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The Week in Botany 142

March 23, 2020

It's a slightly shorter list than usual this week, as the main topic discussed by people following @botanyone on Twitter hasn't been plant science. Rather than share some already out of date news stories on COVID-19,  I'll take that as a hint that I need to be writing more for Botany One.
We also still need an editor for Botany One. You can get the details here, the key point is that the deadline is March 26. Interviews will be online, as the editor might come from anywhere in the world and even without viruses we wouldn't want to fly people in.
The plan is to send another newsletter next week but, depending on events and health, this might not happen. In the meantime, I hope you stay safe and sane.
Alun (

From Botany One

Regulatory effect of phosphorus and nitrogen on nodulation and plant performance of shrubby legumes
The four species showed similar patterns in their absorption and use of phosphorus and nitrogen.

Botanists explore how mint makes a home for ants and mites
Domatia in a member of the mint family are caused by cell proliferation, not leaf rolling

Aluminium-silicon interactions in higher plants: a brief personal history
How aluminium, silicon and two researchers are connected.

Leaf trichomes may avoid water stress in part by impeding gall formation
Trichomes seem to help prevent the larger gall types that lead to greater water loss.

When speed is a problem in mangrove restoration
Rapid restoration isn't always the best restoration, when the restoring species is invasive.

Honeybees much less effective than native pollinators for Lepechinia floribunda
It's not just a matter of number of visits, a pollinator has to arrive at the right time too.

Stomatal anatomy coordinates leaf size with Rubisco kinetics in Limonium
Stomatal anatomy integrates Rubisco kinetics and leaf size in Limonium species, consistent with selection on functional coordination and shared developmental pathways.

Mitochondria and stress signalling
How tiny heroes are connected in signalling stress.

News and Views

Gin firm offers grants in bid to save juniper plants
A gin-making firm is offering grants to those willing to help protect Britain's juniper plants from extinction.
BBC News

Anna Atkins's cyanotypes: the first book of photographs
English botanical artist, collector and photographer Anna Atkins was the first person to illustrate a book with photographic images.
Natural History Museum

Stinchcombe Lab - Postdoctoral Fellow, 2 positions
The Stinchcombe Lab at the University of Toronto is looking to hire two (2) highly motivated post-doctoral scholars to work on questions in ecological and evolutionary genetics.
University of Toronto

Rhizanthes lowii
"Imagine hiking through the forests of Borneo and coming across this strange object. It's hairy, it's fleshy, and it smells awful. With no vegetative bits lying around, you may jump to the conclusion that this was some sort of fungus. You would be wrong. What you are looking at is the flower of a strange parasitic plant known as Rhizanthes lowii."
In Defense of Plants

UK’s first 'super' national nature reserve created in Dorset
Seven landowners join forces to create largest lowland heathland nature reserve in UK
The Guardian

Pine tree near flooded Czech village voted European tree of the year
Winner beats stiff competition from Croatian gingko tree, Portuguese chestnut and English oak
The Guardian

What Is That Spiny Thing?
The Natural History Museum (NHM) holds over 80 million specimens and every single specimen tells a story. Amongst these 80 million objects, one such object is a specimen that the museum acquired from Mexico over 2 decades ago. This object excites curiosity amongst novices, students and the general public alike. Whenever anyone looks at this, the first thing they ask is what is that? A pineapple? A furry cat? Is it a sponge? The imaginations are limitless….

International Day of Forests
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests (IDF) in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Scientific Papers

A Pan-plant Protein Complex Map Reveals Deep Conservation and Novel Assemblies
Plants are foundational for global ecological and economic systems, but most plant proteins remain uncharacterized. Protein interaction networks often suggest protein functions and open new avenues to characterize genes and proteins. McWhite et al. therefore systematically determined protein complexes from 13 plant species of scientific and agricultural importance, greatly expanding the known repertoire of stable protein complexes in plants. By using co-fractionation mass spectrometry, they recovered known complexes, confirmed complexes predicted to occur in plants, and identified previously unknown interactions conserved over 1.1 billion years of green plant evolution.

A foundation monograph of Ipomoea (Convolvulaceae) in the New World
A monograph of the 425 New World species of Ipomoea is presented. All 425 species are described and information is provided on their ecology and distribution, with citations from all countries from which they are reported. Notes are provided on salient characteristics and taxonomic issues related to individual species. A full synonymy is provided and 272 names are lectotypified. An extensive introduction discusses the delimitation and history of Ipomoea arguing that a broad generic concept is the only rational solution in the light of recent phylogenetic advances.

Estimating photosynthetic traits from reflectance spectra: A synthesis of spectral indices, numerical inversion, and partial least square regression
The lack of efficient means to accurately infer photosynthetic traits constrains understanding global land carbon fluxes and improving photosynthetic pathways to increase crop yield. Fu et al. investigated whether a hyperspectral imaging camera mounted on a mobile platform could provide the capability to help resolve these challenges, focusing on three main approaches, that is, reflectance spectra‐, spectral indices‐, and numerical model inversions‐based partial least square regression (PLSR) to estimate photosynthetic traits from canopy hyperspectral reflectance for 11 tobacco cultivars.
Plant, Cell & Environment

HiCanu: accurate assembly of segmental duplications, satellites, and allelic variants from high-fidelity long reads
Complete and accurate genome assemblies form the basis of most downstream genomic analyses and are of critical importance. Recent genome assembly projects have relied on a combination of noisy long-read sequencing and accurate short-read sequencing, with the former offering greater assembly continuity and the latter providing higher consensus accuracy. The recently introduced PacBio HiFi sequencing technology bridges this divide by delivering long reads (>10 kbp) with high per-base accuracy (>99.9%). Nurk et al. present HiCanu, a significant modification of the Canu assembler designed to leverage the full potential of HiFi reads via homopolymer compression, overlap-based error correction, and aggressive false overlap filtering.

Gene Dosage Balance Immediately Following Whole-Genome Duplication in Arabidopsis thaliana
Flowering plants have witnessed multiple cycles of whole-genome duplication (WGD) over the past 200 million years of evolution. Typically, WGD increases genome size and gene content, followed by gene loss, or fractionation, depending on functional categories.
Plant Cell

A cross-kingdom conserved ER-phagy receptor maintains endoplasmic reticulum homeostasis during stress
Eukaryotes have evolved various quality control mechanisms to promote proteostasis in the ER. Selective removal of certain ER domains via autophagy (termed as ER-phagy) has emerged as a major quality control mechanism. However, the degree to which ER-phagy is employed by other branches of ER-quality control remains largely elusive. 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).

SCHENGEN receptor module drives localized ROS production and lignification in plant roots
Fujita et al. establish a kinase signaling relay that exerts direct, spatial control over ROS production and lignification within the cell wall. We show that polar localization of a single kinase component is crucial for pathway function. Their data indicate that an intersection of more broadly localized components allows for micrometer‐scale precision of lignification and that this system is triggered through initiation of ROS production as a critical peroxidase co‐substrate.
The EMBO Journal

Unclusterable, underdispersed arrangement of plant species in pollinator niche space
Pollinators can mediate facilitative or competitive relationships between plant species, but the comparative importance of these two conflicting phenomena in shaping pollinator resource use in plant communities remains unexplored. This paper provides a case example and proof of concept of the idea that the arrangement in pollinator niche space of large species samples comprising complete or nearly complete plant communities can be instrumental to evaluate the importance of facilitation and competition as drivers of pollinator resource at the plant community level.


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