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Concept: Fern


Electronic plants, e-Plants, are an organic bioelectronic platform that allows electronic interfacing with plants. Recently we have demonstrated plants with augmented electronic functionality. Using the vascular system and organs of a plant, we manufactured organic electronic devices and circuits in vivo, leveraging the internal structure and physiology of the plant as the template, and an integral part of the devices. However, this electronic functionality was only achieved in localized regions, whereas new electronic materials that could be distributed to every part of the plant would provide versatility in device and circuit fabrication and create possibilities for new device concepts. Here we report the synthesis of such a conjugated oligomer that can be distributed and form longer oligomers and polymer in every part of the xylem vascular tissue of a Rosa floribunda cutting, forming long-range conducting wires. The plant’s structure acts as a physical template, whereas the plant’s biochemical response mechanism acts as the catalyst for polymerization. In addition, the oligomer can cross through the veins and enter the apoplastic space in the leaves. Finally, using the plant’s natural architecture we manufacture supercapacitors along the stem. Our results are preludes to autonomous energy systems integrated within plants and distribute interconnected sensor-actuator systems for plant control and optimization.

Concepts: Protein, Blood, Integrated circuit, Monomer, Transistor, Vascular plant, Fern, Vascular tissue


The MEAM1 (B biotype) Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) is one of the most widespread and damaging whitefly cryptic species. Our previous studies discovered that the MEAM1 whitefly indirectly benefits from interactions with the tomato yellow leaf curl China virus (TYLCCNV) via accelerated ovarian development and increased fecundity. However, the physiological mechanism of begomoviruse-infected plants acting on the reproduction of the insect vector was unknown.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Organism, Life, Species, Plant, Fern, Flowering plant, Whitefly


Apolygus lucorum (Meyer-Dür) (Hemiptera: Miridae) is one of the most important herbivores in a broad range of cultivated plants, including cotton, cereals, vegetables, and fruit crops in China. In this manuscript, we report on a 6-year long study in which (adult) A. lucorum abundance was recorded on 174 plant species from 39 families from early July to mid-September. Through the study period per year, the proportion of flowering plants exploited by adult A. lucorum was significantly greater than that of non-flowering plants. For a given plant species, A. lucorum adults reached peak abundance at the flowering stage, when the plant had the greatest attraction to the adults. More specifically, mean adult abundance on 26 species of major host plants and their relative standard attraction were 10.3-28.9 times and 9.3-19.5 times higher at flowering stage than during non-flowering periods, respectively. Among all the tested species, A. lucorum adults switched food plants according to the succession of flowering plant species. In early July, A. lucorum adults preferred some plant species in bloom, such as Vigna radiata, Gossypium hirsutum, Helianthus annuus and Chrysanthemum coronarium; since late July, adults dispersed into other flowering hosts (e.g. Ricinus communis, Impatiens balsamina, Humulus scandens, Ocimum basilicum, Agastache rugosus and Coriandrum sativum); in early September, they largely migrated to flowering Artemisia spp. (e.g. A. argyi, A. lavandulaefolia, A. annua and A. scoparia). Our findings underscore the important role of flowering plays in the population dynamics and inter-plant migration of this mirid bug. Also, our work helps understand evolutionary aspects of host plant use in polyphagous insects such as A. lucorum, and provides baseline information for the development of sustainable management strategies of this key agricultural pest.

Concepts: Plant, Annual plant, Fern, Euphorbiaceae, Flowering plant, Flower, Oak, Heteroptera


Flattened leaf architecture is not a default state but depends on positional information to precisely coordinate patterns of cell division in the growing primordium. This information is provided, in part, by the boundary between the adaxial (top) and abaxial (bottom) domains of the leaf, which are specified via an intricate gene regulatory network whose precise circuitry remains poorly defined. Here, we examined the contribution of the ASYMMETRIC LEAVES (AS) pathway to adaxial-abaxial patterning in Arabidopsis thaliana and demonstrate that AS1-AS2 affects this process via multiple, distinct regulatory mechanisms. AS1-AS2 uses Polycomb-dependent and -independent mechanisms to directly repress the abaxial determinants MIR166A, YABBY5, and AUXIN RESPONSE FACTOR3 (ARF3), as well as a nonrepressive mechanism in the regulation of the adaxial determinant TAS3A. These regulatory interactions, together with data from prior studies, lead to a model in which the sequential polarization of determinants, including AS1-AS2, explains the establishment and maintenance of adaxial-abaxial leaf polarity. Moreover, our analyses show that the shared repression of ARF3 by the AS and trans-acting small interfering RNA (ta-siRNA) pathways intersects with additional AS1-AS2 targets to affect multiple nodes in leaf development, impacting polarity as well as leaf complexity. These data illustrate the surprisingly multifaceted contribution of AS1-AS2 to leaf development showing that, in conjunction with the ta-siRNA pathway, AS1-AS2 keeps the Arabidopsis leaf both flat and simple.

