SPPS Newsletter June 2013

Index of Issue II 2013

Planning of the SPPS Congress 2013 has now entered its final phase. Graphic by Tom Hamborg Nielsen

Planning of the SPPS Congress 2013, 11-15 August 2013 in Elsinore, Denmark, has now entered its final phase. Among the many submitted abstracts we have selected those that will be given as oral presentations, and we can now present a full program with 8 exiting sessions covering a broad field within modern plant science. You can read the present scientific program here.

The congress also offers social events and two optional tours to sites of Scandinavian cultural heritage. We can welcome you to a stimulating meeting with many inspiring presentation and room for good interaction with colleagues and friends. For more information please visit the website at www.spps2013.org.

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Get an insight into the molecular life of plants in Uppsala 2014. From http://www.asps.org.au

If you are a PhD student and have an interest in plant molecular biology – whether from a theoretical or practical viewpoint – you are in luck. The next SPPS PhD Student Conference will be entitled The Molecular Life of Plants – Theory and Application and aims to attract people from both basic and applied research and promote a crosstalk among them. The conference will take place in Uppsala, Sweden during 16-19 June 2014.

The organizers, represented by Rita Batista from SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) in Uppsala, are in the early stages of preparing sessions and inviting speakers so at present there is no definitive information about the programme. They are also preparing an exciting social programme and hope to include celebration of Midsummer, which is one of the most beloved traditions in Sweden. The biannual SPPS PhD Student Conferences usually attracts more than 100 students from the Scandinavian countries and the rest of the world.

Wiley now offers 35% off for SPPS members. Graphic by Gorm Palmgren

Wiley has raised the bar and will effective 20 June 2013 increase the discount given to SPPS members from 25% to 35% on virtually all books published by Wiley. As publisher of our own Physiologia Plantarum they give us this high level discount which is only available to Wiley’s society publishing partners.

This change is for a trial period of one year, during which Wiley will monitor the response of SPPS members to help determine future changes. So don’t hesitate to embrace this generous offer and start browsing Wiley.com where you can choose from more than 300 books in plant biology. To learn more and start saving, get the promotional code from our website or ask for additional information from the SPPS office at spps@helsinki.fi.

Zoom in on the full EPSO Conference by clicking here. From www.epsoweb.org

If you are tempted to attend the 7th EPSO Conference in Greece and havn’t already registered, please don’t hesitate to do so right away. The late registration deadline is 30 June and you are just a click away from online registation. The conference takes place 1-4 September 2013 at the Bay of Porto Heli, a seaside town on the eastern side of Peloponnese.

The four day long conference will take you through no less than 45 sessions under the theme “Plants for a Greening Economy” including topical themes like Plant response and adaptation to low resource availability, Climate change – the mitigating role of plants and Global food security. Forty four chairs and invited speakers have been confirmed. You can read more about the 7th EPSO Conference on the conference homepage or watch the full programme at www.epsoweb.org/file/1280.

The Global Plant Council is an international voice for plant science. Courtesy of Global Plant Council

As you probably know, SPPS has joined the Global Plant Council (GPC) which is a coalition of plant and crop science societies from across the globe, that brings plant scientists together to work synergistically toward solving the pressing problems facing humankind. The GPC encourages all of its members to advertise GPC while attending this summer’s meetings and conferences and also to inform colleagues within their institution and society about GPC. If you are not already familiar with the scope of GPC, please have a quick look at this poster or this short statement – or take your time to read along below.

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As primary producers plants are in the very center of our ecosystems. From techalive.mtu.edu

SPPS President, Jaakko Kangasjärvi from University of Helsinki, is a group leader in one of the 14 Centres of Excellence that was granted a total of 45 mio € by the Academy of Finland on 4 June 2013. The CoE is entitled Molecular Biology of Primary Producers and is headed by Eva-Mari Aro from University of Turku. The role as head of a CoE is not new for Eva-Mari Aro who also chaired the Integrative Photosynthesis and Bioactive Compound Research at Systems Biology Level, that will terminate by the end of 2013.

