Avatar's Pandorian Botany in Reality

James Cameron's sci-fi classic Avatar was a long-waited one for movie fans and for me. The first time I watched it was a sophomore of Biochemistry major. On a personal note, this is one of the few movies I watched several times with my dad on TV. Not exactly from the beginning to end  every time, but from a various starting point to the end. Fast forwarded a decade or slightly more than that, I became a plant biologist in the meantime and re-watching the movie brings completely different perspective. 

Pandorian Botany
The plot starts with the human race to obtain the mineral Unobtanium, which is available in the Pandora. Humans are inclined to have this mineral to solve the energy crisis of earth. But, the native Navi is the obstacle on their way. To conquer the Pandora and their mineral, humans made a base camp to observe them and even created a hybrid combining human and Navi's DNA. 
Jake and Neytiri in the Pandorian forest. Movie: Avatar
That's the plot. But, watching that …

Arabidopsis — a model plant for artists

Arabidopsis, a model plant, I prefer to call it road side superstar for plant biologist. It grows in every continent and even if you do not want to grow it at all, you will see it on your walkway. Much of our known genetic circuits were possible due to its generous contribution. A smaller genome with a wide range of gene sets to study every possible pathway. 
I think myself as an ambassador of Arabidopsis. My doctorate research was entirely dependent on that tiny un-edible plant. My friends used to mock me as I do not have to go to field and entire experiments were going inside the lab. I took that insult and turned it into a sarcastic one. I named my blog Aribidopsis (Arif + Arabidopsis)! Ever since, it is Aribidopsis. Not only my blog, the Twitter handle is also @aribidopsis! Now, it became a brand and sort of my pseudo name as well. No more insult sticks with it, rather a sense of pride. 
That's not the point I was planning to write in this blog post. I got distracted, because I …

Mutant Series: SOSEKI

Like a sailor uses a compass to find the direction to navigate the ship, how does a cell navigate itself without a compass? or do they have their own compass? Let me break the question into a simpler version. Cells need to know where they will make their next cell or in which direction? Cell does their stuffs through proteins. Is it possible that cell uses some proteins to act as compass? If so, what should be function of those proteins? Similar to compass, they will direct the cell to a certain direction, exactly as compass. We can imagine, rather than roaming here and there inside the cell, those proteins will localize into a certain part of the cell. You are right - they will hang out in one corner of the cell to show the direction, in general term. 
I am a plant biologist, assuming that most of the readers already know that. I love to think about the direction of the cell, more precisely plant cell. There are already a substantial amount of plant proteins we already know, who local…

Plant Biology Highlights: Cell Articles 2019

It is the last post on plant biology highlights on CNS (Cell, Nature, Science) paper published in 2019. Plant biology stories published in Cell this year are brought into one place to this blog post. You will find the collection of Cell articles (plant biology stories) from 2018 at the end of this post. Best wishes to everyone who are reading the blog and hope for more exciting sciences in coming 2020. Happy New year! 

The Root Cap Cuticle: A Cell Wall Structure for Seedling Establishment and Lateral Root Formation

The root cap surrounding the tip of plant roots is thought to protect the delicate stem cells in the root meristem. They discovered that the first layer of root cap cells is covered by an electron-opaque cell wall modification resembling a plant cuticle. Cuticles are polyester-based protective structures considered exclusive to aerial plant organs. Mutations in cutin biosynthesis genes affect the composition and ultrastructure of this cuticular structure, confirming its cutin…

Plant Biology Highlights: Science Articles 2019

As a continuation of plant biology CNS (Cell, Nature, Science) paper highlights, here are the articles published in Science in 2019. Plant biology stories appeared on three issues of Science cover (Feb 8 - Volume 363 - Issue 6427;Apr 5 - Volume 364 - Issue 6435; Aug 2 - Volume 365 - Issue 6452). At the end of the post, you will find the collection of Science articles published in 2018 as well. Enjoy!

Synthetic glycolate metabolism pathways stimulate crop growth and productivity in the field

Photorespiration is required in C3 plants to metabolize toxic glycolate formed when ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase oxygenates rather than carboxylates ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate. Depending on growing temperatures, photorespiration can reduce yields by 20 to 50% in C3 crops. Inspired by earlier work, they installed into tobacco chloroplasts synthetic glycolate metabolic pathways that are thought to be more efficient than the native pathway. Flux through the synthetic pathways was maxim…

Plant Biology Highlights: Nature Articles 2019

I am doing this plant biology CNS (Cell - Nature - Science) paper highlights since 2016. Every winter break, it is a fun job for me to do. I enjoy as much as writing a New Year card to my favorite person. It is also a reminder for myself that lots of great science are going on and I have to do better next year and keep trying to make a difference. Here, I have previewed plant biology stories published this year in Nature. 

Mobile PEAR transcription factors integrate positional cues to prime cambial growth

Apical growth in plants initiates upon seed germination, whereas radial growth is primed only during early ontogenesis in procambium cells and activated later by the vascular cambium. Although it is not known how radial growth is organized and regulated in plants, this system resembles the developmental competence observed in some animal systems, in which pre-existing patterns of developmental potential are established early on. Here they show that in Arabidopsis the initiation of radi…