The importance of being sticky

The composition of the cell walls of land plants allows them to grow upright and gives them a sturdy structure that is essential for living out of water. This is possible thanks to a complex matrix made of cellulose fibrils, proteins and polysaccharides. One of these polysaccharides is called Xyloglucan, and it sticks cellulose fibrils together in a dynamic way. For a while sc...
Read More

Partner swapping: a climate change survival strategy

Some species of lichen grow under very different climatic conditions. They are true survival artists. Now new research published in New Phytologist suggests that the secret to their success lies in their willingness to be unfaithful to their algal partners. Lichens are a classic example of symbiosis, in which a species of algae moves in with a fungus and, in exchange for she...
Read More

The winding evolutionary path of mannitol production in algae

Algae may not always look exciting, but this extremely diverse group has a lot of secrets. We are only just beginning to piece together the evolutionary history of these organisms, some of which are not even classified as plants. All algae contain plastids that appear to have been derived from an ancient endosymbiosis between a non-photosynthetic host cell and a photosynthetic ...
Read More