How Plants Work – “Greatest Hits” of 2017 – December

12 (CC BY 2.0) by Steve Bowbrick

From Mapping Trees to Mapping Plant Genomes.

As with most of the year, the favorite plant news reports of December 2017 ranged from the macroscopic to the molecular – from global plant ecology to individual plant DNA.

  • “Detailed global maps of key traits in higher plants have been made available for the first time, thanks to work led by researchers from the University of Minnesota’s (UMN) College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS).”
    From Alaska to Amazonia: first global maps of traits that drive vegetation growth.
  • “A pest that can infect plants from lavender to cherry trees is of real and growing concern in the UK, say experts.
    Outbreaks of Xylella fastidiosa have caused widespread problems in Europe, wiping out entire olive groves.
    The Royal Horticultural Society says the disease could arrive in the UK on imported stock, threatening gardens.”

    Gardens under threat from ‘game changing’ plant disease.
  • “The world’s population is predicted to exceed 9 billion in 2050. With more mouths to feed, there is a pressing need for improved food output. To meet the global demand for food, scientists aim to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis and therefore crop productivity.”
    The future of crop engineering.
  • “Much of the research in the field of plant functional genomics to date has relied on approaches based on single reference genomes. But by itself, a single reference genome does not capture the full genetic variability of a species. A pan-genome, the non-redundant union of all the sets of genes found in individuals of a species, is a valuable resource for unlocking natural diversity. However, the computational resources required to produce a large number of high quality genome assemblies has been a limiting factor in creating plant pan-genomes.”
    When One Reference Genome is Not Enough.
  • And what was the most popular plant news story of 2017? (At least on my on my HPW Twitter feed.)

  • You guessed it….CRISPR!
    Want more crop variety? Researchers propose using CRISPR to accelerate plant domestication.

    Happy New Year!

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