Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Genetics

Potentially key gene has big role in natural variation of chloroplast size

Worldwide populations of Arabidopsis thaliana all have the same genes, but they vary in many traits, including the size of their chloroplasts. A recent study in Plant Physiology identified one of the genes, FtsZ2-2, contributing to the natural variation in … Continue reading

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Common features of domestic animals suggest caveats to evolutionary theory

White patches on fur coats, floppy ears, and curly tails are some of the traits frequently seen in domesticated animals. A group of researchers has now put forth a theory as to why these traits so often evolve in association … Continue reading

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Unlocking a mystery of seed development promises fatter, oilier oilseeds

The canola cooking oil lining supermarket shelves comes from the seeds of Brassica napus, a weedy-looking plant in the mustard family. Farmers of this crop understandably want varieties that yield big, oily seeds. A recent study in The Plant Cell … Continue reading

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Nitrogen-fixing bacteria talk to soybean roots via tiny RNAs, suggesting new avenue to improve yields

In order for soybean plants to get their necessary dose of nitrogen, they partner with bacteria called rhizobia, which can convert atmospheric nitrogen into organic forms the plant can use. But scientists don’t have the full picture of what facilitates … Continue reading

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By separating life stages, metamorphosis may circumvent harmful evolutionary tradeoffs

  There’s no guarantee evolution will bestow the best version of every trait. The benefits of one trait may impose a cost when an unfavorable trait, correlated genetically, comes along for the ride. In a recent study on wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) … Continue reading

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Honeybee queens influence offspring caste through egg size

Queen bees have surprising sway over the future development of their eggs, a recent study reports. The reigning bee matriarch lays larger eggs in the wax honeycomb cells where workers raise new queens as compared with the eggs laid in … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Tumors create an acidic environment that helps them invade surrounding tissues

Cancer cells tend to turn their extracellular environment acidic, thus helping these rogue cells thrive while creating a hostile environment for normal ones. Acidosis promotes tumor growth, metastasis and drug resistance, while helping tumor cells evade the immune system. But … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Seedbanks, meant to safeguard key plant species, need to enhance their diversity

Humanity’s last hope could someday rest on a humble seed, tucked away in the cool and dark of a collection. Seed collections, called seedbanks or seed genebanks, store millions of grains, nuts, and kernels in baggies and plastic bins, meant … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Ion channel puts the squeeze on blood vessels, affecting blood pressure

Blood pressure is exquisitely regulated to respond to our physiological state. Stress raises blood pressure. Simply stand up, and the arteries constrict to maintain pressure. New findings in mice show how a protein called PKD2 helps regulate blood pressure by … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Single gene mutation may boost recombination and help produce better crops

As climate change and population growth threaten to destabilize global food security, plant breeders are ramping up efforts to create better, more productive crops. But in order to introduce new traits, breeding techniques typically rely on rare genetic recombination events … Continue reading

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