SPPS Newsletter September 2010

Index of Issue III 2010

Poster presentation sessions were arranged by subject area and divided into two days. In total 53 posters were presented with enthusiasm and lively discussion. Photo by Timo Idänheimo.

The 6th SPPS PhD Student Conference was held in Espoo, Finland, during 2-5 September 2010. 78 PhD students, 11 invited speakers and 7 SPPS board members gathered to the Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural centre and spend four intensive days together sharing the latest breakthroughs and highlights of their research fields.

The conference was designed to cover the whole map of plant biology, so whether you were an ecologist or a molecular biologist you could find your session and your audience. Keynote lectures given by Claudia Jonak (AT), Gareth Jenkins (UK), Elena Baena-Gonzalez (PT), Kirsi-Marja Oksman-Caldentey (FI), Eva-Mari Aro (FI), Ken Birnbaum (US), Maria Israelsson Nordström (SE), Elisabeth Truenit (DE) and Steven Vandenabeele (BE) opened the sessions after which students took the podium. Vaughan Hurry and Matsuo Uemura from Physiologia Plantarum hosted the “How to get published” session and gave valuable instructions and hints for the students. Invited speakers attended also the “Life after a PhD” panel discussion and told shortly about their research background and important milestones in their careers.

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The impact factor of Physiologia Plantarum has grown steadily in the last decade. Graphic by Gorm Palmgren.

The impact factor of Physiologia Plantarum – the international plant science journal of SPPS – has increased from 2.017 and is now 2.708. This is an increase of 34% and places Physiologia Plantarum as #28 among the 172 most cited international plant science journals. The impact factor reflects the average number of citations to the journals published articles and is frequently used to evaluate the relative importance of a journal within its field.

Physiologia Plantarum’s impact factor has been on the rise during the last decade and this reflects the success of efforts taken by Editor-in-Chief Vaughan Hurry and his predecessor Per Gardeström. The journal underwent a major reconstruction in 2005 where authors were encouraged by a much faster, all-electronic submission and publication process as well as new Asian editors. At the same time, readers have enjoyed not only a new layout but also more minireviews and special issues. Another critical initiative led forward by former Journal Responsible Michael Gjedde Palmgren, was to have Physiologia Plantarum indexed in Medline. This has made the journal much more visible for scientists searching for new information and has played an important role in the rise in impact factor.

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Renew or sign up now. Graphic by Gorm Palmgren.

It is time to renew your SPPS membership for 2011 which is 30 € or 150 € including a full years subscription to Physiologia Plantarum. You can easily renew right now through a safe connection on our homepage or sign up for SPPS membership if you are not already a member.

We will start reminding members that it is time to pay by a monthly e-mail reminder starting from October. As a member of SPPS you enjoy several benefits, including:

  • Free SPPS newsletter four times a year
  • Free online access to Physiologia Plantarum, also to the archives (starting from Vol. 1, 1948)
  • Discounts on registration fees to SPPS Congresses
  • Possibilities of obtaining travel grants
  • An electronic membership directory

You can read more about the benefits of being member of SPPS at the Members section on our homepage.

The Global Plant Council logo. Courtesy of GPC.

Commitment and integrity are the pillars that the Global Plant Council are about to build itself upon. As an international coalition of plant scientist societies, the Global Plant Council (GPC) will use the expertise of its members to address problems and identify solutions to global issues like hunger, health and climate change where plants in one way or another can play a critical role. Though the basic concept of GPC was laid out in Honolulu, Hawaii on July 18 2009, the organization has yet to establish a more formal and legal framework as well as a working structure. And the first steps in these directions have now been taken almost exactly one year later in Montreal, Canada during July 28-29 2010.

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Stavanger is connected by direct flight from several European cities. From www.stavanger-forum.no

Organization of the next SPPS Congress to be held 21-24 August 2011 in Stavanger, Norway are now progressing and a preliminary Congress program will be circulated in October 2010. We are pleased to inform you that we have so far confirmed a number of high profile plenary speakers for the SPPS Congress in Stavanger:

  • Dr Mike Bushell
    Chief Scientist at Syngenta, Basel, Switzerland
    New technologies and trends in the agriculture industry
  • Professor Jean-David Rochaix
    University of Geneva, Switzerland
    Algae biology
  • Professor Ken Keegstra
    DOE-PRL, Michigan State University, USA
    Biomass and plants
  • Dr Guntis Abolins-Aboltins
    Head of Future Fuels, Statoil AS, Norway
    Future fuel challenges
  • Professor Poul Erik Jensen
    University of Copenhagen, Denmark
    Photosynthesis research: new directions

We are also pleased to report that the Congress will have the official Congress dinner on an island situated in the fjords outside of Stavanger. Participants will join a boat trip to the island, which has been transformed from a barren rock to a botanical garden with palm trees and other exotic plant varieties. There will be a tour of the gardens followed by dinner and a boat trip back to Stavanger through the fjords at dusk. We also plan to have a nature excursion on the Saturday before the conference starts to allow participants to fully appreciate the spectacular Norwegian nature on the West coast of Norway.

