world’s longest running tree diversity experiment, where the same combinations of species sampled in mature forests were planted in 1999.
Journal of Ecology

The fungal collaboration gradient dominates the root economics space in plants
Plant economics run on carbon and nutrients instead of money. Leaf strategies aboveground span an economic spectrum from “live fast and die young” to “slow and steady,” but the economy defined by root strategies belowground remains unclear. Bergmann et al. take a holistic view of the belowground economy and show that root-mycorrhizal collaboration can short circuit a one-dimensional economic spectrum, providing an entire space of economic possibilities.
Science Advances


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