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Exposing enzymes
Autumn 2016
31 October 2016

It was proposed that CSE functioned in the monolignol pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana in 2014, indicating that loss of function of CSE leads to a reduction in lignin content and a small decrease in plant growth, although the phenotypes are much less severe than in those observed with loss of function of the two preceding enzymes in the lignin pathway in Arabidopsis. Since then, the role of CSE in lignin biosynthesis has been questioned in several species, in part through the inability to demonstrate the activity of the enzyme. The pathway via CSE is certainly counter-intuitive, as it involves the cleavage of a thioester linkage and its subsequent re-formation, involving the hydrolysis of an extra molecule of ATP.

TN
Heat wave
Autumn 2016
31 October 2016

Climate change has been at the core of science for the past few decades. The predicted global increase in temperature will also be accompanied by ocean acidification. Research on the subject has largely focused on aerobic scope which is linked to whole-animal performance (including growth, reproduction and overall fitness). In addition, special attention has been given to marine ectotherms as they do not regulate their body temperature, but we still lack a unifying pattern to predict the effects that elevated temperature and high CO2 will have on these organisms.

TN
Seeds for the future
Autumn 2016
31 October 2016

As the proverb says “All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today”. The same goes for the food crops that need to feed our growing population. Until now, food security has tended to focus on the mature plant and its yield, however we are now beginning to understand the critical influence of the events preceding and during germination. Seeds may be tiny, but they are complex worlds of development and change. During the session ‘Seed Biology – From Laboratory to Field’ at the SEB Annual Meeting in Brighton, we heard from the pioneers of this field, and how they hope to unlock the potential of seeds to sow the harvests of the future.

TN
In conversation with Peter Aerts
Autumn 2016
31 October 2016

By his own admission, Peter Aerts, professor of Biology at the University of Antwerp, is a self-made biomechanicist. “Simple is beautiful,” he says. “If you can reduce the complex to the essentials then you can start to answer the basic questions and address the fundamental principles.”