Special Issues

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Evolutionary plant radiations

19 June 2015
Radiations generating exceptionally diverse clades are a fundamental component of evolutionary diversification across all organismal groups. For plants, radiations have occurred in many different geographical and ecological settings, many different plant lineages, and at many different times over the last 400 million years. This prevalence means that working out the causes, mechanisms and outcomes of radiations is central to understanding the evolution of plant diversity. This Special Issue of New Phytologist focuses on plant radiations and contains 19 papers spanning a vibrant mix of conceptual, methodological and empirical contributions. 

Ecology and evolution of mycorrhizas

3 February 2015
Mycorrhizal associations are centerpieces in this wide cortege of plant-associated soil biota. To exploit these evolving insights, critical gaps need to be filled in our current understanding of mycorrhizal interactions. This special issue of New Phytologist addresses fundamental gaps and contains 30 new contributions on mycorrhizal science, covering topics from genomes to ecosystems.

Plants interacting with other organisms

18 September 2014
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The overarching goal of the 32nd New Phytologist Symposium (NPS), ‘Plant interactions with other organisms: molecules, ecology and evolution’, was to bring together researchers working on various aspects of plant interactions with the biotic world. Despite the fact that exciting advances have been made in individual subfields, which captured the attention of specialists in each particular discipline, there has been little communication across disciplinary and scale boundaries for synthesizing our conceptual understanding of how plants interact with components of the biotic environment. This Special Issue features articles from the invited speakers of the 32nd NPS, and represents a collection that describes progress in a broad cross-section of disciplines. All articles are written keeping in mind the multidisciplinary nature of the audience. This combination of research papers, review papers and commentaries aims to provide a multifaceted view of the field of plant biotic interactions, which we hope will be appealing not only to the specialist but also to anyone interested in plant biology and ecology.

Plant anaerobiosis

28 March 2011
Plants are either intolerant to flooding and therefore are excluded from flood-prone habitats, or they are tolerant. The latter group can be divided into plants that: exploit a so-called escape strategy based on a suite of (inducible) morphological and anatomical traits allowing re-aeration of flooded tissues; or those that adopt a quiescence strategy composed of traits that conserve the use of energy and carbohydrates to prolong underwater survival (Bailey-Serres & Voesenek, 2008; Colmer & Voesenek, 2009).
The International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis (ISPA) organizes a conference every 3 yr to bring together scientists with expertise in flooding research. The 10th ISPA Conference was held in Volterra, Italy, June 2010. Much progress has been made in recent years, as was evidenced by the lively discussion and debate at the conference and now also in published form, in this Special Issue of New Phytologist

Plant polyploidy

3 March 2010
Polyploidy (whole-genome duplication) has played a pervasive role in the evolution of fungi and animals, and is particularly prominent in plants. This important evolutionary phenomenon has attracted renewed and growing interest from the scientific community in the last decade since it was discovered that even the smallest plant genomes considered to be ‘diploid’ (e.g. Arabidopsis thaliana) have incurred at least one round of whole-genome duplication, possibly predating the origins of the angiosperms. In this special issue, New Phytologist recognizes the recent advances in this field in a series of research reviews and accompanying original research articles. 

Plant adaptation - following in Darwin's footsteps

17 July 2009
One hundred fifty years after On the origin of species was first published (Darwin, 1859), biologists continue to share Darwin's fascination with the adaptive traits of organisms, and to theoretically and empirically expand his initial formulation of natural selection as the process that shapes those traits. In this special issue of the journal, New Phytologist recognizes this continuing legacy by bringing together current ideas and findings about plant adaptation from an accomplished, multi-national group of researchers studying a wide array of plant systems. 

Plant environmental adaptation

9 June 2005
The advent of genomics and other ‘omics’ has stimulated movement towards linking gene function and molecular mechanisms to whole-plant physiology, ecology and evolution. The impetus for this feature issue was the 12th New Phytologist Symposium, ‘Functional genomics of environmental adaptation in Populus’ (DiFazio, 2005); hence, most papers in this issue focus on poplars or other forest trees.

Plant ecological development

9 March 2005
Eco-devo research addresses how naturally varying environmental factors affect developmental processes at a mechanistic level, how phenotypic expression varies in response to these factors (i.e. phenotypic plasticity), and how the phenotypic variation this creates in natural populations affects ecological and ultimately evolutionary processes. This common focus thus integrates a stunningly broad range of research disciplines that share an empirical basis in plasticity, from developmental genetics, through functional, population and community ecology, to evolutionary biology. These disciplines are featured in this issue of New Phytologist, with research and review articles that contribute to exciting empirical, analytical and conceptual directions in plant ecological development.

