The puzzling puzzle

Sometimes we humans tend to prefer style over substance, as you might observe in any clothes shop. On the other hand, plants are down-to-earth living beings that do not appreciate fashion and aesthetics. Their whole structure has been molded through time by evolution so that the shape of their components mirrors their specific functions (something that is less likely in the clo...
Read More

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 220:1, October 2018

To calcify, or not to calcify? Often, it's the smallest things, when taken together, that have the largest impacts. Calcification in the oceans – when calcium accumulates in the body tissues of an organism – is a major sink of carbon dioxide (CO2), and an important influence on the global carbon cycle. Calcification is a key aspect of the biology of the coccolithophores – a gr...
Read More

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

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 216:1, October 2017

In the Viewpoint paper behind the image on the cover of New Phytologist 216:1, Florian Boucher and colleagues explain why, when it comes to diversification, size does matter. In the Knersvlakte, a closer look at the stony ground reveals that the quartzfields are actually carpeted with living stones: small succulent plants, belonging to the genus Argyroderma. Part of the Sout...
Read More

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 215:3, August 2017

From the roots up Getting back to your roots can lead to some interesting discoveries. In plants, the origin of roots has frequently been a controversial topic. Recent research published in New Phytologist suggests that the development of roots might have been far more interesting than we previously thought. A recently published paper by Fujinami et al. focuses on the organ...
Read More

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 215:2, July 2017

Going back to your roots Lycophyte (a group of plants more commonly known as clubmosses) roots are interesting because evidence suggests that, despite their similar appearance, they evolved independently of those in other vascular plants (euphyllophytes). To get to the bottom of this, you have to look at the differences in the ways that their roots branch. In a recent Tansley ...
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

Turning defence into a carnivorous offence in the Cape sundew

Insects landing on the carnivorous Cape sundew (Drosera capensis) don’t stand a chance. The sticky mucilage secreted from their leaves holds the victim in place while the leaf curls over to get a better grip. The plant then releases digestive enzymes that break down the insect so its nutrients can be absorbed into the leaf, supplementing the limited nutrients gained by the plan...
Read More

From sea to summit: plant colonisation of the land

When plants moved from water onto land, everything changed. Nutrients were scavenged from rocks to form the earliest soils, atmospheric oxygen levels rose dramatically, and plants provided the food that enticed other organisms to expand across the terrestrial world. Building on the success of a meeting in 2010, the New Phytologist Trust organised a multidisciplinary symposiu...
Read More

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 212:3, November 2016

What can kelp tell us about trees? Sea palm (Postelsia palmaeformis) is a species of kelp, pictured on the cover of New Phytologist 212:3, growing in the intertidal zone near Big Sur, California. In a study published in 212:3, Sam Starko and Patrick Martone investigate how kelps compare to land plants in the ways that they divide their biomass between different parts of the ...
Read More