A system for visualizing transcriptional dynamics within single cells of living plants is described in Nature Plants this week. A team led by scientists from Aix-Marseille Université developed the system by combining an RNA tagging and imaging method originally developed for yeast and animals with microfluidics. They show that it can be used to quantitatively measure the transcriptional activity of single loci in single cells in living Arabidopsis plants in real time and under changing environmental conditions. The technology, they write, "offers direct access to RNA polymerase II activity in live cells and could be used to study crucial plant phenomena affecting transcription such as silencing, heterozygosity, and the impact of gametophyte origin."
The high-quality assembly and resequencing of modern cotton cultivars is reported in Nature Genetics this week, providing a new resource for improving this economically important crop plant. The cotton variety Gossypium hirsutum accounts for about 90 percent of the yield in cotton fiber production, with the remaining 10 percent coming from G. barbadense. It has been proposed that the fiber quality and disease resistance of G. hirsutum might be able to be improved by transferring traits from G. barbadense, but genomic variations between the two are not clear. To help address this, researchers from Hebei Agricultural University generated high-quality genomes of the two species, which they analyzed to identify large-scale structural variations that occurred during breeding. "These will enhance the genomic resources for cotton improvement and provide insight into species formation and variety development," the scientists write. GenomeWeb has more on this, here.