The Week in Botany

The Week in Botany 15

A round-up of the news that caught Twitter's attention. Sign up to the email to get it earlier.

The Week in Botany newsletter continues. This is the mail we sent on Monday morning. If you’d like to get this earlier then you can sign up at the email page.

From my side the switch to Botany One has not been as stressful as it could have been. If you see any problems, you can let me know at and I’ll do what I can. This week the selection of links is things we’ve seen are popular on Twitter. While we shift to a new social media system we’re not in a good position to retweet them. It’s a pity as there’s quite a diverse range of stories shared below.

From Botany One

AoBBlog and Botany One
The post explaining to people how AoBBlog has changed to Botany One. If you subscribed to the email newsletter then you got the news first.

iNaturalist: An App to Ease Plant Blindness
Ian Street finds your phone is getting ever more powerful, with a species recognition app.

Annals of Botany Company member steps-down after 37 years
David Cutler, a former Chief Editor of the Annals of Botany, is retiring from the Company.

The roots of hydrotropism
Nigel Chaffey discovers roots don’t grow down, but towards water. That’s not quite the same thing.

Shade tolerance, fruiting phenology and Janzen-Connell effects in Amazonian palms
Differences in shade-tolerance and fruiting phenology life history traits may explain variation in the strength of Janzen-Connell effects across whole communities.

Effect of asymmetric warming on plant invasion
In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Chen et al. tested the impacts of unequal night-and-day warming on seed germination and seedling growth of invasive and native plants. Most warming treatments facilitated seed germination in natives but not in invasives

Responses of lichen communities to 18 years of natural and experimental warming
Species richness and effective number of species decreased under experimental warming in meadow environments.

How does a tree hide? Incadendron was concealed in the Andes forest
Hidden in plain sight – that’s how researchers describe their discovery of a new genus of large forest tree commonly found, yet previously scientifically unknown, in the tropical Andes.

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 Links

How Do Palms Survive Hurricanes?
Matt Candeias on how Palm trees have adapted to tackle incoming storms. In Defense of Plants

Seasion of Smoke
Naomi Klein says: In a Summer of Wildfires and Hurricanes, My Son Asks “Why Is Everything Going Wrong?” Includes some stunning photos. The Intercept

A Man Got Cyanide Poisoning From Taking Apricot Kernel Extract to Prevent Cancer
A reminder that ‘natural’ is not a synonym for ‘safe’. Science Alert

Hidden hunger: How anti-GMO activists are blocking humanitarian biofortification in Africa and Asia
It’s called ‘hidden hunger.’ Many crops grown in the developing world are deficient in nutritional qualities–which makes biofortification critical if we hope to improve food security. The Genetic Literacy Project

Why are there so many berries this year?
Berries are appearing on plants and hedgerows early this year because of the unusual weather patterns. BBC

Why John Deere Just Spent $305 Million on a Lettuce-farming Robot
Tractor giant John Deere just spent $305 million to acquire a startup that makes robots capable of identifying unwanted plants, and shooting them with deadly, high-precision squirts of herbicide. Wired

Simplot’s Innate GMO bruise-resistant potatoes approved for sale in Japan
Simplot Plant Sciences has obtained approval for its Innate brand of genetically modified potatoes in a few key foreign markets, including Japan, and has several other applications for foreign-market access pending. The Genetic Literacy Project

This Peruvian Farmer Grows Over 400 Varieties of Potatoes
A video about a surprising number of potatoes, conserved by Julio Hancco Mamani in the Andes. Great Big Story

Tomato Bacterial Diseases
Twitter is getting interested in a potential solution to Bacterial Leaf Spot. 2Blades Foundation

How we’re creating ‘super plants’ to help humanity
From fire-proof forests to famine-stopping ‘bananas on steroids’, scientists are juicing up nature’s bounty to solve the 21st Century’s problems. BBC

Chocolate industry drives rainforest disaster in Ivory Coast
As global demand for chocolate booms, ‘dirty’ beans from deforested national parks have entered big business supply chains. The Guardian

The great nutrient collapse
The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. And almost nobody is paying attention. Politico

Orchid gives up the secrets of its success
The orchid is known for its beauty and once changed hands for vast sums. Now, scientists are gaining an insight into how the plant prized for its beauty colonised almost every habitat on Earth. BBC

Can American soil be brought back to life?
A new idea: If we revive the tiny creatures that make dirt healthy, we can bring back the great American topsoil. But farming culture — and government — aren’t making it easy. Politico Also in The Irish Times.

