Reviews & Analysis

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  • Organisms living at elevation are exposed to a constant state of hypoxia compared to those at low altitude. A recent study1 has shown that flowering plants acclimatize to high altitude through natural variation in molecular oxygen (O2) sensing, with high-altitude populations exhibiting increased O2 sensitivity to balance physiological and metabolic outputs. This finding demonstrates convergent mechanisms for altitude adaptation across eukaryotic kingdoms despite differences in the hypoxia-signalling pathways of plants and animals.

    • Daniel J. Gibbs
    • Rory Osborne
    News & Views
  • Arabidopsis embryonic root development involves the formation of distinct cell types and tissues in a tightly regulated and thereby highly predictable spatio-temporal manner. A crosstalk between maternal and embryonic genes orchestrates division orientation and fate specification to control root development.

    • Jana Wittmer
    • Renze Heidstra
    News & Views
  • Methylation is a frequent modification of glycans and polysaccharides. This process relies on the transport of cytosolic S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) into the Golgi lumen. This work identifies Golgi-localized major facilitator superfamily transporter members as putative SAM transporters in plants and reveals their importance for polysaccharide methylation and maintenance of the properties of cell walls.

    Research Briefing
  • The analysis of the 11-gigabase, hexaploid oat genome reveals a mosaic chromosome structure with complex rearrangements related to polyploidization. The high-quality oat reference genome will facilitate the molecular identification of health food traits and the implementation of genomics-based oat breeding.

    • Simon G. Krattinger
    • Beat Keller
    News & Views
  • Worldwide, vitamin D deficiency affects around 1 billion people. A recent study indicates that blocking a duplicated branch of phytosterol biosynthesis in tomato leads to provitamin D3 accumulation.

    • Dominique Van Der Straeten
    • Simon Strobbe
    News & Views
  • How T-DNAs become incorporated into the host chromosome has been a subject of lively debate for the last quarter century. Kralemann et al. report data revealing the mechanism of genomic capture of the right border and validating the role of DNA polymerase θ in the capture of the left border.

    • Anne B. Britt
    News & Views
  • Same Cas9 protein, two different jobs: the CRISPR-Combo genome engineering strategy enables simultaneous gene activation and genome editing for different targets through changes to the guide RNA structure.

    • Juan M. Debernardi
    • Beth A. Rowan
    News & Views
  • Next-generation crop protection strategies must be clean and green as well as effective. Delivery of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) as a BioClay spray to control the sap-sucking pest whitefly is one such strategy. This tool disrupts multiple whitefly life cycle stages in planta, with adjuvant-enhanced foliar uptake complementing the clay-mediated delivery of dsRNA.

    Research Briefing
  • Theory and single-cell experiments outline a new role for upstream open reading frames in buffering cellular heterogeneity in protein abundance at the translation level.

    • Simon Alamos
    News & Views
  • Xylan-rich nanodomains at pit borders of xylem vessels determine a pitted wall pattern by anchoring cellulosic nanofibrils at the pit edges and are crucial to support vessel robustness, water transport and leaf transpiration. These nanocompartments are mostly produced by the de novo xylan synthase IRREGULAR XYLEM (IRX)10 and its homologues.

    Research Briefing
  • Extensive genetics and genomics analyses reveal the co-transcriptional processing mode of primary substrates of microRNAs in Arabidopsis, and an unexpected promoting role of R-loops in the process.

    • Jiaying Zhu
    • Xingxing Yan
    • Xiuren Zhang
    News & Views
  • Genome sequences and expression data for partly and wholly mycoheterotrophic orchids shed light on shifts in nuclear genes that may help drive dependence on fungi for carbon.

    • Thomas J. Givnish
    News & Views
  • By sequencing and analyzing the genomes of the partially and fully mycoheterotrophic orchids Platanthera zijinensis and P. guangdongensis, respectively, we reveal not only the potential molecular basis underlying important mycoheterotrophic traits, but also nutrient supplement mechanisms in the early and later stage of mycoheterotrophic growth, illuminating the evolution of mycoheterotrophic plants.

    Research Briefing
  • The first complete cycad genome offers an invaluable solution to sex determination, one of the largest conservation challenges in these enigmatic plants.

    • James A. R. Clugston
    • Gregory J. Kenicer
    News & Views
  • Theory predicts duplicate genes will evolve new functions or be lost from genomes rather than maintain redundant functions. Kwon et al. show that redundant plant genes can be maintained if they actively compensate for perturbation of their partners at the shoot tip, but that this might not be an evolutionarily stable strategy to stave off degenerative mutations.

    • Jill C. Preston
    News & Views
  • In plants, impairing transgenerational resetting of juvenility leads to premature flowering in the offspring. This robust reset process is mediated by de novo activation of MIR156/7-family genes at different developmental stages through distinct reprogramming routes.

    Research Briefing
  • Development of flowers typically employs conserved molecular pathways and recurrent sets of homologous genes. A new study shows that a homologue of RADIALIS, a gene well known to control flower symmetry, is recruited to serve a different function.

    • Roberta Bergero
    News & Views
  • A recent study suggests that the optimal temperature for symbiotic nitrogen fixation rates exceeds the plant’s preferred growth temperature in laboratory conditions. A few degrees of warming could thereby increase or decrease nitrogen fixation rates, depending on the optimal rate among species.

    • Ying-Ping Wang
    • Benjamin Z. Houlton
    News & Views