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Suppression of Leaf Blade Development by BLADE-ON-PETIOLE Orthologs Is a Common Strategy for Underground Rhizome Growth

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 00:00
Rhizomes and stolons are modified stems that grow horizontally for vigorous proliferation. Toriba et al. show that suppression of the leaf blade by BOP homologs is required for rhizome growth in the wild rice Oryza longistaminata. They also show that blade suppression and strong BOP expression are common features in rhizome and stolon leaves.

Sleeping with Hippocampal Damage

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 00:00
By examining sleep physiology in patients with focal bilateral hippocampal damage, Spanò et al. show that hippocampal integrity seems necessary for slow-wave sleep regulation and for fine-tuning the timing of slow oscillation-fast spindle coupling, both of which are held to be necessary for memory consolidation during sleep.

The Origin of Land Plants Is Rooted in Two Bursts of Genomic Novelty

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 00:00
Bowles et al. show that two consecutive bursts of genomic novelty predate the origin of land plants. Identifying these events provides insights into the evolution of flora that has defined modern ecosystems.

Late Development of Navigationally Relevant Motion Processing in the Occipital Place Area

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 00:00
Kamps et al. find that, although OPA responds selectively to scenes by age 5, responses to first-person perspective motion—mimicking the visual experience of actually navigating a scene—are not present at this age and rather only emerge by age 8. Thus, navigationally relevant information processing in OPA develops slowly across childhood.

Dynamic Signal Compression for Robust Motion Vision in Flies

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 00:00
Flies reliably estimate the velocity of moving natural scenes regardless of image statistics. Current models of Drosophila motion vision fail to explain this robustness. Drews, Leonhardt, et al. show that flies achieve this performance by rapidly adjusting the sensitivity of visual interneurons in the medulla to surround contrast.

Non-enzymatic Activity of the α-Tubulin Acetyltransferase αTAT Limits Synaptic Bouton Growth in Neurons

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 00:00
Blending in vivo and in vitro reconstitution approaches, Coombes and Saunders et al. reveal that α-tubulin acetyltransferase uses its non-enzymatic activity to curb synaptic terminal growth in neurons. Non-enzymatic αTAT activity accelerates microtubule tip structure aging, which selectively destabilizes dynamic, but not stable, microtubules.

A Single Light-Responsive Sizer Can Control Multiple-Fission Cycles in Chlamydomonas

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 00:00
Heldt et al. present a quantitative model for multiple-fission cycles in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, suggesting that a bistable sizer mechanism controls entry into and exit from cell-cycle oscillations.

Heterogeneous Temporal Contrast Adaptation in Drosophila Direction-Selective Circuits

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 00:00
Matulis et al. investigate how Drosophila’s direction-selective visual circuits adapt to inputs with variable contrast. Experiments reveal contrast adaptation that is heterogeneously distributed among cell types, that can occur on the timescale of membrane voltage responses to light, and that can in principle improve motion estimates in natural scenes.

STRIPAK Limits Stem Cell Differentiation of a WNT Signaling Center to Control Planarian Axis Scaling

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 00:00
Planarians must scale the relative size of tissues to accomplish regeneration. Schad and Petersen identify the mob4 and striatin components of the STRIPAK complex as negative regulators of tail size in planarians. STRIPAK acts by limiting stem cell differentiation of Wnt-expressing signaling-center cells that determine posterior scaling.

Circuit Mechanisms Underlying Chromatic Encoding in Drosophila Photoreceptors

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 00:00
Heath and Christenson et al. show that color opponency in fly photoreceptors is the result of an evolutionary convergent horizontal-cell-mediated pathway and an insect-specific pathway. These allow the visual system to build an efficient yet comprehensive representation of chromatic information and are predicted to give rise to a complex spatial receptive field.

Aberrant Tonic Inhibition of Dopaminergic Neuronal Activity Causes Motor Symptoms in Animal Models of Parkinson’s Disease

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 00:00
Heo et al. report that astrocytic GABA-mediated aberrant tonic inhibition of DA neurons leads to a reduction in TH expression and dopamine production, causing dormant DA neurons and motor deficits. Blocking astrocytic GABA synthesis by MAO-B inhibition or optogenetic activation of dormant DA neurons reverses PD pathology.

Parrots Voluntarily Help Each Other to Obtain Food Rewards

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 00:00
Brucks and von Bayern show that African grey parrots voluntarily help familiar conspecifics and reciprocate token transfers if roles were reversed. Blue-headed macaws did not help each other. Species differences in social tolerance might explain the disparities. These results suggest that prosocial attitudes evolved convergently in birds.

The Phosphatase PP1 Promotes Mitotic Slippage through Mad3 Dephosphorylation

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 00:00
When the spindle assembly checkpoint does not get satisfied for a long time, cells can nonetheless escape from the mitotic arrest through mitotic slippage. Ruggiero et al. find that, in budding yeast, mitotic slippage requires the PP1 phosphatase, which destabilizes the mitotic checkpoint complex through dephosphorylation of its subunit Mad3.

Cellular Innovation of the Cyanobacterial Heterocyst by the Adaptive Loss of Plasticity

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 00:00
Cellular innovation is central to biological diversification, but its mechanisms are poorly understood. Miller et al. show that a structurally novel nitrogen-fixing cell has evolved multiple times during high-temperature adaptation by the cyanobacterium Fischerella thermalis. Adaptation involved the loss and refinement of developmental variation.

Steroid Hormone Entry into the Brain Requires a Membrane Transporter in Drosophila

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 00:00
Steroid hormones are thought to freely diffuse across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) due to the predominant “simple diffusion” model of their transport across cell membranes. Okamoto and Yamanaka now provide evidence that the insect steroid hormone ecdysone requires an SLCO superfamily transporter EcI in the BBB to enter the brain in Drosophila.

Life after the Anthropocene

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 00:00
Human activities are shaping the biosphere pervasively, which has led to the concept of the Anthropocene. Although we are already causing a mass extinction, life on Earth is likely to survive for more than a billion years after our species has disappeared.

John Pannell

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 00:00
Interview with John Pannell, who studies the evolution of plant sexual systems at the University of Lausanne.

A tangled tale of innovation and personalities in the search for a tree of life

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 00:00
Science is a collection of disciplines, each built from their own lineages of understanding. Fields move forward by building on previous clusters of knowledge, branching and bifurcating much like a tree. Many of these branches touch and interact, allowing for new interdisciplinary understanding. The Tangled Tree tells the story of one of these lineages, specifically a subsection of evolutionary biology that has focused on the tree of life or how all organisms are ultimately related. The book covers how this field of science arose from conceptual comparisons of the Victorian age (the early musings of Darwin) through to the birth of molecular biology and phylogenomics, additions that have made this field increasingly quantitative.

Cannabis sativa

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 00:00
Schilling et al. introduce and discuss Cannabis.

Efference Copies: Hair Cells Are the Link

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 00:00
Animals must distinguish external stimuli from self-generated sensory input to guide appropriate behaviors. A recent study elucidates a cellular mechanism by which zebrafish perform this distinction while maintaining sensitivity to external environmental signals.