XXII SPPS Congress successfully out of the woods
Minutes from the SPPS General Assembly
Prizes presented for posters and popularization
Scandinavian research institute:
Plant Biotech Denmark, Copenhagen

Published monthly on behalf of SPPS by Wiley-Blackwell.
Don't loose your (cotton) head in the heat
Global warming might challenge cotton growers in the near future according to American researchers. They examined cotton grown under controlled temperature and UV-B light and tested the effect on abscission of bolls and squares, which is an early step in the cotton fruiting cycle. Elevated temperatures (day 36 C and night 28 C) increased young boll abscission, whereas enhanced UV-B radiation (14 kJ m-2 resulted in square abscission. In combination, the two physiological parameters had an additive effect leading to further yield losses. Fruit abscission was accompanied by lowered and altered carbohydrate composition in the developing flowering organs.
Read full article here: Zhao et al (June 2005) Physiologia Plantarum 124: 189-199

Resolving auxin action
Source: Kepinski & Leyser + Dharmasiri et al (26 May 2005) Nature 435: 446-451 + 441-445
Photosynthesis without sunlight
Source: Beatty et al (28 June 2005) PNAS 102: 9306-9310

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XXII SPPS Congress successfully out of the woods

Abstract book, note pad and pen - ready for the next lecture! Photo by Tom Hamborg Nielsen.
The XXII SPPS Congress in Umeå is over after four sunny days and white nights. The congress attracted almost 200 scientists and students from 16 different countries - coming all the way from Australia in the South and Canada in the North, from Japan in the East and USA in the West.

The local Umeå University and SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) were well represented. Together they form UPSC (Umeå Plant Science Center, see article in a former issue) and their massive presence did not only reflect the geographical proximity, but rather the mutual focus on forest tree physiology and developmental biology by both UPSC and the congress.

In his plenary lecture, Professor Göran Sandberg from UPSC explained how forest biotechnology has entered the genomic era, and to use his own words, the research field has now come out of the woods. The many lectures and posters on forest tree physiology and biotechnology presented at the congress convincingly proved that he is right.

Göran Sandberg explains how forest biotechnology has come out of the woods. Photo by Tom Hamborg Nielsen.
Göran Sandberg presented work that for the first time has identified stem cells in the secondary meristem of hybrid aspen (Populus tremula x Populus tremuloides). Not only is this a significant scientific discovery, but also the experimental work and the technologies used were as impressive as the results they led to.

Analysing tiny sections of the cambium between the bark and the wood, the team from UPSC was able to establish individual transcriptional profiles for each of the 15 cell layers that all together covers only 220 µm. Though anatomical examination of the meristem zone could not distinguish the six cell layers from each other, the expression profiles revealed drastic differences. Expression of several genes was substantially restricted to specific layers, and one of these could be identified as a layer of stem cells.

89 posters were presented at the congress. Photo by Tom Hamborg Nielsen.
Such work requires advanced molecular tools and - together with many of the other presentations - it demonstrates that nowadays you can almost do the same with Populus as you can with Arabidopsis. Whether it was in approval of this work or not, Göran Sandberg was the very same day as he gave the speech promoted to rector of Umeå University.

Charleen Morreau, also from UPSC, demonstrated work aimed at identifying the key genes involved in programmed cell death of poplar xylem. Analyses of a cDNA microarray representing 12.000 unique genes using samples from different developmental tissues of the poplar stem have so far revealed a number of candidate genes. These genes, encoding metacaspases and vacuolar processing enzymes, are now being further characterized.

The registration desk had to hand over almost 200 bags with abstract books, programmes, badges etc. Photo by Tom Hamborg Nielsen.
Under the dramatic title "How death makes the embryo", Peter Bozhkov from Uppsala, Sweden, explained how programmed cell death is a necessity for proper development of the Pinus embryo and he presented a versatile model system to study this relationship.

Arabidopsis was still a popular model plant for many of the attendees, among them a group from University of Leicester, UK. Paul Jarvis and Simon Geir Møller (originally from University of Stavanger, Norway) presented exhaustive analyses of the role of stromal ATPases in plastid division, and a possible function for the many isoforms of the components in the protein import machinery.

There was time for a stroll along the banks of river Vindeln. Photo by Tom Hamborg Nielsen.
Charles Guy from University of Florida, USA, used metabolomics to study how plants cope with temperature stress. Profiling of approximately 500 metabolites revealed that cold shock influenced steady state levels of three times more metabolites than heat shock. Interestingly, the majority of heat shock metabolites were affected in the same way during cold shock.

The 89 posters were on display throughout the congress. Poster sessions were held in the evenings or at lunch, and on turn the posters had to be attended so one could ask questions and get further information.

Picturesque downtown Umeå. Photo by Tom Hamborg Nielsen.
The relatively small congress made everybody mix and come together. There was no need for parallel sessions and everybody fitted into both the lecture hall and the dining room.

Except for a brief downpour, the sun was shining all day and - since Umeå is close to the Polar Circle - all night, too. This made an excellent opportunity to enjoy river rafting on the river Vindeln or just a stroll along the riverbanks.

A well-earned dinner in nice surroundings after a long day. Photo by Tom Hamborg Nielsen.
The conference closed with a small ceremony where the Student Poster Price and the SPPS popularization prize were presented.

You can read more about these prizes and the lucky winners elsewhere in this issue.

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