The Week in Botany

The Week in Botany 8

This is the email we sent on on Monday. If you'd like to sign up to receive the next one we send, then visit our email page.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Have you tried unsubscribing? The reason I ask is I’ve had two unsubscribe notices sent to me. My own copy of the email was shared at the International Botanical Congress and I think clicked the unsubscribe link to see what happens. If I’m wrong and you have tried unsubscribing without success email me at and I’ll manually unsubscribe you. I’ve no interest in annoying people with emails. Though I’m hoping you’re finding this annoying as there’s some fascinating stiff even without the International Botanical Congress.

From AoBBlog

Spontaneous hybridization in wild roses
A propensity to form polyploid hybrids is a peculiar feature of roses. Herklotz and Ritz investigate the population genetics of forty five mixed stands of dog roses across Central and South-Eastern Europe using microsatellite markers and flow cytometry.

The Biodiversity Hidden Beneath Alder
Some Alnus trees retreated to Colchis in the last Ice Age before expanding their range in the warming climate. Did their symbiotic partners do the same?

7000 botanists together at the 6-yearly Congress
Seven thousand botanists have never come together in one place before. But we are all meeting at the International Botanical Congress in Shenzhen, #IBC2017, this week, in a stunning display of not only the diversity of plants but the diversity of researchers and research. With 27 (yes, twenty-seven) parallel sessions most of the time, each of us will bring something very different back from the conference.

Single peat moss individuals include most of the allelic diversity in Sphagnum
Using ancestrally indicative SSR markers, Karlin and Smouse explore allelic diversity in Sphagnum peat moss, an allopolyploid with component genomes from three different ancestral species.

Genetic structure of Tamarix taklamakanensis
In a new study published in AoB PLANTS Xiao et al. assessed the genetic diversity and structure of 15 T. taklamakanensis populations in the Tarim Basin, China.

Snails living the high life
Nigel Chaffey finds a seasonal epiphyte with a head for heights.

International Botanical Congress #IBC2017 and the big picture from Shenzhen
Sometimes confusing & contradictory, but also energetic & innovative. Pat Heslop-Harrison looks for the key themes from the International Botanical Congress.

Ecological range shift and polyploidy in Fosterella
Distribution of polyploidy along a relatively steep Andean elevation gradient is studied using the genus Fosterella (Bromeliaceae) as a model system. Paule et al. observed an ecological differentiation of cytotypes with polyploids preferentially occupying colder habitats with high annual temperature variability (seasonality).

From IBC 2017 at Shenzhen

I was worried the Great Firewall would make IBC 2017 very quiet on Twitter. Luckily I was very wrong. We’ve curated the tweets by session as best we can. Here are the daily posts.

Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday / Saturday

Developing Sustainable Bioenergy Crops for Future Climates 24-27th September 2017

You are welcome to join us at Bioenergy 2017. This meeting will bring together researchers, breeders, growers and policy makers who are concerned with the development of new bioenergy crops for future climates.

News and Links

A Botanist in Swedish Lapland
The plan was to retrace part of a journey that Carl Linnaeus made in 1732 when he was 25, from Uppsala, just north of Stockholm, to the northernmost region of Sweden, known as Swedish Lapland. Linnaeus kept a detailed journal of his travels, often called his “Lapland Journal,” with maps of the mountains, rivers and lakes, drawings and his squiggly handwriting. New York Times

Using Metabolism to Improve Maize Breeding
Cañas et al. study the relationships between maize leaf metabolism and grain yield to identify putative markers for breeding Plantae

An ‘anti-CRISPR’ tool cleans up gene edits
Adding protein to human cells makes CRISPR–Cas9 more specific. Nature

Botanics will open at night to let people smell ‘corpse flower
The giant Amorphophallus titanum (titan arum) is known as the “corpse flower” because of the reek of rotting flesh it emits in full bloom. The exotic plant is due to burst in to flower within days, for only the second time in Scotland. The Scotsman

Rice, papaya, oranges — 3 GMO versions of conventional crops tweaked for humanity’s benefit
Let’s look at three examples of GM crops that were not created to increase corporate profit, but for the benefit of humanity. The Genetic Literacy Project

Announcing a new cross disciplinary Open Access journal from the New Phytologist Trust
How can plant science solve the global challenges of the 21st century? Plants, People, Planet, a new journal to be launched at the International Botanical Congress (IBC), Shenzhen, China will seek to answer this question. Wiley

