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Scooped by Jean-Pierre Zryd
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Glyphosate and adverse pregnancy outcomes, a systematic review of observational studies

Background

A study in frog and chicken embryos, and reports of a high incidence of birth defects in regions of intensive GM-soy planting have raised concerns on the teratogenic potential of glyphosate-based herbicides. These public concerns prompted us to conduct a systematic review of the epidemiological studies testing hypotheses of associations between glyphosate exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes including birth defects.
Methods

A systematic and comprehensive literature search was performed in MEDLINE, TOXLINE, Bireme-BVS and SCOPUS databases using different combinations of exposure and outcome terms. A case–control study on the association between pesticides and congenital malformations in areas of extensive GM soy crops in South America, and reports on the occurrence of birth defects in these regions were reviewed as well.
Results

The search found ten studies testing associations between glyphosate and birth defects, abortions, pre-term deliveries, small for gestational date births, childhood diseases or altered sex ratios. Two additional studies examined changes of time-to-pregnancy in glyphosate-exposed populations. Except for an excess of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - ADHD (OR = 3.6, 1.3-9.6) among children born to glyphosate appliers, no significant associations between this herbicide and adverse pregnancy outcomes were described. Evidence that in South American regions of intensive GM-soy planting incidence of birth defects is high remains elusive.
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The next green movement: Plant biology for the environment and sustainability

The next green movement: Plant biology for the environment and sustainability | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
From domestication and breeding to the genetic engineering of crops, plants provide food, fuel, fibers, and feedstocks for our civilization. New research and discoveries aim to reduce the inputs needed to grow crops and to develop plants for environmental and sustainability applications. Faced with population growth and changing climate, the next wave of innovation in plant biology integrates technologies and approaches that span from molecular to ecosystem scales. Recent efforts to engineer plants for better nitrogen and phosphorus use, enhanced carbon fixation, and environmental remediation and to understand plant-microbiome interactions showcase exciting future directions for translational plant biology. These advances promise new strategies for the reduction of inputs to limit environmental impacts and improve agricultural sustainability.
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Sweet potato Vitamin A research wins World Food Prize - BBC (2016) 

Sweet potato Vitamin A research wins World Food Prize - BBC (2016)  | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it

Four scientists have been awarded the 2016 World Food Prize for enriching sweet potatoes, which resulted in health benefits for millions of people… "the single most [successful] example of biofortification", resulting in Vitamin A-boosted crops. Three of the 2016 laureates… have been recognised for their work developing the vitamin-enriched orange-fleshed sweet potato. The fourth winner, Dr Howard Bouis who founded HarvestPlus at the International Food Policy Research Institute, has been honoured for his work over 25 years to ensure biofortification was developed into an international plant breeding strategy across more than 40 countries. 


Announcing this year's winners, USAID administrator Gayle Smith said: "These four extraordinary World Food Prize Laureates have proven that science matters, and that when matched with dedication, it can change people's lives." Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is considered to be one of the most harmful forms of malnutrition in the developing world. It can cause blindness, limits growth, weakens immunity and increases mortality. The condition affects more than 140 million pre-school children in 118 nations, and more than seven million pregnant women. It is said to be the leading cause of child blindness in developing countries… 


Biofortification [is] the process "by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through agronomic practices, conventional plant breeding, or modern biotechnology… Biofortification may therefore present a way to reach populations where supplementation and conventional fortification activities may be difficult to implement"… 


Dr Borlaug, often called the father of the Green Revolution, established the World Food Prize 30 years ago to recognise "exceptionally significant" achievements by individuals. In 1970, Dr Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his contribution to world peace through his work to increase global food supplies… 


Growth in global agricultural productivity, for the third year in a row, was not advancing at the rate required to meet future demand for food… unless this emerging trend was reversed, the "world may not be able to sustainably provide the food, feed, fibre and biofuels needed for a booming global population"… Productive techniques and technology were "essential for producers of all scales as climate change and extreme weather events threaten the sustainability of agricultural value chains"… 


http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37619154



Via Alexander J. Stein
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LudusScope: Accessible Interactive Smartphone Microscopy for Life-Science Education

