SPPS Newsletter November 2010

Index of Issue IV 2010

The preliminary program in very condensed form showing only the scientific lectures. You can downloaded the complete program here. Courtesy Simon Geir Møller.

A preliminary program for next years SPPS Congress in Stavanger has been completed and can be downloaded here. To the right is a small-print and very condensed program covering only the scientific lectures – for information on speakers, registration, breaks, excursions etc in a more readable format, please click the link above..

Simon Geir Møller, who is heading the organizing committee, is proud to present 7 high profile plenary speakers (marked with green in the figure) as well as 5 invited talks (orange). The rest of the scientific program is divided into 14 sessions (blue) covering all aspects of plant physiology. The sessions will be carried out two-and-two in parallel. The vast majority of speakers have already been confirmed and a final program will be available when the rest are confirmed.

You can read more about the conference on its official homepage

Professor Jaakko Kangasjärvi is presently heading the Council as President of SPPS. Photo courtesy of University of Helsinki.

SPPS will elect a new Council at the General Assembly that takes place 24 August 2011 during the biannual SPPS Congress in Stavanger, Norway. The present Council, which was elected in connection with the move from Copenhagen to Helsinki, will then be exactly three years old. The Council comprises seven members of which five of them hold special responsibilities as President, Vice President, Secretary General, Treasurer and Journal Responsible for Physiologia Plantarum. You can see the present council and its affiliated Council Deputies, Auditors and Election Committee at the SPPS homepage.

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Abbreviated to Arabidopsis 2010, the 9th Norwegian Arabidopsis Meeting took place at University of Oslo on 11 November 2010. Photo by Gorm Palmgren.

Since 2002, it has been a Norwegian tradition to arrange an annual national meeting on Arabidopsis research. For a period of time, the meeting was organized by the Norwegian Arabidopsis Research Centre, NARC – a platform made up of research groups from three universities in Oslo and Trondheim (see former article in SPPS Newsletter). NARC was, however, discontinued in 2008 and since then, the annual Arabidopsis meeting has been organized on a voluntary basis. The 8th meeting took place at UMB in Ås, and this year the event was carried out on 11 November at the University of Oslo.

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Department of Molecular Biosciences is located at Blindern Campus in the northern part of Oslo. Photo by Gorm Palmgren.

A substantial part of plant research at University of Oslo takes place at Department of Molecular Biosciences, which is situated at the Blindern campus in the northern parts of the city. The Department is divided into four programmes dealing with cell biology, physiology, proteins and genes, respectively. Within the latter, the Gene Programme, six research groups are looking into gene regulation and function using mammalian cell lines, Chlamydomonas, Drosophila and Arabidopsis as model systems.

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Transport of copper, manganese and other essential metals within plants involves the secretory system, but only little is known about the exact mechanisms. Now, a team of researchers from University of Copenhagen has been looking into the role of the so called transmembrane nine (TM9) proteins. They are critical for cell adhesion and phagocytosis, and it has been shown in other organisms that mutants are disturbed in vesicle trafficking. The Danish researchers, headed by Jan K. Schjørring, used elemental profiling by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to evaluate copper homeostasis. Yeast devoid of any TM9 homologues was 75% reduced in cellular copper content (while manganese was 50% increased), whereas yeast overexpressing one of the homologues almost doubled its copper content. A heterologous TM9 from Arabidopsis thaliana was also able to boost cellular copper by about 40%. In none of the cases, vacuolar morphology was affected, so the authors propose that copper is transported by TM9 proteins through the secretory pathway by other means than vacuolar fusion and biogenesis.

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Some plant pathogens, known as obligate biotrophs, cannot survive outside their host and are entirely dependent of a living plant cell to grow and reproduce. One of these is downy mildew (Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis) that naturally infects Arabidopsis thaliana. This obligate biotroph is related to hemibiotrophic Phytophtera spp, which alters between a biotrophic and a necrotrophic growth phase. Since Hyaloperonospora is believed to have arisen from Phytophtera, an international research team has now looked into the genetics of the two genuses to see how they differ. It turned out that the obligate biotroph exhibits dramatic reductions in a number of genes used to not only digest the hosts’ cell walls and induce host cell death but also genes encoding RXLR effectors and other secreted pathogenicity proteins. In this way the host is kept alive and the pathogen can operate in ‘stealth’. Furthermore, H. arabidopsidis had lost genes enabling it to assimilate nitrogen and sulphur and to produce mobile zoospores.

Source: Laura Baxter et al (10 December 2010) Science 330: 1549

Leaf shapes and margins show tremendous natural variation, but it is generally unknown when, how and why this variation arose. It is known, however, that expression of class I knotted1-like homeobox (KNOX) genes in the shoot apical meristem is involved in formation of unlobed versus lobed leaf forms. Now Angela Hay and colleagues from University of Oxford, UK have studied the expression of these genes in Arabidopsis thaliana with unlobed leaves and in its close relative A. lyrata with lobed leaves. They found that Arabidopsis thaliana have lost expression of the KNOX gene SHOOTMERISTEMLESS (STM) through 5′ cis-regulatory modifications. The findings indicate that the loss became fixed by positive selection, and the researchers propose that this was caused by climate change. Leaf margin complexity has previously been shown to be inversely correlated with mean annual temperature, suggesting that A. thaliana acquired its unlobed leaves during a warm phase of the global climate cycle.

Source: Piazza et al (2 December 2010) Current Biology doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.11.037