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SPPS Newsletter December 2013
Index of Issue IV 2013
- Update on the upcoming SPPS PhD Conference
- New section: Education corner
- New pages for members at SPPS homepage
- Time to renew your membership
- Join the FESPB/EPSO 2014 Congress at a reduced fee
- Stefan Jansson receives award in botany
- Feeding capitals: Urban food security
- Scandinavian research institute: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
- C4 plants suffer in fluctuating light
- Chemical weapons make nematodes go bananas
The organization committee of the next SPPS PhD Student Conference, which will take place in Uppsala, Sweden, from 16th to 19th June 2014 is pleased to inform that the list of keynote speakers who will be present in the conference is already available. The main speakers were carefully selected based on their excellent research and also because they are highly motivated to interact and discuss ideas with the PhD students that will participate in this conference. So, we think this is a great opportunity to meet top-quality researchers in your field of interest and other close-related fields.
Welcome to the education corner, a new contribution to highlight the activities of the SPPS Education Committee. By way of introduction, the Education Committee was officially formed at the SPPS general meeting in Stavanger in 2011 and has the mission to promote plant science and plant science education at all levels from lower schools up to university and beyond through community outreach. The committee is composed of at least two representatives from each of the Nordic countries as well as one senior level representative and one student representative, who both will typically serve for a three year term.
The pages related to your membership have been completely redone at our homepage. You can now login with your personal username and password from the upper right hand corner of the opening page (see image). In the same spot there is also the link for signup of new people for the SPPS Newsletter and registering into the SPPS system.
What is new is that you can now choose your username and password and you are no longer limited to use your e-mail and a system-generated code number – but of course you can still do so if you wish. Signup is for new people. For those who have already registered themselves the system will, after login, show essentially the same page for editing of their membership data like address, interests, newsletter subscription and even deactivation of their membership.
It is time to renew your SPPS membership and you can do so very easily on our new membership page. You have several options for membership – both student or regular – and you can choose to pay only for next year or get 33% off by paying upfront for 5 years. Moreover, you can top-up your membership with a print subscription to our journal Physiologia Plantarum. The fees are the same as last year except for the subscription which has seen a modest increase to 140 € per year.
Registration is now open for the FESPB/EPSO 2014 Congress in Dublin next summer – and remember that you save €80 or 14% on the registration fee as a member of SPPS. This is because FESPB (Federation of European Societies for Plant Biology) is the European umbrella organization for national plant physiology societies like SPPS, and as a member of SPPS you are therefore automatically member of FESPB.
You even have the possibility to apply for a SPPS student travel grant if you are a student member or a post doctoral researcher (up to three years from the PhD defence). To apply or get more information, just visit the travel grants pages on our homepage, that will be open for applications shortly and remain open until the end of April 2014. By mid May you will receive notice about whether you have received the grant or not.
Professor Stefan Jansson from Umeå Plant Science Centre has received Roséns Linné award in botany. The award is a personel prize of SEK 400,000 (€ 45,000) presented by the Swedish society Kungliga Fysiografiska Sällskapet i Lund which is an academy for natural sciences, medicine and technology.
Stefan Jansson is professor in plant cell and molecular biology and focuses his research on three key topics: Populus genomics, leaf senescence and photosynthetic light harvesting. He received his PhD from Umeå University in 1992, and after making a postdoc in Copenhagen at Plant Biochemistry Laboratory in the former Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (now part of PLEN that you can read about in a accompanying article) he returned to Umeå, where he became professor in 2002. In their motivation, the society emphasizes that Stefan Jansson is “undoubtedly one of Sweden’s most prominent (and also most cited) plant physiologists” and that he “has internationally a strong research position especially in the area of regulation of photosynthetic light harvesting in plants. Especially Jansson’s field studies are of very high-quality and internationally widely recognised”.
Danish-based crop ecologist and physiologist John R. Porter stirred some debate recently when he and a team of scientists from Australia and Japan published a paper on food security in three major capitals. John R. Porter is from University of Copenhagen’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN, which is profiled in an accompanying article) and leading author of the upcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on food production systems and food security. The scientists have mapped the external and internal flow of food in three capitals – Canberra in Australia, Copenhagen in Denmark and Tokyo in Japan – and calculated the area and productivity of the ecosystems that provide food for their citizens. They find that the three cities differ much in their self-provisioning capacity and rely to different extents on trading of not only food but also commodities like water and fertilizers. Copenhagen gets less than half its requirements from its surrounding area and are only self-supported with pork and potatoes – and even then it needs to import great amounts of pig feed to support this production.
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Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN) was formed in 2012 after the merger of two departments and now embraces most – but not all – research in plant biology at University of Copenhagen. Svend Christensen is Head of Department, and with almost 500 employees it is the largest centre for plant research in Northern Europe and the largest for environmental chemistry in Denmark. The department carries out multidisciplinary research on interactions between plants, microorganisms, animals and the environment with an overall goal to provide solutions for future challenges such as feeding an increasing human population while climate change and pollution threaten to reduce the available land.
Light is essential for plants but its availability may change 100-fold or more within seconds due to cloud cover, shading by other plants or movement of leaves between shaded and sunlit areas. Rapid adaptation to the new light conditions can be important for harvesting enough sunlight and light-induced activation of photosynthetic CO2 fixation has previously been studied in C3 plants. Little, however, is known about how C4 plants cope with fluctuating light, but now Jirí Kubásek and colleagues from Brno and Ceské Budjovice in Czech Republic have studied the matter in Amaranthus caudatus and the grass Setaria macrostachya. They were grown together with two related C3 species (Celosia argentea and Triticum aestivum, respectively) in steady or fluctuating light, while total daily photon flux was kept constant. All four species responded to fluctuating light with a substantial reduction in biomass accumulation, but this reduction was higher in C4 plants (58%) than in C3 plants (41%). Further analysis showed that this difference was not due to light induction itself but rather to the loss of CO2 through leaky bundle sheats in C4 plants during fluctuating light.
Read full article here: Kubásek et al (December 2013) Physiologia Plantarum 149: 528
The burrowing nematode Radopholus similis is one of the most severe pests in banana plants that collectively reduce yield by up to 75%. Resistant cultivars, however, are able to immobilize and kill the nematode and a new study by Dirk Hölscher from Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany throws light on how this is achieved. The international team of scientists used advanced analytical techniques like 1H NMR spectroscopy, matrix-free UV-laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometric imaging, and Raman microspectroscopy to resolve the phytoalexins used to fight the nematode in roots of susceptible (Grande Naine) and resistant (Yangambi km5) banana cultivars. Results showed that the resistant cultivar had smaller lesions with high concentrations of anti-nematode compounds and that these were highly localized to lesions. The most abundant and active of these compounds was anigorufone, a phenylphenalenone. It was found to be ingested by the nematode and incorporated into small oil droplets throughout the body causing immobilization and eventual death. The authors suggest that high concentrations of anigorufone and other phenylphenalenones in nematode-infected root tissue is the key mechanism for resistance to Radopholus similis in banana plants.