Forest Soundscapes Hold the Key for Biodiversity Monitoring
Morning in Musiamunat village. Across the river and up a steep mountainside, birds-of-paradise call raucously through the rainforest canopy, adding their calls to the nearly deafening insect chorus. Less than a kilometer away, small birds flit through a grove of banana trees, taro and pumpkin vines winding across the rough clearing. Here too, the cicadas howl. Cool Green Science

Alien species invasions and global warming a ‘deadly duo’, warn scientists
Foreign animals and plants can cause huge damage, with the march of Argentine ants in the UK a new example of how climate change is boosting the threat. The Guardian

CRISPR: A new toolbox for better crops
Plant scientists are using the gene editing method to make higher-quality, more sustainable agriculture products, but consumer acceptance is not guaranteed. Chemical and Engineering News

Restoring Estonian alvar grasslands to save unique species
A huge project to return one of Europe’s most biodiverse habitats to its former glory is already seeing success. Julianna Photopoulos reports from the site. New Scientist

10 mega myths about farming to remember on your next grocery run
Most of us don’t spend our days plowing fields or wrangling cattle. We’re part of the 99 percent of Americans who eat food, but don’t produce it. Because of our intimate relationship with food, and because it’s so crucial to our health and the environment, people should be very concerned about how it’s produced. But we don’t always get it right. Next time you’re at the grocery store, consider these 10 modern myths about the most ancient occupation. Washington Post

Inside The Global Seed Vault, Where The History And Future Of Agriculture Is Stored
Seeds on Ice author Cary Fowler describes the underground tunnel near the North Pole, which stores and protects a collection of 933,000 samples of different, unique crop varieties. NPR

It will be much harder to call new findings ‘significant’ if this team gets its way
A megateam of reproducibility-minded scientists is renewing a controversial proposal to raise the standard for statistical significance in research studies. They want researchers to dump the long-standing use of a probability value (p-value) of less than 0.05 as the gold standard for significant results, and replace it with the much stiffer p-value threshold of 0.005. Science

Stop neglecting fungi
Fungal pathogens are virtually ignored by the press, the public and funding bodies, despite posing a significant threat to public health, food biosecurity and biodiversity. Nature Microbiology

Hierarchy of Hypotheses as an organizing tool for research. Report on a workshop
Journal of Ecology Executive Editor David Gibson, Associate Editor Lorena Gómez-Aparicio, and Methods in Ecology and Evolution Senior Editor Bob O’Hara recently attended a workshop “The hierarchy-of-hypotheses approach: Exploring its potential for structuring and analyzing theory, research and evidence across disciplines” August 19-21, in Hannover, Germany. Journal of Ecology Blog

Why is no-one sciencing urban road verges?
Those people who work high up in the hotel chain business will know that a refurbishment of a hotel is important not just for what it looks like but also for how long it takes to clean. Ongoing maintenance costs are frequently what makes or breaks a business… We should apply these same principles to the public land that local councils manage in our urban and sub-urban areas. The Intermingled Pot

Scientists genetically engineer the world’s first blue chrysanthemum
True blue flowers are a rarity in nature—they occur only in select species like morning glories and delphiniums. Now, researchers have created a genuinely blue chrysanthemum by adding two genes to the normally pink or reddish flower. Science

Plant scientists plan massive effort to sequence 10,000 genomes
Hopes of sequencing the DNA of every living thing on Earth are taking a step forward with the announcement of plans to sequence at least 10,000 genomes representing every major clade of plants and eukaryotic microbes. Chinese sequencing giant BGI and the China National GeneBank (CNGB) held a workshop yesterday on the sidelines of the International Botanical Congress, being held this week in BGI’s hometown of Shenzhen, to discuss what they are calling the 10KP plan. Science

We know how to reduce deforestation – so where’s the money?
Paying people not to cut down trees works, evidence shows – so can we really afford not to do so? The Guardian

It’s Not Your Imagination. Summers Are Getting Hotter.
Extraordinarily hot summers — the kind that were virtually unheard-of in the 1950s — have become commonplace. New York Times

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.