Looking forward to seeing you in Stavanger next summer!

The members of the SPPS Education Committee members (from the left): PhD student Luis Morales (University of Helsinki), PhD student Niina Idänheimo (University of Helsinki), Professor Lisbeth Jonsson (Stockholm University), associate professor Tom Hamborg Nielsen (University of Copenhagen), PhD student Pernille Roelsgaard (University of Copenhagen), PhD student Eva Knoch (University of Copenhagen), PhD student Marja Rantanen (University of Helsinki) and Dr. Carin Jarl-Sunesson (Lund University). Picture by Lisbeth Jonsson.

An SPPS Education Committee was established in Espoo on 4 September 2010. This interim committee will act until the next SPPS general assembly during the 2011 SPPS Congress in Stavanger. The education committee consists of altogether eight senior lecturers and PhD students from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Lisbeth Jonsson from Stockholm University is the chairperson.

During the establishment meeting, missions and strategies were discussed. It was decided to plan for an education session during the 2011 SPPS Congress. Furthermore, the committee will collect information from Scandinavian Universities about outreach activities related to education in plant science. The idea is to make an example collection for teachers in plant biology to be inspired by and to make it easier to contact colleagues and learn from each other.

SPPS members enjoys several benefits. Illustration by Gorm Palmgren.

At the next SPPS General Assembly – which will be held during the SPPS Congress in Stavanger 2011 – a possible renewal of the membership fee payment system will be discussed. The SPPS Council will propose the possibility of paying for a 3-year or 5-year period instead of the present annual payment. This will ease administration not only for the Council but also for the members as they don’t have to engage in the renewal process so often. In case you have some opinions on this matter, you are encouraged to contact any member of the SPPS council and give your opinion.

The economic importance of Estonian agriculture has decreased considerably during the last two decades. Graphic by Gorm Palmgren.

Agriculture only accounts for about 3% of the Estonian economy and over the years, this number has been steadily falling from 15% in 1991 over 6% in 2001. Before entering the EU, agriculture was never subsidized in Estonia, and even now the country’s farmers gets much less support than e.g. in Scandinavia. This trend reflects the fact that agricultural research has never been a big priority for Estonian politicians and policy makers, and the same is true for forestry. Consequently, plant science has never obtained really good support in Estonia.

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Estonian plant science is primarily located in Tallinn, Jõgeva and Tartu. From www.euron.org

In late September, SPPS Newsletter had a chance to visit Estonia, so we decided to broaden up our regular Scandinavian research institute-section to include the Baltic neighbor. Estonia has a strong position in plant research, which is carried out at several locations. The capital, Tallinn, is home to Tallinn University of Technology where Erkki Truve is Head of the Chair at Department of Gene Technology. Moving 150 km southeast will take you to Jõgeva Plant Breeding Institute, which is an autonomous research and development institute under the Ministry of Agriculture.

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A mathematical model that describes the viscoelastic behaviour of tomatoes has been developed by Antonio Heredia and coworkers from Universidad de Malaga in Spain. The main biochemical feature of tomato skin is the cuticle, which is basically composed of soluble wax and insoluble inter-esterified hydroxyalkanoic acids forming a high-molecular weight biopolymer. The cuticle is of great commercial importance as it offers mechanical resistance to deformation and influence post-harvest shelf life and quality. These traits, however, depend on parameters like temperature and hydration that can be controlled during post-harvest handling of the fruits. The model combines mechanical data from previous analysis of tomatoes kept under different conditions and integrates an elastic and a viscous element to describe the mechanical behaviour of isolated cuticle. The model obtained a good fit between experimental and modelled data, and e.g. correctly predicted a reduced resistance to breakage under humid conditions.

Read full article here: Lopez-Casado et al (September 2010) Physiologia Plantarum 140: 79-88