Inorganic phosphate (Pi) availability is a major factor determining growth and consequently the productivity of crops. However, it is one of the least available macronutrients due to its high fixation in the rhizospheres. To overcome this constraint, plants have developed adaptive responses to better acquire, utilize, and recycle Pi. Molecular determinants of these adaptive mechanisms include transcription factors (TFs) that play a major role in transcriptional control, thereby regulating genome-scale networks. In this study, we have characterized the biological role of Arabidopsis thaliana Ethylene Response Factor070 (AtERF070), aPi starvation-induced TF belonging to the APETALA2/ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR family of TFs in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). It is localized to the nucleus and induced specifically in Pi-deprived roots and shoots. RNA interference-mediated suppression of AtERF070 led to augmented lateral root development resulting in higher Pi accumulation, whereas there were reductions in both primary root length and lateral root number in 12-d-old transgenic seedlings overexpressing AtERF070. When the overexpressing lines were grown to maturity under greenhouse conditions, they revealed a stunted bushy appearance that could be rescued by gibberellic acid application. Furthermore, a number of Pistarvation-responsive genes were modulated in AtERF070-overexpressing and RNA interference lines, thereby suggesting a potential role for this TF in maintaining Pi homeostasis.
Vertical, transgenerational transmission of genetic material occurs through reproduction of living organisms. In addition to vertical inheritance, horizontal gene transfer between reproductively-isolated species has recently been shown to be an important, if not dominant, mechanism in the evolution of prokaryotic genomes. In contrast, only a few horizontal transfer (HTs) events have been characterized so far in eukaryotes and mainly concern transposable elements (TEs). Whether these are frequent and have a significant impact on genome evolution remains largely unknown. We performed a computational search for highly conserved LTR-retrotransposons among 40 sequenced eukaryotic genomes representing the major plant families. We found that 26 genomes (65%) harbor at least one case of horizontal TE transfer (HTT) . These transfers concern species as distantly related as palm and grapevine, tomato and bean or poplar and peach. In total, we identified 32 cases of HTTs, which could translate into more than two millions among the 13,551 monocot and dicot genera. Moreover, we show that these TEs have remained functional after their transfer, occasionally causing a transpositional burst. This suggests that plants can frequently exchange genetic material through horizontal transfers and that this mechanism may be important in TE-driven genome evolution.
Scientists raise concerns about relocation of premier French research vineyard dubbed the ‘Louvre of vines’.
Andres Zurita's insight:
Uncertainty hangs over one of the world’s largest and most important grapevine collections. The Domaine de Vassal vineyard, on France’s Mediterranean coast, houses a vast sweep of grape biodiversity that is essential to research and winegrowers in France and around the world.
Drought is one of the major challenges affecting crop productivity and yield. However, water stress responses are notoriously multigenic and quantitative with strong environmental effects on phenotypes. It is also clear that water stress often does not occur alone under field conditions but rather in conjunction with other abiotic stresses such as high temperature and high light intensities. A multidisciplinary approach with successful integration of a whole range of -omics technologies will not only define the system, but also provide new gene targets for both transgenic approaches and marker-assisted selection. Transcription factors are major players in water stress signaling and some constitute major hubs in the signaling webs. The main transcription factors in this network include MYB, bHLH, bZIP, ERF, NAC, and WRKY transcription factors. The role of WRKY transcription factors in abiotic stress signaling networks is just becoming apparent and systems biology approaches are starting to define their places in the signaling network. Using systems biology approaches, there are now many transcriptomic analyses and promoter analyses that concern WRKY transcription factors. In addition, reports on nuclear proteomics have identified WRKY proteins that are up-regulated at the protein level by water stress. Interactomics has started to identify different classes of WRKY-interacting proteins. What are often lacking are connections between metabolomics, WRKY transcription factors, promoters, biosynthetic pathways, fluxes and downstream responses. As more levels of the system are characterized, a more detailed understanding of the roles of WRKY transcription factors in drought responses in crops will be obtained.
