What’s New in Plant Biology (May 25, 2012)

2942400127 4e4d06be38 zSuper weeds and early flowers.
(from: Nature, May 25, 2012).

The weeds are winning, at least for the time being. So-called “superweeds” have evolved in response to massive increases in the use of the herbicide Roundup®. (See previous post about this.)

What’s a farmer to do?

The answer from the chemical companies is to switch to other herbicides and to genetically engineer crops to withstand them. Many weed scientists disagree. They think a more multifaceted approach to weed control should be used. Who’s right? (Read about the controversy here.)

How will climate change, or what I call “global weirding”, affect flowering in the future? A paper published in this week’s Nature asserts that most of the experiments aimed at answering this question are wrong, significantly under-estimating plant phenological responses to climate change. (Read summary of article here.)

Photoreceptors galore.

Long-day afternoons may actually help some plants to flower. See how in the May 25, 2012 issue of Science.
If this isn’t enough to whet your plant photoreceptor appetite, the May 3, 2012 issue of Molecular Plant has a banquet of photoreceptor treats. Start with a summary by Winslow Briggs, and then dine on full-text articles. Thanks, Molecular Plant!

Plant-symbiotic fungi and bacteria may infect plants in similar ways.

Both fungal mycorrhizae and the bacteria Rhizobium form symbiotic relationships with plants via the roots. Though the endpoint of these partnerships is different, according to a recent report in PNAS, both of these very different microorganisms may establish their symbioses with similar subcellular mechanisms.

The essence of a tasty tomato.

The plant story that’s making the rounds this week has to do with the biochemical deconstruction of what makes homegrown tomatoes taste good. Read about it here and here, and listen to an interview with the teller of this tale (Prof. Harry Klee) on NPR’s Science Friday program.

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