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European Plant Biotech in the Balance

European Plant Biotech in the Balance

These are pivotal times for plant biotechnology in Europe. The new European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vyentis Andriukaitis, is not due to take up his role until the 1st November but he already knows that the current rules on genetically modimied crops create conflicts between the commission itself and the member states. Those rules have seen only two GM crops licensed to be grown commercially in the EU in almost 15 years: Monsanto’s insect resistant MON810 maize and  BASF’s Amflora potato, of which the later was withdrawn from commercialisation in 2012.  Read more

Pushing the Reset Button for Vernalization

the resetting mutant

Recent years have witnessed great advance in our mechanistic understanding of vernalization in overwintering plants. The FLC locus, the hub of vernalization network, is epigenetically silenced by polycomb-mediated histone methylation during vernalization, which thereby removes the suppression on the FT locus for flowering to occur. We know that during embryogenesis this histone methylation of FLC is reset to ensure a requirement for vernalization in each generation but little is known about the resetting mechanism.  Read more

New Shoots at the NAS

New Shoots at the NAS

I know that this is pretty much old news as the announcement of the new members of the National Academy of Sciences was made almost a month ago. However I’d very much like to congratulate all 84 new members and the 21 new foreign associates. But this is a blog dedicated to things planty so I’d lie to give special congratulations to those of the 105 who are plant researchers:  … Read more

Convivial Rice, Decoded Cotton and Bronze Medals

Last week was a busy week for Nature Plants for a number of reasons. Various members of the team were out at meetings so if you were at the TIP conference on the “Dynamics of Plant DNA” in Strasbourg you might have run into Guillaume. While if you were at UK Plant Sciences meeting on “Breeding plants for the future” you could have had the opportunity to chat with Anna over coffee.  Read more

Agriculture in focus

The latest IPCC climate impacts report ( suggests that food production could be compromised by climate change over the coming century.  Strategies to bolster agricultural production and safeguard food supplies for some of the most vulnerable – in the wake of continued warming and an increase in the prevalence of extreme events – are discussed in a web focus that accompanies this month’s issue of Nature Geoscience (  The importance of developing region-specific solutions and legislation that protects the interests of local land owners is explored.    … Read more

Nature Plants is a reality!

Today I am very excited and not a little apprehensive. That is because today we properly launch a new journal, Nature Plants. It has been a long time coming, some will say too long. Certainly the idea was talked about in the long distant past of the early years of the millennium. At the time I was working as a biology editor on Nature and handling most of the plant biology that was submitted. We talked about launching a plant biology journal but the time didn’t seem right, there didn’t seem a specific need.  Read more