Poplar genomics comes of age

1 September 2004
The poplar research highlighted in this issue gives substance to the promise of poplar genomics that has been touted by many, including ourselves. It is not a hoax. It is not a scam. A tree species is being dissected with a level of genetic precision that seemed a distant dream just a few years ago. And unlike studies of Arabidopsis, because of the extensive wild populations and diverse uses of poplars, the implications of research for ecology, conservation, breeding, and biotechnology will often be direct.

Climate change and ecosystem function

13 April 2004
In this issue of New Phytologist, a range of research studies addressing ecosystem-level studies are showcased, and critical reviews cover FACE (Free Air CO2 Enrichment) experiments to study elevated CO2 and effects of elevated CO2 and climatic change on overall ecosystem functioning (Norby & Luo, pp. 281–293), phenology (Badeck et al. pp. 295–309) and below-ground processes (Pendall et al. pp. 311–322).

Plant speciation

18 December 2003
This issue illustrates the spectrum of research being conducted in the field of Plant speciation by some of the leading research groups and indicates that major shifts in thinking about speciation are under way. 

Heavy metals and plants

7 July 2003
This issue of New Phytologist highlights research in the field of metal metabolism and detoxification in plants. It includes a number of articles spanning the breadth of research in the field, from reviews of nonplant model organisms used to inform aspects of plant biology, to the genetic and physiological analysis of metal hyperaccumulation and tolerance, to investigations of ecological aspects of metal accumulation.  

Functional genomics of plant–pathogen interactions

12 June 2003
The ability to cause plant disease is a complex trait that occurs in only a small subset of bacterial and fungal species. Understanding the developmental and physiological adaptations of pathogens that allow them to invade plants, colonize tissues, and subvert plant metabolism is therefore a considerable challenge. In this Special Issue we highlight recent advances in the application of functional genomics to the study of plant–pathogen interactions. These illustrate very effectively how organisms that were in the past experimentally intractable can now be investigated in far greater detail than was previously possible, and also demonstrate similarities and differences in comparison with the situation in other plant–microbe interactions, including legumes/nitrogen-fixing bacteria and mycorrhizas.

Soil microbes and plant production

3 March 2003
Ever increasing global food production targets continue to be met through advances in such diverse fields as plant breeding, mineral fertilizer/pesticide chemistry and agricultural engineering. Commercialisation of developments in these and emergent biotechnologies, such as transgenics, and their successful incorporation into modern agricultural practice have helped to deliver the necessary increases in crop yield and productivity. Yet high levels of plant diversity and productivity are maintained in native grassland and tropical or boreal forest ecosystems in the absence of major human intervention. When viewed from an above-ground ecophysiological perspective, the reasons for this apparent paradox have remained enigmatic even after decades of investigation. However, answers are now being uncovered, and are highlighted in the Special Issue, through the study of associations between plant roots and key members of the soil microbiota, namely, bacteria, fungi and microfauna.


5 March 2002
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Stomata are central to the physiology of land plants because environmentally induced changes in their development and movements have profound effects on the gas exchange between the atmosphere and the leaf. Recently, considerable advances have been made in the understanding of guard cell biology, and this Special Issue of New Phytologist brings together the full complement of current research approaches, from evolution and climate change modelling through to intramolecular signalling processes. 

Signalling in plants

1 July 2001
The response of plants to any environmental signal is mediated by a series of reactions, collectively referred to as signal transduction, which is currently receiving massive research attention. This Special Issue of New Phytologist focuses attention on this ‘hot topic’. An understanding of signal transduction opens up the possibilities of manipulating processes such as plant growth and development (e.g. flowering and fruiting) to our advantage, of protecting plants from pathogenic attack and also of promoting and extending beneficial symbioses such as those involving mycorrhizal fungi and N2-fixing bacteria such as Rhizobium, Frankia and cyanobacteria

Rising CO2–Future ecosystems

1 May 2001
This Special Issue of New Phytologist focuses on the responses of ecosystems to increased CO2 concentration. The responses of plants are central to this focus, but the questions being asked have changed, and nature’s complexities become paramount. Our concern is the human effect on the composition of the atmosphere and how it could have profound effects on our economic and social systems, options for energy production and use, and our capacity to grow food and fiber for an expanding population. The primary interaction between plants and atmospheric CO2 is just the starting point for our analysis.