LudusScope: Accessible Interactive Smartphone Microscopy for Life-Science Education | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
For centuries, observational microscopy has greatly facilitated biology education, but we still cannot easily and playfully interact with the microscopic world we see. We therefore developed the LudusScope, an accessible, interactive do-it-yourself smartphone microscopy platform that promotes exploratory stimulation and observation of microscopic organisms, in a design that combines the educational modalities of build, play, and inquire. The LudusScope’s touchscreen and joystick allow the selection and stimulation of phototactic microorganisms such as Euglena gracilis with light. Organismal behavior is tracked and displayed in real time, enabling open and structured game play as well as scientific inquiry via quantitative experimentation. Furthermore, we used the Scratch programming language to incorporate biophysical modeling. This platform is designed as an accessible, low-cost educational kit for easy construction and expansion. User testing with both teachers and students demonstrates the educational potential of the LudusScope, and we anticipate additional synergy with the maker movement. Transforming observational microscopy into an interactive experience will make microbiology more tangible to society, and effectively support the interdisciplinary learning required by the Next Generation Science Standards.
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Mimicry in plants

Mimicry in plants | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it


Plant mimicry is used for two major purposes that benefit the mimic.

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When is apparent mimicry by plants probably not really mimicry at all? An important caveat when interpreting potential mimicry is that the plant might benefit from a general resemblance to an archetypal ‘model’ rather than to a specific one, because of a pre-existing perceptual or cognitive bias in the selective agent. For example, it is thought that insects are attracted to the modified leaves (the pitchers) of some carnivorous pitcher plants because of a cognitive positive bias for flower-like structures.

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The next green movement: Plant biology for the environment and sustainability

The next green movement: Plant biology for the environment and sustainability | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
From domestication and breeding to the genetic engineering of crops, plants provide food, fuel, fibers, and feedstocks for our civilization. New research and discoveries aim to reduce the inputs needed to grow crops and to develop plants for environmental and sustainability applications. Faced with population growth and changing climate, the next wave of innovation in plant biology integrates technologies and approaches that span from molecular to ecosystem scales. Recent efforts to engineer plants for better nitrogen and phosphorus use, enhanced carbon fixation, and environmental remediation and to understand plant-microbiome interactions showcase exciting future directions for translational plant biology. These advances promise new strategies for the reduction of inputs to limit environmental impacts and improve agricultural sustainability.

Via Christophe Jacquet
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Identification of line-specific strategies for improving carotenoid production in synthetic maize through data-driven mathematical modeling

Identification of line-specific strategies for improving carotenoid production in synthetic maize through data-driven mathematical modeling | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
Plant synthetic biology is still in its infancy. However, synthetic biology approaches have been used to manipulate and improve the nutritional and health value of staple food crops such as rice, potato and maize. With current technologies, production yields of the synthetic nutrients are a result of trial and error, and systematic rational strategies to optimize those yields are still lacking. Here, we present a workflow that combines gene expression and quantitative metabolomics with mathematical modeling to identify strategies for increasing production yields of nutritionally important carotenoids in the seed endosperm synthesized through alternative biosynthetic pathways in synthetic lines of white maize, which is normally devoid of carotenoids. Quantitative metabolomics and gene expression data are used to create and fit parameters of mathematical models that are specific to four independent maize lines. Sensitivity analysis and simulation of each model is used to predict which gene activities should be further engineered in order to increase production yields for carotenoid accumulation in each line. Some of these predictions (e.g. increasing Zmlycb/Gllycb will increase accumulated β-carotenes) are valid across the four maize lines and consistent with experimental observations in other systems. Other predictions are line specific. The workflow is adaptable to any other biological system for which appropriate quantitative information is available. Furthermore, we validate some of the predictions using experimental data from additional synthetic maize lines for which no models were developed.
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Simple and Efficient Targeting of Multiple Genes Through CRISPR-Cas9 in Physcomitrella patens.

Powerful genome editing technologies are needed for efficient gene function analysis. The CRISPR-Cas9 system has been adapted as an efficient gene knock-out-technology in a variety of species. However, in a number of situations knocking out or modifying a single gene is not sufficient, this is particularly true for genes belonging to a common family or for genes showing redundant functions. Like many plants the model organism Physcomitrella patens has experienced multiple events of polyploidization during evolution that resulted in a number of families of duplicated genes. Here, we report a robust CRISPR-Cas9 system, based on the co-delivery of a CAS9 expressing cassette, multiple sgRNA vectors and a cassette for transient transformation selection for gene knock-out in multiple gene families. We demonstrate that CRISPR-Cas9 mediated targeting of five different genes allows the selection of a quintuple mutant and all possible sub-combinations of mutants in one experiment with no mutations detected in potential off target sequences. Furthermore, we confirmed the observation that the presence of repeats in the vicinity of the cutting region favors deletion due to alternative End Joining pathway for which induced frameshift mutations can be potentially predicted. Because the number of multiple gene families in Physcomitrella is substantial, this tool opens new perspectives to study the role of expanded gene families in the colonization of land by plants.

