"A growing body of evidence suggests that alterations in transcriptional regulation of genes involved in modulating development are an important part of phenotypic evolution, and this can be documented among species and within populations. While the effects of differential transcriptional regulation in organismal development have been preferentially studied in animal systems, this phenomenon has also been addressed in plants. In this review, we summarize evidence for cis-regulatory mutations, trans-regulatory changes and epigenetic modifications as molecular events underlying important phenotypic alterations, and thus shaping the evolution of plant development."
Mary Williams's insight:
This would be a great review article to read with a genetics class
"We communicate the rather remarkable observation that among 291 tested accessions of cultivated sweet potato, all contain one or more transfer DNA (T-DNA) sequences. These sequences, which are shown to be expressed in a cultivated sweet potato clone (“Huachano”) that was analyzed in detail, suggest that an Agrobacterium infection occurred in evolutionary times. One of the T-DNAs is apparently present in all cultivated sweet potato clones, but not in the crop’s closely related wild relatives, suggesting the T-DNA provided a trait or traits that were selected for during domestication. This finding draws attention to the importance of plant–microbe interactions, and given that this crop has been eaten for millennia, it may change the paradigm governing the “unnatural” status of transgenic crops. "
Mary Williams's insight:
Someone on facebook asked if this could be a consequence of contamination from pollen of GM crops. Here's my answer.
"No - there are two things that tell us that this has nothing to do with contamination from modern GMOs. First and most importantly, the Agrobacterium T-DNA genes found in sweet potato are not present in genetically-engineered crops. Instead, they are the native bacterial genes found in wild Agrobacterium T-DNA, which are removed when this organism is used for gene transfer protocols. Second, this cluster of genes is conserved in several hundred cultivated varieties, indicating that it was introduced into the sweet potato genome long ago (thousands of years?), long before biotechnology was invented."
Both the frequency of sesquiterpene-emitting individuals and the defense capacity of individual plants determine the consequences of sesquiterpene volatile emission for individuals and their neighbors in populations of the wild tobacco Nicotiana attenuata.
Many studies of plant nitrogen relations assess only the total amount of the element available from the soil and the total amount of the element within the plant. Nitrogen, however, is a constituent of diverse compounds that participate in some of the most energy-intensive reactions in the biosphere. The following characterizes some of these reactions, especially those that involve ammonium and nitrate, and highlights the importance of distinguishing both among the nitrogen sources available to plants and among the nitrogen forms within plants when considering plant responses to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
The figure shows that because elevated CO2 lowers photorespiration in C3 plants, less NADH is available to reduce NO3, hence growth rate slows in plants that depend on NO3. It's particularly interesting that the three CO2 values represent 50 years ago (subambient), today (ambient), and elevated (50 years from now). That's a lot of change for a 100 year period...
Nice combination of QTL mapping and gene expression analysis to identify new genes involved in drought response. From this approach, the authors "produced ranked lists of candidate genes for several drought-associated traits, including water use efficiency, growth, abscisic acid concentration (ABA), and proline concentration."
"KIT-10334: Botanicalls Kits let plants reach out for human help! They offer a connection to your leafy pal via online Twitter status updates to your mobile phone."
Mary Williams's insight:
I just discovered SparkFun and I love it! It's a super program focused on enabling kids to make things with electronics. They have a wide variety of projects including some sparkly, blingy fun ones to broaden appeal beyond your stereotypical maker types.
Follow this link for a PDF listing the 2015 ASPB awardees http://t.co/GT5u7N7uVx Congratulations to all! Innovation Prize for Agricultural Technology: Sherri Brown, David Fischhoff, Mike Koziel, Fred Perlak Charles Albert Shull Award: Cyril Zipfel Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award: Wendy F. Boss Dennis R. Hoagland Award: Maria Harrison Early Career Award: Daniel Chitwood Eric E. Conn Young Investigator Award: Joe Louis Excellence in Education Award: Stanley Roux Fellow of ASPB: Caren Chang and Keiko Torii Martin Gibbs Medal: Craig Pikaard Stephen Hales Prize: Bob Goldberg Corresponding Membership Nominees: Renate Scheibe, Kazuo Shinozaki
Establishment of Anthoceros agrestis as a model species for studying the biology of hornworts
Mary Williams's insight:
"Methods and resources have been developed to enable A. agrestis to be used as a model species for developmental, molecular, genomic, and genetic studies. This advance provides an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the biology of hornworts"
They're looking for 700 words on "The science that will transform our future" - it seems like a perfect topic for plant scientists!
"There are no geographical restrictions on entrants but those wishing to take up the opportunity for work experience at BBC Focus and/or science writing classes must provide their own transport and accommodation for their visit to the BBC Focus offices in central Bristol and/or UWE's Frenchay Campus."
I've been assembling some of the early papers that demonstrated the roles for micronutrients in plant growth and have enjoyed reading about Anna Sommer, one of the major contributors during what has been described as "the trace nutrient gold rush." Sommer is credited with being the first to experimentally demonstrate the essential nature of zinc, copper, and boron.
She received her PhD in Plant Nutrition and Chemistry in 1924, studying with C.P. Lipman. Together they wrote an influential paper that was published in Plant Physiology (Volume 1) in 1926, "Evidence on the indispensable nature of zinc and boron for higher green plants" (http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/1/3/231.full.pdf+html). The following year she published a solo article in Science "The search for elements essential in only small amounts for plant growth" (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/66/1716/482.full.pdf). From 1929 - 1949 she was a tenured scientist at the University of Minnesota.
Plant secondary metabolites carry out numerous functions in interactions between plants and a broad range of other organisms. Experimental evidence strongly supports the indispensable contribution of many constitutive and pathogen-inducible phytochemicals to plant innate immunity. Extensive studies on model plant species, particularly Arabidopsis thaliana, have brought significant advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underpinning pathogen-triggered biosynthesis and activation of defensive secondary metabolites. However, despite the proven significance of secondary metabolites in plant response to pathogenic microorganisms, little is known about the precise mechanisms underlying their contribution to plant immunity. This insufficiency concerns information on the dynamics of cellular and subcellular localization of defensive phytochemicals during the encounters with microbial pathogens and precise knowledge on their mode of action. As many secondary metabolites are characterized by their in vitro antimicrobial activity, these compounds were commonly considered to function in plant defense as in planta antibiotics. Strikingly, recent experimental evidence suggests that at least some of these compounds alternatively may be involved in controlling several immune responses that are evolutionarily conserved in the plant kingdom, including callose deposition and programmed cell death.
The journal Plant Methods is a treasure trove of interesting articles for teaching http://www.plantmethods.com/content - Have students select a paper & discuss the problem & how the new method addresses it. The journal covers a wide-range of methods including large and small scale measurements of chlorophyll fluorescence, lots of approaches to plant cell and organ imaging, measurements of water content and more. This figure is from a paper looking at fluid viscosity in pitcher plants! Truly something for everyone.....
MINNEAPOLIS — Adam Donkers and many of his friends at the University of Minnesota don’t need to worry about jobs after graduating. They’re majoring in agricultural sciences or agricultural business, and large and small companies are eager to hire them.
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