The Week in Botany

The Week in Botany 22

Our weekly email The Week in Botany continues. Here’s the one we sent out on Monday, November 6, 2017. If you want to get this earlier, you can sign up for it here.

As always, below we have the most popular botanical stories and papers shared by our followers on Twitter @botanyone. If you’d like to get your paper listed below, it might be a good idea to get your friends to help. Or you could contact our editor Anne Osterrieder (@anneosterrieder or

From Botany One

Biogeographic pattern analysis using chloroplast genome SNP mining
Not only is the pool-seq method remarkably accurate in measuring SNP frequencies but it can also reveal new information that biogeographic studies of plant distributions cannot, namely data on the relative amount of effective dispersal across geographic barriers.

Hallowe’en and the Monster Plant
This week, the biggest flower on the planet, also known as the “Queen of all Parasitic Plants”, has come to Oxford – but not in the way you would might expect.

A new angle on enhancing crop yield
For sunflowers a friend is not someone you can lean on – as Nigel Chaffey finds out.

Suppression of Brassica fungal pathogens by Bacillus amyloliquefaciens
Novel forms of potentially antifungal linear fengycins may serve as a basis for the development of more powerful plant protective agents.

Evolution of pollination systems involving edible trichomes in orchids
Edible trichomes have been recorded in several plant families. However, food hairs have not been recorded among the Catasetinae, a subtribe of Orchidaceae.

A transcriptome-based model for colour change in Lotus and emergence of bird pollination
Post-anthesis colour change (PACC) is widespread in the angiosperms. Yet we know little about how this trait operates at the molecular level.

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

Sudden oak death ravaging fir trees in Pacific Northwest
Scientists have recently discovered a deadly plant disease that’s infecting fir trees in the Pacific Northwest. This “European” strain of sudden oak death (Phytophthora ramorum) appeared in southwest Oregon a few years back, and it was known to spread to fir trees in Europe. This disease has killed millions of tanoak trees and several oak tree species (coast live oak, California black oak, Shreve oak and canyon live oak). Total Landscape Care

Pumpkin genomes sequenced revealing uncommon evolutionary history
For some, pumpkins conjure carved Halloween decorations, but for many people around the world, these gourds provide nutrition. Scientists at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) and the National Engineering Research Center for Vegetables in Beijing have sequenced the genomes of two important pumpkin species, Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita moschata.Boyce Thompson Institute

Italian farmer wages lonely battle against a continental tide of superstition
Near the north-eastern Italian town of Pordenone, where the fertile plain stretches between Venice on the Adriatic coast and the foothills of the Alps, one man has been waging a lonely battle against superstition.Cornell Alliance for Science

Many Academics Are Eager to Publish in Worthless Journals
Competition is fierce to get published in leading journals. But what about the overworked professors at less prestigious schools and community colleges, without big grants and state-of-the-art labs? How do they get ahead?NY Times

Small group scoops international effort to sequence huge wheat genome
Just six scientists conquer one of the most complicated genomes ever read.Nature

Plant Collecting and the Lived Experience of Botany: Bill Burtt’s Malaysian Collecting
Brian Lawrence ‘Bill’ Burtt (1913-2008) began his career as a taxonomist at Kew Gardens, before coming to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) in 1951. Throughout the course of his career he was influential in the development of RBGE as an institution, overseeing new research programmes and academic publications.Botanics Stories

Ancient mosses suggest Canada’s Baffin Island is the hottest it’s been in 45,000 years
Hello, sunshine! Ice-entombed mosses on Canada’s Baffin Island are thawing out for the first time in at least 45,000 years, researchers reported last week at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting. The scientists used radiocarbon dating to figure out when the glacially encased mosses were last capable of photosynthesis—and thus, last exposed to sunlight. They found that some plants were so old, they had no radiocarbon left, putting their age between at least 45,000 and 50,000 years, Science News reports.Science

On the Farm, Investors Get Their Hands Dirty
Jesse Fink was a co-founder and chief operating officer of the internet travel site Priceline when it went public in 1999. The offering made him instantly wealthy, and he retired almost immediately. He and his wife, Betsy, who had met in forestry school, took their bonanza and began investing not in other high-flying tech companies but in the earth: first a vineyard on Long Island, then a peach orchard in Colorado and eventually land in Wilton, Conn., that became Millstone Farm.NY Times

Forest Animals Are Living on the Edge
A new global study reveals the consequences of fragmenting the world’s woodlands.The Atlantic

Plant colours are not all about pigments
Kew Scientist Paula Rudall reflects on a long-term Cambridge-Kew collaboration on why structural colour in plants is so important in the natural world, including helping birds and bees to find food and pollinate flowers.Kew Science

