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SPPS Newsletter January 2006
Index of Issue I 2006
- Announcing the 4th SPPS PhD Student Conference
- Time to renew you membership
- Special feature: Communicating science to the public
- Our opinion: Communicating science to the public
- Scandinavian research institute: Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), Oslo
- Using photosynthesis as a thermometer
- Scaling small and large plants
- Feeding on military explosives
You are invited to join the 4th SPPS PhD Student Conference from 15th to 18th June 2006 in Lycksele 130 km north of Umeå. Travel grants are offered by SPPS and as a member you save SEK 1000 off the conference fee.
The conference covers both basic and applied aspects of plant science that will be introduced by invited speakers:
- Plant Development
Simon Turner, University of Manchester, UK
Eva-Mari Aro, University of Turku, Finland
- Stress Acclimation
Christine Foyer, Rothamsted Research, UK
- Cell-Cell Communication
Nicolaus von Wirén, University of Hohenheim, Germany
- ‘Omics’ Tools and Data Handling
To be announced
In addition, two workshops will address the role of plant science in agriculture and forestry as well as your personal carrier opportunities:
- Plant Science in Agriculture and Forestry
Food and Agricultural Organization, UN (Pending)
- Biotechnology in the market place and society
Lene Lange, Novozymes, Denmark and
Peter Sylwan, Lund University, Sweden
Participants will have the opportunity to present their work in poster sessions, and short oral presentations of 20 minutes will be selected from the submitted abstracts. Prizes will be awarded for the best presentations.
Don’t forget to renew your membership of SPPS for only DKK 200 (US$ 35) and receive all the benefits listed to the right. If you plan to join just one of the biannual SPPS congresses or PhD conferences, a membership will actually save you money due to the reduced registration fee.
We have already received several new members and most of the existing members have renewed their membership. However, we miss some of you and urge you to renew as soon as possible.
Governments in Europe and the rest of the world long ago realized the need to inform the public about science and its potentials in the society. Common knowledge of the ongoing research and a basic understanding of new technologies will enable the citizens to evaluate and accept scientific progress as well as to participate in a knowledge based society. Moreover, it will engage students in natural sciences and lead to education of the scientists that are needed to support further growth.
1. Does society need to keep common people informed about general research?
Yes, indeed! A large part of the research is publicly funded and people should definitely be informed about the scientific achievements made. And how they will potentially impact their daily lives in the future.
2. Do you feel the public knows enough about plant biology to deal with e.g. GMO’s?
No, definitely not. More and better information to the public would serve to increase the awareness in the society of the importance of plant biological research for the future production of healthier vegetable food products. Many of the obvious misunderstandings related to GMO’s could also have been avoided.
Founded in 1859 as Norges Landbrukshøgskole (NLH or Agricultural University of Norway), the Norwegian University of Life Sciences emerged in 2005 after a reorganization that gave it recognition as a real, research based university. Its historic roots attached in agriculture, the research at Universitetet for Miljø- og Biovetenskap (UMB) – as it is called in the local language – focuses on quality, technology and environmental friendliness of agri- and aquaculture.
Plants need to respond to changes in the temperature as part of cold acclimation. In a special issue on cold and abiotic stress, scientists from University of Western Ontario, Canada review how photosynthesis seems to be key to sensing the low temperature signal. Photosynthesis consists of temperature independent photochemical reactions leading to charge separation, and temperature dependent biochemical reactions where this redox potential energy is converted to stable reducing power. When the temperature drops, this leads to an energy imbalance that causes an increase in the free pool of reduced plastoquinone in the electron transport. Being the primary energy sensor, these changes transduce into biochemical signals that regulate transcription of genes involved in cold acclimation.
Read full article here: Ensminger et al (January 2006) Physiologia Plantarum 126: 28-44
When animals get bigger their respiratory metabolism scales up as the 3/4 power of biomass. The same relationship was previously thought to apply for plants, but this might not be so according to American scientists. They have evaluated metabolic data obtained from 500 laboratory and field grown plants from 43 species and across six orders of magnitude in biomass. The intriguing observation is that biomass alone cannot account for the differences in respiration. Available nitrogen in the soil seemed to be an important factor and led to marked differences between plants grown in the field or greenhouse. In addition, respiration of plants increased more steeply with larger size than it does in animals.
Military activities have resulted in widespread environmental pollution of RDX (hexahydro1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazinemicrobial), one of the most used explosives, and being toxic to all animals tested its presence is of major concern worldwide. Environmental degradation of RDX is low, but now British scientists have engineered Arabidopsis to degrade the explosive pollutant. Plants expressing the bacterial xplA-gene, encoding a RDX-degrading cytochrome P450, grew vigorously with RDX concentrations of 2000 mg/kg soil, whereas concentrations of 50 mg/kg soil ceased growth of wildtype plants. The transgenic plants degraded RDX, shown by a 4-fold lower accumulation of the explosive in shoots as compared to normal plants.