Volume 2 of our Emerging Model Organisms series rolls on in the October issue of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols. This month brings a look at two emerging models, one all-time classic.

Neelima Sinha and colleagues present “The Mother of Thousands” (Kalanchoë daigremontiana), a plant which has the fascinating ability to regenerate and entire organism from somatic cells. The process of forming a somatic embryo outside of a seed environment provides an attractive model system for studying embryogenesis. Kalanchoë is also used in the study of Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), which is an important evolutionary adaptation of the photosynthetic carbon assimilation pathway to arid environments. In addition, natural compounds extracted from tissues of Kalanchoë have potential applicability in treating tumors and inflammatory and allergic diseases, and have been shown to have insecticidal properties. Protocols are provided for fixing and sectioning tissues, in situ hybridization, transformation using agrobacterium, DNA extraction and RNA extraction.

John Werren and colleagues provide The Parasitoid Wasp Nasonia: An Emerging Model System with Haploid Male Genetics. Nasonia is a genus consisting of four interfertile species. They’re particularly useful as a genetic tool for study because females are diploid and develop from fertilized eggs, and males are haploid and develop from unfertilized eggs. This allows geneticists to exploit many of the advantages of haploid genetics in an otherwise complex eukaryotic organism. Protocols are available for field collection, strain maintenance, rearing fly hosts, egg collection, virgin collection and crossing methods, larval RNAi and curing Wolbachia bacterial infections.

As for that “classic” system mentioned above, if you know genetics, then you know Barbara McClintock, and you know that Maize has been a keystone model system for nearly a century. Micheal Scanlon and colleagues have written up Maize (Zea mays): A Model Organism for Basic and Applied Research in Plant Biology, which gives an up-to-date discussion of the state of Maize research.