Plant Science to the Rescue

Volume 32 Issue 2 | February 2018

Featured Articles

image: How Manipulating the Plant Microbiome Could Improve Agriculture

How Manipulating the Plant Microbiome Could Improve Agriculture

By Davide Bulgarelli | February 1, 2018

It has become increasingly evident that, like animals, plants are not autonomous organisms but rather are populated by a cornucopia of diverse microorganisms.

image: Next-Generation Exoskeletons Help Patients Move

Next-Generation Exoskeletons Help Patients Move

By Karen Weintraub | February 1, 2018

A robot’s gentle nudge could add just the right amount of force to improve walking for patients with mobility-impairing ailments such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke.  

image: Researchers Learn from Plant Viruses to Protect Crops

Researchers Learn from Plant Viruses to Protect Crops

By Claire Asher | February 1, 2018

Plants are locked in an ancient arms race with hostile viruses, but genome editing is giving crops the upper hand.




Meet some of the people featured in the February 2018 issue of The Scientist.


An Enduring Partnership

Humanity would be nothing without plants. It’s high time we recognize their crucial role in sustaining life on Earth.

Speaking of Science

Ten-Minute Sabbatical

Take a break from the bench to puzzle and peruse.

Freeze Frame

Caught on Camera

Selected images of the Day from


Researchers Cryopreserve Coral Sperm

A project aims to preserve samples of the climate change–vulnerable animals for future restoration.

Researchers Catalog Earth’s Microbiome

The new database includes data from 27,000 samples collected at sites ranging from Alaskan permafrost to the ocean floor.

Scientists Unite to Save “Monkey Island” After Hurricane Maria

Puerto Rico’s Cayo Santiago has hosted decades of research in cognition, primatology, immunization, and other areas.


Graduate Student Identifies Dozens of New Fly Species

Over the past seven years, Xiao-Long Lin has characterized nearly 70 new species of nonbiting midges and developed DNA barcodes to aid in future ecological surveys.

Modus Operandi

Detecting Protein Clumps

A synthetic genetic tool called yTRAP allows high-throughput detection of protein aggregates in cells.  

The Literature

Plant Cell Walls Can Control Growth in the Dark

To maintain an energy-saving growth strategy in the absence of light, seedlings need signals generated by pectin in their cell walls.

War Dance of the Honeybee

One species has developed a novel waggle to warn about invading wasps.

A Newly Identified Photoenzyme Helps Algae Pump Out Fuel

The finding could lead to a new way of producing “green” alternatives to fossil fuels.


Planting Independence: A Profile of Katayoon Dehesh

After a harrowing escape from Iran, Dehesh never shied away from difficult choices to pursue a career in plant biology.

Scientist to Watch

Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi Investigates How Pathogens Invade Plant Roots

The Purdue University researcher is one of the first to examine the molecular processes that underlie infection by soil microbes.

Lab Tools

Virtual Reality May Revolutionize Brain Science

New technology could open doors for researchers studying animals’ most complex organ.

Mapping Brain Proteins

Researchers are using souped-up mass spectrometry to localize proteins within brain cells.


How to Make Scientists Into Better Peer Reviewers

From efforts to increase the transparency of the review process to initiatives offering training, there are many attempts underway to make better reviewers out of researchers.

Reading Frames

Agricultural Technology Can Save Humanity from Starvation (Again)

We are on the cusp of yet another revolution in how we feed the populace.


A Brush with Inheritance, 1878

Lampbrush chromosomes, first observed in the 19th century, still offer an unparalleled glimpse into how genetic information is organized in the cell.

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