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Current Opinion in Plant Biology

Jill E Cairns, B M Prasanna
In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and Asia maize yields remain variable due to climate shocks. Over the past decade extensive progress has been made on the development and delivery of climate-resilient maize. In 2016 over 70000 metric tonnes of drought-tolerant maize seed was commercialized in 13 countries in SSA, benefiting an estimated 53 million people. Significant progress is also being made with regard to the development and deployment of elite heat-tolerant maize varieties in South Asia. Increased genetic gain in grain yield under stress-prone environments, coupled with faster replacement of old/obsolete varieties, through intensive engagement with seed companies is essential to protect maize crops grown by smallholders from the changing climates in SSA and Asia...
May 17, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Robert J Henry, Agnelo Furtado, Parimalan Rangan
Analysis of the transcriptome of the developing wheat grain has associated expression of genes with traits involving production (e.g. yield) and quality (e.g. bread quality). Photosynthesis in the grain may be important in retaining carbon that would be lost in respiration during grain filling and may contribute to yield in the late stages of seed formation under warm and dry environments. A small number of genes have been identified as having been selected by humans to optimize the performance of wheat for foods such as bread...
May 17, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Qingyu Wu, Fang Xu, David Jackson
Crop yield improvement requires optimization of shoot architecture, and can be facilitated by understanding shoot apical meristem (SAM) development. Maize, as one of the most important cereal crops worldwide, is also a model system and has significantly contributed to our fundamental understanding of SAM development. In this review, we focus on recent progress and will discuss communication between different meristem regulators, including CLAVATA receptors and ligands, transcription factors, small RNAs and hormones, as well as the importance of communication between different SAM regions...
May 17, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Christina Stonoha-Arther, Dong Wang
The symbiosis formed by nitrogen-fixing bacteria with plant hosts mainly in the legume family involves a very intimate interaction. Within the symbiotic organ (the nodule) the bacteria are fully internalized by the host cell to become an intracellular organelle surrounded by a host-derived membrane. This arrangement is probably necessary for the efficient provision of energy and the sequestration of free oxygen molecules, two conditions required for sustained nitrogen fixation. Recent advances made in model legume species, such as Medicago truncatula, are beginning to uncover the genetic components allowing rhizobia to access the host cytoplasm and establish chronic intracellular infections without overt detrimental effects...
May 17, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Roman Podolec, Roman Ulm
Plants have evolved specific photoreceptors that capture informational cues from sunlight. The phytochrome, cryptochrome, and UVR8 photoreceptors perceive red/far-red, blue/UV-A, and UV-B light, respectively, and control overlapping photomorphogenic responses important for plant growth and development. A major repressor of such photomorphogenic responses is the E3 ubiquitin ligase formed by CONSTITUTIVELY PHOTOMORPHOGENIC 1 (COP1) and SUPPRESSOR OF PHYA-105 (SPA) proteins, which acts by regulating the stability of photomorphogenesis-promoting transcription factors...
May 15, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Antonio Serrano-Mislata, Robert Sablowski
In spite of its central importance in evolution, plant architecture and crop improvement, stem development remains poorly understood relative to other plant organs. Here, we summarise current knowledge of stem ontogenesis and its regulation, including insights from new image analysis and biophysical approaches. The stem initiates in the rib zone (RZ) of the shoot apical meristem, under transcriptional control by DELLA and BLH proteins. Links have emerged between these regulators and cell proliferation, patterning and oriented growth in the RZ...
May 12, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Patricia Lu-Irving, Hannah E Marx, Katrina M Dlugosch
Plant trait evolution is a topic of interest across disciplines and scales. Phylogenetic studies are powerful for generating hypotheses about the mechanisms that have shaped plant traits and their evolution. Introduced plants are a rich source of data on contemporary trait evolution. Introductions could provide especially useful tests of a variety of evolutionary hypotheses because the environments selecting on evolving traits are still present. We review phylogenetic and contemporary studies of trait evolution and identify areas of overlap and areas for further integration...
May 10, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Mengmeng Zhang, Jianbin Su, Yan Zhang, Juan Xu, Shuqun Zhang
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades are key signaling modules downstream of receptors/sensors that perceive endogenous and exogenous stimuli such as hormones, peptide ligands, and pathogen-derived patterns/effectors. In this review, we summarize recent advances in the establishment of MAPK cascades as unified signaling modules downstream of receptor-like kinases (RLKs) and receptor-like proteins (RLPs) in plant growth and defense, the identification of components connecting the RLK/RLP receptor complexes to the MAPK cascades, and the interactions between MAPK and hormone signaling pathways...
May 9, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Armin Scheben, David Edwards
The rate of crop improvement must increase to meet rising global demand for food. Crop breeding pipelines can be hampered by the imprecision and multi-generational timeframe of methods such as intercrossing and stochastic mutagenesis used to generate variation. Genome editing can generate targeted allelic series of trait-related genes and regulatory elements, creating a series of variable phenotypes for breeding within a single generation. Disrupting genic and regulatory regions is particularly effective for engineering quantitative traits...
May 8, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Jung-Youn Lee, Margaret Frank
The long-distance transport of sugars and nutrients through the phloem is essential for the proper function and growth of vascular plants. However, in addition to essential nutrients and sugars, phloem sap also contains small molecules (e.g. hormones) as well as a diverse population of macromolecules (i.e. proteins small RNAs, and mRNAs), the endogenous functions of which remain largely unknown. Understanding the cellular origins of these mobile macromolecules, their path into and out of the phloem translocation stream, and their fate at their new destination is essential for characterizing their presumptive function...
