SPPS Newsletter December 2004

Index of Issue III 2004

SPPS has much to offer its members! Graphic by Gorm Palmgren.

If you are a member of SPPS, now is the time to renew your membership – and if not, this is a good opportunity to sign up! In both instances, read on to see what SPPS has to offer now and in the future.

Since SPPS was established 57 years ago as Societas Physiologia Plantarum Scandinavica, the society has constantly evolved to keep up with the demands of its members. Rewording of the name from Latin to the English Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society reflects the changes to become a more open and dynamic society that appeals to a broad collection of plant biologists all around the world.

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Tampere – situated 170 km from Helsinki – will be a scenic venue for the 2008 FESPB Congress. Photo courtesy of SPPS.

The Finnish university town Tampere has been selected to become the venue for the 16th FESPB Congress in 2008. The decision was taken during last year’s FESPB Congress in Krakow, Poland where Jan K. Schjørring, President of SPPS, promoted the beautiful city between two lakes.

Tampere was selected in sharp competition with Edinburgh that was suggested by Richard Napier, representing Society of Experimental Biology, UK. Both representatives used excellent and professional presentations to argue for their respective cities, and the battle was both tight and intense. However, the FESPB delegates were left no choice but to select only one of them.

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FESPB is the Federation of European Societies of Plant Biology. Modified from FESPB by Gorm Palmgren.

As a direct consequence of SPPS being elected to host the FESPB 2008 Congress (see article in this issue), SPPS also will be granted presidency of the Federation of European Societies of Plant Biology from 2006. It is a general rule in FESPB, that the regional plant biology organisation being responsible for the upcoming biannual congress receives the presidency two years in advance of the event.

Jan K. Schjørring, President of SPPS, has already been appointed ‘Incoming President’ of FESPB and is now one of the organisation’s Officers of the Executive Committee. Professor Christian Dumas from Lyon, France is President at the moment, while Professor K.A. Roubelakis-Angelakis from Crete, Greece holds the more powerful position as Secretary General.

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The Plant Stress Group is situated in the Viikki Campus that houses research and teaching facilities for 6,000 students and 1,500 teachers. Photo by Eero Roine & Ida Pimenoff

Ozone not only gives the forest a clean and fresh smell, it is also an air pollutant that mimics plant-pathogen interactions and induce cell death in plants.

This is being exploited at the Plant Stress Group in Helsinki, where they have set up a system for the controlled exposure of plants to ozone. In combination with a large collection of Arabidopsis mutants this is a powerful approach to study the several signal transduction pathways that regulate plant responses to biotic and abiotic stress.

The Plant Stress Group is part of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at University of Helsinki. The Department was formed in the beginning of 2004 by the fusion of three institutes and belongs to the Faculty of Biosciences. It resides at the Viikki Campus together with the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Faculty of Pharmacy.

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Anne Stenbæk – here seen together with Tom Hamborg Nielsen, Secretary General – is a new face at SPPS. Photo courtesey of SPPS.

Anne Stenbæk has been appointed new part-time secretary at the SPPS secretariate at KVL, Copenhagen, replacing Kent Høier Nielsen. Anne is currently also student at KVL and has previously been secretary in a travel agency.

Anne can be reached at the SPPS secretariate on +45 3528 3446 or spps@kvl.dk.*

Being adopted to the hot and dry summers of the Balkan Peninsula, Ramonda serbica can withstand several weeks of severe dehydration and resurrect from apparent death. In a study performed by Italian and Yugoslavian researchers from the universities of Pisa and Belgrade, phenolics were shown to play a critical role in the scavenging of free radicals during dehydration and subsequent rehydration. Phenolic acids, primarily chlorogenic acid which is known to be a very active antioxidant, are stored in unusually high levels prior to dehydration, but become depleted as relative water content drops to less than 5%. The authors suggest that Ramonda serbica utilizes a peroxide/phenolics/ascorbate system for detoxification of hydrogen peroxide.

Read full article here: Sgherri et al (December 2004) Physiologia Plantarum 122: 478-485

9000 years ago, people in the north of China mixed rice, honey and fruits in pottery or bronze jars and left it fermenting into an aromatic beverage. Chemical analysis – using HPLC and FT-IR (Fourier-transform infrared spectrometry) – of extracts from pottery fragments were compared with similar analysis from contemporary samples of various grains, fruits and beeswax. The presence of e.g. tartaric acid suggested that hawthorn fruit and wild grape were among the ingredients in the ancient brew. These findings provide the first direct chemical evidence of fermented beverages in ancient China.

Source: McGovern et al (21 December 2004) PNAS 101: 17593-17598

Researchers at Michigan State Univesity have shown a new metabolic pathway in developing seeds of Brassica napus (oilseed rape) that reduces carbon loss by 40% and makes oil storage much more advantageous for seeds. Sucrose is converted into pyruvate through glycolysis and subsequently to acetyl-CoA and fatty-acids, resulting in a loss of two carbons as CO2 for each hexose. A substantial part of the CO2 is, however, recycled by Rubisco in a process uncoupled from the Calvin cycle. Using 13C- and 14C-labelled carbon sources, the researchers have shown that Rubisco converts CO2 and ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate into PGA, which is then metabolized to pyruvate and used for fatty-acid biosynthesis.

Source: Schwender et al (9 December 2004) Nature 432: 779-782