IN THIS ISSUE
Registration is now open for the 26th SPPS Congress in August
Have your say at the SPPS General Assembly
Presenting the speakers at Plant Biology Scandinavia 2015: Magic and beauty
And the SPPS award goes to...
Education corner: New and extensively revised edition of well-known plant biology textbook
Rewilding: Precision breeding faces uphill battle
Scandinavian research institute:
Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences at Stockholm University, Sweden
BROWSE ISSUES

NEWS FROM
PHYSIOLOGIA PLANTARUM
Published monthly on behalf of SPPS by Wiley-Blackwell.
Freezing oranges turn up the heat
Oranges enjoy a warm sub-tropical climate, and temperatures below 2°C for at least 4 hours can cause severe damage from dehydration due to deterioration of the membrane structure. Most previous studies on the cold response of citrus fruits have addressed post-harvest storage, but now Florencio Podestá and co-workers from Universidad Nacional de Rosario and Estación Experimental Agropecuaria Concordia (INTA) in Argentina have made proteomic and metabolomic profiling in planta of Valencia oranges after natural frost exposure. Using two-dimensional differential gel electrophoresis and gas as well as liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry they analyzed differential expression of proteins and production of metabolites in exposed and non-exposed fruits. Cold-induction of three glycolytic enzymes and an increase in volatile fermentation products suggest that the fruits counter cold stress by generating more energy. Regulatory functions, metabolism of carbohydrates and iron as well as oxidative damage were also affected as seen by altered levels of proteins and compounds being involved. The authors suggest that the secondary metabolite isosinensetin might be used for early diagnosis of freezing damage since frost rendered this compound undetectable.
Read full article here: Perotti et al (March 2015) Physiologia Plantarum 153: 337

NEWS IN BRIEF
FROM OTHER JOURNALS
Hungry birds serve plants too good
A unique relationsship has developed between the entire community of plants and birds on isolated islands, a new study led by Anna Traveset from Institut Mediterrani d'Estudis Avancats on Mallorca, Spain finds. The researchers studied the feeding habits of 19 of the 23 Galápagos land bird species for four years. They found that all of them interacted directly with all together more than 100 different species of flowering plants for collecting nectar and thereby pollinated them. Birds did not seem to discriminate very much about which plants they visited indicating a greater degree of diet generalisation than found in bird-flower interactions in mainland ecosystems. The authors suggest that the indiscriminate feeding and pollination habits increase the birds chances of survival on islands with a limited range of insect and plant food. However, since the birds also do not discriminate between native and invasive plant species, the expanded feeding niches might pose a threat to the archipelago's unique biodiversity by facilitating integration of invasive plant species.
Source: Traveset et al (10 March 2015) Nature Communications 6: 6376
Biofuel waste combat plant pathogens
Production of biofuels by hydrolysis of plant material is hampered by the concomitant generation of small acids, furans and other compounds that inhibit growth of microorganisms and their fermentation of the lignocellulosic hydrolysates. But the bioactive compounds might also posses great potential as antifungal agents, suggests a new study. Researchers from the US, Canada and Japan analyzed one of these byproducts, poacic acid, which inhibits growth of at least three plant pathogens, namely the fungi Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Alternaria solani as well as the oomycete Phytophthora sojae. When poacic acid was applied to soy bean leaves before infection with one of these pathogens, lesion development was substantially reduced and delayed. In vitro assays showed that the antifungal agent acted directly upon β-1,3-glucan and inhibited cell wall biogenesis leading to rapid cell lysis. The authors suggest that poacic acid and other antifungal compounds can be produced in large quantities as a byproduct of bioethanol production which is expected to reach 60 billion L/y by 2022.
Source: Piotrowski et al (9 March 2015) PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1410400112

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Registration is now open for the 26th SPPS Congress in August

 
SPPS offers travel grants for this summers conference in Stockholm. From www.osce-academy.net
You can now register for the 26th SPPS Congress (aka Plant Biology Scandinavia 2015) in August. Early registration before April 30th gives you several advantages:
  • After this date, the registration fees are higher - you save SEK 500 or approx. € 54
  • If you are a PhD student or post-doc and eligible for SPPS membership travel grant, you can apply now and until 17th of April. You will then be informed about the travel grant before the early registration ends
Some of the social events have a limited number of participants and the "first register, first served" principle will be applied. So register early to:You can read more about the congress on its official website. Further information about the travel grants can be found on our website under Latest News and Travel grants.