Coffee vs. climate change: The news is not good
A new analysis suggests that climate change on its own could cause coffee producing areas in the Americas to drop production by roughly 80 percent. But the remaining productivity might drop even further unless we ensure the crops have access to pollinators. Ars Technica

In Natural Networks, Strength in Loops
In the complex architecture that ferries fluids in plants and brains, scientists are finding a model of resilience. Quanta Magazine

Plants can grow their own glow-in-the-dark cotton, no genetic engineering required
You may have heard about smartphones and smart homes. But scientists are also designing smart clothes, textiles that can harvest energy, light up, detect pollution, and even communicate with the internet. The problem? Even when they work, these often chemically treated fabrics wear out rapidly over time. Now, researchers have figured out a way to “grow” some of these functions directly into cotton fibers. If the work holds, it could lead to stronger, lighter, and brighter textiles that don’t wear out. Science

How To Be a *Plant (*Photosynthetic, Multicellular, Terrestrial)
In this lecture we focus on three monumental events in the evolutionary history of plants: the acquisition of the chloroplast, the transition to a multicellular body form, and the transition to life on dry land. Plant Cell

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

Cell growth and homeostasis are disrupted in arabidopsis rns2-2 mutants missing the main vacuolar RNase activity
Lack of rRNA recycling in rns2-2 cells triggers a change in carbon flux, which is redirected through the PPP to produce ribose-5-phosphate for de novo nucleoside synthesis. rRNA or ribosome turnover is thus essential for cellular homeostasis, probably through maintenance of nucleoside levels as part of the salvage pathway. Annals of Botany

A geographic cline in the ability to self-fertilize is unrelated to the pollination environment
The reproductive assurance (RA) hypothesis predicts that the ability to autonomously self-fertilize (hereafter, autonomy) in plants should be favored in environments where a lack of mates or pollinators limits outcross reproduction. Because such limits to outcrossing are predicted to be most severe at range edges, elevated autonomy in peripheral populations is often attributed to RA. We test this hypothesis in 24 populations spanning the range of Campanula americana, including range interior and populations at three geographic range edges. Ecology

The Evolution of Diverse Floral Morphologies
In this review, we explore the evolution of floral diversity, focusing on our recent understanding of the mechanistic basis of evolutionary change. We discuss the various ways in which flower size and floral organ size can be modified, the means by which flower shape and symmetry can change, and the ways in which floral organ position can be varied. We conclude that many challenges remain before we fully understand the ecological and molecular processes that facilitate the diversification of flower structure. Current Biology

Ratiometric Matryoshka biosensors from a nested cassette of green- and orange-emitting fluorescent proteins 
Here, we describe a generalizable platform to create dual-fluorescent protein biosensors with large dynamic ranges by employing a single fluorescent protein-cassette, named GO-(Green-Orange) Matryoshka. Nature Communications

Trick or treat: Microbial pathogens evolved apoplastic effectors modulating plant susceptibility to infection
In this review, we summarize the current advances on the understanding of apoplastic effectors and highlight the strategies employed by pathogens to counter plant apoplastic defense. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions

The relationship between nectaries and floral architecture: a case study in Geraniaceae and Hypseocharitaceae
Despite the superficial similarity of the flowers in Geraniaceae and Hypseocharitaceae, there is broad diversity in floral organization and floral architecture. While the receptacular origin of the spur-like cavity in Pelargonium had already been described, anthophore formation via intercalary growth of the receptacle in the other genera had not been previously documented. In the context of the most recent phylogenies of the families, an evolutionary series for the floral architecture is proposed, underscoring the importance of synorganization in these seemingly simple flowers. Annals of Botany

Phytophthora palmivora establishes tissue-specific intracellular infection structures in the earliest divergent land plant lineage
Here, we demonstrate that the broad host-range oomycete pathogen Phytophthora palmivora colonizes liverworts, the earliest divergent land plant lineage. We show that P. palmivora establishes a complex tissue-specific interaction with Marchantia polymorpha, where it completes a full infection cycle within air chambers of the dorsal photosynthetic layer. bioRxiv

Minor allele frequency thresholds strongly affect population structure inference with genomic datasets
Here, we assess the influence of minor allele frequency (MAF) thresholds implemented during variant detection on inference of population structure. bioRxiv

Extensive transcriptomic and epigenomic remodelling occurs during Arabidopsis thaliana germination
This study reveals the complex dynamics and interactions of the transcriptome and epigenome during seed germination, including the extensive remodelling of the seed DNA methylome from an embryo-like to vegetative-like state during the seed-to-seedling transition. Genome Biology

Disparity, diversity, and duplications in the Caryophyllales
While we find that many diversification shifts occur after whole genome duplications, it is difficult to consider diversification and duplication to be tightly correlated. Our findings suggest that duplications may often occur along with shifts in either diversification rate, climatic occupancy, or rate of evolution. New Phytologist

Intra-Family Protein Interactions Contribute to DNA Localization
Floral organ formation requires the expression of thousands of genes in specific spatial and temporal patterns. Several transcription factors bearing a MADS DNA-binding domain specify the identity of floral organs, as summarized in the ABCE model of flower development (Goto et al., 2001), and recent genome-wide analyses have provided detailed insights into how they regulate gene expression to orchestrate floral organ formation. Despite these efforts, it remains unclear precisely how these transcription factors select their regulatory targets Plant Cell

Ecological correlates and genetic consequences of evolutionary transitions from distyly to homostyly
Homostyles set significantly more fruit and seeds following open pollination than the distylous morphs. Visitation by long-tongued pollinators was significantly lower in homostylous populations, and overall rates of insect visitation decreased with elevation. Genetic diversity was significantly lower in homostylous populations, with evidence of increased inbreeding at higher elevation. Annals of Botany

That closes the email for this week. Next week’s email may be delayed or even missing. We’re working with the WATBIO conference next week, which will be in part over the weekend. That rules out catching up with the email over the weekend or Monday morning. If it is missing, it should be back October 2, along with a moan that it’s already October.

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