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The Week in Botany 33

February 5, 2018

We had José Said Gutiérrez-Ortega's post on Aridification as driver of plant evolution out this week. The reason for the delay was a need to tweak the system to make the paper he's blogging about, Aridification as a driver of biodiversity: a case study for the cycad genus Dioon (Zamiaceae), free access for a month. We'd be delighted to publish about your research and, if we can chat to the journal editors about making the article free access. That's easier with Annals of Botany (AoB PLANTS is already free access), but it might be possible with some other journals. Contact us at @botanyone on Twitter or email for more details.

From Botany One

Endosperm development and hybrid seed failure in wild tomatoes
The overall results suggest that near-complete hybrid seed failure can evolve fairly rapidly and without apparent divergence in reproductive phenology/biology.

7th International and 16th National Conference on Plant Resources: Current Trends, Challenges and Solutions
The Conference is jointly organized by Islamia College Peshawar and University of Peshawar to explore plants related issues in the country.

Benefits of self discrimination in roots
Experiments clearly demonstrated that plants competing with clonal sibling plants invested more in clonal reproduction as compared to plants competing with non-siblings.

Does this seedling taste fishy to you…?
NIgel Chaffey returns with another tale of asyníthchory, this time involving fish.

Aridification as driver of plant evolution
Aridification has been a major force in cycad evolution, says José Said Gutiérrez-Ortega. It helps to explain why cycads were capable to adapt and diversify in the modern habitats, even when they originated in the early evolution of land plants.

White-Tailed Deer and Invasive Plants
Bambi, heart-warming film or horror flick? The connection between deer and invasive species is complicated.

Fire-timing in relation to reproduction and mast-seeding cycles
In experimental studies, rainfall-stimulated Triodia pungens masting precipitated a large but transitory spike in soil seedbank size and burning populations 6 months after this event triggered mass recruitment.

It’s Friday afternoon, so I’m relaxing with a video, in this case the latest from Brilliant Botany, a follow up to the earlier video, The Plants of Pokémon Go.

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 the ecological 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

Science has an atheism problem
Terry McGlynn says: "Our scientific communities do not fully accept scientists of faith. As I’ve said before, this is a problem, and it actively hinders our efforts for equity and inclusion. "
Small Pond Science

How to support undergraduate students experiencing mental health concerns
Meghan Duffy visits a workshop on student support. She comes back with some suggestions for interacting with students experiencing mental health concerns.
Dynamic Ecology

Contribute to Kew’s scientific work – we need your help!
Kew needs your help – join us on a digital adventure to Singapore, retracing the collection of plants first found over 100 years ago.
Kew Science

The importance of being second
"Scooped"? We prefer to call it "complementary research," recognising its important role in reproducibility of science. An editorial, with over a thousand retweets.
PLOS Biology

Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying
The stripy fields have been planted across England as part of a trial to boost the natural predators of pests that attack cereal crops. There's also a little extra discussion from Markus Wagner's tweet.
The Guardian

More genes are active in high-performance maize
Study at the University of Bonn may facilitate the breeding of higher-yielding varieties in the long term

First New Species of Temperate Conifer Tree Discovered in More Than a Decade
The Ulleungdo hemlock, found on a small Korean island, is likely already endangered, but it may hold the key to fighting invasive species.
National Geographic

Plant Functional Traits Course 4
The 4th TraitTrain International Plant Functional Traits Course will be held at the University Centre in Svalbard, Norway, 16-27 July
University of Bergen

Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious?
More coverage for the recent paper in Annals of Botany on Anaesthetics and plants. This has led to more discussion on Hacker News.
NY Times

Battling to save the world's bananas
Visiting the Matanuska banana plantation is not easy these days. After a two-hour drive from the nearest city in northern Mozambique, visitors who make it to the farm are stopped at the entrance and asked to dip their feet in pools of disinfectant. Even the cars get a bath.​
BBC News

French seed group says GMO protests could force R&D relocation
Limagrain, the world’s fourth-largest seed maker, will consider moving its research activities out of France if field trials in its home market continue to be sabotaged by opponents of genetically modified crops.​

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

The coming of age of EvoMPMI: evolutionary molecular plant-microbe interactions across multiple timescales
We report on recent advances in evolutionary molecular plant-microbe interactions (EvoMPMI). In particular, we highlight new systems to study microbe interactions with early diverging land plants, and new findings from studies of adaptive evolution in pathogens and plants. By linking mechanistic and evolutionary research, EvoMPMI promises to add a new dimension to our understanding of plant-microbe interactions.

A genome for gnetophytes and early evolution of seed plants
We report here a high-quality draft genome sequence for Gnetum montanum, the first for any gnetophyte. By using a novel genome assembly strategy to deal with high levels of heterozygosity, we assembled >4 Gb of sequence encoding 27,491 protein-coding genes.
Nature Plants

Tools of the crook: infection strategies of fungal plant pathogens
We discuss the most common strategies that fungal plant pathogens employ to subvert their host plants in order to successfully complete their life cycle and secure the release of abundant viable progeny.
The Plant Journal

QTLseqr: An R package for bulk segregant analysis with next-generation sequencing
We present QTLseqr, an R package for NGS-BSA that identifies QTL using two statistical approaches: QTL-seq and G'. These approaches use a simulation method and a tricube smoothed G statistic, respectively, to identify and assess statistical significance of QTL. QTLseqr, can import and filter SNP data, calculate SNP distributions, relative allele frequencies, G' values, and log10(p-values), enabling identification and plotting of QTL. bioRxiv

From genes to networks
Sixty years ago, Francis Crick articulated the central dogma of molecular biology to explain the sequential information flow between genes and proteins. Nowadays our understanding of genes and the information they convey is no longer limited to the single-molecule level.
Nature Plants

Defended to the Nines: 25 years of Resistance Gene Cloning Identifies Nine Mechanisms for R Protein Function
Plants display extensive genetic variation at resistance (R) gene loci for resistance to a variety of pathogens. The first R gene, Hm1, was cloned over 25 years ago, and many different R genes have since been identified and isolated. The encoded proteins have provided clues to diverse molecular mechanisms underlying immunity. The majority encode either cell-surface or intracellular receptors, and we present here a meta- analysis of 314 cloned R genes. We distinguish nine molecular mechanisms by which R proteins can elevate or trigger disease resistance.
The Plant Cell

A toolkit for studying cellular reorganization during early Arabidopsis thaliana embryogenesis
We describe a set of markers to visualize a range of subcellular structures in the early Arabidopsis embryo. We have designed a series of fluorescent cellular reporters optimized for embryos, and demonstrate the effectiveness of using these “ACE” reporters with simple 3D imaging procedures that preserve delicate cellular structures. We describe ontogeny of subcellular structures in the early embryo, and found that central/peripheral cell polarity is established much earlier than suspected.
The Plant Journal

Plant cell wall-mediated immunity: cell wall changes trigger disease resistance responses
Plants have a dedicated mechanism for maintaining cell wall integrity (CWI) which comprises a diverse set of plasma membrane-resident sensors and pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). The PRRs perceive plant-derived ligands, such as peptides or wall glycans, known as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). These DAMPs function as ‘danger’ alert signals activating DAMP-triggered immunity (DTI), which shares signalling components and responses with the immune pathways triggered by non-self microbe-associated molecular patterns that mediate disease resistance.
The Plant Journal

Genome-wide analysis of allele frequency change in sunflower crop–wild hybrid populations evolving under natural conditions
We documented patterns of natural selection in an experimental crop × wild sunflower population that was allowed to evolve under natural conditions for two generations at two locations. Allele frequencies at a genome-wide collection of SNPs were tracked across generations, and a common garden experiment was conducted to compare trait means between generations. These data allowed us to identify instances of selection on crop-derived alleles/traits and, in concert with QTL mapping results, test for congruence between our genotypic and phenotypic results. We found that natural selection overwhelmingly favours wild alleles and phenotypes.​
Molecular Ecology

Does introgression of crop alleles into wild and weedy living populations create cryptic in situ germplasm banks?
A commentary on the paper above. You might want to look at the author contributions.
Molecular Ecology


Next week and onwards

Next week, we should have more on what makes a classic paper by Philip White. Nigel Chaffey will look at how plants are fighting AIDS, in part of a new series on the human life-sustaining potential of plants. I'll be trying to set up a hydroponics system to grow lettuce. That will probably become a post or two later on in the year.



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