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Have your say at the SPPS General Assembly

 
It is time for yet another General Assembly since the foundation of SPPS in Copenhagen 1947. From spps.fi
If you are joining the SPPS Conference this summer in Stockholm, we will strongly encourage you to participate in the SPPS General Assembly. The General Assembly is the ultimate authority of the Society, so this is the best opportunity to speak up and have your say on what directions SPPS should take in the future. The agenda will include the regular items:
  • Report about the Society's preceding activities from the Council
  • News about Physiologia Plantarum from the Journal Responsible
  • Financial report from the Auditors
  • Discharge and election of the 7 Council members, including those with special responsibilities as President, Vice President, Secretary General, Treasurer and Journal Responsible
If you have any suggestions to the agenda, please don't hesitate to contact the election committee or SPPS secretariat at office@spps.fi.

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Presenting the speakers at Plant Biology Scandinavia 2015: Magic and beauty

 
Stefan Jansson will not only talk during the conference but also entertain with his band after the Congress dinner. From www.teknat.umu.se
Looking forward to the 26th SPPS Congress, Plant Biology Scandinavia 2015, in Stockholm this summer, we will introduce you to three of the keynote speakers, namely Stefan Jansson from Umeå University in Sweden, Dario Leister from University of Copenhagen in Denmark and Lixin Zhang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China. According to the preliminary programme, they will present their lectures during Tuesday addressing the sessions High throughput biology (Jansson) and Photobiology (Leister and Lixin Zhang). Stefan Jansson is a man of many interests and besides from his talk about natural variation in aspen (Populus tremula), he will take center stage Wednesday morning with an awardee talk for winning the SPPS Popularization Prize and reappear in the limelight later that night after the Congress dinner to entertain with his keyboard and the Second Hand Band.

In his presentation Tuesday morning, Jansson will talk about genetic variation in relation to phenology traits like autumn senescence. "In this work, we combine many approaches and techniques, starting both from a traditional 'molecular biology' approach over genomics to population genetics and ecophysiology," he explains. In a previous study published in PLOS ONE, he found that genetic variation in more than 100 clones of aspen not only shaped functional traits like stem growth, leaf morphology and phytochemical composition but that these traits in combination had a strong influence on the arthropod community found in the canopies. Jansson enjoys the present emphasis on the autumn and believes he is not alone with this interest: "Many people reflect at least once a year about the beauty of autumn leaves," he says.

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And the SPPS award goes to...

 
The five winners of the biannual SPPS awards have been selected. Graphic adapted from srts.info
The winners of the four SPPS awards have been selected and we are pleased to present them for our readers. There are actually five winners, since it was decided to double up on the SPPS Early Career Award and give it to two equally qualified young scientists. The winners will receive the honor, a monetary reward and a certificate during the SPPS Congress 2015 in Stockholm this summer, and at this occasion they will also present their scientific work at an invited lecture. Candidates for the biannual awards were proposed by the society's members and the council during the autumn and in January, the Council selected the five lucky ones:
  • SPPS Award: Prof. Gunnar Öquist, Umeå University, Sweden
  • Physiologia Plantarum Award: Prof. Torgny Näsholm, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden
  • SPPS Popularisation Prize: Professor Stefan Jansson, Umeå University, Sweden
  • SPPS Early Career Award: Dr. Nathaniel Street, Umeå University, Sweden and Dr. Ari-Pekka Mähönen, University of Helsinki, Finland
Read on below to learn more about the awardees.

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Education corner: New and extensively revised edition of well-known plant biology textbook

 
Danish co-editor Ian Max Møller has given the new book in plant physiology a stronger Scandinavian flavor. Photo by Tom Hamborg Nielsen
Plant Physiology, the textbook edited by Lincoln Taiz & Eduardo Zeiger recently appeared in a new and very different 6th Edition. The major changes inside the book are already highlighted in the title "Plant Physiology and Development" and by the inclusion of two more editors, Angus Murphy (University of Maryland, MD, USA) and Ian Max Møller (co-author of this news item). The latter gives the book a stronger Scandinavian flavor.

