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  1. The field of plant science has grown dramatically in the past two decades, but global disparities and systemic inequalities persist. Here, we analyzed ~300,000 papers published over the past two decades to quantify disparities across nations, genders, and taxonomy in the plant science literature. Our analyses reveal striking geographical biases—affluent nations dominate the publishing landscape and vast areas of the globe have virtually no footprint in the literature. Authors in Northern America are cited nearly twice as many times as authors based in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, despite publishing in journals with similar impact factors. Gender imbalances are similarly stark and show remarkably little improvement over time. Some of the most affluent nations have extremely male biased publication records, despite supposed improvements in gender equality. In addition, we find that most studies focus on economically important crop and model species, and a wealth of biodiversity is underrepresented in the literature. Taken together, our analyses reveal a problematic system of publication, with persistent imbalances that poorly capture the global wealth of scientific knowledge and biological diversity. We conclude by highlighting disparities that can be addressed immediately and offer suggestions for long-term solutions to improve equity in the plant sciences. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 7, 2024
  2. Chen, Tsu-Wei ; Long, Stephen P (Ed.)
    Abstract Shape plays a fundamental role in biology. Traditional phenotypic analysis methods measure some features but fail to measure the information embedded in shape comprehensively. To extract, compare and analyse this information embedded in a robust and concise way, we turn to topological data analysis (TDA), specifically the Euler characteristic transform. TDA measures shape comprehensively using mathematical representations based on algebraic topology features. To study its use, we compute both traditional and topological shape descriptors to quantify the morphology of 3121 barley seeds scanned with X-ray computed tomography (CT) technology at 127 μm resolution. The Euler characteristic transform measures shape by analysing topological features of an object at thresholds across a number of directional axes. A Kruskal–Wallis analysis of the information encoded by the topological signature reveals that the Euler characteristic transform picks up successfully the shape of the crease and bottom of the seeds. Moreover, while traditional shape descriptors can cluster the seeds based on their accession, topological shape descriptors can cluster them further based on their panicle. We then successfully train a support vector machine to classify 28 different accessions of barley based exclusively on the shape of their grains. We observe that combining both traditional and topological descriptors classifies barley seeds better than using just traditional descriptors alone. This improvement suggests that TDA is thus a powerful complement to traditional morphometrics to comprehensively describe a multitude of ‘hidden’ shape nuances which are otherwise not detected. 
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  3. Societal Impact Statement

    Citrus are intrinsically connected to human health and culture, preventing human diseases like scurvy and inspiring sacred rituals. Citrus fruits come in a stunning number of different sizes and shapes, ranging from small clementines to oversized pummelos, and fruits display a vast diversity of flavors and aromas. These qualities are key in both traditional and modern medicine and in the production of cleaning and perfume products. By quantifying and modeling overall fruit shape and oil gland distribution, we can gain further insight into citrus development and the impacts of domestication and improvement on multiple characteristics of the fruit.


    Citrus come in diverse sizes and shapes, and play a key role in world culture and economy. Citrus oil glands in particular contain essential oils which include plant secondary metabolites associated with flavor and aroma. Capturing and analyzing nuanced information behind the citrus fruit shape and its oil gland distribution provide a morphology‐driven path to further our insight into phenotype–genotype interactions.

    We investigated the shape of citrus fruit of 51 accessions based on 3D X‐ray computed tomography (CT) scan reconstructions. Accessions include members of the three ancestral citrus species as well as related genera, and several interspecific hybrids. We digitally separate and compare the size of fruit endocarp, mesocarp, exocarp, and oil gland tissue. Based on the centers of the oil glands, overall fruit shape is approximated with an ellipsoid. Possible oil gland distributions on this ellipsoid surface are explored using directional statistics.

    There is a strong allometry along fruit tissues; that is, we observe a strong linear relationship between the logarithmic volume of any pair of major tissues. This suggests that the relative growth of fruit tissues with respect to each other follows a power law. We also observe that on average, glands distance themselves from their nearest neighbor following a square root relationship, which suggests normal diffusion dynamics at play.

    The observed allometry and square root models point to the existence of biophysical developmental constraints that govern novel relationships between fruit dimensions from both evolutionary and breeding perspectives. Understanding these biophysical interactions prompts an exciting research path on fruit development and breeding.

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  4. Grapevine 3D inflorescence architecture was comprehensively characterized among 10 wild Vitis species to reveal new phenotypic and evolutionary relationships. 
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  5. Abstract

    Grape growers use rootstocks to provide protection against pests and pathogens and to modulate viticulture performance such as shoot growth. Our study examined two grapevine scion varieties (‘Chardonnay’ and ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’) grafted to 15 different rootstocks and determined the effect of rootstocks on eight traits important to viticulture. We assessed the vines across five years and identified both year and variety as contributing strongly to trait variation. The effect of rootstock was relatively consistent across years and varieties, explaining between 8.99% and 9.78% of the variation in growth‐related traits including yield, pruning weight, berry weight and Ravaz index (yield to pruning weight ratio). Increases in yield due to rootstock were generally the result of increases in berry weight, likely due to increased water uptake by vines grafted to a particular rootstock. We demonstrated a greater than 50% increase in yield, pruning weight, or Ravaz index by choosing the optimal rootstock, indicating that rootstock choice is crucial for grape growers looking to improve vine performance.

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  6. Premise

    As a leaf expands, its shape dynamically changes. Previously, we documented an allometric relationship between vein and blade area in grapevine leaves. Larger leaves have a smaller ratio of primary and secondary vein area relative to blade area compared to smaller leaves. We sought to use allometry as an indicator of leaf size and plasticity.


    We measured the ratio of vein‐to‐blade area from the same 208 vines across four growing seasons (2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017). Matching leaves by vine and node, we analyzed the correlation between the size and shape of grapevine leaves as repeated measures with climate variables across years.


    The proportion of leaf area occupied by vein and blade exponentially decreased and increased, respectively, during leaf expansion making their ratio a stronger indicator of leaf size than area itself. Total precipitation and leaf wetness hours of the previous year but not the current showed strong negative correlations with vein‐to‐blade ratio, whereas maximum air temperature from the previous year was positively correlated.


    Our results demonstrate that vein‐to‐blade ratio is a strong allometric indicator of leaf size and plasticity in grapevines measured across years. Grapevine leaf primordia are initiated in buds the year before they emerge, and we found that total precipitation and maximum air temperature of the previous growing season exerted the largest statistically significant effects on leaf morphology. Vein‐to‐blade ratio is a promising allometric indicator of relationships between leaf morphology and climate, the robustness of which should be explored further.

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  7. Abstract

    Shape is data and data is shape. Biologists are accustomed to thinking about how the shape of biomolecules, cells, tissues, and organisms arise from the effects of genetics, development, and the environment. Less often do we consider that data itself has shape and structure, or that it is possible to measure the shape of data and analyze it. Here, we review applications of topological data analysis (TDA) to biology in a way accessible to biologists and applied mathematicians alike. TDA uses principles from algebraic topology to comprehensively measure shape in data sets. Using a function that relates the similarity of data points to each other, we can monitor the evolution of topological features—connected components, loops, and voids. This evolution, a topological signature, concisely summarizes large, complex data sets. We first provide a TDA primer for biologists before exploring the use of TDA across biological sub‐disciplines, spanning structural biology, molecular biology, evolution, and development. We end by comparing and contrasting different TDA approaches and the potential for their use in biology. The vision of TDA, that data are shape and shape is data, will be relevant as biology transitions into a data‐driven era where the meaningful interpretation of large data sets is a limiting factor.

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