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MARCH 2020 | WWW.THE-SCIENTIST.COM
RISING SEAS, DEAD TREES GHOST FORESTS ARE A WARNING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
GENES THAT ESCAPE X INACTIVATION CELL SENESCENCE AND AGING THE PERILS OF PLANT BLINDNESS
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Contents MODIFIED FROM © ISTOCK.COM; © KERRY HYNDMAN; BIRGIT RITSCHKA, RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF MOLECULAR PATHOLOGY, VIENNA, FORMERLY OF THE KEYES LAB
VOLUME 34 NUMBER 03
ON THE COVER: © SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY, ASHLEY COOPER
Genes that avoid X inactivation have roles in cancer and autoimmune disease.
Along the US Atlantic Coast, rising seas are pushing saltwater farther inland, killing cedars, elms, and pines. The dead trees are just a symptom of a much bigger problem.
For decades, senescent cells were ignored. Now, as evidence mounts that they drive age-related disease, researchers are trying to find ways to kill them.
The Great Escape
BY AMBER DANCE
BY KATARINA ZIMMER
BY ASHLEY YEAGER
03.2020 | T H E S C IE N T IST
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Department Contents 15
FROM THE EDITOR
For too long I have taken plants for granted.
The US cannabis market lacks standards for assessing the safety and potency of its products, creating challenges for the fledgling industry that’s testing the herb.
BY BOB GRANT
CRITIC AT LARGE
Opinion: The Perils of Plant Blindness
In the plant awareness revolution, scientists are taking a back seat to hipster gardeners and slam poets—and that’s a good thing.
BY KATARINA ZIMMER
Counting growth rings in trees can tell us about a lot more than a plant’s age. BY VALERIE TROUET
Rhodopsins on Loan; Neighborhood Warning; Wheat’s Secrets; Vavilov Revisited
THIBAUT BRUNET, KING LAB; KIM AAEN, NATUREEYES; © KATHY PLUNKETT PHOTOGRAPHY
Modified gene editing machinery enables targeted disruptions of mitochondrial genes in rice and rapeseed plants. BY RUTH WILLIAMS
46 THE LITERATURE Venus flytraps’ picky eating; ants as plant protectors; why a mutant plant’s roots grow sideways
The Wisdom of Rings
BY M. TIMOTHY RABANUS-WALLACE
Confessions of the Plant Blind
64 FOUNDATIONS A Smiling Garden, 1558 BY ASHLEY YEAGER IN EVERY ISSUE
9 11 62
CONTRIBUTORS SPEAKING OF SCIENCE THE GUIDE
The January/February article “Alternative Endings” originally stated that Rich Roberts and his research group made the finding described in a 1977 paper. In fact, not all of the paper's authors were members of Roberts's group. The January/February article “Ohio, Gene Factory” stated that the FDA had requested more data before allowing a Phase 3 clinical trial of an Abeona Therapeutics investigational drug to proceed, and that shareholders had filed a lawsuit against the company for allegedly misleading them. In December 2019, the FDA removed the clinical hold, and according to Abeona, the shareholders have withdrawn their lawsuit. The Scientist regrets these errors.
48 PROFILE Into the Light
Plant geneticist Joanne Chory has revolutionized researchers’ understanding of how light affects plant growth and development, and is engineering plants to combat climate change. BY EMILY MAKOWSKI
SCIENTIST TO WATCH
Joe Louis: Insect Whisperer BY EMILY MAKOWSKI
ANSWER PUZZLE ON PAGE 11
S E D A T I V E S
I M I A N A R E N E B G O R E E R I E E RN A L H L K I N F Z B T WO T O E U M H T H EOR Y
C O N G E A L E D
E N A OC L G J QU R OA S S I S C
AM E H L A I N I I N
E L E E A
CH E OX A T I NG M O P AWN G A HOO L
03.2020 | T H E S C IE N T IST
THIS MONTH AT THE-SCIENTIST.COM: VIDEO
Sowing Seeds of Change
Tree Rings, Wildfires, and Climate
Enter a Ghost Forest
Watch Profilee Joanne Chory deliver a TED talk on her project to breed climate change–busting plants.
Dendrochronologist Valerie Trouet explains what researchers can learn about the climate of the past by looking at tree rings.
Take a tour of a forest killed by salt inundation brought by rising seas—a powerful reminder that climate change is affecting ecosystems around the world.
AS ALWAYS, FIND BREAKING NEWS EVERY DAY ON OUR WEBSITE.
Coming in April HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL FIND IN NEXT MONTH’S ISSUE
• How exercise affects cancer risk and treatment response • Researchers get control of bacterial therapies for cancer • Treatment strategies take aim at tumor evolution
AND MUCH MORE
T H E SC I EN TIST | the-scientist.com
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• Cell therapies using natural killer cells show promise
The Scientist wins kudos for editorial excellence
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF BUSINESS PUBLICATION EDITORS (AZBEE) • 2017 • March 2016 issue—Print, Single Topic Coverage by a Team—National Gold and Northeast Regional Gold • Modus Operandi—Print, Regular Department—Northeast Regional Bronze • Magazine of the Year, More Than $3 Million Revenue—Honorable Mention • 2016 • Design Infographics— Northeast Regional Gold and National Bronze • Online Web News Section—Northeast Regional Bronze and National Bronze • 2011 • Magazine of the Year, More Than $2 Million Revenue • 2009 • Magazine of the Year, Circulation