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The Week in Botany 35

February 19, 2018

It's been a busy week this week. We had our first bilingual post for a while and we've changed how we handle them. There's now a French language homepage as well as the English at The translation is still in progress, but the plan is to provide a space for blogging in other languages by the end of the year. The languages we deliver will depend on what people want to write in. If you're interested in writing on Botany One in your language then contact us on Twitter at @botanyone.

From Botany One

Molecular mimicry modulates plant host responses to pathogens
Ronald and Joe review the literature on microbial molecules produced by plant pathogens that functionally mimic molecules present in the plant host.

What makes New Caledonian rainforests so different?
Rainforests in the Southwest Pacific can be highly diverse, even on a global scale, displaying higher species richness than African rainforests.

The benefits of sleeping in
The early bird catches the worm, but does the frost catch the early plant? A new article in AmJBot says there are advantages for a plant to germinate late.

The role of local pH in regulating rhizosphere priming effect
Wang and Tang used a 13C natural abundance approach to examine the effect of nitrogen form on wheat and white lupin rhizosphere pH and associated changes in the SOC decomposition.

The Return of the Rainbow Rose
Fact-checking one of our more popular posts.

Within-plant epigenetic mosaicism is related to subindividual heterogeneity in seed size and production
Alonso et al. hypothesised that epigenetic mosaicism, caused by subindividual heterogeneity in DNA methylation levels, may account for within-plant variation in seed size and seed production in the evergreen Mediterranean shrub Lavandula latifolia (Lamiaceae).

How hard is it to use plant computational models? Ask our students!
How scary are plant models? Students at Université catholique de Louvain have been finding out.

Heterochronical trends promote labile floral strategies in Eugenia
Comparative ontogeny elucidates subtle changes in developmental rate, known as heterochrony, that discretely alter morphology between species. Vasconcelos et al. show how these trends explain evolution of Eugenia (Myrtaceae) megadiversity in contrast to its apparent flower uniformity.

Meet the meat-munching plants
Nigel Chaffey reviews Carnivorous Plants: Physiology, ecology, and evolution edited by Aaron Ellison and Lubomír Adamec, 2017, published by Oxford University Press.

Call for Papers: Special issue on the Ecology and Evolution of Plant Reproduction

Botanists have long been fascinated by the extraordinary diversity in flowering plant reproductive patterns and have sought to understand theecological processes and genetic mechanisms influencing plant mating. Over the last five years, research progress in this discipline has rapidly accelerated. Important new insights in this field often combine elegant theoretical models with innovative field and laboratory experiments. Annals of Botany will release a Special Issue on the Ecology and Evolution of Plant Reproduction in January 2019, and it will highlight papers from 3 symposia at the XIX International Botanical Congress in Shenzhen, China. See the full call for papers for more information.

News and Views

Podcast: The truth about snowdrops
Did you know that snowdrops aren’t really native to the British Isles? In the latest Wild Flower (Half) Hour podcast, Isabel Hardman interviews Professor Mick Crawley about where snowdrops really come from and why they can cause an affliction called Galanthomania in some people.
Wildflower Hour

A eureka moment for the planet: we’re finally planting trees again
"After centuries of bad stewardship, communities are at last starting to see the benefits of forests". Dr M. adds on Twitter: "I'll think you'll find there are plenty of communities who have seen the value of forests, but they are usually ignored! Also conservation of biodiversity is more than planting trees to cover the guilt of deforestation, grasslands and other treeless habitats have value too! "
The Guardian

How a Giant Parasitic Orchid Makes a Living
Imagine a giant vine with no leaves and no chlorophyll scrambling over decaying wood and branches of a warm tropical forest. As remarkable as that may seem, that is exactly what Erythrorchis altissima is. With stems that can grow to upwards of 10 meters in length, this bizarre orchid from tropical Asia is the largest mycoheterotrophic plant known to science.
In Defense of Plants

Finding a Lost Strain of Rice, and Clues to Slave Cooking
The search for the missing grain led to Trinidad and Thomas Jefferson, and now excitement among African-American chefs.
NY Times

In Defense of Biodiversity: Why Protecting Species from Extinction Matters
A number of biologists have recently made the argument that extinction is part of evolution and that saving species need not be a conservation priority. But this revisionist thinking shows a lack of understanding of evolution and an ignorance of the natural world.
Yale Environment 360

Peru Moves to Protect ‘One of the Last Great Intact Forests’
While the United States may be weakening protections for wilderness, the creation of Yaguas National Park protects millions of acres from development and deforestation.
NY Times

Keepers of the Seed
A partnership allows the first Cornhuskers to save the ancient Eagle Corn seed.
True West Magazine

Performance-driven culture is ruining scientific research
I was told impact metrics could make or break careers. Instead, they broke my faith in scientific research
The Guardian

Australia approves GMO canola high in omega-3 fatty acids for human consumption and animal feed
Nufarm is turning its attention to Asian markets after Australian regulators approved its genetically modified omega-3 canola for human consumption and use in animal feed.​
Genetic Literacy Project

Call for papers: Developing sustainable bioenergy crops for future climates

Rapid progress has been made over the last five years with respect to emerging new genomic technologies for crop improvement and this Annals of Botany Special Issue will be devoted to highlighting the latest findings and considering the potential of these technologies for the future deployment of bioenergy crops in the face of climate change. At the same time, cutting-edge research that provides insights into the complex plant traits underpinning drought tolerance and response to other abiotic and biotic stresses is required for these relatively new crops. Knowledge in this area will be brought together in this Special Issue, and there will be a focus on recent advances in high throughput phenotyping to unravel these complex responses. See the full call for papers for more information.

