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MAIZTRO Method Automates Maize Phenotyping to Boost Studies on Yield Genetics

In a paper appearing in Genome Biology, a China Agricultural University-led team describes an automated phenotyping platform known as MAIZTRO, designed for doing high-throughput maize ear measurements. The approach allows scientists to phenotype massive numbers of maize plants in field studies, the researchers say, making it possible to dig into maize yield contributors. When they applied the approach to more than 3,800 transgenic maize inbred lines, for example, the authors narrowed in on more than 700 genes linked to 15 maize ear phenotypes, including nearly three dozen potential kernel number-related genes. "Exploring the genetic basis behind the phenotypic plasticity of ear traits in maize is critical to achieve climate-stable yields," the authors explain, suggesting that MAIZTRO "can help to explore new traits that are important for improving and stabilizing the yield."

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.