The notion that plants use specialized metabolism to protect against environmental stresses needs to be experimentally proven by addressing the question of whether stress tolerance by specialized metabolism is directly due to metabolites such as flavonoids. We report that flavonoids with radical scavenging activity mitigate against oxidative and drought stress in Arabidopsis thaliana. Metabolome and transcriptome profiling and experiments with oxidative and drought stress in wild-type, single overexpressors of MYB12/PFG1 (PRODUCTION OF FLAVONOL GLYCOSIDES1) or MYB75/PAP1 (PRODUCTION OF ANTHOCYANIN PIGMENT1), double overexpressors of MYB12 and PAP1, transparent testa4 (tt4) as a flavonoid-deficient mutant, and flavonoid-deficient MYB12 or PAP1 overexpressing lines (obtained by crossing tt4 and the individual MYB overexpressor) demonstrated that flavonoid overaccumulation was key to enhanced tolerance to such stresses. Antioxidative activity assays using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl, methyl viologen, and 3,3′-diaminobenzidine clearly showed that anthocyanin overaccumulation with strong in vitro antioxidative activity mitigated the accumulation of reactive oxygen species in vivo under oxidative and drought stress. These data confirm the usefulness of flavonoids for enhancing both biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in crops.
Cysteine occupies a central position in plant metabolism because it is a reduced sulfur donor molecule involved in the synthesis of essential biomolecules and defense compounds. Moreover, cysteine per se and its derivative molecules play roles in the redox signaling of processes occurring in various cellular compartments. Cysteine is synthesized during the sulfate assimilation pathway via the incorporation of sulfide to O-acetylserine, catalyzed by O-acetylserine(thiol)lyase (OASTL). Plant cells contain OASTLs in the mitochondria, chloroplasts, and cytosol, resulting in a complex array of isoforms and subcellular cysteine pools. In recent years, significant progress has been made in Arabidopsis, in determining the specific roles of the OASTLs and the metabolites produced by them. Thus, the discovery of novel enzymatic activities of the less-abundant, like DES1 with L-cysteine desulfhydrase activity and SCS with S-sulfocysteine synthase activity, has provided new perspectives on their roles, besides their metabolic functions. Thereby, the research has been demonstrated that cytosolic sulfide and chloroplastic S-sulfocysteine act as signaling molecules regulating autophagy and protecting the photosystems, respectively. In the cytosol, cysteine plays an essential role in plant immunity; in the mitochondria, this molecule plays a central role in the detoxification of cyanide, which is essential for root hair development and plant responses to pathogens.
Doil Choi and colleagues report the genome sequence of the hot pepper, Capsicum annuum, as well as the resequencing of two cultivated peppers and a wild species, Capsicum chinense.
Andres Zurita's insight:
Hot pepper (Capsicum annuum), one of the oldest domesticated crops in the Americas, is the most widely grown spice crop in the world. We report whole-genome sequencing and assembly of the hot pepper (Mexican landrace of Capsicum annuum cv. CM334) at 186.6× coverage. We also report resequencing of two cultivated peppers and de novo sequencing of the wild speciesCapsicum chinense. The genome size of the hot pepper was approximately fourfold larger than that of its close relative tomato, and the genome showed an accumulation of Gypsy and Caulimoviridae family elements. Integrative genomic and transcriptomic analyses suggested that change in gene expression and neofunctionalization of capsaicin synthase have shaped capsaicinoid biosynthesis. We found differential molecular patterns of ripening regulators and ethylene synthesis in hot pepper and tomato. The reference genome will serve as a platform for improving the nutritional and medicinal values of Capsicum species.
How biological systems generate reproducible patterns with high precision is a central question in science.
Andres Zurita's insight:
How biological systems generate reproducible patterns with high precision is a central question in science1. The shoot apical meristem (SAM), a specialized tissue producing plant aerial organs, is a developmental system of choice to address this question. Organs are periodically initiated at the SAM at specific spatial positions and this spatiotemporal pattern defines phyllotaxis. Accumulation of the plant hormone auxin triggers organ initiation2, 3, 4, 5, whereas auxin depletion around organs generates inhibitory fields that are thought to be sufficient to maintain these patterns and their dynamics4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. Here we show that another type of hormone-based inhibitory fields, generated directly downstream of auxin by intercellular movement of the cytokinin signalling inhibitor ARABIDOPSIS HISTIDINE PHOSPHOTRANSFER PROTEIN 6 (AHP6)14, is involved in regulating phyllotactic patterns. We demonstrate that AHP6-based fields establish patterns of cytokinin signalling in the meristem that contribute to the robustness of phyllotaxis by imposing a temporal sequence on organ initiation. Our findings indicate that not one but two distinct hormone-based fields may be required for achieving temporal precision during formation of reiterative structures at the SAM, thus indicating an original mechanism for providing robustness to a dynamic developmental system.
