Male sterility in plants enhances breeding and hybrid crop production. The elusive Sanming Dominant Genic Male Sterile (SDGMS) Rice, discovered in 2001, offered stable male sterility. Scientists recently unraveled the SDGMS gene’s mechanism. They found that in sterile plants, a retrotransposon triggers SDGMS expression in tapetal cells, causing male sterility. This discovery highlights the importance of transposable elements in genome evolution and the utility of SDGMS rice for efficient breeding without manual emasculation.
Scientists have found a plant gene that drives the growth of root hairs, the tiny structures that help plants find water and nutrients in the soil. The gene, dubbed “BUZZ,” causes faster-growing, denser webs of roots and may also determine how plants find and use nitrates, a prime source of nitrogen essential to plant growth. Nitrates are also used in fertilizers that can pollute the environment as runoff, and this genetic discovery could ultimately help plant scientists find ways to grow crops more sustainably.
Researchers identify the first enzymatic step in the biosynthesis of these plant steroids important in the medical treatment of heart disease.
Researchers discovered a form of social immunity in wheat and rice. Disease susceptibility in wheat and rice is modulated not only by genetic resistance traits, but also by interactions with neighbouring plants of the same species. The findings, show that inter-plant cooperation can reduce disease susceptibility by nearly 90 percent in certain cases, as much as is conferred by a plant’s own resistance genes. The findings create new possibilities for improving plant resistance to disease and reducing the use of pesticides.
A newly discovered way of optimising plant enzymes through bioengineering has increased knowledge of how plant material can be converted into biofuels, biochemicals and other high-value products.
A new study has uncovered intriguing insights into the evolution of plant biology, effectively rewriting the history of how they evolved over the past billion years.
An international group of scientists has issued an urgent call for coordinated action to save the iconic genus Rafflesia, which contains the world’s largest flowers. This follows a new study which found that most of the 42 species are severely threatened, yet just one of these is listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species. Furthermore, over two thirds (67%) of the plants’ habitats are unprotected and at risk of destruction.
The Earth’s surface is covered by plants. They make up the majority of biomass on land and exhibit a wide range of diversity, from mosses to trees. This astounding biodiversity came into existence due to a fateful evolutionary event that happened just once: plant terrestrialization. This describes the point where one group of algae, whose modern descendants can still be studied in the lab, evolved into plants and invaded land around the world. An international group of researchers generated large scale gene expression data to investigate the molecular networks that operate in one of the closest algal relatives of land plants, a humble single-celled alga called Mesotaenium endlicherianum.
Pollen of flowering plants can be dispersed by animals, wind or even by water. In assessing pollination modes, a fundamental question is how many flowering plants are pollinated by animals. Although the question has been raised previously, an accurate estimation remains elusive.