Plants, People, Planet publishes research at the interface between plants, society, and the planet. We provide a forum for highlighting and discussing new, exciting, and innovative plant-focused research across disciplines.

Research falls within six categories: Plants and Society, Plants and Global Change, Plant Conservation, Plant Diversity, Plant Genomics Applications, and Plant Natural Assets.

Plants, People, Planet is owned by the New Phytologist Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of plant science.

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  •  249-250
  •  21 February 2024

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A visitor explores the tropical glasshouse at Oxford Botanic Garden, Oxford, UK. Botanic gardens and arboreta allow people to escape from urban life to be immersed in a green world that benefits wellbeing. In addition to being spaces enjoyed by hundreds of millions of visitors annually around the world, botanic gardens and arboreta hold precious botanical and mycological collections, and undertake world-leading scientific research. Hiscock et al.’s article “Celebrating botanic gardens”brings together a group of papers in a virtual issue that highlights the global breadth and societal impact of research undertaken at these institutions. Image courtesy of Oxford Botanic Garden.

Open access

Mountain greening and rising temperatures erode habitats of ironwort (Sideritis), an important natural medicinal resource

  •  20 February 2024

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Native medicinal plants contribute essential health benefits to populations globally, constituting a major natural resource that human societies rely on. Being an integral part of terrestrial biodiversity, medicinal plants are detrimentally affected by ongoing climate and land-use change, yet comprehensive studies on the risk that extinction will pose to medicinal biodiversity are lacking. Responding to ongoing scientific calls for conserving medicinal biodiversity, this study provides an integrated assessment of the impacts of environmental change on ironwort (Sideritis), a group of closely related endemic plants of great cultural significance as local medicinal resources in the Balkan Mountains.

Open access

Climate and land‐use change impacts on cultural use berries: Considerations for mitigative stewardship

  •  20 February 2024

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Cultural use berries are prized foods and medicines across the United States and Canada, with almost 200 different species used by Indigenous Peoples. Berries are increasingly being impacted by environmental and land-use change. Berry habitats, how and when berry plants reproduce, and the volume of berries available for harvest each year are shifting widely. These changes are impacting access to, availability of, and consumption of berries. Biocultural stewardship practices, like low-intensity fire, transplanting, and thinning, can be used in response to these stressors to support berry plant health and productivity as well as a sustained relationship with this important food.

Open access

Back from the dead: A fungus gnat pollinator turns Arisaema lethal trap into nursery

  •  19 February 2024

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The research explores the complex interaction between flowering plants and their pollinators, specifically focusing on the genus Arisaema. Unlike most plants, Arisaema has a distinctive trait in which killing pollinators can be beneficial. Traditionally, this interaction has been viewed as highly antagonistic because it appears to favor the plants at the expense of the pollinators. However, new evidence reveals that a pollinator uses the lethal floral trap of Arisaema thunbergii as a nursery. Remarkably, some individuals probably even escape from the trap after laying eggs. This finding challenges the prevailing notion that deceptive pollination is the sole outcome in Arisaema, a genus known for its intricate lethal pollination mechanisms.

Open access

microRNA-encoded peptides inhibit seed germination of the root parasitic plant Orobanche cumana

  •  19 February 2024

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The root parasitic plant Orobanche cumana (sunflower broomrape) is one of the major pests of sunflower crops. Despite intense efforts to develop effective agricultural practices and breeding programs, selective control of broomrapes is still rare and ineffective in terms of sustainability. It is thus essential to develop new specific control methods against those pests. miRNA-encoded peptides (miPEPs) are a new class of peptides regulating the expression of miRNAs and their corresponding target genes. This study demonstrates that certain miPEPs strongly inhibit the germination of broomrape seeds by regulating their miR gene, making them good candidates for use as biocontrol agents against this pathogen.

Open access

The biocultural heritage and changing role of indigenous yams in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa

  •  16 February 2024

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Global yam production is centred on West Africa, but there are significant knowledge gaps about farm-level diversity across much of the region, and especially in Guinea. Although yam production is increasing in Guinea, in the longer term, varietal diversity and the sustainability of agri-systems are at risk. Documentation of local crop diversity is essential as a baseline to understand trajectories of past and future varietal loss. This study utilises interdisciplinary approaches, which are needed to help understand the ways historic crop diversity is created and maintained within indigenous agricultural and food heritage systems, as well as the reasons for its loss over time.

Open access

Integrated environmental and genomic analysis reveals the drivers of fine‐scale divergence and local adaptation in northern populations of two wild rice species in China

  •  13 February 2024

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Crop wild relatives represent precious genetic resources for crop improvement. Investigating their local adaptation to marginal environments is important for the utilization of wild genetic resources. Oryza officinalis and Oryza granulata are wild relatives of cultivated rice and possess genes that convey resistance to insects, disease, and tolerance to shade and drought. The northern edge for the distribution of these two lies in China where populations are facing habitat destruction. This study found that the northern marginal populations of both species have adapted to local conditions, with specific implications for the conservation and utilization of wild rice.

Open access

One hundred priority questions for advancing seagrass conservation in Europe

  •  8 February 2024

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Seagrass ecosystems are of fundamental importance to our planet and wellbeing. Seagrasses are marine flowering plants which engineer ecosystems that provide a multitude of ecosystem services, for example, blue foods and carbon sequestration. Seagrass ecosystems have largely been degraded across much of their global range. There is now increasing interest in the conservation and restoration of these systems, particularly in the context of the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis. The collation of 100 questions from experts across Europe could, if answered, improve our ability to conserve and restore these systems by facilitating a fundamental shift in the success of such work.

Open access

Modern pollen rain reveals differences across forests, open and mosaic landscapes in Madagascar

  •  7 February 2024

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Palaeoecological investigations are crucial in understanding millennial to centennial land use and land cover change. By analysing the modern pollen rain from four main vegetation types across Madagascar, this research provides baselines for improving the interpretation of pollen records in palaeoecological studies. This study determines the modern pollen-vegetation relationship in Madagascar and gives a better understanding of the island's landscapes. Despite some spatial limitations, this approach contributes to resolving the debated topic related to the origin of Madagascar's open ecosystems. Knowing the vegetation history prior to and after human settlement would help guide biodiversity management and its associated ecosystem services.

Open access

Landrace diversity and heritage of the indigenous millet crop fonio (Digitaria exilis): Socio-cultural and climatic drivers of change in the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea

  •  7 February 2024

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White fonio (Digitaria exilis [Kippist] Stapf) is an understudied millet crop, indigenous to West Africa and cultivated in the region largely through traditional practices. This species is climate-resilient, fast-growing, nutritionally rich, and provides livelihoods and food security to rural communities. Through collaboration with smallholder farmers in the Fouta Djallon region, Guinea, this study investigates how the diversity and selection of fonio landraces has changed in living memory. This research provides insight into how climatic and socio-cultural changes affect the cultivation of fonio varieties and other indigenous crops, and why they should be conserved and further involved in rural development programmes.

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