The next Teaching Tool looks at how plants interact with each other, from molecules to ecosystems. For example, roots interact differently with "strangers" than "kin" or "self", as described further here in this new paper from the Benfey lab (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/01/24/1222821110.abstract).
We all know that shoots grow taller to compete for light, or do they? Some shade tolerant plants don't try to compete with their much taller neighbors, instead they adapt to life in the dim lane. You can read more about that in this new TIPS article from the Pierik goup (http://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/abstract/S1360-1385%2812%2900215-4), and more about how plants detect and respond to their neighbors in their recent article in Functional Ecology (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2435.12010/abstract).
Although plant-to-plant interactions have been studied by ecologists for decades, we're only recently learning about these interactions at the molecular scale. As our Teaching Tool describes, the applications of this knowledge range from forestry management to mitigating the challenges of invasive species, and the design of better agroecosystems. Look for it in March.