Via Pierre-Marc Delaux
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An Agrobacterium-delivered CRISPR/Cas9 system for high-frequency targeted mutagenesis in maize

An Agrobacterium-delivered CRISPR/Cas9 system for high-frequency targeted mutagenesis in maize | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
CRISPR/Cas9 is a powerful genome editing tool in many organisms, including a number of monocots and dicots. Although the design and application of CRISPR/Cas9 is simpler compared to other nuclease-based genome editing tools, optimization requires the consideration of the DNA delivery and tissue regeneration methods for a particular species to achieve accuracy and efficiency. Here, we describe a public sector system, ISU Maize CRISPR, utilizing Agrobacterium-delivered CRISPR/Cas9 for high-frequency targeted mutagenesis in maize. This system consists of an Escherichia coli cloning vector and an Agrobacterium binary vector. It can be used to clone up to four guide RNAs for single or multiplex gene targeting. We evaluated this system for its mutagenesis frequency and heritability using four maize genes in two duplicated pairs: Argonaute 18 (ZmAgo18a and ZmAgo18b) and dihydroflavonol 4-reductase or anthocyaninless genes (a1 and a4). T0 transgenic events carrying mono- or diallelic mutations of one locus and various combinations of allelic mutations of two loci occurred at rates over 70% mutants per transgenic events in both Hi-II and B104 genotypes. Through genetic segregation, null segregants carrying only the desired mutant alleles without the CRISPR transgene could be generated in T1 progeny. Inheritance of an active CRISPR/Cas9 transgene leads to additional target-specific mutations in subsequent generations. Duplex infection of immature embryos by mixing two individual Agrobacterium strains harbouring different Cas9/gRNA modules can be performed for improved cost efficiency. Together, the findings demonstrate that the ISU Maize CRISPR platform is an effective and robust tool to targeted mutagenesis in maize.
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Growing monstrous organisms: the construction of anti-GMO visual rhetoric through digital media

Growing monstrous organisms: the construction of anti-GMO visual rhetoric through digital media | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
This paper explores the international controversy over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We argue that the uncommonly high levels of opposition to genetically modified food in both the United States and in Europe can be attributed to the overwhelming success of the online visual campaign against GMOs. By exploiting the unique characteristics of the internet to create memetic images that can travel freely across linguistic and cultural borders, opponents of the technology have been able to refute rationalist claims about the safety of GMOs. In response to the single coherent narrative of scientific certainty, a diffuse set of challenges emerges. The risk of genetic engineering holds within it the potential for catastrophe, leaving the industries that produce and manufacture the technology in a perpetual state of crisis. Instead of a unified narrative of scientific certainty, each challenge presents a multiplicity of diffuse narratives that unsettle the public’s understanding of the risk presented by GMOs. We aim to augment traditional understandings of the way that publics may interact with the “public screen” by explicating one way in which dominance of the visual in mediated political discourse may privilege non-rational political decision making.
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Reconciling the evolutionary origin of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum)

Reconciling the evolutionary origin of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
The origin of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum; AABBDD) has been a subject of controversy and of intense debate in the scientific community over the last few decades. In 2015, three articles published in New Phytologist discussed the origin of hexaploid bread wheat (AABBDD) from the diploid progenitors Triticum urartu (AA), a relative of Aegilops speltoides (BB) and Triticum tauschii (DD). Access to new genomic resources since 2013 has offered the opportunity to gain novel insights into the paleohistory of modern bread wheat, allowing characterization of its origin from its diploid progenitors at unprecedented resolution. We propose a reconciled evolutionary scenario for the modern bread wheat genome based on the complementary investigation of transposable element and mutation dynamics between diploid, tetraploid and hexaploid wheat. In this scenario, the structural asymmetry observed between the A, B and D subgenomes in hexaploid bread wheat derives from the cumulative effect of diploid progenitor divergence, the hybrid origin of the D subgenome, and subgenome partitioning following the polyploidization events.

