Tropical forest response to drought depends on age

In most of the tropics, droughts are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of climate change. All trees are not created equal, however. Research published in New Phytologist suggests that tropical forests in Panama get better at coping with drought as they get older. Mario Bretfeld and colleagues at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute used plant water use data ...
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Interview with Beth Roskilly

Each year, the New Phytologist Trust sponsors the ESA Physiological Ecology Section award for the best poster presented by a graduate student at the ESA Annual Meeting. 2017's winner was Beth Roskilly, with her poster, Xylem anatomy mediates growth and longevity in ponderosa pine. Congratulations Beth! Find out more about Beth and her research in the interview below. Hi there...
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Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 218:1, April 2018

It takes a muscle... Plants may be rooted to the spot, but they can still flex their body parts. A new Review, published in New Phytologist, describes how plants got their moves. The colourful cover of New Phytologist 218:1 is a cross-section showing the primary and secondary phloem of a Cannabis sativa stem. These organs contain 'G-fibres' – specialised structures that are a...
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Plants evolve away from obsolete defences when attacked by immune herbivores

A new study shows that plants can evolve out of their obsolete defence mechanisms when facing an immune enemy, an illustration of the "defence de-escalation" evolution theory. Do you know what caused soldiers to stop wearing chainmail and steel plate armour? Armies evolved away from heavy metallic armour because it ceased to be effective against modern weapons, and there was ...
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Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 217:4, March 2018

How to make a tumour Ustilago maydis is a biotrophic fungus that causes smut disease on maize, by reprogramming plant cells to produce massive tumours. Just how this happens at the cellular level in maize leaves has remained unknown, until now. In the paper behind the cover of New Phytologist 217:4, Alexandra Matei and Gunther Doehlemann, of the University of Cologne, tog...
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When did flowers originate? Solving the ‘abominable mystery’

Flowering plants likely originated between 149 and 256 million years ago according to new UCL-led research. The study, published today in New Phytologist by researchers from the UK and China, shows that flowering plants are neither as old as suggested by previous molecular studies, nor as young as a literal interpretation of their fossil record. The fossil record suggests...
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My take on the Next Generation Scientists 2017 meeting

As you have seen, there were a number of interesting talks given over the second New Phytologist’s Next Generation Scientists meeting back in the summer of 2017.  I was lucky to be helping there myself.  If you attended, you may have spotted me running around with a microphone while the speakers were taking questions or even seen me by my poster.  Summaries of the event are ava...
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Rethinking fungal ecology?

"… as readers, reviewers, researchers, or editors, we should be prepared to re-think fungal ecology, and describe niches beyond those our respective domains of research predict." When we talk about fungal ecology, we tend to think of a set of disciplines that investigate the distinct ecological roles of fungi. Phytopathology looks for parasitic fungi. Research on mycorrhizae (...
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Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 217:3, February 2018

The cover for New Phytologist 217:3 is rather special, being the first cover to feature a hand-drawn image since 2004. In this instalment of Behind the Cover, authors Claire Stanley and Guido Grossmann reveal more detail about the dual-flow-RootChip, the subject of their recent Methods paper. The artwork illustrates the dual-flow-RootChip, a new technology that enables r...
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Less chewing the cud, more greening the fuel

A 'significant breakthrough' that makes grasses more digestible promises improved feed for ruminants and better biomass for biofuel. Plant biomass contains considerable calorific value but most of it makes up robust cell walls, an unappetising evolutionary advantage that helped grasses to survive foragers and prosper for more than 60 million years. The trouble is that thi...
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