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Circadian Clock Controls Sunflower Blooms, Optimizing for Pollinators

An internal circadian clock controls the distinctive concentric rings of flowering in sunflowers, maximizing visits from pollinators, a new study from plant biologists at the University of California, Davis, shows. The work was published Jan. 13 in eLife.

A sunflower head is made up of hundreds of tiny florets. Because of the way sunflowers grow, the youngest florets are in the center of the flower face and the most mature at the edges, forming a distinctive spiral pattern from the center to the edge.

Rice Breeding Breakthrough to Feed Billions

An international team has succeeded in propagating a commercial hybrid rice strain as a clone through seeds with 95% efficiency. This could lower the cost of hybrid rice seed, making high-yielding, disease resistant rice strains available to low-income farmers worldwide. The work was published Dec. 27 in Nature Communications.

First Complete Structures of Plant Respiratory Proteins

Back-to-back papers in the Dec. 29 issue of Nature Plants report the first complete protein structures for plant respiratory supercomplex I+III₂. Obtaining these structures helps researchers understand basic plant biology, as well as stress responses and how biofuel crops might grow more rapidly.

Understanding Growth Regulation by Protein Degradation in Trees for Bioenergy

The U.S. Department of Energy is funding a project at the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences to study the function of genes that regulate growth and wood formation in poplar trees. The three-year, $2.5 million project is led by Nitzan Shabek, assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Plant Biology together with Andrew Groover at the USDA Pacific Southwest Research Station in Davis and Justin Walley, Iowa State University.