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The much beloved Christmas tree (aka Norway spruce or Picea abies) has now been sequenced. From www.nature.com

A team of international scientists – with a significant contribution from Sweden – have reached a remarkable milestone by sequencing the full genome of Norway spruce (Picea abies). The results were published in Nature online at 22 May 2013 with Björn Nystedt from the Science for Life Laboratory at Stockholm University sharing the honor as first author together with Nathaniel Street from Umeå Plant Science Centre.

As a conifer, Norway spruce has a very large genome with an abundance of repetitive DNA, and this make it very difficult to assemble the sequences. However, Nystedt, Nathaniel and their colleagues overcame the technical challenges and managed to resolve the genome, that turned out to be 20 Gb. This is almost 150 times bigger than Arabidopsis thaliana, 6 times bigger than humans and even triumphing the vast genome of wheat with its 17 Gb.

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Only 10 crops supply 74% of the worlds calories from plants; data from 2008 based on FAO. Graphic by Gorm Palmgren

In a world where 1,000,000,000 people go hungry every day without a fair chance for a meal any time soon, it gives food for thoughts that edible plants are actually growing everywhere. It has been estimated that 12,650 plant species can serve as food for humans and that 2,500 have been domesticated, but in reality the world relies on less than 0.1% of them for consumption of energy and nutrients. Put into perspective, the 3 major crops – maize, wheat and rice – deliver more than two times the calories of the 2,490 domesticated crops that did not make it to the top 10 chart.

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Eleven research projects flourish at Molecular Plant Biology. Montage by Gorm Palmgren

In 2007, we wrote about Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology in Turku, Finland and since two of their project leaders have just been granted a Centre of Excellence (see elsewhere in this issue of SPPS Newsletter), we think it is time to take another look at the laboratory that in the meantime made some slight changes to its name.

The two CoE-winning scientists are Eva-Mari Aro and Esa Tyystjärvi and they are joined by nine more project leaders:

  • Eva-Mari Aro: Photosynthetic mechanisms, regulation and signaling
  • Esa Tyystjärvi: Plant Biophysics Project
  • Eevi Rintamäki: Systems biology of plant chloroplast redox compounds
  • Hiroaki Fujii: Osmotic stress signaling in Arabidopsis
  • Paula Mulo: Photosynthesis and alternative electron transfer
  • Taina Tyystjärvi: Gene regulation in cyanobacteria
  • Saijaliisa Kangasjärvi: Cross-talk between light acclimation and defence reactions in plants
  • Kirsi Lehto: RNA-silencing in plants
  • Patrik Jones: BioEnergy
  • Tapani Yli-Mattila: Plant-fungus interactions, molecular biology and evolution of toxigenic Fusarium species and biological control
  • Marjatta Raudaskoski: Signaling pathway at Schizophyllum commune mating

In this brief overview, we will focus on Eva-Mari Aro and Esa Tyystjärvi’s work.

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When plants cope with salty soils or drought they must conserve water as much as possible and one obvious way to do this is to keep stomata closed. This is exactly what Yanhong Xiao and colleagues from College of Life Science of Hebei Normal University in China lured Arabidopsis plants to do by transformation of a novel wheat α-amylase inhibitor gene, TaHPS. The transgene doubled the influx of Ca2+ in guard cells and this caused stomata to close. Moreover, root cells of transgenic plants treated with 200 mM NaCl efficiently pumped out Na+ whereas wildtype plants under similar conditions let Na+ into the roots. The transgene did not affect growth under normal conditions, but in turn allowed the transgenic plants to grow reasonably well with 200 mM NaCl for three weeks – a treatment that killed normal plants. The authors suggest that inhibition of α-amylase causes the osmotic potential to drop – through decreased breakdown of starch to glucose – which in turn triggers stomatal closure and drought tolerance.

Read full article here: Xiao et al (June 2013) Physiologia Plantarum 148: 273