SPPS Newsletter March 2005

Index of Issue I 2005

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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