SPPS Newsletter July 2005

Index of Issue III 2005

Physiologia Plantarum presented its new cover January 2005. Graphic by Gorm Palmgren.

During the last 6 months, the SPPS journal Physiologia Plantarum has undergone a significant transformation. A transformation that has made one of the most highly acknowledged plant journals even better.

The changes were decided on in 2004 by journal representatives and was formulated in a strategic plan (see former article in SPPS Newsletter) that should lead to an increase in both impact factor and number of submitted manuscripts.

Most of the changes have now been turned into reality and they include:

  • Shorter publication and production times
  • New Asian editors
  • More minireviews and special issues
  • Online submission and access
  • New layout

The new initiatives have already proven effective and the most recent survey has revealed that the impact factor of Physiologia Plantarum has now jumped from 1.767 to 2.017.

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Lyon, venue of the congress, is the historical capital of the rose. Adapted from http://www.ens-lyon.fr/RDP/FESPB2006.php

The Federation of European Societies of Plant Biology, FESPB, invites you to attend their next major congress in Lyon, France. The congress will take place 17-21 July 2006 and you can already now preregister through the pamphlet, which is available on the conference website.

The congress will focus on the following topics:

  • Plant cell biology
  • Growth, development and fertilization
  • Genetics and genome analysis
  • Metabolism and transport
  • Stress, pathogen interactions and hormone signalling
  • New model systems
  • Biotechnology and biotechnological applications

No less than 20 keynote speakers from 9 countries have been invited. In the opening lecture, Sir Peter Crane from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK will talk about plant biodiversity – a topic that he has recently addressed several times in the journal Science.

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The next PhD conference will take place at Hotel Lappland in Lycksele. From http://www.hotelllappland.se

Rumours of the next SPPS PhD conference are beginning to surface. According to one of the organizers, Professor Marianne Sommarin from Umeå Plant Science Centre in Sweden, the event is scheduled for 15th to 18th June 2006.

The biannual conference, which in 2004 attracted 30 PhD students from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Germany, will take place in the small town of Lycksele, approximately 120 km north of Umeå. Lycksele is situated in the southern most tip of Lapland, and the local Hotel Lappland will accomodate the conference.

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Lund University is the largest university in Scandinavia. Modified from http://www.lu.se by Gorm Palmgren.

When Denmark gave up Skåne, Halland and Blekinge – the southernmost provinces of modern Sweden – in 1658, the Swedish government decided to celebrate the reunion by establishing a university in the region, so as to minimize the Danish influence.

Lund University is now Scandinavia’s largest unified institution of higher learning with 42,500 students and 6,000 employees. It is a very internationally oriented university which receives 1600 exchange students and sends 800 abroad every year, and its researchers participates at the moment in around 200 EU research and education programmes, 54 of which are coordinated in Lund.

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Crossing potatoes and tomatoes never turned out well, but a chimeric tobacco and tomato plant may prove more successful. Tobacco is susceptible to salt and soil salinity is an increasing problem in some tobacco growing regions of Southern Europe. Tomato is, however, much more salt tolerant and this prompted Juan Ruiz and colleagues from University of Granada, Spain to graft tobacco scions on tomato rootstocks. The results were promising, the grafted tobacco plants yielded up to 54% more foliar biomass than non-grafted plants when grown in 100 mM NaCl. In normal tobacco plants, nicotine is synthesized in the root, so it turned out that the chimeric tobacco plants – in addition to being salt tolerant – virtually lacked any nicotine in the leaves. With 99% reduced nicotine levels, tobacco grafted on tomato rootstocks might be an alternative for reducing the harmful effects of cigarette smoking.

Read full article here: Ruiz et al (August 2005) Physiologia Plantarum 124: 465-475

Researchers at University of Tennessee, USA have discovered an endogenous gene in Arabidopsis that confers resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin. Kanamycin is extensively used as a selectable marker in the production of transgenic plants, and resistance in transgenics is normally obtained by the bacterial nptII gene. Concerns, however, have been raised about the potential transfer of the gene back to bacteria inhabiting the gastrointestinal tract in humans and animals upon ingestion of transgenic plant material. This could lead to antibiotic resistant pathogenic bacteria that might be hard to control. The new gene, Atwbc19, encodes an ABC transporter – a class of ubiquitous proteins that transport toxins out of the cell across the plasma membrane. Since the gene originates in plants, it is highly unlikely that it will function in bacteria after horizontal gene transfer.

Source: Mentewab & Stewart Jr (September 2005) Nature Biotechnology 23: 1177-1180

Phytate is a highly abundant animal antinutrient that binds phosphate in plant seeds. Monogastric animals are unable to digest phytate, so phosphorous is made unavailable in the feed and is instead released from undigested phytate into the environment. Scientists have attempted to overcome this problem by expressing in transgenic seeds phytase, which degrades phytate, but now American researchers have successfully pursued another strategy. They identified two inositol polyphosphate kinases involved in phytate synthesis and generated corresponding loss-of-function mutants in Arabidopsis. Phytate was more than 95% reduced in the double mutant and free inorganic phosphate was almost 10 times higher than in wild type seeds. Seed yield was not affected, but mutants had somewhat reduced growth, especially when grown under higher phosphate conditions.

Source: Stevenson-Paulik et al (30 August 2005) PNAS 102: 12612-12617