What We’re Reading: February 17

New Phytologist Tansley Medal finalists essays The New Phytologist Tansley Medal is awarded to an early career scientist for excellence in plant science. The essays submitted by each of the five finalists are published in the March 2017 issue of New Phytologist, and make good reading. We agree with the sentiments of the editors, “warmest … Read more

What We’re Reading: February 10

Review: Plant diversity change across scales during the Anthropocene ($) We’re living in the Anthropocene, a term that reflects the profound impact of human activities on Earth’s geology and ecology. A hallmark of the Anthropocene is a decrease in biodiversity due to an increase in the rate of extinctions. Vellend et al. examined how plant … Read more

What We’re Reading: February 3rd

Review: Cyanobacterial metabolites as a source of sunscreens and moisturizers The cosmetic industry uses many different chemicals to produce the seven or so skin care products used by the average American every day. Efforts are underway to develop renewable sources for some of these. Derikvand et al. review the chemistry and potential applications behind compounds … Read more

What We’re Reading: January 27th

Review: The sexual advantage of looking, smelling and tasting good, the metabolic network that produces signals for pollinators ($) The interaction between angiosperms and their pollinators provides an excellent system to study co-evolution, and underpins the evolution of the biosynthesis of numerous interesting and useful specialized metabolites, from pigments to fragrances. Borghi et al. review … Read more

What We’re Reading: January 20th

Two Reviews: CRISPR/Cas for genome engineering in plants, and Genome editing in cereal crops ($) The gene-editing technology CRISPR/Cas, which introduces double-strand breaks that are repaired by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), is best known for the promise it holds in modifying an organism’s DNA sequence without the introduction of exogenous genes. However, as Puchta describes … Read more

What We’re Reading: January 13

Editorial: Rigorous Science: a How-To Guide Casadevall and Fang set out several proposals for research training to help ensure scientific “rigor”, which they define as promoting confidence in the truth or accuracy of the findings. The authors propose and elaborate on five foundations for scientific rigor: Redundancy in experimental design, recognition of error, intellectual honesty, … Read more

What We’re Reading: January 6th

Review: Transport and homeostasis of K and P ($) Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are the three macronutrients required in highest amounts for plant growth. N is abundant in the atmosphere, therefore plentiful if we overlook the energetic costs of converting N2 to usable form. By contrast, K and P are present in … Read more

What We’re Reading: December 23

Short, accessible summaries of articles of broad interest to plant scientists, with links to the papers for more in-depth reading. Enjoy! Review: Physics of pollinator attraction Flowers use a variety of strategies to attract pollinators and ensure successful pollination, including color and scent. Moyroud and Glover review some of the less familiar strategies including physical … Read more

What We’re Reading: Dec 16

Previewing Pollen Biology special issue of Plant Physiology In Plant Physiology Preview you can get a head start on reading the excellent set of articles from a forthcoming special issue on Pollen Biology. Updates and research articles cover all aspects of this crucial part of reproductive biology, from the complex cell biology that underpins polar … Read more

What We’re Reading: December 9

Review: Domestication and Breeding of Jatropha curcas L. Jatropha curcas L. is a drought-tolerant perennial angiosperm in the in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. As such, it has a high untapped potential to meet the food and bioenergy demands of the world. Montes and Melchinger review the current status of the progress in Jatropha domestication and … Read more

What We’re Reading: Dec 2

Featured Review: Programmed Cell Death in Development and Disease Programmed cell death (PCD) is an active process that occurs as part of normal development and also contributes to defense against pathogens. While there are many similarities in developmental PCD (dPCD) and pathogen-triggered PCD (pPCD), there are also differences. Huysmans et al. review and contrast these … Read more

What We’re Reading: November 25

Featured Review: The Broad Footprint of Climate Change From Genes to Biomes to People ($) In this review, Scheffers et al. collate a vast amount of data to summarize the impact of climate change on terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems; their findings are sobering. A key conclusion is that across the 94 processes analyzed, 84% … Read more

What We’re Reading: November 18

Featured Review: Effects of water stress on rhizodeposition Rhizodeposition refers to the release of organic compounds from roots into soil. Rhizodeposits alter the composition and structure of soil and also provide food for soil microbes whose actions can increase the bioavailability of soil organic matter. Preece and Peñuelas review how drought affects rhizodeposition, which in … Read more

What We’re Reading: Nov 11

We start with a trio of papers that explore plant cell proliferation Featured Review: Plants grow with a little help from their organelle friends ($) Mitochondria and chloroplasts are semi-autonomous organelles that provide cells with energy, metabolites and hormones. Van Dingenen et al. review organelles’ dynamic roles during organ growth. As an obvious example, many … Read more

What We’re Reading: Nov 4

Featured Review: Role of Mass Spectrometry in Biology Mass spectrometry (MS) has become a core tool for molecular and structural biology. Lössl et al. review the history of MS and provide an accessible explanation for how it works and its applications, with numerous examples. This is a must-read for students of biochemistry as well as … Read more

What We’re Reading: Oct 28

Featured Review: Evolution of ROS signaling ($) Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are partially reduced or excited forms of oxygen (for example, O2·−) that are reactive and damaging towards cellular components. Because ROS are produced as byproducts of metabolism, cells have evolved ROS detoxification pathways; more than 150 Arabidopsis genes contribute to ROS detoxification. Inupakutika et … Read more

What We’re Reading: October 21

Featured Review: Update of Arabidopsis floral meristem formation ($) Genetic approaches using Arabidopsis have identified key players in the initiation and elaboration of floral meristems and flowers. These core findings are now expanded to encompass the roles of hormone fluxes and mechanical forces, and systems-wide modeling of gene regulatory networks. In this review, Denay et … Read more

What We’re Reading: Oct 14th

Featured Review: Celebrating 150 years since Mendel’s Discoveries ($) This review describes Mendel’s seminal work and how it laid the foundation for today’s plant breeding (as well as all of genetics). Smýka et al. trace the evolution of our understanding from Mendel’s discrete traits through continuous traits and quantitative trait loci (including the contributions of … Read more