SPPS Newsletter January 2012

Index of Issue I 2012

The conference will take place at Laulasmaa in Estonia. From www.laulasmaa.ee

We are happy to announce that the 7th SPPS PhD Student Conference will take place already this autumn, from the 12th to the 15th September 2012. For the first time in history the conference will be held in Estonia, in Laulasmaa. The conference venue is located amidst beautiful pine forest and seashore with the singing sands of Laulasmaa just a short walk away.

SPPS PhD student conferences are directed at PhD students and aim to create a social network of young plant scientists over the world. Also, the conference offers PhD students the opportunity to interact with and learn from experienced plant scientists who attend the meeting as invited speakers. Mark Tester and Ülo Niinemets have already agreed to give keynote lectures at this year’s conference, to name a few.

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The city of Qingdao hosted the GPC meeting. From www.whataboutclients.com

The 2nd Annual Meeting of the Global Plant Council (GPC) took place last summer in the Chinese city of Qingdao and was hosted by the Chinese Society of Plant Biology. GPC is an international coalition of 20 plant science societies and 14 of them were represented at the meeting. The purpose of GPC is to 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. The main focus of the meeting was to identify these problems.

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Renew or sign up now. Graphic by Gorm Palmgren.

It is time to renew your SPPS membership for 2012. We offer the same low price as last year and even give you the possibility to save 33% by signing up for a 5 year membership. In addition, students are now offered a reduced fee at only half the price. Furthermore you can add a print subscription to Physiologia Plantarum – the Society’s own highly ranked journal – for just a small premium. 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.

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Discussions during monday’s poster session. From plantday12.eu

The initiative taken by European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) to arrange a Fascination of Plants Day has gained momentum as 153 institutions from 29 countries in Europe, Asia and Australia are now joining in. Research institutions, botanical gardens, museums, farmers, administrators and private companies are among those that will be hosting events where everybody can come and experience a myriad of fascinating aspects about plants and the multiple ways they influence our society.

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The Evaluation Report covers plants science in Finland 2005-2009. From www.aka.fi

The Academy of Finland has completed an international evaluation of plant science in Finland during the period 2005-2009. Four universities (Helsinki, Eastern Finland, Oulo and Turku) and three government research organizations (MTT Agrifood Research Finland, the Finnish Forest Research Institute Metla, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland) were evaluated eventhough some of them only deal with plant science to a limited extent. The evaluation was based on pre-collected material and direct interviews by the expert panel, which was headed by Professor Dorothea Bartels from University of Bonn, Germany.

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ShortNews from the field of plant science. Graphic by Gorm Palmgren.

ShortNews from the plant science field is a new regular section in SPPS Newsletter. Here, we will bring you up to date with some of all the small things that is going on in the field of plant science. If you happen to know about something – an arrangement, a change of organisation, some major achievements or the like – that you would like to share with a broader audience, feel free to send a notice to the SPPS secretary.

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Can vertical farming make highrise buildings self-sufficient? From questpointsolarsolutions.com

Feeding an ever increasing population in a changing climate is a huge challenge to farmers and agricultural researchers. But some believe that agriculture of the future might not depend on neither climate nor need for land. Instead of growing our crops under open skies in rural areas, the ‘fields’ should move indoor and into the middle of cities.

If we for a moment forget the problems such an approach would face, it is obviously a good idea. The vast majority of consumers does not live in the countryside where food is produced nowadays, so it has to be transported over long distances. Not only does this require high transport costs and lead to massive carbon-dioxide emissions, but it also takes time so food is spoiled and reaches the consumer in a less than perfect condition. The use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides can be kept to a bare minimum by growing plants indoors in a controlled environment, and only minimal amounts of water and nutrients will be needed due to recycling. Moreover, the cities and their inhabitants would benefit from a greener environment, and all the problems with agricultural run-off will be kept to a minimum.

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SLU is divided into 4 faculties located at 4 main campuses. From www.slu.se

SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences or Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet) is a university seated under the Ministry for Rural Affairs and, accordingly, is highly focused on research in biological resources and production. With a total staff of 2900, 700 graduate students and 4000 undergraduate students, the university deals with almost all topics related to agriculture, forestry and food industry to environmental questions, veterinary medicine and biotechnology. SLU is divided into four faculties located at four main campuses spread around the country:

  • Landscape Planning, Horticulture and Agricultural Sciences – Alnarp
  • Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science – Skara and Uppsala
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture Sciences – Uppsala – see SPPS Newsletter 12/2007
  • Forest Sciences – Umeå – see SPPS Newsletter 10/2004

In this issue of the SPPS Newsletter we will present the Faculty of Landscape Planning, Horticulture and Agricultural Sciences, which is located at the campus in Alnarp in the southernmost part of Sweden.

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When seeds mature they loose most protoplasmic water and eventually holds no free water in the cells. This calls for a number of protective mechanisms to protect the structure and function of macromolecules and membranes, including the mitochondria whose function is imperative for the seed’s ability to germinate after rehydration. In order to study this, Song-Quan Song from The Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China investigated mitochondrial function and structure of pea (Pisum sativum) seeds during germination after various sequential imbibition, dehydration and re-imbibition treatments. It turned out that while the outer mitochondrial membrane kept its integrity in all treatments, integrity of the inner mitochondrial membrane and cytochrome respiratory function was more labile after prolonged imbibition (more than 12 hours) and this correlated with decreased desiccation tolerance. Imbibition in the presence of CaCl2, however, increased desiccation tolerance, suggesting the requirement for Ca2+ in mitochondrial membrane structure and function.

Read full article here: Wang et al (January 2012) Physiologia Plantarum 144: 20

Transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) are proteins secreted by the pathogenic bacteria Xanthomonas. They are injected into plant cells where they take control of expression of host genes to the benefit of the pathogen. Crystal structures of two TALEs – dHax3 and PthXo1 – now reveal how the hijacking proteins are able to accomplish their mission. It turns out they form a right-handed superhelix that wraps around the DNA duplex making base-specific contact to positions in the major groove. Each contact point is mediated by 33-35 amino acid repeats that are highly conserved except for two hypervariable residues at positions 12 and 13. The amino acid at position 12 has a stabilizing function, whereas the one at position 13 makes the base-specific pairing – eg histidine and aspartic acid to cytosine; asparagine and serine to adenine; histidine and glycine to thymine; or asparagine and asparagine to guanine. The two independent studies by Yigong Shi from Beijing, China and Barry Stoddard from Seattle, USA may eventually help other researchers to design DNA-binding proteins for tailored biotechnological applications.

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