SPPS Newsletter March 2014

Index of Issue I 2014

Registration is now open for the SPPS PhD Conference in Uppsala. From phd2014.spps.fi

The organizing 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 registration is now open! Register before the 6th of April and you will get the early bird discount. If you are an SPPS member, you will also have an additional discount and the possibility to apply for travel grants. Don’t miss these opportunities!

We are currently working hard to provide you a high-quality scientific meeting. We have carefully selected renowned keynote speakers from diverse fields of plant biology, so you will have the opportunity to not only learn more about your own field, but also to exchange knowledge and experiences with colleagues form other fields. Furthermore, the program will also include panel discussions, workshops, and other exciting activities, so you will be able to discuss and interact with everyone. We will also give everyone the chance to either present a poster or give a talk, since we think it is important that every person has an active role in this conference.

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Dr. Jodi Maple-Grødem from the University of Stavanger in Norway chairs the Education Committee. From www.uis.no

Welcome to the second instalment of the education corner, a new contribution to highlight the activities of the SPPS Education Committee. First we would like to start by introducing the committee members and sharing news of some recent changes. Currently Dr. Jodi Maple-Grødem, the senior member from the University of Stavanger in Norway, chairs the committee. Jodi takes over as Chairperson from Prof. Lisbeth Jonsson from Stockholm University in Sweden, who has stepped down. Dr. Carin Jarl-Sunesson, the senior member from Lund University in Sweden, and Ms. Eva Knoch, the student member from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, have also recently finished their terms on the committee.

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The 26th SPPS Congress will take place next summer in Stockholm. From www.spps2015.org

SPPS is happy to invite you to the 26th SPPS Congress that will take place next summer in Stockholm. The congress welcomes all plant biologists, researchers and students from Scandinavia and the rest of the world and we are convinced that it will an excellent forum for useful exchange of ideas and scientific data. The venue is the beautiful Aula Magna – designed be famous Swedish-British architect Ralph Erskine – which can accomodate 1194 attendees and is the biggest auditorium at University of Stockholm.

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Physiologia Plantarum has for some years offered authors the option to publish their articles as open acces. From onlinelibrary.wiley.com

It might come as a surprise for most readers of Physiologia Plantarum, but SPPS’s highly credited journal has for some years offered authors the option to publish their articles as open acces. If you choose to do so, your paper – once it has been accepted after passing our strict and thorough reviewing process – will be free to read for anybody in the electronic version of the journal. Many funding bodies or institutions require or strongly encourage scientists to publish in open access journals in order to get the best value for money by maximising exposure of the funded research. Authors, for whom this is relevant, can now choose to publish their results in Physiologia Plantarum without being forced to choose another, perhaps less respectable, journal.

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Open access is getting more and more popular, but in some cases the free availability might carry a price. From www.plos.org

Scientific journals offering some or all of their articles as open access – i.e. freely available on the internet for anyone – is getting increasingly popular. Our own Physiologia Plantarum has given the option of open access for some time and many other journals also give authors an alternative to the traditional paid-subscription model. This is mainly because many funding bodies or institutions now require or strongly encourage scientists to publish in open access journals in order to get the best value for money by maximising exposure of the funded research.

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CORE is located at Måltidets hus (House of the meal) at University of Stavanger. From www.smigruppen.no

The Centre for Organelle Research (CORE) was founded in 2007 at the University of Stavanger. The staff of approximately 5 professors and 25 postdocs and PhD students now reside in 1.400 m2 of custom designed laboratories in a new research building at the Stavanger Innovation Park. CORE is temporary headed by professor Peter Ruoff, who has taken over after Simon Geir Møller who recently left for a position at St. John’s University in New York.

As its name implies, the centre is dedicated to research in organelles, but although the main focus is on plants some of the group leaders prefer other model organisms like archaeons, C. elegans and Atlantic cod. The four group leaders studying plant organelles are:

  • Cathrine Lillo: Signalling between organelles
  • Lutz Eichacker: Organelle protein complexes
  • Sigrun Reumann: Peroxisomes of plants and microalgae
  • Jodi Maple-Grødem: Chloroplasts and plastid division
  • Peter Ruoff: reaction kinetics and nitrate homeostasis

In this overview, we will only address the plant related research and thus we will not mention the work of Svein Bjelland (microbial systems) and Maria Doitsidou (C. elegans).

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Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is an important medical plant due to the high amounts of biologically active alkaloids used for production of morphine and codein. The alkaloids are conveniently located in the latex that can easily be obtained from unripe seedpods, but when P. somniferum is cultivated for other purposes than drug production – e.g. poppy seeds – the latex is not desirable. Consequently, the latex-less and low alkaloid cultivar Sujata has been developed by mutation breeding from the latex and alkaloid-rich parent cultivar Sampada. Sujata, however, has weak peduncles/stems and suffers from lodging, and to investigate the underlying cause for this, Ajit Shasany and colleagues from CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow, India have compared the two cultivars. Anatomical studies revealed that Sujata has approximately only half as many latex-producing lacticifers in the vascular bundles as Sampada. The latex-less cultivar also had significantly lower expression of the cell wall-related gene laccase that by overexpression and RNAi suppression analyses was shown to be involved in ligning biosynthesis. The authors believe that laccase is not involved in laticifer development (which would be plausible since latificers are thought to invade cell walls during development) but solely responsible for the higher lignin production and stronger peduncle/stem in the Sampada cultivar.

Read full article here: Kubásek et al (March 2014) Physiologia Plantarum 150: 436

When the first plants moved from sea to land approximately 465 million years ago, they needed some sort of specialized cells for conducting water from the roots to the aerial parts. Looking for the genes that could contribute to this novel function, Misato Ohtani from RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Yokohama, Japan compared the moss Physcomitrella patens – a non-vascular plant – with Arabidopsis thaliana. Both plants have genes encoding a group of NAC transcription factors that in land-based, vascular plants are known to oversee the development of xylem tissue, which transports water. To investigate the function of these transcription factors in the moss, the corresponding genes were knocked out, leading to malformation of its specialized water-conducting and supporting cells, hydroids and stereids. This indicates that NAC transcription factors have a very similar functional relevance for water conduction in these distantly related plants eventhough they handle the task in very different anatomical ways. The authors accordingly suggest that NAC transcription factors were involved in the ancient adaptation of plants to land.

Source: Xu et al (20 March 2014) Science doi: 10.1126/science.1248417

Climate change and global warming seem unavoidable and will have consequences for all of us and – not least for farmers, whose business will be challenged by the new environmental conditions. Several models have been established to predict the consequences and most of them are based on a species’ geographic range by comparing weather data with a species’ observed geographic distribution. In a new approach, Luigi Ponti from Centro Ricerche Casaccia in Rome, Italy designed a physiologically-based demographic model that predicts geographical distribution changes based on observations of how weather drives interactions between species. The model showed that an expected 1.8 °C average temperature increase between 2030 and 2060 by itself will increase olive yield across the Mediterranean Basin by 4.1%. However, infestation by the obligate olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae) is predicted to decrease by 8%, leading to an average increase in net profits for olive producers of 9.6%. While some regions, in particular the Middle East may experience a 7.2% decline, North Africa can look forward to a substantial profit increase of 41%.

Source: Ponti et al (24 March 2014) PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1314437111