EXTRAS LAB-MADE HORMONE MAY REVEAL SECRET LIVES OF PLANTS By developing a synthetic version of the plant hormone auxin and an engineered receptor to recognize it, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator Keiko Torii and colleagues are poised to uncover plants’ inner workings. The new work, described 22 January in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, is “a transformative tool to understand plant growth and develop- ment,” says Torii, a plant biologist at the University of Washington. That understanding may have big agri- cultural implications, raising the possibility, for instance, of a new way to ripen strawberries and toma- toes. To plants, the hormone auxin is king. Among many other jobs, auxin helps sunflowers track sunlight, roots grow downward, and fruits ripen. This wide range of jobs, as well as the fact that every cell in a plant can both produce and detect auxin, makes it tricky to tease apart the hor- mone’s various roles. “It’s been a huge mystery as to how such a simple molecule can do so many different things.” ‘WILD’ GENES OPEN UP OPPORTUNITIES FOR HEALTHIER, CLIMATE-SMART RICE The genome sequencing of seven wild rice varieties has finally been completed. This breakthrough is expected to provide opportunities for breeders worldwide in developing better rice varieties that will respond to the changing needs of the farmers and the consumers. This discovery is outlined in the article Genomes of 13 domesticated and wild rice relatives highlight genetic conservation, turnover and innovation across the genus Oryza published by Nature Genetics. The study details the generation of seven wild and two cultivated genomes (IR8 and N22). The IR8, popularly known as “miracle rice,” was developed by rice scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). IR8 was one of the rice vari- eties that ushered in the Green Revolution in Asia during the 1960s and prevented worldwide starvation and famine. “As the global population is projected to increase by almost 3 billion by 2050, rice breeders urgently need to develop new and sus- tainable rice varieties with higher yield, healthier grains and reduced environmental footprints. The completed sequencing of the seven wild rice varieties is a significant progress to drive further genome evolution and domestication,” explains Dr. Rod Wing, leader of the International Oryza Map Alignment Project (IOMAP), an AXA Chair holder at the International Rice Research Institute, professor at the University of Arizona, and one of the lead scientists in the study. EVOLUTION OF CHINA’S FLOWERING PLANTS SHOWS EAST-WEST DIVIDE BETWEEN OLD, NEW LINEAGES An international team of scientists has mapped the evolu- tionary relationships between China’s 30,000 flowering plant species, uncovering a distinct regional pattern in biodiversity. Eastern China is a floral “museum” with a rich array of ancient lineages and distant relatives while the western provinces are an evolutionary “cradle” for newer and more closely related species. The findings highlight the need for more conservation efforts in densely populated eastern China, home to many threatened plant species and the country’s top biodiversity hotspots. Better connecting eastern China’s nature reserves and parks, currently fragmented by urbanization and provin- cial borders, would help conserve plant lineages and the ani- mals that depend on them, said Pam Soltis, one of the study’s senior authors and a distinguished professor and curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History. EUROPEAN-SEED.COM I EUROPEAN SEED I 39 CELEBRATING 75+ YEARS OF SERVICE CELEBRATING 77+ YEARS OF SERVICE 80 CELEBRATING 75+ YEARS OF SERVICE CELEBRATING 77+ YEARS OF SERVICE 80 CELEBRATING 75+ YEARS OF SERVICE CELEBRATING 77+ YEARS OF SERVICE 80 CELEBRATING 80 YEARS OF SERVICE HYBRID POPCORN SEED • Superior Popcorn Genetics RESEARCH/TESTING • Popcorn CONTRACT SEED PRODUCTION/CONDITIONING • Superior Popcorn Genetics AG ALUMNI SEED P.O. Box 158 702 State Road 28 East Romney, IN 47981 USA 800-822-7134 765-538-3145 (FAX) 765-538-3600 www.agalumniseed.com email: [email protected] AG ALUMNI SEED