Scientific Papers

Stress and sexual reproduction affect the dynamics of the wheat pathogen effector AvrStb6 and strobilurin resistance
Host resistance and fungicide treatments are cornerstones of plant-disease control. Here, we show that these treatments allow sex and modulate parenthood in the fungal wheat pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici
Nature Genetics

Absence of warmth permits epigenetic memory of winter in Arabidopsis
Plants integrate widely fluctuating temperatures to monitor seasonal progression. Here, we investigate the temperature signals in field conditions that result in vernalisation, the mechanism by which flowering is aligned with spring. 
Nature Communications

The rate and potential relevance of new mutations in a colonizing plant lineage
North America has been colonized in historic times by the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, and although multiple intercrossing lineages are found today, many of the individuals belong to a single lineage, HPG1. To determine in this lineage the rate of substitutions—the subset of mutations that survived natural selection and drift–, we have sequenced genomes from plants collected between 1863 and 2006. We identified 73 modern and 27 herbarium specimens that belonged to HPG1. Using the estimated substitution rate, we infer that the last common HPG1 ancestor lived in the early 17th century, when it was most likely introduced by chance from Europe.
PLOS Genetics

Adaptation in plant genomes: Bigger is different
We propose that genome size may play a previously under-appreciated role in determining how plants adapt. Rather than focus on the mechanisms of genome size variation or the adaptive significance of genome size itself, our functional space hypothesis predicts that interspecific differences in genome size may affect the process of adaptation by changing the number and location of potentially functional mutations.

The Aquilegia genome: adaptive radiation and an extraordinarily polymorphic chromosome with a unique history
The columbine genus Aquilegia is a classic example of an adaptive radiation, involving a wide variety of pollinators and habitats. Here we present the genome assembly of A. coerulea "Goldsmith", complemented by high-coverage sequencing data from 10 wild species covering the world-wide distribution.

Constructing a broadly inclusive seed plant phylogeny
This study demonstrates a means for combining available resources to construct a dated phylogeny for plants. However, this approach is an early step and more developments are needed to add data, better incorporating underlying uncertainty, and improve resolution. The methods discussed here can also be applied to other major clades in the tree of life.

TEOSINTE BRANCHED1 Regulates Inflorescence Architecture and Development in Bread Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)
We show that TB1 interacts with FLOWERING LOCUS T1, and that increased dosage of TB1 alters inflorescence architecture and growth rate in a process that includes reduced expression of meristem identity genes, with allelic diversity for TB1 found to associate genetically with paired spikelet development in modern cultivars. We propose TB1 coordinates formation of axillary spikelets during the vegetative to floral transition, and that alleles known to modify dosage or function of TB1 could help increase wheat yields.
The Plant Cell

Species turnover promotes the importance of bee diversity for crop pollination at regional scales
Winfree et al. looked across more than 3000 square kilometers for relationships between biodiversity and crop pollination (see the Perspective by Kremen). The number of wild bee species required for successful pollination rapidly increased with spatial scale, largely owing to variation in the species present across sites and the degree to which the most abundant species played a role. In the end, more than an order of magnitude more species than predicted by smaller-scale experiments were required for full ecosystem functioning.

Impact of genetically engineered maize on agronomic, environmental and toxicological traits: a meta-analysis of 21 years of field data
This meta-analysis aimed at increasing knowledge on agronomic, environmental and toxicological traits of GE maize by analyzing the peer-reviewed literature (from 1996 to 2016) on yield, grain quality, non-target organisms (NTOs), target organisms (TOs) and soil biomass decomposition.
Scientific Reports

Targeted DNA demethylation of the Arabidopsis genome using the human TET1 catalytic domain
 In this study, we develop tools to target DNA demethylation in plants. We report efficient on-target demethylation and minimal effects on global methylation patterns, and show that in one case, targeted demethylation is heritable. These tools can be used to approach basic questions about DNA methylation biology, as well as to develop new biotechnology strategies to modify gene expression and create new plant trait epialleles.


Next week and onwards

There's still plenty to do on the French site. We're also preparing for International Women's Day on March 9.* There's also might be material to prepare for The 59th Annual Meeting of JSPP in Sapporo between March 28-30. We'll be part of the OUP stand there.

* November 19, for the men who are wondering.



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