SPPS Newsletter December 2007

Index of Issue III 2007

Haslev, the venue of the SPPS PhD conference is within short reach from Copenhagen.

The organizers of this year’s SPPS PhD student conference are glad to announce that more than 55 PhD students have signed up for the coming conference in Haslev, Denmark, January 2008. The majority of the participants come from institutes or Universities in Northern Europe, however this year we will also have quite a few people from China, Japan, India, Ghana, Nigeria, Iran, Pakistan and USA.

The organizing committee looks forward to host this very international meeting, as it will be a great opportunity for all participants to present their work, share knowledge and start new collaborations with other plant research groups in the world. The organizing committee has started to select abstracts and invite the few selected PhD students to give an oral presentation of their work. Thus the final program of the conference should be finished right before Christmas.

You can register and read more about the conference on its official homepage.

Renew or sign up now for 2008 SPPS membership.

2008 is approaching rapidly and it is now time to renew your membership of SPPS. This can be done at the SPPS web-site by credit card or you can go to our Members section of the website and read about the advantages of SPPS membership.

As a new benefit, all members will from 1st January 2008 be able to access the SPPS publication, Physiologia Plantarum, on-line. The publisher will contact you directly via your e-mail after you have paid your membership fee in order for you to be able to log in to Physiologia Plantarum.

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Enjoy the science, meet your colleagues and take the opportunity to establish new fruitful collaborations. From www.fespb2008.org

Preparations for the XVI Congress of the Federation of European Societies of Plant Biology (FESPB) have reached the final state, and the FESPB 2008 Final Announcement is now available online. The Congress will take place in Tampere, Finland on 17-22 August. It is organized by SPPS with Jaakko Kangasjärvi as Chairman of the Scientific Organizing Committee.

All the invited speakers have been selected on basis of scientific excellence from the propositions of the local Scientific Organizing Committee, Scandinavian Scientific Committee and the International Committee, which proposed about 40 scientists to be considered for invitation. The Final selection was done by the local organizing committee after comments from the Scandinavian and International committees, which also have accepted the selection.

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Plant scientists from University of Copenhagen made it to the cover of Nature this month. From www.nature.com

In a triumph for Scandinavian plant research, Danish scientists recently made a dream come true. While some might want to see their picture on the cover of the Rolling Stones, Mickey Gjedde Palmgren from University of Copenhagen made it even better with a picture of his favorite ion pump on the cover of Nature. Dedicated plant papers in the ‘all round’ top journals Nature, Science and PNAS are not common, but around 10-15 Scandinavian plant research groups actually made it into this good company during 2007.

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The overall goal for Department of Plant Biology and Forest Genetics it to develop better crops for the future. From www.vbsg.slu.se

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences – or SLU, its Swedish abbreviation, as they like to call themselves in all languages – is a large research entity with around 2600 employees in four main locations. The strategic areas comprise Food, Animals, Forests, Rural and Urban development and includes a large proportion of the country’s best plant research groups. Some of these are located in Umeå at the Umeå Plant Science Centre, which has been covered in a previous article in SPPS Newsletter. The other center for plant research at SLU is the Department of Plant Biology and Forest Genetics, which is located in Uppsala.

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It takes more than just a single type of tubulin, the major subunit of microtubules, to build the structural framework for the developing barley embryo. Expression profiles of 14 different tubulin genes generated by German and Ukrainian scientists have revealed that their levels of expression differed significantly during development. In general, expression of all the tubulin genes peaked at two days after flowering – apparently to sustain mitosis during endosperm formation. A less prominent peak around 8 days after flowering included only some tubulins and is believed to involve cell wall organization. One gene, HvTUA5 had a very distinct expression profile which is apparently associated with shoot establishment.

Read full article here: Radchunk et al. (December 2007) Physiologia Plantarum 131: 571-580

The crystal structure of the the plant proton pumping plasma membrane ATPase has been resolved by Danish scientists. By generating a voltage gradient across the membrane, the pump literally produces electrical energy that drive ion transport and, e.g., is responsible for uptake of nutrients in the roots. The scientists from the universities in Copenhagen and Aarhus simultaneously revealed the structures of the mammalian calcium and sodium-potassium pumps and by direct comparison of the structures and knowledge of how various mutations affect pump function, they have been able to deduce the pumping mechanisms in unprecedented detail. Apparently, a few crucial amino acids determine what ions are being transported. Professor Mickey Gjedde Palmgren from University of Copenhagen plans to utilize this by redesigning the plant pump to excrete sodium ions instead of protons. This could lead to salt tolerant plants that could be irrigated with or even grown in sea water.

Source: Pedersen et al (13 December 2007) Nature 450: 1111-1115

A carnivorous fungi has been caught in action hunting a nematode with a lasso. Even though it happened 100 million years ago, the scene is still on display in an ancient piece of amber where both the fungi and its prey got encapsulated. The lasso was a 2 µm thick unicellular branch of the hyphae that produced a sticky secretion. This trapped the far larger nematodes and kept them immobile long enough for the cell to grow into a lasso-shaped circle that completely surrounded the prey. Presumably, the nematodes were then penetrated by infestation hyphae and digested. Similar cowboy-like fungi also hunt the soils nowadays, but this is the first reported case of such a specialized lifestyle. The German researchers behind the study believe that hunting with lasso has developed independently multiple times during the history of Earth.

Source: Schmidt et al. (14 December 2007) Science 318: 1743