Via Pierre-Marc Delaux, Loïc Lepiniec
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Italian horticultural and culinary records of summer squash (Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbitaceae) and emergence of the zucchini in 19th-century Milan

Italian horticultural and culinary records of summer squash (Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbitaceae) and emergence of the zucchini in 19th-century Milan | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
The results indicate that Cucurbita fruits, both young and mature, entered Italian kitchens by the mid-16th century. A half-century later, round and elongate young fruits of C. pepo were addressed as separate cookery items and the latter had largely replaced the centuries-old culinary use of young, elongate bottle gourds, Lagenaria siceraria. Allusion to a particular, extant cultivar of the longest fruited C. pepo, the Cocozelle Group, dates to 1811 and derives from the environs of Naples. The Italian diminutive word zucchini arose by the beginning of the 19th century in Tuscany and referred to small, mature, desiccated bottle gourds used as containers to store tobacco. By the 1840s, the Tuscan word zucchini was appropriated to young, primarily elongate fruits of C. pepo. The Zucchini Group traces its origins to the environs of Milan, perhaps as early as 1850. The word zucchini and the horticultural product zucchini arose contemporaneously but independently. The results confirm that the Zucchini Group is the youngest of the four cultivar-groups of C. pepo subsp. pepo but it emerged approximately a half-century earlier than previously known.
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Science: Can Apulia's olive trees be saved? (2016)

Science: Can Apulia's olive trees be saved? (2016) | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it

On 21 October 2013, the Italian phytosanitary service notified the European Commission (EC) that the plant pathogen Xylella fastidiosa had been detected in olive trees near Gallipoli, a tourist destination in Italy's southern region of Apulia (1). This xylem-limited bacterium is spread by insect vectors and causes disease in crops such as grapevines, citrus, coffee, and almond; various ornamentals; and trees such as oaks, elms, and sycamores. Because of the risks of X. fastidiosa being introduced, established, and spread throughout Europe, this species is a regulated quarantine pest. Yet, X. fastidiosa has been left unchecked and has marched northward, leaving destruction in its wake (see the photo) (2). The establishment of X. fastidiosa in Italy has been an agricultural, environmental, political, and cultural disaster.

 

The threat of X. fastidiosa to European and Mediterranean agriculture, forests, and ecosystems goes beyond specific crops such as grapevines or citrus. The current host range of this bacterium includes more than 300 plant species (3). Most of these species support some degree of pathogen multiplication without expressing symptoms. Susceptible hosts infected with X. fastidiosa often show disease symptoms only after months or years, although epidemics can spread fast and be devastating.

 

A phylogenetic study has shown that the genotype in Italy was likely introduced via contaminated plant material from Costa Rica (3). Several X. fastidiosa-infected coffee plants from Costa Rica have been intercepted at European ports since 2014, supporting this hypothesis (4). As a response, the EC in February 2014 approved European Union (EU) emergency measures aimed at preventing the introduction and spread of X. fastidiosa. Since May 2015, the import of coffee plants from Costa Rica and Honduras into the EU has been forbidden. Limiting the introduction of insect vectors is considered an easier task, but this is not possible for X. fastidiosa because any xylem-sap-sucking insect species can be a potential vector. Europe has few sharpshooter leafhopper species, the most important group of vectors in the Americas. However, various endemic spittlebug species (froghoppers) are also potential vectors of X. fastidiosa (3).

 

Trade is an important pathway in the introduction of plant pests and pathogens (5), and X. fastidiosa-infected plant material has likely been introduced via European ports on a regular basis. Given that biological and environmental conditions in Europe support X. fastidiosainfection, the question arises why the pathogen has not been reported previously. One possible explanation is that limited surveillance efforts missed previous introductions. Monitoring was one component of the EU emergency measures. After the French authorities started a systematic monitoring program for X. fastidiosa in 2014, they found 250 distinct infected areas in Corsica and several in the French Riviera. However, no disease epidemic has yet been noted in France, and the genotype of X. fastidiosa differs from that found in Italy.


Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL, Luigi Guarino
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In retrospect: Fifty years of C4 photosynthesis : Nature : Nature Research

In retrospect: Fifty years of C4 photosynthesis : Nature : Nature Research | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
Fifty years ago, Hatch and Slack1 published an analysis of photosynthesis that gave birth to a new field. Their work not only stimulated intense biochemical research to define the mechanisms of a new photosynthetic pathway, but also fed into many other disciplines. Ecologists found that the pathway could explain species distributions. Geologists gained greater insight into changes in the isotope composition of sediments and fossils. And evolutionary biologists started to investigate the highly complex pathway, which is found in many plant lineages and is now considered one of the most remarkable examples of convergent evolution — a process in which the same feature evolves independently in different unrelated species.
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Pour une évaluation basée sur les propriétés des variétés et non sur les méthodes - GM crops—lessons from medicine

Pour une évaluation basée sur les propriétés des variétés et non sur les méthodes - GM crops—lessons from medicine | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
In Canada, a trait-based regulatory system is used in which the actual trait, such as drought or disease resistance, rather than the method used to derive it, is the basis for regulation. Such a trait-based system is analogous to the regulation of new agents in medicine, which takes into account the context in which the product will be applied. For example, therapeutic antibodies for diseases as diverse as cancer and arthritis are not regulated simply on the basis that they are antibodies—rather, they are assessed in terms of the proteins they target, the benefit to patients, and the risks of adverse events. The focus is on a benefit-to-risk ratio that is reassessed throughout the life cycle of the product (as evidence accumulates). With new medicines for life-threatening diseases, there will usually be a greater acceptance of risk in the absence of existing effective treatments—that is, the consequences of doing nothing are taken into account. Therefore, patients, as well as regulators, accept a lower benefit-to-risk ratio than would be considered appropriate for a disease that is self-limiting and rarely life-threatening, such as the common cold.
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Field Guide to Plant Model Systems

Field Guide to Plant Model Systems | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
For the past several decades, advances in plant development, physiology, cell biology, and genetics have relied heavily on the model (or reference) plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Arabidopsis resembles other plants, including crop plants, in many but by no means all respects. Study of Arabidopsis alone provides little information on the evolutionary history of plants, evolutionary differences between species, plants that survive in different environments, or plants that access nutrients and photosynthesize differently. Empowered by the availability of large-scale sequencing and new technologies for investigating gene function, many new plant models are being proposed and studied.
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Green infrastructure and ecosystem services – is the devil in the detail?

Green infrastructure and ecosystem services – is the devil in the detail? | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
Background Green infrastructure is a strategic network of green spaces designed to deliver ecosystem services to human communities. Green infrastructure is a convenient concept for urban policy makers, but the term is used too generically and with limited understanding of the relative values or benefits of different types of green space and how these complement one another. At a finer scale/more practical level, little consideration is given to the composition of the plant communities, yet this is what ultimately defines the extent of service provision. This paper calls for greater attention to be paid to urban plantings with respect to ecosystem service delivery and for plant science to engage more fully in identifying those plants that promote various services.

Scope Many urban plantings are designed based on aesthetics alone, with limited thought on how plant choice/composition provides other ecosystem services. Research is beginning to demonstrate, however, that landscape plants provide a range of important services, such as helping mitigate floods and alleviating heat islands, but that not all species are equally effective. The paper reviews a number of important services and demonstrates how genotype choice radically affects service delivery.

Conclusions Although research is in its infancy, data are being generated that relate plant traits to specific services, thereby helping identify genotypes that optimize service delivery. The urban environment, however, will become exceedingly bland if future planting is simply restricted to monocultures of a few ‘functional’ genotypes. Therefore, further information is required on how to design plant communities where the plants identified (1) provide more than a single benefit (multifunctionality), (B) complement each other in maximizing the range of benefits that can be delivered in one location, and (3) continue to maintain public acceptance through diversity. The identification/development of functional landscape plants is an exciting and potentially high-impact arena for plant science.
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Bidirectional cross-kingdom RNAi and fungal uptake of external RNAs confer plant protection