Terroir, the unique interaction between genotype, environment, and culture, is highly refined in domesticated grape (Vitis vinifera). Toward cultivating terroir, the science of ampelography tried to distinguish thousands of grape cultivars without the aid of genetics. This led to sophisticated phenotypic analyses of natural variation in grape leaves, which within a palmate-lobed framework exhibit diverse patterns of blade outgrowth, hirsuteness, and venation patterning. Here, we provide a morphometric analysis of more than 1,200 grape accessions. Elliptical Fourier descriptors provide a global analysis of leaf outlines and lobe positioning, while a Procrustes analysis quantitatively describes venation patterning. Correlation with previous ampelography suggests an important genetic component, which we confirm with estimates of heritability. We further use RNA-Seq of mutant varieties and perform a genome-wide association study to explore the genetic basis of leaf shape. Meta-analysis reveals a relationship between leaf morphology and hirsuteness, traits known to correlate with climate in the fossil record and extant species. Together, our data demonstrate a genetic basis for the intricate diversity present in grape leaves. We discuss the possibility of using grape leaves as a breeding target to preserve terroir in the face of anticipated climate change, a major problem facing viticulture.
Phosphate (Pi) availability is a major factor determining growth and consequently the productivity of crops. However it is one of the least available macronutrient due to its high fixation in the rhizosphere. To overcome this constraint, plants have developed adaptive responses to better acquire, utilize and recycle Pi. Molecular determinants of these adaptive mechanisms include transcription factors (TFs) that play a major role in transcriptional control thereby regulating genome-scale networks. In this study, we have characterized the biological role of AtERF070, a Pi-starvation induced ethylene response factor belonging to AP2/ERF family of TFs in Arabidopsis thaliana. It is localized to the nucleus and induced specifically in Pi-deprived roots and shoots. RNAi mediated suppression of AtERF070 led to augmented lateral root development resulting in higher Pi accumulation. Whereas, there were reductions in both primary root length and lateral root number in 12d-old transgenic seedlings overexpressing AtERF070. When the overexpressing lines were grown to maturity under green house conditions they revealed a stunted bushy appearance that could be rescued by gibberellic acid application. Further, a number of Pi-starvation responsive genes were modulated in AtERF070 overexpressing and RNAi lines thereby suggesting a potential role for this TF in maintaining Pi homeostasis.
AbstractBasic research has provided a much better understanding of the genetic networks and regulatory hierarchies in plants. To meet the challenges of agriculture, we must be able to rapidly translate this knowledge into generating improved plants. Therefore, in this Review, we discuss advanced tools that are currently available for use in plant biotechnology to produce new products in plants and to generate plants with new functions. These tools include synthetic promoters, 'tunable' transcription factors, genome-editing tools and site-specific recombinases. We also review some tools with the potential to enable crop improvement, such as methods for the assembly and synthesis of large DNA molecules, plant transformation with linked multigenes and plant artificial chromosomes. These genetic technologies should be integrated to realize their potential for applications to pressing agricultural and environmental problems.
• We present an overview of native promoter structure and function.
• The use and application of promoters in transgenics are emphasized.• Use of cis-acting regulatory elements in synthetic promoters is highlighted.• A new approach of developing and using synthetic introns in promoters is presented.• Different promoter gene expression validation approaches are compared.
Studies of promoters that largely regulate gene expression at the transcriptional level are crucial for improving our basic understanding of gene regulation and will expand the toolbox of available promoters for use in plant biotechnology. In this review, we present a comprehensive analysis of promoters and their underlying mechanisms in transcriptional regulation, including epigenetic marks and chromatin-based regulation. Large-scale prediction of promoter sequences and their contributing cis-acting elements has become routine due to recent advances in transcriptomic technologies and genome sequencing of several plants. However, predicted regulatory sequences may or may not be functional and demonstration of the contribution of the element to promoter activity is essential for confirmation of regulatory sequences. Use of synthetic promoters and introns represent useful approaches for functional validation of promoter sequences. The development and improvement of gene expression tools for rapid, efficient, predictable, and high-throughput analysis of promoter components will be critical for confirmation of the functional regulatory element sequences identified through transcriptomic and genomic analyses.
