Salt tolerance and survival

Growing successfully in saline conditions is not an easy feat for land plants. Not only does the high osmotic pressure around the roots make water uptake more challenging, high concentrations of sodium and chloride ions are toxic if they build up in the cytoplasm of plant cells. In addition, the ion transport needed for maintaining ion homeostasis under salinity and minimising...
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Cyanobacterial photosynthesis: finding the function of the ALC

When ancient cyanobacteria evolved the ability to fix carbon through oxygenic photosynthesis, they transformed life on earth. The oxygen that they produced as a by-product of photosynthesis created an oxygenic atmosphere – allowing the evolution of multicellular life forms. Like plants, cyanobacteria use rubisco to catalyse the carbon-fixing step in photosynthesis. Unfortunate...
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All fruit no flowers

Fruit and nut farmers across a wide range of crops will be familiar with the phenomenon of alternate bearing – where a tree alternates between a high yield one year and a low yield the next. Growing fruit, which were initiated in the previous season, are able to suppress flowering and therefore reduce the number of fruits in the following season. Only shoots close to the devel...
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A window into the seeds of early angiosperms

The discovery of assemblages of small, well-preserved plant fossils from the Early Cretaceous age has provided researchers with a wealth of new insights into the early history of angiosperms. The fossils were found in loosely compacted sedimentary rocks from Portugal and eastern North America and include flowers, fruits and seeds, often so well preserved that it is possible to...
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Ferns with superpowers

Appearing grey-brown and lifeless, resurrection ferns, such as Pentagramma triangularis, can withstand long periods of drought in a curled up, desiccated state only to return to a lush green again once hydrated. This ability to withstand near-complete water loss and then recover allows the resurrection ferns to thrive in habitats where other plants would not survive. However, ...
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Farmer ants and crop plants

Humans are not the only species to farm plants. High up in the forest canopies of Fiji, ants have been farming Squamellaria plants for millions of years. The ants collect Squamellaria seeds, plant them under tree bark, protect the seedlings from herbivory, and fertilise the growing crop with their faeces. The ants then nest within specialised structures produced by the plant c...
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Giant bananas of the Ethiopian Highlands

Enset.Illustration by Eleanor Hammond-Hunt. In highland Ethiopia, a giant banana relative provides staple food for 20 million people. Its versatility and resilience, in a country that unenviably is the world’s largest historic recipient of food aid, has earned it the title of ‘the Tree Against Hunger’. Yet outside of its narrow zone of cultivation in the South West Highland...
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Call for papers! Crop digital information: sharing access and benefits

Access to crop digital information and the sharing of benefits derived from its use: background and perspectives During the 900-day siege of Leningrad, from 1942–1944, 11 members of staff at the Soviet genebank for crop plants and their wild relatives starved to death while trying to protect the resources it contained. The researchers understood the importance of seeds, ...
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Oak genomics proves its worth

If you're lucky enough to have access to a woodland, you'll be no stranger to the benefits that a walk in the woods can provide. That feeling of calm. The sprinkling of birdsong. The smell of leaves. Forests provide many benefits: they provide employment, underpin economic development, support heritage and biodiversity, improve living conditions, protect the landscape and m...
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A message to our community

The New Phytologist Trust has been closely monitoring updates on the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Our staff is now working remotely and while New Phytologist and Plants, People, Planet are considering manuscripts as normal, we are conscious that there may be a slight delay in handling papers due to editor and reviewer availability during this time. We also appre...
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