Concepts: Arabidopsis thaliana, Arabidopsis, Fern, Leaf


The value of a leaf to a plant depends on the fate of its exported assimilates. When these are translocated and used in the growth of new leaves they contribute to further carbon assimilation. The result is that their value to the plant is greatest while they are young. In contrast, when assimilates are translocated to storage, assimilates produced early and late in the life of a leaf are of equal value. This arguments is developed in relation to the optimal distribution of mineral resources and defenses during the life of leaves.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Water, Fern, Epidermis, Leaf, Plant morphology, Chlorophyll, Gymnosperm


The extent to which leaf-lobing influences the interception of direct solar radiation by individual plants was studied by means of computer simulations. The morphology, size and orientation ofAmbrosia artemisiifolia L. leaves were measured and used to construct a prototypeAmbrosia plant upon which a computer simulation was based. The leaf geometries of this simulation were then varied, and daily integrated irradiances (DII) were calculated for each variant plant simulation. Data indicate that lobedAmbrosia leaves do not confer an advantage to light-interception based upon values of DII. Simulated plants identical in all respects to the prototype, but with simple, elliptic leaves, had equivalent DII values to the prototype. Simulations with leaves in which gaps between lobes were “filledin” had reduced light-interception efficiencies compared to the prototype and to a simulation with elliptic-leaves. Lightinterception was maximized when leaves on distal nodes wereAmbrosia-like and leaves on proximal nodes were elliptic. The data are interpreted to indicate that lobingperse is not functionally advantageous to light-interception; however, gradients of leaf-lobing along the length of shoots may be very significant in terms of overall light interception.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Computer graphics, Monte Carlo method, Computer simulation, Fern, Plant morphology, Mathematical model, AnyLogic


The abrupt origin and rapid diversification of the flowering plants during the Cretaceous has long been considered an “abominable mystery.” While the cause of their high diversity has been attributed largely to coevolution with pollinators and herbivores, their ability to outcompete the previously dominant ferns and gymnosperms has been the subject of many hypotheses. Common among these is that the angiosperms alone developed leaves with smaller, more numerous stomata and more highly branching venation networks that enable higher rates of transpiration, photosynthesis, and growth. Yet, how angiosperms pack their leaves with smaller, more abundant stomata and more veins is unknown but linked-we show-to simple biophysical constraints on cell size. Only angiosperm lineages underwent rapid genome downsizing during the early Cretaceous period, which facilitated the reductions in cell size necessary to pack more veins and stomata into their leaves, effectively bringing actual primary productivity closer to its maximum potential. Thus, the angiosperms' heightened competitive abilities are due in no small part to genome downsizing.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Insect, Plant, Pollination, Fern, Leaf, Flowering plant, Cretaceous


Insufficient water availability for crop production is a mounting barrier to achieving the 70% increase in food production that will be needed by 2050. One solution is to develop crops that require less water per unit mass of production. Water vapor transpires from leaves through stomata, which also facilitate the influx of CO2during photosynthetic assimilation. Here, we hypothesize that Photosystem II Subunit S (PsbS) expression affects a chloroplast-derived signal for stomatal opening in response to light, which can be used to improve water-use efficiency. Transgenic tobacco plants with a range of PsbS expression, from undetectable to 3.7 times wild-type are generated. Plants with increased PsbS expression show less stomatal opening in response to light, resulting in a 25% reduction in water loss per CO2assimilated under field conditions. Since the role of PsbS is universal across higher plants, this manipulation should be effective across all crops.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Plant, Water, Photosystem, Plant physiology, Fern, Leaf, Chlorophyll


Crop leaves in full sunlight dissipate damaging excess absorbed light energy as heat. When sunlit leaves are shaded by clouds or other leaves, this protective dissipation continues for many minutes and reduces photosynthesis. Calculations have shown that this could cost field crops up to 20% of their potential yield. Here, we describe the bioengineering of an accelerated response to natural shading events in Nicotiana (tobacco), resulting in increased leaf carbon dioxide uptake and plant dry matter productivity by about 15% in fluctuating light. Because the photoprotective mechanism that has been altered is common to all flowering plants and crops, the findings provide proof of concept for a route to obtaining a sustainable increase in productivity for food crops and a much-needed yield jump.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Carbon dioxide, Agriculture, Energy, Plant, Light, Thermodynamics, Fern


Plants can plastically respond to light competition in three strategies, comprising vertical growth, which promotes competitive dominance; shade tolerance, which maximises performance under shade; or lateral growth, which offers avoidance of competition. Here, we test the hypothesis that plants can ‘choose’ between these responses, according to their abilities to competitively overcome their neighbours. We study this hypothesis in the clonal plant Potentilla reptans using an experimental setup that simulates both the height and density of neighbours, thus presenting plants with different light-competition scenarios. Potentilla reptans ramets exhibit the highest vertical growth under simulated short-dense neighbours, highest specific leaf area (leaf area/dry mass) under tall-dense neighbours, and tend to increase total stolon length under tall-sparse neighbours. These responses suggest shifts between ‘confrontational’ vertical growth, shade tolerance and lateral-avoidance, respectively, and provide evidence that plants adopt one of several alternative plastic responses in a way that optimally corresponds to prevailing light-competition scenarios.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Competition, Fern, Plant morphology, Plant anatomy, Monopoly, Leaf Area Index, Specific leaf area