SummaryCrop pests and pathogens pose a significant and growing threat to food security, but their geographical distributions are poorly understood. We present a global analysis of pest and pathogen distributions, to determine the roles of socioeconomic and biophysical factors in determining pest diversity, controlling for variation in observational capacity among countries.Known distributions of 1901 pests and pathogens were obtained from CABI. Linear models were used to partition the variation in pest species per country amongst predictors.Reported pest numbers increased with per capita gross domestic product (GDP), research expenditure and research capacity, and the influence of economics was greater in micro-organisms than in arthropods. Total crop production and crop diversity were the strongest physical predictors of pest numbers per country, but trade and tourism were insignificant once other factors were controlled. Islands reported more pests than mainland countries, but no latitudinal gradient in species richness was evident.Country wealth is likely to be a strong indicator of observational capacity, not just trade flow, as has been interpreted in invasive species studies. If every country had US levels of per capita GDP, then 205 ± 9 additional pests per country would be reported, suggesting that enhanced investment in pest observations will reveal the hidden threat of crop pests and pathogens.
PLOS ONE: an inclusive, peer-reviewed, open-access resource from the PUBLIC LIBRARY OF SCIENCE. Reports of well-performed scientific studies from all disciplines freely available to the whole world.
Andres Zurita's insight:
Homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) proteins, a group of homeobox transcription factors, participate in various aspects of normal plant growth and developmental processes as well as environmental responses. To date, no overall analysis or expression profiling of the HD-Zip gene family in soybean (Glycine max) has been reported.
Methods and Findings
An investigation of the soybean genome revealed 88 putative HD-Zip genes. These genes were classified into four subfamilies, I to IV, based on phylogenetic analysis. In each subfamily, the constituent parts of gene structure and motif were relatively conserved. A total of 87 out of 88 genes were distributed unequally on 20 chromosomes with 36 segmental duplication events, indicating that segmental duplication is important for the expansion of the HD-Zip family. Analysis of the Ka/Ks ratios showed that the duplicated genes of the HD-Zip family basically underwent purifying selection with restrictive functional divergence after the duplication events. Analysis of expression profiles showed that 80 genes differentially expressed across 14 tissues, and 59 HD-Zip genes are differentially expressed under salinity and drought stress, with 20 paralogous pairs showing nearly identical expression patterns and three paralogous pairs diversifying significantly under drought stress. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis of six paralogous pairs of 12 selected soybean HD-Zip genes under both drought and salinity stress confirmed their stress-inducible expression patterns.
This study presents a thorough overview of the soybean HD-Zip gene family and provides a new perspective on the evolution of this gene family. The results indicate that HD-Zip family genes may be involved in many plant responses to stress conditions. Additionally, this study provides a solid foundation for uncovering the biological roles of HD-Zip genes in soybean growth and development.
In plants, the shoot apical meristem (SAM) serves as a reservoir of pluripotent stem cells from which all above ground organs originate. To sustain proper growth, the SAM must maintain homeostasis between the self-renewal of pluripotent stem cells and cell recruitment for lateral organ formation. At the core of the network that regulates this homeostasis in Arabidopsis are the WUSCHEL (WUS) transcription factor specifying stem cell fate and the CLAVATA (CLV) ligand-receptor system limiting WUS expression. In this study, we identified the ERECTA (ER) pathway as a second receptor kinase signaling pathway that regulates WUS expression, and therefore shoot apical and floral meristem size, independently of the CLV pathway. We demonstrate that reduction in class III HD-ZIP and ER function together leads to a significant increase in WUS expression, resulting in extremely enlarged shoot meristems and a switch from spiral to whorled vegetative phyllotaxy. We further show that strong upregulation of WUS in the inflorescence meristem leads to ectopic expression of the AGAMOUS homeotic gene to a level that switches cell fate from floral meristem founder cell to carpel founder cell, suggesting an indirect role for ER in regulating floral meristem identity. This work illustrates the delicate balance between stem cell specification and differentiation in the meristem and shows that a shift in this balance leads to abnormal phyllotaxy and to altered reproductive cell fate.