The first part of the book has been updated but is still relatively unchanged compared to previous editions. It covers basics like plant and cell architecture (1 chapter), genome structure and gene expression (1 chapter), transport and translocation of water and solutes (4 chapters), and biochemistry and metabolism (7 chapters). A new chapter collects information on stomatal biology and is found just after the chapters on photosynthesis, which makes good sense.

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Rewilding: Precision breeding faces uphill battle

 
Crops have lost their original tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress during centuries of plant breeding, but these traits can now be restored by rewilding. From Trend Plant Sci (2015) 20:155
The term rewilding is well known in conservation biology for restoring degraded habitats but very recently it got a new meaning in plant breeding. And consumers might soon have to deal with it in the supermarket's fruit and vegetable department. The new meaning was coined by Michael Palmgren and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen in a cross-disciplinary study that appeared in print in the Cell Press journal Trends in Plant Science in March 2015. Here, the authors - a team of plant biologists, ethicists, philosophers, economists and lawyers - suggest that instead of introducing new properties into our crops, we should focus on reestablishing useful properties that their ancestors once possessed but was gradually lost during the 10,000 years mankind has practiced plant breeding.

Such lost properties are e.g. tolerance to biotic stress (pests, pathogens, herbivores and diseases) and abiotic stress (drought, flooding, nutrient deficiencies and salinity) that plant breeders have not selected for because farmers could readily protect the crops from such stresses by generous applications of water, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides etc. As a result, our crops have weakened and now struggle to deliver high yields when environmental concerns challenge the farmers' continous use of high-input practices. With established technologies it is feasible to locate the exact mutations that have led to loss of those functions and with very recent technologies it has become possible to 'correct' them with precision breeding. In other words, we now have the opportunity to rewild our crops, so they regain there original strength and become able to feed the planet's increasing population with minimal environmental impact. But Palmgren and his colleagues are concerned that rewilded crops might be doomed - at least in Europe - even before they hit the soil.

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Scandinavian research institute:
Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences at Stockholm University, Sweden

 
The Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences will soon move into a new building. From www.su.se
The first preparatory meeting that led to the establishment of the Scandinavian Society of Plant Physiology was held at Stockholm University College in May 1947. In August, the SPPS Congress will for the first time be organised in Stockholm. Plant scientists both in Stockholm and Uppsala are involved in the local organisation.

The 26th SPPS Congress will take place on Stockholm University Campus in Frescati somewhat north of Stockholm Centre. Plant science has a long history at this location. During the 19th century, the Royal Academy of Agriculture started agricultural field trials and horticultural production at Frescati and the site was called the Experimental Field. It was not until the 1940's that agricultural research moved 80 km north from Frescati to Ultuna outside of Uppsala where you now find a campus of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Stockholm University is the largest university in Sweden with more than 70,000 registered students and more than 5000 employees. The Plant Physiology Section was established 1886 in the Yellow Villa at the Frescati site, but was later incorporated in the department of Botany in downtown Stockholm. In 1964 the Department of Botany moved to a newly built house at the Frescati site. About fifty years later, the department merged to become part of the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences and in the summer of 2015, the department will move into a new building at the centre of campus.

The present plant physiology research in the Department of Environment, Ecology and Plant Sciences shows a unique breadth in the organisms that are studied, both marine and terrestrial organisms - cyanobacteria, diatoms and seagrasses, mosses, actinorhizal plants, Arabidopsis, barley, wheat, Salix, common cotton grass and water mosses. Several research projects have high relevance from an environmental point of view, for instance the accumulation of a neurotoxin in lakes, phytoremediation by plants and plant defence against insects.

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Design and technical solution © 2004 Palmgren kommunikation. SPPS Newsletter is edited by Gorm Palmgren.
All articles - unless otherwise stated - are written by Gorm Palmgren.