SPPS Newsletter March 2009

Index of Issue I 2009

The membership fee will now be charged in Euros.

As reported in the last issue of SPPS Newsletter the council has now moved from Copenhagen to Helsinki. This brings a few changes to the SPPS Newsletter, the homepage, and the membership payment system.

Starting from April 1, the SPPS membership fee will be charged in Euros. The membership fee is 30 €, while membership fee plus subscription of Physiologia Plantarum is 150 euros. If you have not paid the membership fee yet, we encourage you to pay the membership fee as soon as possible. If the fee has not been paid by the end of May 2009 the online access to Physiologia Plantarum will be finished on 1st of July.

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Approx. 50 PhD students attended the conference in Haslev. Photo by Niina Idänheimo

The scene was set in a cold and winterly Denmark but in hospitable surroundings on an old ‘sort of boarding school for young people’ in the southern part of Zealand. Approx. 50 PhD students mainly from Scandinavia, but also from Estonia, Germany, Spain, Canada and USA, were gathered for four days of scientific discussions and social interaction.

The conference organizers had succeeded in inviting great speakers within the plant biology field: Heribert Hirt, Cathie Martin, Poul Erik Jensen, Marten Koornneef, Edgar Peiter and Rebecca Schwab. They inspired both in scientific discussions and, not the least, gave good advice on how to proceed in a career within plant biology. The students’ own presentations as well as the poster sessions showed the enthusiasm of the students and gave good promise for the future life of plant biology in Scandinavia.

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The PhD course takes place September 23-25 in Gothenburg, Sweden

A workshop for PhD students will be arranged September 23-25 at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The course aims to take a broad view on interactions between plants and microorganisms and will take place in the form of a workshop. The course gives 3 ECTS points and is free but the number of attending PhD student is set to a maximum of 15. You can register by sending an email to the course organizer Mats Ellerström at mats.ellerstrom@dpes.gu.se no later than May 15, 2009. Please specify your name, institution and include an abstract for your presentation. You will be notified on your status no later than June 15.

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The 6th SPPSconference will take place on the lovely island of Hanasaari in Espoo, Finland. From www.phd-spps.com

The next SPPS PhD student conference will be held in Espoo, Finland, 2-5 September 2010. SPPS PhD conferences are high-quality meetings with good reputation. Conferences offer a great opportunity for PhD students in plant science to meet and to form future collaborations in a relaxed atmosphere. Besides getting the opportunity to present and discuss your own work, a number of international top speakers will be presenting new achievements and methods in plant science. Please note that in order to apply travel grant to attend the conference you have to be a member of SPPS already during the previous year!

Read more about the conference at the official homepage.

Ykä Helariutta (third from the left in front) and his Wood Development Group. From www.biocenter.helsinki.fi

Within reach of the vast Finnish woodlands, the Wood Development Group resides at the Institute of Biotechnology at Helsinki University. The group is headed by Ykä Helariutta and comprises currently 5 postdocs, 7 graduate students and 2 technicians as well as a number of under-graduate students and occasional visitors. Their common interest is the genetic and molecular basis of wood development, and although the research is of fundamental character it contributes with valuable knowledge for the forest industry on how trees can be grown and their wood processed.

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Infection of cucumber or tomato with cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) not only slows down photosynthesis and respiration but also leads to increased oxidative stress. These effects are accomplished by the same mechanism, namely changes to the electron transport system. Jing-Quan Yu and co-workers from Zhejiang University in China studied the long-term effect of CMV infection in the two plant species and noted, that the ‘normal’ electron flux decreased while the alternative flux increased significantly. This change was accompanied by increased superoxide dismutase activity and accumulation of H2O2.

Read full article here: Song et al. (March 2009) Physiologia Plantarum 135: 246-257

A molecule that guides the growing pollen tube towards the embryo sac of flowering plants has finally been discovered. The so called LURE proteins are defensin-like and cysteine-rich polypeptides secreted by the two synergid cells surrounding the egg. The LURE proteins were abundantly expressed in the synergid cells and showed marked pollen tube attractive effect in vitro. When expression of the LURE proteins was inhibited by injection of morpholino antisense oligomers, attraction of the pollen tube was impaired. Tetsuya Higashiyama and colleagues from Nagoya University in Japan made their discovery in the unique protruding embryo sac of the wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri).

Source: Okuda et al. (19 March 2009) Nature 458: 357-361

To keep in balance with day and night all living organisms need a network of feedback loops known as a circadian clock. A number of components in this clockwork, namely CCA1 and LHY have already been identified in Arabidopsis but Steve A. Kay and his coworkers at University of California San Diego in La Jolla wanted to know if other proteins were able to bind to and potentially regulate them. They used a yeast-based expression system to screen a collection of proteins and identified a transcription factor, CHE, that bind to the CCA1-promoter. The CHE and CCA1 proteins represses the expression of each other and thereby establishes a negative feedback loop.

Source: Pruneda-Paz et al (13 March 2009) Science 323: 1481-1485