May 8, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Yves Van de Peer, J Chris Pires
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
May 7, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Kei Hiruma, Yoshihiro Kobae, Hirokazu Toju
Brassicaceae plants have lost symbiotic interactions with mutualistic mycorrhizal fungi, but, nonmycorrhizal Brassicaceae associate with diverse taxonomic groups of mutualistic root-endophytic fungi. Distantly related fungal endophytes of Brassicaceae plants transfer phosphorus to the hosts and promote plant growth, thereby suggesting that the beneficial function was independently acquired via convergent evolution. These beneficial interactions appear tightly regulated by the tryptophan-derived secondary metabolite pathway, which specifically developed in Brassicaceae...
May 5, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Andreas Keymer, Caroline Gutjahr
Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) is a widespread symbiosis between most land plants and fungi of the Glomeromycotina, which has existed for more than 400million years. AM fungi (AMF) improve plant nutrition with mineral nutrients and conversely, their growth and development is fueled by organic carbon supplied from their host. Recent studies demonstrated independently and with different experimental approaches that lipids are transferred from plants to fungi in addition to sugars, and that AMF are dependent on this lipid supply because they lack genes encoding fatty acid synthase I subunits...
May 2, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Kirsten Knox, Karl Oparka
This review focuses on the recent development of a suite of fluorescent probes that can be used to trace phloem-transport rates in a range of diverse species. Some of these probes are loaded into the phloem by virtue of optimal physico-chemical properties for ion trapping in the high pH environment of the sieve element. However, others are clearly loaded by carrier-mediated transport, such as the blue-emitting probe, esculin, which is loaded into the Arabidopsis phloem by the sucrose transporter, AtSUC2, allowing it to be used as a surrogate for sucrose in phloem transport studies...
May 2, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Federica De Marco, Rozenn Le Hir, Sylvie Dinant
Thousands of sieve tube exudate proteins (STEP) have now been identified and predicted to fulfill a diversity of functions. However, most STEPs should be considered putative, since methods to collect sieve tube exudates have many technical drawbacks, and advanced functional characterization will be required to distinguish contaminant from bonafide proteins, and determine the latter's location and activity in sieve elements (SE). One major challenge is to develop new approaches to elucidate the function of these SE proteins, which in turn, is expected to shed light on intriguing aspects of SE cell biology...
April 25, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Fulton E Rockwell, Jessica T Gersony, N Michele Holbrook
Current conceptions of sucrose export largely neglect the effect of transpiration-induced water potential gradients within leaf mesophyll, even as the mix of convection and diffusion in the pre-phloem path remains uncertain. It is also generally held that the relative importance of convection and diffusion in the pre-phloem path is controlled by the ratio of their respective mass transfer coefficients. Here, we consider pre-phloem sucrose transport in the presence of adverse water potential gradients, finding that whether convection impedes or aids sucrose delivery to the phloem is independent of the permeability of the plasmodesmata to bulk flow, and depends only on assimilation rate, path-length, and the diffusivity...
April 25, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Zefu Lu, William A Ricci, Robert J Schmitz, Xiaoyu Zhang
The systematic identification of cis-regulatory elements (CREs) in plant genomes is critically important in understanding transcriptional regulation during development and in response to environmental cues. Several genome-wide structure-based methods have been successfully applied to plant genomes in the past few years. Here, we review recent results on the identification and characterization of CREs in multiple plant species and in different biological processes and discuss future applications of chromatin accessibility data to understand the mechanism, function and evolution of transcriptional regulation networks...
April 25, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Richard Gj Hodel, Luke M Chandler, Annette M Fahrenkrog, Matias Kirst, Matthew A Gitzendanner, Douglas E Soltis, Pamela S Soltis
Selective sweeps may be caused by environmental conditions that select for a gene function or trait at one locus, causing reduced variation at neighboring sites due to linkage, with specific non-selected variants being swept along with the selected variant. For many species, genomic and environmental data are available to test hypotheses that environmental conditions are correlated with selected regions. Most genomic studies relating selection to environment use model organisms or crop species; typically, these studies have genomic data from large numbers of individuals and extensive environmental data...
April 21, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Rajeev K Varshney, Vikas K Singh, Arvind Kumar, Wayne Powell, Mark E Sorrells
Development of climate resilient crops with accelerating genetic gains in crops will require integration of different disciplines/technologies, to see the impact in the farmer's field. In this review, we summarize how we are utilizing our germplasm collections to identify superior alleles/haplotypes through NGS based sequencing approaches and how genomics-enabled technologies together with precise phenotyping are being used in crop breeding. Pre-breeding and genomics-assisted breeding approaches are contributing to the more efficient development of climate-resilient crops...
April 20, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Hanna Nishida, Takuya Suzaki
Nitrogen is an indispensable inorganic nutrient that is required by plants throughout their life. Root nodule symbiosis (RNS) is an important strategy mainly adopted by legumes to enhance nitrogen acquisition, where several key processes required for the establishment of the symbiosis, are pleiotropically controlled by nitrate availability in soil. Although the autoregulation of nodulation (AON), a systemic long-range signaling, has been suggested to be implicated in nitrate-induced control of RNS, AON alone is insufficient to fully explain the pleiotropic regulation that is induced by nitrate...
April 20, 2018: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
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