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The Week in Botany 39

March 18, 2018

I've said before that the people following @botanyone on Twitter have helped me find botanical stories that I wouldn't have otherwise known about, but what happens when it seems everyone is talking about an article? Congratulations, of a sort, go to Science for hitting an altmetric score of 1267 in a few days. The article... looks like it still needs work, if I was to put a positive gloss on it. However, running through the Twitter responses to it, I'm still seeing insights that I would have otherwise missed. If you're interested in Science Communication, the altmetric page is the best place to start. If you're not interested in science communication, then there was still plenty of botany this week to read.

From Botany One

Winter is coming: plant freezing resistance as a key functional trait
Pescador et al. test whether functional structure related to plant freezing resistance is structured according to abiotic and biotic filters.

A life of trees sometimes hidden by lush verdant text
'The Hidden Life of Trees' by Peter Wohlleben reviewed.

Dynamic mechanical tissue in the fern Asplenium rutifolium
The collenchymatous tissue in A. rutifolium petioles structurally resembles sclerenchyma, while in biomechanical performance and glycan composition it shares more characteristics with angiosperm collenchyma.

Brand new 3.7 billion years old stromatolites
One of the most ancient forms of life on the planet might be more common than we thought.

Importance of clonal reproduction in a liana species, Wisteria floribunda
Mori et al. investigate clonal structure in a temperate deciduous liana species, Wisteria floribunda (Fabaceae), in its natural habitat (an old-growth forest) using microsatellite markers.

Tissue- and cell-specific cytokinin activity in poplar under drought
In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Paul et al. localized cytokinin activities in poplar trees, and demonstrated that even mild drought stress strongly suppresses cytokinin activities in the cambium, the “stem cells” of trees, resulting in loss in productivity and reduced wood formation.

Grass florets bet-hedge against unpredictable rainfall in arid landscapes
Lewandrowski et al. investigate the effects of environmental cues such as temperature, water stress and smoke, on seed germination in six dominant Triodia species from the arid zone of Australia.

The National Museum of Natural History in Paris: one of the largest herbaria in the world
Karine Alix introduces a blog post by her students about a visit to the herbarium of the National Museum of Natural History of the Jardin des plantes in Paris.
Also in French

The enigma of sex allocation in Selaginella
The enigmatic variation in sex allocation within and among Selaginella species, and differences from the angiosperms, are interesting aspects of land plant biology in their own right, but will also provide useful empirical models for probing the theory of sex allocation.

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.

News and Views

Flood, drought and disease tolerant – one gene to rule them all
A newly discovered gene in rice confers flood tolerance, drought tolerance and disease resistance. The discovery is a major step forward on the quest to produce climate smart crops.
New Phyt Blog

GMO crops create “halo effect” that benefits organic farmers, says new research
Growing genetically modified insect-resistant corn in the United States has dramatically reduced insecticide use and created a “halo effect” that also benefits farmers raising non-GM and organic crops, new research shows.
Alliance for Science

The Battle of Glen Tilt
A botanical excursion became known as the ‘Battle of Glen Tilt’, making legal history and becoming part of the foundations of the Scottish Rights of Way Society.
Botanics Stories

Why I don't use Instagram for science outreach
The week started with Stephen Hawking dying and his popularisation of his work, as well as the work itself, being applauded. It ended with Science printing an op-ed saying time doing anything that is not science is time wasted. See also The Verge for a report on the Science piece and the various twitter responses.

ABC Presents James A. Duke Botanical Literature Award in Reference and Consumer Book Categories
The American Botanical Council (ABC) has chosen two books to receive its 2017 ABC James A. Duke Excellence in Botanical Literature Awards. The first, Chinese Medicinal Plants, Herbal Drugs and Substitutes: An Identification Guide, is the recipient of the Duke Award in the reference/technical category, and the second, Joseph Banks’ Florilegium: Botanical Treasures from Cook’s First Voyage, was chosen for the consumer/popular category.
Global Newswire

Potato power: Student wins $250,000 prize for blight solution that could save billions
New York student Benjamin "Benjy" Firester has won one of the United States' top young science prizes for his research on the devastating microorganism which caused the Irish Potato Famine, devising a computer model that could prevent it causing billions of dollars in lost crops every year.

