SPPS Newsletter March 2010

Index of Issue I 2010

The on-line registration form is now available at www.phd-spps.com/registrationform.html

Registration for the upcoming 6th SPPS PhD Conference is now open and the on-line registration form can be accessed here – the link is written in the figure legend to the right. The deadline for registration is 31 May 2010, but students are encouraged to register early, as only a limited number of rooms are available. Please remember to make full payment (see how on the registration form) no later than two weeks after you have registered – otherwise your registration will be cancelled.

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A book about The History of SPPS is planed for publishing in 2012. Illustration by Gorm Palmgren.

In 2012, Scandinavian Plant Physiology Society will celebrate its 65th anniversary and the board has decided to mark the event by publishing a book about the history of SPPS. You can help us writing the history of SPPS by sharing with us photos and memories about the society’s early times. The Board will collect documents and other written material and will interview present and former members of SPPS about their experiences and memories of SPPS. In the case you would also like to contribute to the history of SPPS and want to be contacted, please do not hesitate to contact the SPPS secretary at spps@helsinki.fi.

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Open Positions are easy to share and a great place to improve your carrier. From www.spps.fi

The two new sections on the SPPS homepage – Open Positions and Posted Meetings – is a great way to improve your carrier. It helps you find the most talented candidate, the most challenging job or the most inspiring conference to attend. It is our ambition, that the two new marketplaces will grow to be the preferred sites for plant scientists to interact and benefit from each other.

However, we need your help to meet our goals and make the new initiative succesfull, so you are strongly encouraged to post your open positions and any meetings you can recommend. It is easy to join the services (check out how) and it will cost you nothing but a few minutes to be within reach of the whole plant science community.

The number of plant patent applications has increased sharply in the USA. From www.landscapegardeningplants.com

LIke any other inventor, plant breeders have the right to protect their inventions, namely new plant varieties. Whereas most inventions are protected through patents or trademarks, plants have traditionally been secured for the breeder by another set of legislation known as plant breeders’ rights. In 1961, a number of countries gathered in Paris and formed the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants or UPOV, which has since grown to include 67 countries all over the World.

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The Department of Botany is situated in green surroundings in Lilla Frescati in central Stockholm. From www.su.se

Plant biology has a very prominent position at Stockholm University where around 100 scientist are engaged at the Department of Botany. The department is situated in what used to be King Karl XI’s royal game park and the area – now known as Lilla Frescati named after the Italian city of Frascati – is still an urban park. The first plant scientists moved in in 1964 and have since expanded their activities considerably.

The department is now divided into three research areas each of which is headed by a responsible professor:

  • Plant ecology – Prof. Johan Ehrlén
  • Plant physiology – Prof. Birgitta Bergman
  • Plant systematics – Prof. Birgitta Bremer

Within these three research areas a large number of projects have been established, but still the overall focus is kept tight so coherence and synergy is ensured.

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Sixteen signatures signed the establishment of the Global Plant Council. From http://www.smb.org.mx

The following article was added late to the last years December edition of SPPS Newsletter and was not included in the e-mail version. In case anybody missed out on it, the article is hereby being reprinted in its full form.
Representatives for 16 plant science societies met this summer in Honolulu, Hawaii and established the Global Plant Council, which has the ambitious goal to deliver research to save the planet. Among the plant societies taking this demanding step was SPPS, so we take the liberty to present the new Global Plant Council under our regular section Scandinavian research institute. SPPS was represented by council member Tom Hamborg Nielsen who is associate professor at University of Copenhagen, and SPPS Newsletter had the chance to meet him. You can read the interview below, but first we will give you a brief description of the thoughts that laid the ground for the Global Plant Council.

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Since plants get most of their light from above, photosynthetic activity is highest in the upper part of the canopy. Applying light directly into the canopy might, accordingly, contribute to a more uniform photosynthetic profile and could potentially increase overall photosynthesis leading to higher yield of crops. This hypothesis has now been tested by Dutch researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. They supplied cucumber plants grown in the greenhouse with 38% of their light from LEDs within the canopy and compared them with controls that got all the light from above. Light from within the canopy significantly increased photosynthesis in the lower leaf layers, however, this was not followed by a concomitant increase in overall biomass and fruit yield. This was apparently caused by a more stunted growth when less light came from above and because the LEDs seemingly caused the leaves to curl and thus reduced light interception.

Read full article here: Trouwborst et al (March 2010) Physiologia Plantarum 138: 289Ð300

In hermaphroditic plants – having both male and female function – genetic mutations can sometimes lead to female sterilization, leaving some plants as male-only. Since these individuals only have half the fertilization capacity their population should remain relatively small. This is, however, not always the case and in the evergreen shrub Phillyrea angustifolia of the olive family there are many more males-only than there should be. Now researchers from Lille University of Science and Technology in France think they know why. The normal hermaphrodites are divided into two self-incompatibility groups, i.e. plants within the same group can not pollinate each other successfully. The male-only plants can, however, fertilize both self-incompatibility groups and this advantage apparently outbalances the reproductive disadvantage that they would normally face without their female half.

Source: Saumitou-Laprade et al (26 March 2010) Science 327: 1648-1650

It has been proposed to reduce atmospheric CO2-levels – and thus help mitigate global climate change – by stimulating oceanic algal growth with iron fertilization. Low concentrations of iron is a limiting factor in many oceanic high-nitrate, low-chlorophyll environments and iron fertilization is accordingly believed to boost the number of CO2-consuming organisms living in the oceanÕs surface waters. Experiments to test this approach have now been conducted by Trick and co-workers at University of Western Ontario in London, Canada and they suggest that the method might lead to toxic diatom production. The researchers found that iron enrichment in the subarctic North Pacific Ocean doubled the population of Pseudo nitzschia, which produces the neurotoxin domoic acid that causes Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning. In addition, iron supplement increased the amount of neurotoxin produced by individual organisms. The neurotoxin is already now having detrimental effects on marine ecosystems during natural algae bloomings and the experiment raises serious concern over the net benefit and sustainability of large-scale iron fertilizations.

Source: Trick et al (15 March 2010) PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.0910579107