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Citrus greening bacteria reach California despite biosecurity Global Crop Diversity Trust

Citrus greening bacteria reach California despite biosecurity Global Crop Diversity Trust | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Californians flipping through the news over their organic, high-fibre muesli must have spluttered orange juice all over their shiny new iPad3s. Huanglongbing has come to their state. This nasty disease -- also known as citrus greening -- has already done a number on plantations of oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits and more exotic fruits of that ilk in China and Brazil. Since 2005, when it arrived in Florida, it has cost that state over $3.5 billion and 6000 jobs due to the hit on production. That was bad enough for the US juice industry, but California is the source for the bulk of fresh citrus for the table. There’s no known cure for citrus greening, which makes its arrival in Los Angeles a serious threat to the state’s economy.

No cure, and no known resistant varieties -- yet. But... There's hope in genebanks, including US citrus germplasm collection, at the University of California, Riverside. Fortunately, multiple insect-proof screens were installed years back to protect the greenhouses in which the collection is kept. That should keep out the insect that spreads the pathogen, at least for now.
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Learning from failure: the importance of teaching with mistakes

Learning from failure: the importance of teaching with mistakes | AnnBot | Scoop.it

Every idea from every discipline is a human idea that comes from a natural, thoughtful, and (ideally) unending journey in which thinkers deeply understand the current state of knowledge, take a tiny step in a new direction, almost immediately hit a dead end, learn from that misstep, and, through iteration, inevitably move forward. That recipe for success is not just the secret formula for original scholarly discovery, but also for wise, everyday thinking for the entire population. Hence, it is important to explicitly highlight how essential those dead ends and mistakes are — that is, to teach students the power of failure and how to fail effectively.

Individuals need to embrace the realization that taking risks and failing are often the essential moves necessary to bring clarity, understanding, and innovation. By making a mistake, we are led to the pivotal question: "Why was that wrong?" By answering this question, we are intentionally placing ourselves in a position to develop a new insight and to eventually succeed. But how do we foster such a critical habit of mind in our students — students who are hardwired to avoid failure at all costs? Answer: Just assess it.

For the last decade or so, I’ve put my students’ grades where my mouth is. Instead of just touting the importance of failing, I now tell students that if they want to earn an A, they must fail regularly throughout the course of the semester — because 5 percent of their final grade is based on their "quality of failure."

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/08/21/essay-importance-teaching-failure#ixzz24FhH4krJ
Inside Higher Ed

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Saving Lives In Africa With The Humble Sweet Potato : NPR

In Africa, a nutrition success story: Swapping orange sweet potatoes for white ones is improving the health of children by boosting vitamin A levels. Researchers are now trying to duplicate their success with other crops.
But in parts of Africa, that sweet potato is very exciting to public health experts who see it as a living vitamin A supplement. A campaign to promote orange varieties of sweet potatoes in Mozambique and Uganda (instead of the white or yellow ones that are more commonly grown there) now seems to be succeeding. (Check out this cool infographic on the campaign.) It's a sign that a new approach to improving nutrition among the world's poor might actually work.

That approach is called biofortification: adding crucial nutrients to food biologically, by breeding better varieties of crops that poor people already eat. But in parts of Africa, that sweet potato is very exciting to public health experts who see it as a living vitamin A supplement. A campaign to promote orange varieties of sweet potatoes in Mozambique and Uganda (instead of the white or yellow ones that are more commonly grown there) now seems to be succeeding. (Check out this cool infographic on the campaign.) It's a sign that a new approach to improving nutrition among the world's poor might actually work.

That approach is called biofortification: adding crucial nutrients to food biologically, by breeding better varieties of crops that poor people already eat. A campaign to promote orange varieties of sweet potatoes in Mozambique and Uganda (instead of the white or yellow ones that are more commonly grown there) now seems to be succeeding. (Check out this cool infographic on the campaign.) It's a sign that a new approach to improving nutrition among the world's poor might actually work.

That approach is called biofortification: adding crucial nutrients to food biologically, by breeding better varieties of crops that poor people already eat.
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Warwick Systems Biology at SEB 2012 « « Weeding the GemsWeeding the Gems

Warwick Systems Biology at SEB 2012 « « Weeding the GemsWeeding the Gems | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Katherine Denby reviews the University of Warwick Systems Biology presentations at the 2012 SEB conference.
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Olympians of the botanical world

Olympians of the botanical world | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Taking a look at some of the plants that push the boundaries in the botanical world.
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Ghost Forest Art Project

Ghost Forest Art Project | AnnBot | Scoop.it
The Ghost Forest Art Project arrived at the National Botanic Garden of Wales today.   "Ghost Forest is an original and ambitious art installation by Angela Palmer which visually expresses the connection between deforestation and climate change."
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Annals of Botany: Plant Science Research's comment, July 30, 2012 8:07 AM
I wonder if the display makes any mention of Wales' own Ghost Forest, off the coast of Borth (central Wales, just north of Aberystwyth). This is about 5000 years old and was submerged by rising sea levels. It is astonishing when visible in the spring during low 'Spring tides' - http://www.ceredigioncoastpath.org.uk/submerged.html
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Plantwise knowledge bank of crop pests & diseases

Plantwise knowledge bank of crop pests & diseases | AnnBot | Scoop.it
release of the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, the open-access information resource from CABI covering crop pests and diseases.

Plantwise is a global programme to improve food security, alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods. Plantwise helps developing countries establish a network of plant clinics run by CABI trained ‘plant doctors’, where farmers can bring crops afflicted by pests or disease.

With diagnostic tools, treatment advice and pest distribution information, the Knowledge Bank was designed to support those involved in plant health in developing countries, especially plant doctors. However, as this information is of value to a wide range of users we also invite all working in plant health across the world to access the resource.

The Knowledge Bank contains a range of features, all of which can be filtered by country, including:

·         Interactive pest and disease distribution maps
·         Thousands of fact sheets and data sheets on plants and their pests
·         Diagnostic tools
·         New pest alerts
·         The latest news on plant health from around the world

The Knowledge Bank is central to the Plantwise programme, providing truly global information support. From university academics, to smallholder farmers, the knowledge provided will benefit the entire plant health community.
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Essays on the future for developmental biology

Essays on the future for developmental biology | AnnBot | Scoop.it
The nominees of the first essay competition run by Development and the Node!

Joanna Asprer – “An Excitingly Predictable ‘Omic Future"

and

Máté Varga – “There’ll be dragons? – The coming era of artificially altered development”
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Promusa - