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The Week in Botany 191

March 15, 2021

There might be a slight change in format next week. I need to sort out a new system for the mailing list before the end of the year and I'll be trying out Revue. It'll still be a round-up of the things shared by people following @botanyone on Twitter. A new system might mean less manual cut 'n' pasting, allow other people compile the newsletter more easily.
Regardless of how it arrives, the next email should be with you around the same time next week. Until then, stay safe.
Alun (

From Botany One

How a forgotten plant of Mexico’s tropical forests revolutionised life for women
A plant native to the tropical forests of Mexico was essential for the development of the contraceptive pill.

Modification of a gas exchange system for solar-induced fluorescence
Can solar-induced fluorescence be used to accurately estimate photosynthetic traits at different scales?

Is there a yield cost for limiting water loss during the hot hours of the day in wheat?
Evaluating how limited transpiration at high evaporative demand affect grain yield across Australia using computer models.

Fast and small stomata optimise the water use efficiency of sugar beet
Can a better understanding of stomatal physiology make sugar beet more productive and resilient into the future?

Seasonality and glucosinolate production important factors in genome size in a clade of mustards
Surprisingly, life history, soil nutrients, and range size were not key determinants.

This is a berry good book!
What better way to sum up the book’s subject matter than to quote the author: “Berries are botanically confusing, horticulturally complex and almost uniformly delicious – truly the first fruits of the earth”.

News and Views


International Women’s Day 2021: #ChooseToChallenge
The BES asked Editors across all of the BES Journals to show solidarity and support with the aim of International Women’s Day – and to make a pledge to help to reduce gender inequality.
The Applied Ecologist

Public Lecture
Plant biodiversity at the whole genome level and why it matters - Dr Ilia Leitch
Darwin Tree Of Life

The sudden death of the snow gums
On the highest peaks and plains of the Australian Alps, these trees are being decimated by a tiny enemy. Can anything save them from being wiped out?
ABC News

The Life Scientific, Mark Spencer on how plants solve crimes
Inside the mind of a forensic botanist, Mark Spencer tells Jim Al-Khalili how plant evidence can help to solve crimes.
BBC Radio 4

Is this the end of forests as we've known them?
Trees lost to drought and wildfires are not returning. Climate change is taking a toll on the world’s forests - and radically changing the environment before our eyes
The Guardian

Job Opportunities | Microbiology & Plant Pathology
Two postdoctoral researcher positions are available in Dr. Hailing Jin’s Laboratory at University of California, Riverside to study RNA trafficking and extracellular vesicle-mediated communications between plants and pathogens
University of California, Riverside

Meise Botanic Garden meets important educational needs
Meise Botanic Garden has just launched a new publication, which provides an introduction to the field of botanical classification and naming (plants and fungi). It is available for free (Open Access), as hard copy and electronically as PDF.
Plantentuin Meise

Post-Doc in Cell Biology
In the frame of an ERC project, the Post-Doc will be in charge of studying the role of membrane contacts in the regulation of cell-to-cell communication in plants, via plasmodesmata pores. The project aims at identifying the molecular mechanisms that regulate contact between the endoplasmic reticulum and the plasma membrane within plasmodesmata and establish their function for intercellular communication and plant development.
Portail Emploi CNRS

Open Postdoc Position
This is a 2-year position that is 75% research and 25% outreach (developing citizen-science data collection with the Teaching Change Program) based at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL or the Institute for Pacific Islands Forestry in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, with funding to travel between locations. Dr. Stephanie Pau's research group in the Department of Geography at Florida State University.
Florida State University

Meet Jane Colden, the 18th century botanist snubbed by Linnaeus
A barrier-breaking scientist with no formal training, she has been repeatedly left out of science history
Massive Science

Scientific Papers


GDSL-domain proteins have key roles in suberin polymerization and degradation
Ursache et al. show that differentiated endodermal cells have a specific, auxin-mediated transcriptional response dominated by cell wall remodelling genes. They identified two sets of auxin-regulated GDSL lipases. One is required for suberin synthesis, while the other can drive suberin degradation. These enzymes have key roles in suberization, driving root suberin plasticity.
Nature Plants

ClearSee: a rapid optical clearing reagent for whole-plant fluorescence imaging
Imaging techniques for visualizing and analyzing precise morphology and gene expression patterns are essential for understanding biological processes during development in all organisms. With the aid of chemical screening, Kurihara et al. developed a clearing method using chemical solutions, termed ClearSee, for deep imaging of morphology and gene expression in plant tissues.

Recovery of logged forest fragments in a human-modified tropical landscape during the 2015-16 El Niño
Nunes et al.use repeat airborne LiDAR surveys spanning the hot and dry 2015-16 El Niño Southern Oscillation event to measure canopy height growth across 3,300 ha of regenerating tropical forests spanning a logging intensity gradient in Malaysian Borneo. They show that the drought led to increased leaf shedding and branch fall.
Nature Communications

REDUX] Root traits as drivers of plant and ecosystem functioning: current understanding, pitfalls and future research needs
Drawing on literature in plant physiology, ecophysiology, ecology, agronomy and soil science, Freschet et al. review 24 aspects of plant and ecosystem functioning and their relationships with a number of traits of root systems, including aspects of architecture, physiology, morphology, anatomy, chemistry, biomechanics and biotic interactions. Based on this assessment, they critically evaluate the current strengths and gaps in our knowledge, and identify future research challenges in the field of root ecology.
New Phytologist

Mutual potentiation of plant immunity by cell-surface and intracellular receptors
Immunity mediated by surface receptors has been extensively studied, but that mediated by intracellular receptors has rarely been investigated in the absence of surface-receptor-mediated immunity. Furthermore, interactions between these two immune pathways are poorly understood. By activating intracellular receptors without inducing surface-receptor-mediated immunity, Ngou et al. analyse interactions between these two distinct immune systems in Arabidopsis.

Pattern-recognition receptors are required for NLR-mediated plant immunity
Yuan et al. show that Arabidopsis PRR and PRR co-receptor mutants—fls2 efr cerk1 and bak1 bkk1 cerk1 triple mutants—are markedly impaired in ETI responses when challenged with incompatible Pseudomonas syrinage bacteria. They further show that the production of reactive oxygen species by the NADPH oxidase RBOHD is a critical early signalling event connecting PRR- and NLR-mediated immunity, and that the receptor-like cytoplasmic kinase BIK1 is necessary for full activation of RBOHD, gene expression and bacterial resistance during ETI.

A Comparative Overview of the Intracellular Guardians of Plants and Animals: NLRs in Innate Immunity and Beyond
Nucleotide-binding domain leucine-rich repeat receptors (NLRs) play important roles in the innate immune systems of both plants and animals. Recent breakthroughs in NLR biochemistry and biophysics have revolutionized our understanding of how NLR proteins function in plant immunity. In this review, Duxbury et al. summarize the latest findings in plant NLR biology and draw direct comparisons to NLRs of animals.
Annual Review of Plant Biology

New methods for confocal imaging of infection threads in crop and model legumes
Rae et al. have developed new methods of imaging infection threads using novel and traditional cell wall fluorescent labels, and laser confocal scanning microscopy. They applied a new Periodic Acid Schiff (PAS) stain using rhodamine-123 to the labelling of whole cleared infected roots of Medicago truncatula; which allowed for imaging of infection threads in greater 3D detail than had previously been achieved.
Plant Methods

A practical guide to selecting models for exploration, inference, and prediction in ecology
Tredinnick et al. argue that there are three distinct goals for statistical modeling in ecology: data exploration, inference, and prediction. Once the modeling goal is clearly articulated, an appropriate model selection procedure is easier to identify. They review model selection approaches and highlight their strengths and weaknesses relative to each of the three modeling goals.

Signatures of antagonistic pleiotropy in a bacterial flagellin epitope
Parys et al. focused on an epitope of flagellin that triggers antibacterial immunity in plants. Flagellin is conserved because it enables motility. The authors decode the immunogenic and motility profiles of this flagellin epitope and determine the spectrum of amino acid mutations that drives antagonistic pleiotropy
Cell Host & Microbe


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