2016 “How Plants Work” News Highlights – July

From A New Look At Lichens To A Moss Surprise

July 2016 seemed to be a time to rethink several long-held presumptions about lichens and chloroplasts.

A couple of plant research news reports changed the way we look at symbiotic plants and photosynthesis.

  • For over 140 years, lichens have been regarded as a symbiosis between a single fungus, usually an ascomycete, and a photosynthesizing partner. Other fungi have long been known to occur as occasional parasites or endophytes, but the one lichen–one fungus paradigm has seldom been questioned. Here we show that many common lichens are composed of the known ascomycete, the photosynthesizing partner, and, unexpectedly, specific basidiomycete yeasts.” (From: Science magazine)

    Two’s Company, Three’s a Lichen?

  • There exist more than 4,500 plant species which live as parasites on other plants. Some of them cause great damage to agriculture, even leading to the complete failure of crops. Researchers…have been investigating the ways in which some species defend themselves against such parasites.

    How the tomato avoids entanglements with a dodder.

  • Following the discovery of a new and very valuable enzyme which folds linear molecules into different shapes, scientists at the John Innes Centre are building a ‘triterpene machine’ which will enable them to custom-build valuable chemical compounds called triterpenes and produce them in large, cost-effective quantities.

    Using ‘chemical origami’ to generate customisable, high-value chemicals from plants.

  • Researchers of Kumamoto University in Japan have succeeded in the world’s first visualization of a peptidoglycan ‘wall’ present in the chloroplasts of bryophytes (moss plants). Until now, chloroplasts of green plants were considered to be surrounded only by two envelopes. The results of this research overturns conventional wisdom about the structure of chloroplasts.

    Hidden moss chloroplast ‘wall’ discovered.

    Any big surprises in the plant news from August 2016?

    To find out, “stay tuned”….

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