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SPPS Newsletter June 2006
Index of Issue II 2006
- Proceedings from the PhD conference in Lycksele
- Agrisera – new corporate member
- Physiologia Plantarum now online from 1948
- Special feature: Stronger, larger and fewer universities in Denmark
- Our opinion: Merging universities
- Scandinavian research institute: TRAP LABS (Transport Physiology Laboratories), Copenhagen
- Strawberries with ethylene
- Ancient Figs Beat Record for Human Agriculture
- Enzymes Spice Up Plant Scent
The SPPS PhD conference in Lycksele is now over. It took place from June 15-18 2006 in Lycksele in Swedish Lappland and all together 75 persons participated – almost twice as many as the last SPPS PhD conference. The organizing committee had selected 24 students to present their work in a 20 minutes oral presentation, while 32 other students presented a poster with their experimental results. In addition, 7 international scientists had been invited to give plenary lectures.
After having served plant scientists with antibodies for two decades, Agrisera has now decided to support the general plant scientific community by becoming a corporate member of SPPS.
Agrisera works in close cooperation with the researchers and besides from their large stock of more than 100 plant specific antibodies, they also produce antibodies on order from a purified protein. Many scientists have not only saved time by letting Agrisera take care of antibody production, but they have also been able to partially finance their research by having Agrisera commercialize the antibodies afterwards.
On October 2nd 1947, two Danish scientists could finally submit their results on nutritional growth requirement of Mycobacterium. They had decided to publish in the brand new journal Physiologia Plantarum, and their paper happened to appear on page 1 in the very first issue, which came out in January 1948.
59 years later, the paper has been published again – online. This happened April 28th 2006, when the publisher Blackwell Publishing could proudly announce that all issues of Physiologia Plantarum is now accessible online. It has been a tremendous work to scan and digitalize all the issues, and the publisher is actually doing this to almost 500 journals. The task includes scanning 6.5 million pages and is expected to be completed in 2008.
The landscape is about to change in Denmark, if you are looking to the fields of research and education. Helge Sander, the Danish Minister of Science, Technology and Education has revealed the governments proposal for a complete organizational revision that will make fundamental changes to almost all universities in the country.
KVL, the Royal Agricultural and Veterinary University, where SPPS is based, will become part of University of Copenhagen (KU) according to the proposal, that was announced on June 20th 2006. It suggests that 11 universities and 13 governmental research organizations be merged into 5 new ‘super-universities’ with effect from January 1st 2007. Only three existing institutions – Roskilde Universitetscenter, Statens Serum Institut and Forsvarets Forskningstjeneste – continue without changes.
1. Are larger universities generally more competitive than smaller ones?
The critical factor is the funding situation rather than size. Small research institutions can do really well if they receive adequate economic resources, but larger universities will be better suited for handling the increased research funding we will see in compliance with the Barcelona agreement. Merging universities and governmental research institutes is also a very useful step in order to make all academic expertises available for educational purposes.
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Fundamental to all plants is the ability to take up nutrients from the soil and transport them along with other solutes to whatever part of the plant they are needed. At TRAP LABS, these basic physiological processes have been the focus for intense research since Michael Gjedde Palmgren joined KVL (The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University) as a Professor in 1998.
TRAP LABS makes up the bigger part of the Plant Physiology and Anatomy Laboratory, which belongs to the Department of Plant Biology at KVL in Copenhagen. They work in close cooperation with the group of Jan K. Schjørring who is Professor in plant nutrition at the university’s Department of Agricultural Sciences.
It is the right season for strawberries and they should be enjoyed with lots of fresh cream – and ethylene. A strawberry is a very peculiar fruit as the fleshy part is derived from the non-ovarian receptacle tissue, and it has been postulated that ripening of strawberries was not dependent on ethylene. But Pietro Iannetta from Scottish Crop Research Institute and co-workers show in a careful study that ethylene is certainly important for fruit development. Using laser photoacoustic spectroscopy they demonstrated diurnal fluctuations in ethylene production during ripening and a continuously increasing production in red, mature berries.
Read full article here: Iannetta et al (June 2006) Physiologia Plantarum 127: 247-259
Nine dried figs excavated three decades ago in the remains of an ancient house north of Jericho in the Jordan Valley beat the record for human agriculture by about 1000 years. The figs, that date back to year 9,400 BC, was forgotten in an Israeli museum until recently when a Harvard anthropologist got hold on them. Edible figs do not produce germinative seeds and, accordingly, they cannot be sexually propagated. The nine ancient figs and 313 drupelets (fleshy part of the fruit) from the same period were all edible, indicating that humans had propagated the trees vegetatively.
Basil-scented petunia or clove-scented tomatoes may be on their way to reach supermarket shelves after the discovery of enzymes that can convert a common plant product into various pungent and bioactive compounds. Two similar NADPH-dependent reductases were identified in petunia flowers and sweet basil glandular trichomes, and shown to convert coniferyl acetate into isoeugenol and eugenol, respectively. These are both phenylpropenes, that constitute a large group of secondary metabolites, which plants use for defence and to attract pollinators, and that are exploited by humans for their aroma, flavour and antimicrobial effects. The researchers propose that plant varieties with new taste, smell and functionality can be created by genetic engineering of these enzymes.