Leaf development is such a fascinating topic, because it reveals the molecular processes the are involved in pattern formation. Interestingly, several genes and small molecules (e.g., auxin) are used repeatedly during the initiation and elaboration of leaves. A pair of papers out in Plant Cell highlights this thrifty genetic strategy. In the first, we see how the development of the ligule in a maize leaf involves the redeployment of several genes that are involved in leaf initiation, a process that occurs much earlier in the developmental pathway.
Transcriptomic Analyses Indicate That Maize Ligule Development Recapitulates Gene Expression Patterns That Occur during Lateral Organ Initiation (www.plantcell.org/…/early/2014/12/16/tpc.114.132688.abstract). In the second, we see the KNOX1 / GA module that is so important in leaf developmental patterning also contributes to the environtmental responsiveness of leaf shape (heterophylly), as found in aquatic plants such as Rorippa aquatica. Regulation of the KNOX-GA Gene Module Induces Heterophyllic Alteration in North American Lake Cress (http://www.plantcell.org/…/20…/12/16/tpc.114.130229.abstract). These studies also reinforce our understanding of process of evolution; why start from scratch when you can just tweak something that aleady works in another context?
"Whereas the downstream signaling cascades and biological consequences have been described, the initial events that underpin photochemistry of the coupled bilin chromophore and the ensuing conformational changes needed to propagate the light signal are only now being understood. Especially informative has been the rapidly expanding collection of 3D models developed by x-ray crystallographic, NMR, and single-particle electron microscopic methods from a remarkably diverse array of bacterial Phys. These structures have revealed how the modular architecture of these dimeric photoreceptors engages the buried chromophore through distinctive knot, hairpin, and helical spine features."
To survive as sedentary organisms built of immobile cells, plants require an effective intercellular communication system, both locally between neighbouring cells within each tissue and systemically across distantly located organs. Such a system enables cells to coordinate their intracellular activities and produce concerted responses to internal and external stimuli. Plasmodesmata, membrane-lined intercellular channels, are essential for direct cell-to-cell communication involving exchange of diffusible factors, including signalling and information molecules. Recent advances corroborate that plasmodesmata are not passive but rather highly dynamic channels, in that their density in the cell walls and gating activities are tightly linked to developmental and physiological processes. Moreover, it is becoming clear that specific hormonal signalling pathways play crucial roles in relaying primary cellular signals to plasmodesmata. In this review, we examine a number of studies in which plasmodesmal structure, occurrence, and/or permeability responses are found to be altered upon given cellular or environmental signals, and discuss common themes illustrating how plasmodesmal regulation is integrated into specific cellular signalling pathways.
From Science - this is a good article to read with students. It's a straightforward use of genomics and biochemistry to map bitter flavor traits, and it reveals something about selection during domestication.
"We show that transient calcium-dependent interactions of PYR/PYL ABA receptors with membranes are mediated through a 10-member family of C2-domain ABA-related (CAR) proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana. Specifically, we found that PYL4 interacted in an ABA-independent manner with CAR1 in both the plasma membrane and nucleus of plant cells. CAR1 belongs to a plant-specific gene family encoding CAR1 to CAR10 proteins, and bimolecular fluorescence complementation and coimmunoprecipitation assays showed that PYL4-CAR1 as well as other PYR/PYL-CAR pairs interacted in plant cells. The crystal structure of CAR4 was solved, which revealed that, in addition to a classical calcium-dependent lipid binding C2 domain, a specific CAR signature is likely responsible for the interaction with PYR/PYL receptors and their recruitment to phospholipid vesicles."
The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) explains how farmers make 4R decisions (i.e., decisions on applying the Right source at the Right rate, Right time, and Right place) to minimize greenhouse gas emissions resulting from their nitrogen fertilizer applications. 4R Nutrient Stewardship promotes the best management practices that help farmers maximize the economic, social, and environmental performance of their nutrient applications.