Plants control the time at which they flower in order to ensure reproductive success. This control is underpinned by precision in gene regulation acting through genetically separable pathways. The genetic dissection of this process in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana has led to the recurrent identification of plant-specific and highly conserved RNA 3′ end processing factors required to control flowering by specifically controlling transcription of mRNA encoding the floral repressor FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). Here, we review the features of these RNA-processing and RNA-associated proteins, and the complex architecture of coding and non-coding RNA transcription at the FLC locus. We discuss alternative concepts that might explain how these RNA-processing events regulate FLC transcription and hence control flowering time.
'Maps of science derived from citation data visualize the relationships among scholarly publications or disciplines. They are valuable instruments for exploring the structure and evolution of scholarly activity. Much like early world charts, these maps of science provide an overall visual perspective of science as well as a reference system that stimulates further exploration. However, these maps are also significantly biased due to the nature of the citation data from which they are derived: existing citation databases overrepresent the natural sciences; substantial delays typical of journal publication yield insights in science past, not present; and connections between scientific disciplines are tracked in a manner that ignores informal cross-fertilization..'
A long-standing goal in plant research is to optimize the protective function of biochemicals that impede pest and pathogen attack. Nearly 40 years ago pathogen-inducible diterpenoids were described in rice and demonstrated to function as antimicrobial phytoalexins. Using rice and maize as examples, we discuss recent advances in the discovery, biosynthesis, elicitation and function of monocot terpenoid phytoalexins. The recently expanded diversity of known terpenoid phytoalexins now includes not only the labdane-related diterpenoid super family but also casbane-type diterpenoids and β-macrocarpene-derived sequiterpenoids. Biochemical approaches are actively pairing pathway precursors and end products with cognate biosynthetic genes. The predictable existence of additional terpenoid phytoalexins is expanding through advances in cereal genome annotation and terpene synthase characterization that can likewise serve as a guide for discoveries outside the Poaceae. At the cellular level, conclusive evidence now exists for multiple plant receptors of fungal-derived chitin elicitors, phosphorylation of membrane-associated signaling complexes, MAP kinase activation, involvement of phytohormone signals, and transcription factors mediating the expression of phytoalexin biosynthetic genes and subsequent accumulation of pathway end products. Elicited production of terpenoid phytoalexins expands to additional biological functions including root exudate-mediated allelopathy and insect antifeedant activity. Such findings encourage the consideration of additional interactions that blur traditionally discrete phytoalexin classifications. The establishment of mutant collections and increasing ease of genetic transformation aids a critical examination of further biological roles. Future research directions additionally include the examination of terpenoid phytoalexin precursors and end products as potential signals mediating plant physiological processes.
When you take a sip of red wine or black tea, you're swallowing a stiff swig of tannins. These astringent plant chemicals give the beverages their ...
Andres Zurita's insight:
Now, the part of plant cells that makes and transports tannins — long overlooked by botanists — has at last been discovered, hiding right under our noses.
On closer inspection, a team of French and Hungarian scientists realized they had something very different on their hands. After studying specimens from all the major groups of land plants, purifying cell components, studying their constituent tannins, making lots of microscope slides, and taking lots more pictures, they decided that the story of tannin is the story of an entirely new organelle: the tannosome.
New organelles — the organs of a cell — are not discovered every day. The ones high school biology students study — nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, etc. — were discovered many decades, if not more than a century ago. So the discovery of an entirely new organelle is an unusual find indeed.
