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Plant Biology Highlights: Cell Articles 2020

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Every winter I go back and look at some major plant biology stories appeared in  Cell ,  Nature , and  Science . I have been doing this since 2016. Yes - 5 years in a row! Here is plant biology stories published this year in Cell.  A Pathogen-Responsive Gene Cluster for Highly Modified Fatty Acids in Tomato   In response to biotic stress, plants produce suites of highly modified fatty acids that bear unusual chemical functionalities. Despite their chemical complexity and proposed roles in pathogen defense, little is known about the biosynthesis of decorated fatty acids in plants. Falcarindiol is a prototypical acetylenic lipid present in carrot, tomato, and celery that inhibits growth of fungi and human cancer cell lines. Using a combination of untargeted metabolomics and RNA sequencing, they discovered a biosynthetic gene cluster in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) required for falcarindiol production. By reconstituting initial biosynthetic steps in a heterologous host and generating tra

Plant Biology Highlights: Science Articles 2020

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Every winter I go back and look at some major plant biology stories appeared in  Cell ,  Nature , and  Science . I have been doing this since 2016. Yes - 5 years in a row! Here is plant biology stories published this year in  Science .  Evolution of carnivorous traps from planar leaves through simple shifts in gene expression   The cup-shaped leaves of carnivorous plants have evolved multiple times from ancestors with flat leaves. Studying development of the carnivorous trap in the humped bladderwort, Utricularia gibba, Whitewoods et al. identified genes similar to those expressed in surfaces of flat leaves. Ectopic expression and computational modeling reveals how slight shifts in gene expression domains make the difference between a flat leaf and a convoluted trap structure. Flexibility in growth rates in orthogonal polarity fields allows for diversity in shapes formed through development. A two-way molecular dialogue between embryo and endosperm is required for seed development   In

Plant Biology Highlights: Nature Articles 2020

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Every winter I go back and look at some major plant biology stories appeared in Cell , Nature , and Science . I have been doing this since 2016. Yes - 5 years in a row! Here is plant biology stories published this year in Nature .  Hydrogen peroxide sensor HPCA1 is an LRR receptor kinase in Arabidopsis Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a major reactive oxygen species in unicellular and multicellular organisms, and is produced extracellularly in response to external stresses and internal cues. H2O2 enters cells through aquaporin membrane proteins and covalently modifies cytoplasmic proteins to regulate signalling and cellular processes. However, whether sensors for H2O2 also exist on the cell surface remains unknown. In plant cells, H2O2 triggers an influx of Ca2+ ions, which is thought to be involved in H2O2 sensing and signalling. Here, by using forward genetic screens based on Ca2+ imaging, they isolated hydrogen-peroxide-induced Ca2+ increases (hpca) mutants in Arabidopsis, and identified

Avatar's Pandorian Botany in Reality

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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

Arabidopsis — a model plant for artists

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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,