Associate Professor Anna Haldrup receives the prize from Rector of KVL Per Holten-Andersen. Photo by Thomas Cornelius.

For her remarkable efforts to communicate plant science to the public, associate professor Anna Haldrup from KVL (Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Copenhagen) has received not only one, but two popularization prices this spring.

The popularization prices of both SPPS and KVL make their debut this year, indicating the increasing importance of promoting natural sciences in order to legitimate public expenses on research, educate citizens in the emerging technologies and to attract new students.

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Trollius europaeus is the symbol of the congress. Illustration by Gun Lövdahl.

It is time to prepare for the biannual SPPS congress, which takes place this summer in Umeå. The last chance to submit abstracts and to save SEK 500 (approximately €55) on the registration fee is April 25, so if you have not already signed up do it now.

SPPS members get a further SEK 500 discount and since full membership for the rest of 2005 only costs you half that amount, you actually save SEK 250 by joining SPPS before registring.

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Professor Atle M. Bones is head of the 9 scientists, 7 students and 1 technician that make up the Plant Genetics Group at NTNU. Photo courtesy of Atle Bones.

Well below the polar circle, where Norway narrows into a thin land strip, in the city of Trondheim, is the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU. Despite the city has only 150.000 inhabitants, the university has around 20.000 students and 3500 employees.

Almost 20 of them reside at the Plant Genetics Group that belongs to the Department of Biology, and their scientific interests are devoted to molecular and biochemical analysis of a large collection of Arabidopsis mutants. The two major research projects are:

  • The myrosinase-glucosinolate plant defence system
  • Cell signal transduction through RAC GTPases

Both projects have been under way for several years and have resulted in numerous publications in international journals.

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Click here to learn what titles are offered by Blackwell at a 20% reduction

Blackwell Publishing is offering members of SPPS a 20% reduction on selected books in the field of plant biology. Almost 40 titles are offered at the reduced price, including recent editions of books on ecology, pathology, molecular biology, photosynthesis, reproduction and much more.

If you are not already member of SPPS, it is time sign up. Full membership for the rest of 2005 only costs you DKK 200, so if you want to buy e.g. Membrane Transport in Plants by Michael Blatt you actually save DKK 50 (€7) by joining SPPS before you order the book.

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Six consecutive years of field-testing in Egypt suggest that transgenic spring wheat expressing the HVA1 gene have enhanced tolerance to drought. The transgene encodes a member of the group 3 late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins from barley aleurone, which naturally accumulates during seed desiccation. Enhanced drought resistance from the transgene varied between transformants and also within transformants from year to year. In one of the best lines, 111/1, yield increases ranged from only 1% up to 44% under drought conditions depending on the year. The scientists are now pursuing commercialization of the transgenic wheat seeds.

Read full article here: Bahieldin et al (April 2005) Physiologia Plantarum 123: 421-427

Scientists from Purdue University have discovered that genes might not always be passed down from one generation to the next, but can apparently skip the parental generation and be inherited directly from the grandparents. That was observed in Arabidopsis when plants homozygous for a mutation in the HOTHEAD gene gave rise to offspring where up to 10% had reversed the mutation. This is a far higher reversion frequency than expected and the authors suggest that copies of the ancestral, non-mutated genes are inherited in some form, maybe as RNA. Such a mechanism can help to avoid inheriting detrimental genes from the parents and might be a general mechanism not exclusive to plants.

Source: Lolle et al (24 March 2005) Nature 434: 505-509

Embedded in the bud, leaves rest folded in a way with striking similarities to the “mountain and valley” folds known as a Miura-ori pattern from the Japanese art of paper folding, origami. Wondering how these highly complex folding patterns could arise, scientists from Chile and USA have generated a physical model that simulates natural folding mechanisms. The model suggests, that during growth the stiff skin and the softer supporting tissues will expand at different rates. In order to weak compression in the energetically cheapest way, the growing leaf will all by itself fold into the periodic zigzag patterns of mountain-valley folds. The authors propose, that the same mechanism might be involved in insect wings and other natural structures.

Source: Mahadevan & Rica (18 March 2005) Science 307: 1740

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.

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SPPS President Jan K. Schjørring highlights the Society’s recent activities. Photo by Tom Hamborg Nielsen.

The SPPS General Assembly was held during the congress in Umeå. Mats Björk from Stockholm University, Sweden was elected as new member of the Council. He replaces Christer Sundqvist who decided to retire from his post (see below).

All other members were reelected, and Jan K. Schjørring continues as President of the Society. Treasurer Henrik Vibe Scheller presented the account, which is very satisfactory due to profits from the Society’s journal, Phyiologia Plantarum.

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Magnus Eklund from Uppsala and Marjaana Suorsa from Turku, Finland receive the student poster prizes. Photo by Tom Hamborg Nielsen.

During the XXII SPPS Congress in Umeå (see article in this issue) a small group of people paid extra attention to the 89 posters displayed. They were the jury, which had to select two posters that stood out of the rest and deserved the poster prizes of 5000 SEK (approximately 500 €) each.

The winners were Magnus Eklund from SLU in Uppsala, Sweden and Marjaana Suorsa from University of Turku, Finland. Magnus’ poster presented work describing the regulation of SHI proteins in Arabidopsis, which are involved in development of gynoecia, stamens and leaves. The proteins contain IGGH and glutamine-rich domains and using the yeast two-hybrid system, Magnus has been able to show that these domains are involved in transcriptional activation.

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