Cannabis sativa has long been an important source of fiber extracted from hemp and both medicinal and recreational drugs based on cannabinoid compounds. Here, we investigated its poorly known domestication history using whole-genome resequencing of 110 accessions from worldwide origins. We show that C. sativa was first domesticated in early Neolithic times in East Asia and that all current hemp and drug cultivars diverged from an ancestral gene pool currently represented by feral plants and landraces in China. We identified candidate genes associated with traits differentiating hemp and drug cultivars, including branching pattern and cellulose/lignin biosynthesis. We also found evidence for loss of function of genes involved in the synthesis of the two major biochemically competing cannabinoids during selection for increased fiber production or psychoactive properties. Our results provide a unique global view of the domestication of C. sativa and offer valuable genomic resources for ongoing functional and molecular breeding research. Genome analyses provide new insights into the global domestication history of Cannabis sativa and its two main cannabinoids. Genome analyses provide new insights into the global domestication history of Cannabis sativa and its two main cannabinoids.
RNA N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modifications are essential in plants. Here, we show that transgenic expression of the human RNA demethylase FTO in rice caused a more than threefold increase in grain yield under greenhouse conditions. In field trials, transgenic expression of FTO in rice and potato caused ~50% increases in yield and biomass. We demonstrate that the presence of FTO stimulates root meristem cell proliferation and tiller bud formation and promotes photosynthetic efficiency and drought tolerance but has no effect on mature cell size, shoot meristem cell proliferation, root diameter, plant height or ploidy. FTO mediates substantial m6A demethylation (around 7% of demethylation in poly(A) RNA and around 35% decrease of m6A in non-ribosomal nuclear RNA) in plant RNA, inducing chromatin openness and transcriptional activation. Therefore, modulation of plant RNA m6A methylation is a promising strategy to dramatically improve plant growth and crop yield.
DNA damage can result from intrinsic cellular processes and from exposure to stressful environments. Such DNA damage generally threatens genome integrity and cell viability1. However, here we report that the transient induction of DNA strand breaks (single-strand breaks, double-strand breaks or both) in the moss Physcomitrella patens can trigger the reprogramming of differentiated leaf cells into stem cells without cell death. After intact leafy shoots (gametophores) were exposed to zeocin, an inducer of DNA strand breaks, the STEM CELL-INDUCING FACTOR 1 (STEMIN1)2 promoter was activated in some leaf cells. These cells subsequently initiated tip growth and underwent asymmetric cell divisions to form chloronema apical stem cells, which are in an earlier phase of the life cycle than leaf cells and have the ability to form new gametophores. This DNA-strand-break-induced reprogramming required the DNA damage sensor ATR kinase, but not ATM kinase, together with STEMIN1 and closely related proteins. ATR was also indispensable for the induction of STEMIN1 by DNA strand breaks. Our findings indicate that DNA strand breaks, which are usually considered to pose a severe threat to cells, trigger cellular reprogramming towards stem cells via the activity of ATR
Plants protect themselves with a vast array of toxic secondary metabolites, yet most plants serve as food for insects. The evolutionary processes that allow herbivorous insects to resist plant defenses remain largely unknown. The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a cosmopolitan, highly polyphagous agricultural pest that vectors several serious plant pathogenic viruses and is an excellent model to probe the molecular mechanisms involved in overcoming plant defenses. Here, we show that, through an exceptional horizontal gene transfer event, the whitefly has acquired the plant-derived phenolic glucoside malonyltransferase gene BtPMaT1. This gene enables whiteflies to neutralize phenolic glucosides. This was confirmed by genetically transforming tomato plants to produce small interfering RNAs that silence BtPMaT1, thus impairing the whiteflies’ detoxification ability. These findings reveal an evolutionary scenario whereby herbivores harness the genetic toolkit of their host plants to develop resistance to plant defenses and how this can be exploited for crop protection.
The arrangement of plant organs, called phyllotaxis, produce remarkable spiral or whorled patterns. Cauliflowers present a unique phyllotaxis with a multitude of spirals over a wide range of scales. How such a self-similar fractal organization emerges from developmental mechanisms has remained elusive. Combining experimental assays with modeling, we found that cauliflowers arise due to the hysteresis of the bistable floral network that generates inflorescences imprinted by a transient floral state. We further show how additional mutations affecting meristem growth dynamics can induce the production of conical phyllotactic structures reminiscent of the conspicuous fractal Romanesco shape. This study reveals how the spectacular morphological modification of the inflorescences in cauliflower and Romanesco shape arises from the hysteresis of the genetic programs controlling inflorescence development.
Owing to their adaptive interfacial properties, soft actuators can be used to perform more delicate tasks than their rigid counterparts. However, traditional polymeric soft actuators rely on energy conversion for actuation, resulting in high power input or slow responses. Here we report an electrical plant-based actuator that uses a conformable electrical interface as an electrical modulating unit and a Venus flytrap as an actuating unit. Using frequency-dependent action-potential modulation, accurate on-demand actuation is possible, with response times that can be tuned to 1.3 s and a power input of only 10−5 W. The actuator can be wirelessly controlled using a smartphone. It can also be installed on a range of platforms (including a finger and a robotic hand) and can be used to grasp thin wires and capture moving objects.
The authors here have developed a time-dependent intelligent quasi-steady thermal model to accurately predict the heating requirements of a greenhouse for optimum productivity with minimum power consumption.
This paper leverages directed evolution to evolve E.coli bacteria to consume CO2 as a sole carbon source for survival. This proof of concept can be further extended to other industry-relevant strains so they can use greenhouse gas to make value-added chemicals with extremely low cost while reducing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.