SPPS Newsletter October 2004

Index of Issue II 2004

Physiologia Plantarum is published on behalf of SPPS. Graphic by Gorm Palmgren.

Although Physiologia Plantarum already ranks as an impressive #8 among the 136 most cited international plant science journals, the editorial board aims even higher. During 2004 journal representatives have met several times and have formulated a strategic plan that will double the impact factor within three years and lead to a 25% increase in the number of submitted manuscripts.

Initiatives have already been taken to make the journal more attractive for both readers and authors. Physiologia Plantarum intends to publish four Special Issues per year, where manuscripts focusing on specific themes are invited. The Special Issues started in September 2003 and has so far covered senescence, photosynthesis, redox regulation and desiccation tolerance.

Continue reading

Trollius europaeus – symbol of the congress – is common in the mountains of northern Scandinavia. Modified from Gun Löfdahl by Gorm Palmgren.

After touring the other Scandinavian countries for eight years, the biannual SPPS Congress is returning to Sweden. The venue for the upcoming XXII SPPS Congress has been set to Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC) and will take place 16-19 June 2005.

And it is somehow a comeback. Last time the congress was held in Sweden was in 1997 at SLU (Swedish Agricultural University) in Uppsala, and now SLU is also among the hosts, since its Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology in Umeå is part of UPSC (see article in this issue).

Continue reading

Troedsson symposium on “Intracellular Trafficking and Cell Wall Formation in Plants” at UPSC on 4-5 February 2005. Photo collage courtesy of Markus Grebe.

A Troedsson symposium on “Intracellular Trafficking and Cell Wall Formation in Plants” will take place at Umeå Plant Science Centre, Sweden 4-5 February 2005. The symposium is organized by the SSF (Stiftelsen för Strategisk Forskning, i.e. Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research) funded Centre of Excellence in Plant Developmental Biology.

The registration fee is covered by SSF but attendants must arrange for transportation and accommodation at hotel or youth hostel in the city at their own expenses. The deadline for registration is 30 November 2004 so everybody interested should hurry up, as the number of participants is limited to 100.

Continue reading

Umeå Plant Science Centre is a fusion of plant departments from Umeå University and SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) in Umeå. Graphic by Gorm Palmgren

By the end of the 1990’s, two of the strongest experimental plant research departments in Sweden were the Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology at SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) in Umeå and the Department of Plant Physiology at Umeå University.

But in 1999 they joined forces and fused into the Umeå Plant Science Centre or UPSC. The merging has been very successful and UPSC now employs an international team of more than 150 scientists and technicians:

  • 35-40 group leaders
  • 30-40 postdocs
  • 40-45 PhD students
  • 30-35 technicians

The annual budget is in excess of 100 million SEK (more than 11 million €) and about 75% of the expenses must be applied for in competition with other research centers. The Wallenberg and Kempe foundations make significant contributions and so do the Swedish research councils and the ‘mother universities’.

Continue reading

Microgravity seems to impose stress on the photosynthetic apparatus according to a new American study. Seeds of rape, Brassica rapa, were germinated in growth chambers on board a space shuttle that during 14 days flight took several loops around Earth in microgravity. Growth conditions were monitored and replicated to control plants grown at the Kennedy Space Center. Microgravity did not seem to influence growth and biomass accumulation, but the chlorophyll a/b ratio increased from 2.4 in ground controls to 3.5 in space grown plants. Mainly photosystem I was affected, having a reduced number of complexes and a 30% decrease of photochemical activity. Microgravity also led to altered chloroplast ultrastructure as shown by transmission electron micrographs.

Read full article here: Jiao et al (October 2004) Physiologia Plantarum 122: 281-290

Gene flow from transgenic crops to wild populations of weeds are not the only way that weeds can become tolerant to herbicides. The widespread and increasing use of Roundup has favoured natural selection of existing genetic variation in Ipomoea purpurea (morning glory) leading to Roundup tolerant weeds. Scientists at University of Georgia, Athens, USA studied the offspring from I. purpurea collected from fields where Roundup had consistently been used for 8 years. The study emphasized the difference between resistance and tolerance: the weed paid a high price for herbicide tolerance by compensating for damage and developed significantly fewer seeds in absence of Roundup.

Source: Beaucom & Mauricio (28 September 2004) PNAS 101: 13386-13390

Plants and animals may share the same innate response to pathogens, according to a German study. Lipopolysaccharides (LPS), components of the bacterial cell wall, was found to induce a strong and rapid burst of nitric oxide, NO, in leaves and cultured cells of Arabidopsis thaliana. NO is toxic to bacteria, but the study showed that it also served as a signalling molecule to activate other defense pathways. LPS-induced NO-production depended on the gene AtNOS1 encoding NO synthase. Mutants defective in this gene failed to activate several defence related genes and had increased susceptibility to the pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. This suggests that LPS-induced NO production is an important part of the immune response in plants, as it is also known to be in mammals.

Source: Zeidler et al (2 November 2004) PNAS 101: 15811-15816