Reference is #OpenAccess
Brillouet J.M., Romieu C., Schoefs B., Solymosi K., Cheynier V., Fulcrand H., Verdeil J.L. & Conejero G. (2013). The tannosome is an organelle forming condensed tannins in the chlorophyllous organs of Tracheophyta, Annals of Botany, 112 (6) 1003-1014. DOI: 10.1093/aob/mct168
Wine grapes present a unique biogeography model, wherein microbial biodiversity patterns across viticultural zones not only answer questions of dispersal and community maintenance, they are also an inherent component of the quality, consumer acceptance, and economic appreciation of a culturally important food product. On their journey from the vineyard to the wine bottle, grapes are transformed to wine through microbial activity, with indisputable consequences for wine quality parameters. Wine grapes harbor a wide range of microbes originating from the surrounding environment, many of which are recognized for their role in grapevine health and wine quality. However, determinants of regional wine characteristics have not been identified, but are frequently assumed to stem from viticultural or geological factors alone. This study used a high-throughput, short-amplicon sequencing approach to demonstrate that regional, site-specific, and grape-variety factors shape the fungal and bacterial consortia inhabiting wine-grape surfaces. Furthermore, these microbial assemblages are correlated to specific climatic features, suggesting a link between vineyard environmental conditions and microbial inhabitation patterns. Taken together, these factors shape the unique microbial inputs to regional wine fermentations, posing the existence of nonrandom “microbial terroir” as a determining factor in regional variation among wine grapes.
Roots play important roles in plant survival and productivity as they not only anchor the plants in the soil but are also the primary organ for the uptake of nutrients from the outside. The growth and development of roots depend on the specification and maintenance of the root meristem. Here, we report a previously unknown role of TIME FOR COFFEE (TIC) in controlling root meristem size in Arabidopsis. The results showed that loss of function of TIC reduced root meristem length and cell number by decreasing the competence of meristematic cells to divide. This was due to the repressed expression of PIN genes for decreased acropetal auxin transport in tic-2, leading to low auxin accumulation in the roots responsible for reduced root meristem, which was verified by exogenous application of indole-3-acetic acid. Downregulated expression ofPLETHORA1 (PLT1) and PLT2, key transcription factors in mediating the patterning of the root stem cell niche, was also assayed in tic-2. Similar results were obtained with tic-2 and wild-type plants at either dawn or dusk. We also suggested that the MYC2-mediated jasmonic acid signalling pathway may not be involved in the regulation of TIC in controlling the root meristem. Taken together, these results suggest that TIC functions in an auxin–PLTs loop for maintenance of post-embryonic root meristem.
The superiority of hybrids has long been exploited in agriculture, and although many models explaining “heterosis” have been put forth, direct empirical support is limited. Particularly elusive have been cases of heterozygosity for single gene mutations causing heterosis under a genetic model known as overdominance. In tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), plants carrying mutations in SINGLE FLOWER TRUSS (SFT) encoding the flowering hormone florigen are severely delayed in flowering, become extremely large, and produce few flowers and fruits, but when heterozygous, yields are dramatically increased. Curiously, this overdominance is evident only in the background of “determinate” plants, in which the continuous production of side shoots and inflorescences gradually halts due to a defect in the flowering repressor SELF PRUNING (SP). How sp facilitates sft overdominance is unclear, but is thought to relate to the opposing functions these genes have on flowering time and shoot architecture. We show thatsft mutant heterozygosity (sft/+) causes weak semi-dominant delays in flowering of both primary and side shoots. Using transcriptome sequencing of shoot meristems, we demonstrate that this delay begins before seedling meristems become reproductive, followed by delays in subsequent side shoot meristems that, in turn, postpone the arrest of shoot and inflorescence production. Reducing SFT levels in sp plants by artificial microRNAs recapitulates the dose-dependent modification of shoot and inflorescence production of sft/+ heterozygotes, confirming that fine-tuning levels of functional SFT transcripts provides a foundation for higher yields. Finally, we show that although flowering delays by florigen mutant heterozygosity are conserved in Arabidopsis, increased yield is not, likely because cyclical flowering is absent. We suggest sft heterozygosity triggers a yield improvement by optimizing plant architecture via its dosage response in the florigen pathway. Exploiting dosage sensitivity of florigen and its family members therefore provides a path to enhance productivity in other crops, but species-specific tuning will be required.
The wall surrounding plant cells provides protection from abiotic and biotic stresses, and support through the action of turgor pressure. However, the presence of this strong elastic wall also prevents cell movement and resists cell growth. This growth can be likened to extending a house from the inside, using extremely high pressures to push out the walls. Plants must increase cell volume in order to explore their environment, acquire nutrients and reproduce. Cell wall material must stretch and flow in a controlled manner and, concomitantly, new cell wall material must be deposited at the correct rate and site to prevent wall and cell rupture. In this review, we examine biomechanics, cell wall structure and growth regulatory networks to provide a ‘big picture’ of plant cell growth.