Scientific Papers

Flower-level developmental plasticity to nutrient availability in Datura stramonium: implications for the mating system
Since environmental and developmental factors can produce changes in traits related to the mating system, this study used the second approach to investigate whether within-individual variation in herkogamy-related traits is affected by the environment during plant development in two populations of Datura stramonium, an annual herb with a hypothesized persistent mixed mating system, and to determine which morphological traits may promote self-fertilization. Annals of Botany

Multinucleotide mutations cause false inferences of positive selection
We evaluated whether phylogenetic tests of adaptive evolution, such as the widely used branch-site test, might misinterpret sequence patterns produced by multinucleotide mutations as false support for positive selection. We explored two genome-wide datasets comprising thousands of coding alignments — one from mammals and one from flies — and found that codons with multiple differences (CMDs) account for virtually all the support for positive selection inferred by the branch-site test. bioRxiv

Gene flow between divergent cereal- and grass-specific lineages of the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae
Here, we use whole-genome sequence information for 76 M. oryzae isolates sampled from 12 grass and cereal genera to infer the population structure of M. oryzae, and to reassess the species status of wheat-infecting populations of the fungus. bioRxiv

Systemic transport of trans-zeatin and its precursorhave differing roles in Arabidopsis shoots
Previous studies have proposed that trans-zeatin-riboside, atype of cytokinin precursor, is a major long-distance signallingform in xylem vessels and its action depends on metabolicconversion via the LONELY GUY enzyme in proximity to thesite of action. Here we report an additional long-distancesignalling form of cytokinin: trans-zeatin, an active form. Nature Plants

Habitat type and dispersal mode underlie the capacity for plant migration across an intermittent seaway
Investigating species distributions across geographic barriers is a commonly utilized method in biogeography to help understand the functional traits that allow plants to disperse successfully. Here the biogeographic pattern analysis approach is extended by using chloroplast DNA whole-genome ‘mining’ to examine the functional traits that have impacted the dispersal of widespread temperate forest species across an intermittent seaway, the 200 km wide Bass Strait of south-eastern Australia. Annals of Botany

The reduction in maize leaf growth under mild drought affects the transition between cell division and cell expansion and cannot be restored by elevated gibberellic acid levels
Growth is characterized by the interplay between cell division and cell expansion, two processes that occur separated along the growth zone at the maize leaf. To gain further insight into the transition between cell division and cell expansion, conditions were investigated in which the position of this transition zone was positively or negatively affected. Plant Biotechnology Journal

Mechanism of host substrate acetylation by a YopJ family effector
Here, we report the crystal structures of PopP2, a YopJ effector produced by the plant pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum, in complex with inositol hexaphosphate (InsP6), acetyl-coenzyme A (AcCoA) and/or substrate Resistance to Ralstonia solanacearum 1 (RRS1-R)WRKY. PopP2 recognizes the WRKYGQK motif of RRS1-RWRKY to position a targeted lysine in the active site for acetylation. Nature Plants

Lateral root formation and the multiple roles of auxin
In this review, we summarize recent advances in our understanding of four aspects of LR formation: (i) LR positioning, which determines the spatial distribution of lateral root primordia (LRP) and LRs along primary roots; (ii) LR initiation, encompassing the activation of nuclear migration in specified lateral root founder cells (LRFCs) up to the first asymmetric cell division; (iii) LR outgrowth, the ‘primordium-intrinsic’ patterning of de novo organ tissues and a meristem; and (iv) LR emergence, an interaction between LRP and overlaying tissues to allow passage through cell layers. JXB

Stem parasitic plant Cuscuta australis (dodder) transfers herbivory-induced signals among plants
Here we show that herbivore attack on one of the Cuscuta bridge-connected plants induces gene expression and increases the activity of trypsin proteinase inhibitors, and thus elevates the resistance to insects in other undamaged but Cuscuta-connected plants. PNAS

Trade-offs between seed and leaf size (seed–phytomer–leaf theory): functional glue linking regenerative with life history strategies … and taxonomy with ecology?
While the ‘worldwide leaf economics spectrum’ (Wright IJ, Reich PB, Westoby M, et al. 2004. The worldwide leaf economics spectrum. Nature428: 821–827) defines mineral nutrient relationships in plants, no unifying functional consensus links size attributes. Here, the focus is upon leaf size, a much-studied plant trait that scales positively with habitat quality and components of plant size. The objective is to show that this wide range of relationships is explicable in terms of a seed–phytomer–leaf (SPL) theoretical model defining leaf size in terms of trade-offs involving the size, growth rate and number of the building blocks (phytomers) of which the young shoot is constructed. Annals of Botany

It has been a busy week, which might explain why the email is a bit light on papers this week. However, if you want to see some cutting-edge science, the IBC has something you should see. There’s an app that you can download – if you can scan the QR code. The reason you’d want to do this is that you can use the app to view electronic copies of the posters presented at the conference. I’m hoping it will stay live for a while, as there’s a few there I’d like to read properly and see if the authors want to write blog posts. Though next week I hope we’ll have a few more papers for you.

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