Bidirectional cross-kingdom RNAi and fungal uptake of external RNAs confer plant protection | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
Aggressive fungal pathogens such as Botrytis and Verticillium spp. cause severe crop losses worldwide. We recently discovered that Botrytis cinerea delivers small RNAs (Bc–sRNAs) into plant cells to silence host immunity genes. Such sRNA effectors are mostly produced by Botrytis cinerea Dicer-like protein 1 (Bc-DCL1) and Bc-DCL2. Here we show that expressing sRNAs that target Bc-DCL1 and Bc-DCL2 in Arabidopsis and tomato silences Bc-DCL genes and attenuates fungal pathogenicity and growth, exemplifying bidirectional cross-kingdom RNAi and sRNA trafficking between plants and fungi. This strategy can be adapted to simultaneously control multiple fungal diseases. We also show that Botrytis can take up external sRNAs and double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs). Applying sRNAs or dsRNAs that target Botrytis DCL1 and DCL2 genes on the surface of fruits, vegetables and flowers significantly inhibits grey mould disease. Such pathogen gene-targeting RNAs represent a new generation of environmentally friendly fungicides.

Via Giannis Stringlis, Jennifer Mach, Loïc Lepiniec
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The plant engineer

The plant engineer | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
As a child, Dan Voytas developed a green thumb and business savvy running his own seedling business. Now, marrying his academic research with a company, he's poised to reshape 21st century agriculture. Over the past 20 years, he has pioneered new ways of precisely editing a crop's DNA to give it new traits or delete undesirable ones. It's an approach that is potentially more powerful than the traditional way of making genetically modified (GM) crops, and because it leaves no foreign DNA behind, it could free these products from the stigma and regulatory burden of being labeled as GM organisms. But to get to this point, he has had to overcome recalcitrant technologies, navigate intellectual property fights, and endure commercial failures.

Via Christophe Jacquet
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Editing EU legislation to fit plant genome editing

Editing EU legislation to fit plant genome editing | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
n light of the ongoing discussion in the EU whether new plant varieties generated by genome editing are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or not, we propose a novel approach for regulating plant breeding in general. Our proposal involves a flexible and scalable system that is capable of adapting to the rapid evolution of new technologies such as genome editing. It proposes an operational method that accounts for traditional and novel technologies, and a dynamically scalable risk assessment, which focuses on the phenotype of a novel breed instead of the method used to generate it. This approach would also resolve various dichotomies in the current debate, namely declaring new genome editing methods as highly efficient, while ignoring the impact of yet unknown risks, and proposing exemptions from regulation on the basis of the type of DNA created, whereas an older technology with fully characterized risks would still carry a heavy regulatory burden. Our proposal also takes into account that any new risk paradigm must be understood and accepted by the public, suggesting a greater role for farmers in ensuring the safe use of new breeding technologies.
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Expression of an insecticidal fern protein in cotton protects against whitefly : Nature Biotechnology : Nature Research

Expression of an insecticidal fern protein in cotton protects against whitefly : Nature Biotechnology : Nature Research | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
Whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) damages field crops by sucking sap and transmitting viral diseases. None of the insecticidal proteins used in genetically modified (GM) crop plants to date are effective against whitefly. We report the identification of a protein (Tma12) from an edible fern, Tectaria macrodonta (Fee) C. Chr., that is insecticidal to whitefly (median lethal concentration = 1.49 μg/ml in in vitro feeding assays) and interferes with its life cycle at sublethal doses. Transgenic cotton lines that express Tma12 at ~0.01% of total soluble leaf protein were resistant to whitefly infestation in contained field trials, with no detectable yield penalty. The transgenic cotton lines were also protected from whitefly-borne cotton leaf curl viral disease. Rats fed Tma12 showed no detectable histological or biochemical changes, and this, together with the predicted absence of allergenic domains in Tma12, indicates that Tma12 might be well suited for deployment in GM crops to control whitefly and the viruses it carries.
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Frontiers: Historical account on gaining insights on the mechanism of crown gall tumorigenesis induced by Agrobacterium tumefaciens (2014)

Frontiers: Historical account on gaining insights on the mechanism of crown gall tumorigenesis induced by Agrobacterium tumefaciens (2014) | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it

The plant tumor disease known as crown gall was not called by that name until more recent times. Galls on plants were described by Malpighi (1679) who believed that these extraordinary growth are spontaneously produced. Agrobacterium was first isolated from tumors in 1897 by Fridiano Cavara in Napoli, Italy. After this bacterium was recognized to be the cause of crown gall disease, questions were raised on the mechanism by which it caused tumors on a variety of plants. Numerous very detailed studies led to the identification of Agrobacterium tumefaciens as the causal bacterium that cleverly transferred a genetic principle to plant host cells and integrated it into their chromosomes. Such studies have led to a variety of sophisticated mechanisms used by this organism to aid in its survival against competing microorganisms. Knowledge gained from these fundamental discoveries has opened many avenues for researchers to examine their primary organisms of study for similar mechanisms of pathogenesis in both plants and animals. These discoveries also advanced the genetic engineering of domesticated plants for improved food and fiber.


Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL
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Highly efficient gene tagging in the bryophyte Physcomitrella patens using the tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) Tnt1 retrotransposon - Vives - 2016 - New Phytologist - Wiley Online Library

Highly efficient gene tagging in the bryophyte Physcomitrella patens using the tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) Tnt1 retrotransposon - Vives - 2016 - New Phytologist - Wiley Online Library | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
Because of its highly efficient homologous recombination, the moss Physcomitrella patens is a model organism particularly suited for reverse genetics, but this inherent characteristic limits forward genetic approaches.
Here, we show that the tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) retrotransposon Tnt1 efficiently transposes in P. patens, being the first retrotransposon from a vascular plant reported to transpose in a bryophyte. Tnt1 has a remarkable preference for insertion into genic regions, which makes it particularly suited for gene mutation.
In order to stabilize Tnt1 insertions and make it easier to select for insertional mutants, we have developed a two-component system where a mini-Tnt1 with a retrotransposition selectable marker can only transpose when Tnt1 proteins are co-expressed from a separate expression unit.
We present a new tool with which to produce insertional mutants in P. patens in a rapid and straightforward manner that complements the existing molecular and genetic toolkit for this model species.
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Survey and Risk Assessment of Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Exposure to Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Urban, Rural, and Agricultural Settings

Survey and Risk Assessment of Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Exposure to Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Urban, Rural, and Agricultural Settings | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
A comparative assessment of apiaries in urban, rural, and agricultural areas was undertaken in 2013 and 2014 to examine potential honey bee colony exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides from pollen foraging. Apiaries ranged in size from one to hundreds of honey bee colonies, and included those operated by commercial, sideline (semicommercial), and hobbyist beekeepers. Residues in and on wax and beebread (stored pollen in the hive) were evaluated for the nitro-substituted neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid and its olefin metabolite and the active ingredients clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran. Beebread and comb wax collected from hives in agricultural landscapes were more likely to have detectable residues of thiamethoxam and clothianidin than that collected from hives in rural or urban areas (∼50% of samples vs. <10%). The maximum neonicotinoid residue detected in either wax or beebread was 3.9 ppb imidacloprid. A probabilistic risk assessment was conducted on the residues recovered from beebread in apiaries located in commercial, urban, and rural landscapes. The calculated risk quotient based on a dietary no observable adverse effect concentration (NOAEC) suggested low potential for negative effects on bee behavior or colony health.
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Towards a multidimensional root trait framework: a tree root review - Weemstra - 2016 - New Phytologist - Wiley Online Library

Towards a multidimensional root trait framework: a tree root review - Weemstra - 2016 - New Phytologist - Wiley Online Library | plant cell genetics | Scoop.it
The search for a root economics spectrum (RES) has been sparked by recent interest in trait-based plant ecology. By analogy with the one-dimensional leaf economics spectrum (LES), fine-root traits are hypothesised to match leaf traits which are coordinated along one axis from resource acquisitive to conservative traits. However, our literature review and meta-level analysis reveal no consistent evidence of an RES mirroring an LES. Instead the RES appears to be multidimensional. We discuss three fundamental differences contributing to the discrepancy between these spectra. First, root traits are simultaneously constrained by various environmental drivers not necessarily related to resource uptake. Second, above- and belowground traits cannot be considered analogues, because they function differently and might not be related to resource uptake in a similar manner. Third, mycorrhizal interactions may offset selection for an RES. Understanding and explaining the belowground mechanisms and trade-offs that drive variation in root traits, resource acquisition and plant performance across species, thus requires a fundamentally different approach than applied aboveground. We therefore call for studies that can functionally incorporate the root traits involved in resource uptake, the complex soil environment and the various soil resource uptake mechanisms – particularly the mycorrhizal pathway – in a multidimensional root trait framework.
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