SPPS Newsletter October 2009

Index of Issue III 2009

You can access the new sections from the SPPS homepage under the ‘Open Positions’ and ‘Meetings & Links’ tabs. From www.spps.fi

Two exciting new features on the SPPS homepage allows the plant community to share information on open positions and forthcoming meetings. The new sections – Open Positions and Meetings & Links – list available research positions and forthcoming meetings in all fields of plant biology, respectively, so you can easily browse through them and find the information, that is right for you.

The new sections are not limited to those who are looking for a new job or a meeting to go to. You can also post your own open positions or meetings and share them with colleagues all over the world. These new features make it extremely easy to recruit the best candidates and to attract a crowd for your meeting or conference. Posting a new open position or meeting is a breeze and below you can see how you can do it in just a few, simple steps.

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New members can sign up for SPPS membership on the homepage. From members.spps.fi

SPPS will now change to a system in which the membership fee for the following year is collected beforehand. That is why we start reminding you about the SPPS membership fee of 2010 already in October. You will get an email with a link to your membership pages so the renewal of the membership will be easy. On the Members section of the SPPS homepage you can renew your membership if you are already a member or you can sign up to become a member of SPPS. Signing up is easy and your membership will come into effect as soon as we have received your payment.

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The next SPPS PhD conference will take place on an island outside Helsinki. From www.phd-spps.com

The organising committee of the 6th SPPS PhD student conference welcomes all plant biology PhD students to Helsinki to join a high quality scientific programme and enthusiastic atmosphere, meet the top scientists of plant biology, and to tell about your own studies and recent results.

The next SPPS PhD student conference will be held during 2-5 September 2010 in Espoo in the Finnish-Swedish Cultural Centre Hanasaari located in an island just few minutes outside of Helsinki. The programme is structured so that there are named sessions covering more or less all fields of plant biology. In every session there is a keynote speaker, after which students take the arena. The four-day meeting offers a great opportunity to have discussions with the leading plant scientist and to see the variety of methods and aims of PhD projects by the other participants. A panel discussion on “Life after a PhD” and a talk by Vaughan Hurry (editor-in-chief of Physiologia Plantarum) on “About getting published” will also be organized.

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Norman Borlaug realized that adequate food is only the first requisite for a decent and humane life. From raymondpronk.wordpress.com

The American agronomist Norman Borlaug passed away on September 12, 95 years old. Borlaug was deemed the father of the Green Revolution that began in 1945 and transformed agriculture in many parts of the World. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for securing food supply in developing countries through his efforts to develop high yielding and robust crops. The Green Revolution led to substantial increases in food production – e.g. the wheat harvest tripled in developing countries from 1950 to 2000 – and is credited for saving millions of people from starvation.

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Mimicking and manipulation of natural photosynthesis can be a new source of energy. From www.fotomol.uu.se

Photosynthesis and other photochemical reactions are key to most activities at the Department of Photochemistry and Molecular Science at Uppsala University in Sweden. Artificial photosynthesis is the common theme that connects the approximately 50 scientists – 15 senior scientists, 10 postdocs and 20 PhD students – who are engaged in a number of highly interdisciplinary project groups looking at the chemical processes that will ultimately be required to harvest solar energy in a form that can be readily used by mankind.

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Global warming seems to be self-sustaining by making plants emit the potent greenhouse gas, methane (CH4), while simultaneously reducing their assimilation of CO2. This conclusion was obtained by Mirwais M. Qaderi and David M. Reid from University of Calgary, Canada, who tested methane emission and several growth parameters from six crop species grown under various environmental conditions. An increase in temperature from 24/20 °C (day/night) to 30/26 °C led to a 15% increase in methane emission, while the effect of water stress, which will accompany global warming in many regions, increased emission of the greenhouse gas by 22%. The figures are average measurements from faba bean, sunflower, pea, canola, barley and wheat. Under ambient conditions the six crops emitted between 85 (barley) and 170 (pea) ng methane per g dry weight per hour. At the same time, the higher temperature caused CO2 assimilation to decrease 27%, while water stress reduced CO2 assimilation by 31%. The researchers will now investigate how elevated CO2 levels affect methane emission in order to get a better picture of how global warming can turn plants into greenhouse gas contributors.

Read full article here: Qaderi & Reid (October 2009) Physiologia Plantarum 137: 139-147

Most fossile amber originates from resin secreted by coniferous gymnosperms in the early Cretaceous about 150 million years ago (MYA), while some of the earliest specimens dates back to Triassic at 220 MYA. However, Bray and Anderson from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, USA have now discovered amber in an Illinois coal seam, which is stratigraphically dated to ~320 MYA. This is of particular interest since true conifers did not evolve until around 10 million years later. Moreover the ancient amber is chemically more similar to resin from modern angiosperms than it is to resin from modern gymnosperms and most other fossile amber. The findings suggest that different biosynthetic pathways to produce complex polyterpenoid resins have been retained in both gymnosperms and angiosperms through several major extinction events and over 300 million years of evolution.

Source: Bray & Anderson (2 October 2009) Science 326: 132-134

A new technology called light-activated dimerization (LAD) can artificially induce protein hetero- and homodimerization in live cells using light. LAD has been developed by Ricardo Dolmetsch from Stanford University School of Medicine, USA. The technology takes advantage of two proteins, GI and FKF1, that control flowering of Arabidopsis thaliana by light dependent binding to each other. Construction of protein tags bearing the light responsive elements of GI and FKF1 allowed the researchers to port the system to mammalian cells. In an initial experiment using mouse fibroblasts, GI was labeled with the fluorescent protein mCherry and tagged to the cell membrane, whereas FKF1 was labelled with YFP and located to the cytoplasm. After 5 minutes of illumination with 450 nm blue light, however, a substantial amount of FKF1-YFP translocated to the membrane. Using LAD, the researchers were able to induce physiological responses with light by fusing the tags to proteins required for the local formation of cytoskeletal projections (lamellipodia) on the cells. GI and FKF1 were also fused to the DNA binding domain of Gal4 and the transactivation domain of VP16, respectively, creating a light-activated gene transcription system.

Source: Yazawa et al (4 October 2009) Nature Biotechnology doi:10.1038/nbt.1569