Meet Dr. Maribeth Latvis, a botanist studying patterns of plant biodiversity!
Maribeth obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 2005. She worked as a research assistant at Oregon State University and as a lab manager at Harvard University, before returning to graduate school at the University of Florida, where she earned her Ph.D. in Biology in 2013. Since then, she has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Idaho, and will begin a tenure-track faculty position at South Dakota State University in 2017.The Female Scientist

German police find ‘WW2 bomb’ was big courgette
A German man feared a monster courgette he found in his garden was an unexploded World War Two bomb and called the police.BBC

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

Pavement cells and the topology puzzle
Leaf epidermal pavement cells grow into jigsaw-piece shapes, highly deviating from such classical forms. We investigate the topology of developing Arabidopsis leaves composed solely of pavement cells. Development

Effectors involved in fungal–fungal interaction lead to a rare phenomenon of hyperbiotrophy in the tritrophic system biocontrol agent–powdery mildew–plant
Our study has uncovered a complex and intricate phenomenon, described here as hyperbiotrophy, only achievable through the conjugated action of the three protagonists.
New Phytologist

Widespread sampling biases in herbaria revealed from large-scale digitization
Studies using herbarium collections should account for sampling biases, and future collecting efforts should avoid compounding these biases to the extent possible. New Phytologist

Quantitative proteomic analysis of auxin signaling during seedling development
These data describe novel auxin-regulated proteomes and are an excellent resource for identifying new downstream signaling components related to auxin-mediated plant growth and development. bioRxiv

A communal catalogue reveals Earth’s multiscale microbial diversity
Coordinated protocols and new analytical methods, particularly the use of exact sequences instead of clustered operational taxonomic units, enable bacterial and archaeal ribosomal RNA gene sequences to be followed across multiple studies and allow us to explore patterns of diversity at an unprecedented scale. The result is both a reference database giving global context to DNA sequence data and a framework for incorporating data from future studies, fostering increasingly complete characterization of Earth’s microbial diversity. Nature

Evolutionary dynamics of mycorrhizal symbiosis in land plant diversification
It has long been hypothesized that the Glomeromycotina, the mycorrhizal symbionts of the majority of plants, facilitated colonization of land by plants in the Ordovician. This view was recently challenged by the discovery of mycorrhizal associations with Mucoromycotina in several early diverging lineages of land plants. Utilizing a large, species-level database of plants’ mycorrhizal associations and a Bayesian approach to state transition dynamics we here show that the recruitment of Mucoromycotina is the best supported transition from a non-mycorrhizal state. bioRxiv

Genome diversity of tuber-bearing Solanum uncovers complex evolutionary history and targets of domestication in the cultivated potato
Analysis of cultivated potato and its wild relatives using modern genomics approaches can provide insight into the genomic diversity of extant germplasm, reveal historic introgressions and hybridization events, and identify genes targeted during domestication that control variance for agricultural traits, all critical information to address food security in 21st century agriculture. PNAS

Wild emmer genome architecture and diversity elucidate wheat evolution and domestication
Avni et al. used the Hi-C method of genome confirmation capture to assemble and annotate the wild allotetraploid wheat (Triticum turgidum). They then identified the putative causal mutations in genes controlling shattering (a key domestication trait among cereal crops). Science

A Plant-Feeding Nematode Indirectly Increases the Fitness of an Aphid
Our data suggests a positive, asymmetric interaction between a sedentary endoparasitic nematode and a sap-sucking insect. The systemic response of the potato plant following infection with G. pallida indirectly influences the performance of M. persicae. This work reveals additional secondary benefits of controlling individual crop pests. Frontiers in Plant Science

High-frequency recombination between members of an LTR retrotransposon family during transposition bursts
Here, we provide evidence in Arabidopsis that old members enter into replication/transposition cycles through high rates of intra-family recombination. The recombination occurs pairwise, resembling the formation of recombinant retroviruses. Thus, each transposition burst generates a novel progeny population of chromosomally integrated LTR retrotransposons consisting of pairwise recombination products produced in a process comparable the sexual exchange of genetic information. Nature Communications

Revisiting criteria for plant miRNA annotation in the era of big data
Conceptual and computational advances have facilitated increasingly rigorous classification of these RNAs, using our improved understanding of their biogenesis. However, the sheer number of endogenous siRNAs compared to miRNAs has been a major factor in the erroneously annotation of siRNAs as miRNAs. Historical inaccuracies in both miRNA annotations and definitions should be recognized and updated, and improved annotation systems for all classes of plant small RNAs are needed. We therefore offer updated criteria for plant miRNA annotations that are suitable for the era of ‘big data’ in biology. bioRxiv

Chromatin accessibility changes between Arabidopsis stem cells and mesophyll cells illuminate cell type-specific transcription factor networks
Brief description goes herebioRxiv

And that brings the email to a close this week. The weather’s turned here so I’ll be off to get a warm tea and maybe some toast. I hope wherever you are it’s warmer. Take care till next week.

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