Liverwort reproductive organ inspires pipette design
The sex organs of primitive plants are inspiring precise pipettes.
Science News

Five New Fossil Forests Found in Antarctica
Hundreds of millions of years ago, Antarctica was carpeted with prehistoric greenery. Now, scientists may have uncovered clues about what happened in the "Great Dying," or Permian extinction.
National Geographic

Cultivating a new STEM audience: An exercise in communicating science
Nicole Anthony says: "This is BRILLIANT!!! Frontiers for Young Minds is a scientific journal focused on publishing scientific articles rewritten by the original authors for younger readers. #scicomm-ers, get re-writing!"
PLOS Scicomm

On ‘lower impact’ publishing – it’s better than you might think
Simon Leather says: "in some disciplines, e.g. agriculture, entomology, the key journals are all so called lower impact journals but work is high quality and globally important"
Girl Interrupting


This week we reviewed The Hidden Life of Trees. The short version is: if you're someone subscribed to this email list, then it's probably not the kind of book that would appeal to you. It might, however, appeal to your friends - if they wonder why you find plants so fascinating. You can get it for £6.06 and free international shipping (at the time of writing - the price may change if a few people buy the book) from Wordery

Scientific Papers

Thirty clues to the exceptional diversification of flowering plants
Magallon et al. investigate how angiosperms became megadiverse by identifying the phylogenetic and temporal placement of exceptional radiations, by combining the most densely fossil-calibrated molecular clock phylogeny with a Bayesian model that identifies diversification shifts among evolutionary lineages and through time.

The complex architecture of plant transgene insertions
The multiple internally rearranged nature of T-DNA arrays made full assembly impossible, even with long nanopore reads. For the current TAIR10 reference genome, nanopore contigs corrected 83% of non-centromeric misassemblies. This unprecedented nucleotide-level definition of T-DNA insertions enabled the mapping of epigenome data.

Transcriptome landscape of a bacterial pathogen under plant immunity
Nobori et al. established two methods for in planta bacterial transcriptome analysis using RNA sequencing. By analyzing 27 combinations of plant immunity mutants and Pseudomonas syringae strains, we succeeded in the identification of specific bacterial transcriptomic signatures that are influenced by plant immune activation.

Metal Sensing by the IRT1 Transporter-Receptor Orchestrates Its Own Degradation and Plant Metal Nutrition
Dubeaux et al. uncover that IRT1 acts as a transporter and receptor (transceptor), directly sensing excess of its non-iron metal substrates in the cytoplasm, to regulate its own degradation.
Molecular Cell

Dysregulation of expression correlates with rare-allele burden and fitness loss in maize
Kremling et al. report a multi-tissue gene expression resource that represents the genotypic and phenotypic diversity of modern inbred maize, and includes transcriptomes in an average of 255 lines in seven tissues.

Taxonomy based on science is necessary for global conservation
Morgan Jackson says: "Last summer @nature published a comment calling for regulation & oversight of taxonomy because the authors were annoyed by changing names. Today a *very large cohort* of taxonomists, including me, have responded ."
PLOS Biology

Targeted resequencing reveals genomic signatures of barley domestication
Pankin et al. identified candidate domestication genes using selection scans based on targeted resequencing of 433 wild and domesticated barley accessions. They conducted phylogenetic, population structure, and ancestry analyses to investigate the origin of the domesticated barley haplotypes separately at the neutral and candidate domestication loci.
New Phytologist

Tracking vegetation phenology across diverse North American biomes using PhenoCam imagery
Richardson et al. present a series of datasets, together consisting of almost 750 years of observations, characterizing vegetation phenology in diverse ecosystems across North America.
Scientific Data

Diffusible repression of cytokinin signalling produces endodermal symmetry and passage cells
Anderson et al. demonstrate that these passage cells are late emanations of a meristematic patterning process that reads out the underlying non-radial symmetry of the vasculature.

A combinatorial lipid code shapes the electrostatic landscape of plant endomembranes
explore which are the lipids that control membrane electrostatics using plants as a model. We show that phosphatidic acidic (PA), phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate (PI4P) are separately required to generate the electrostatic signature of the plant  plasma membrane.


Next week and onwards

The March issue of Annals of Botany is out, which includes a section on Pollination Success. I'll be looking at the four Editor's Choice papers (all free access) to see what I can blog. Also, if you are at the Japanese Society of Plant Physiology Meeting in Sapporo, then you can find out more about Annals of Botany and AoB PLANTS at the OUP stand there.



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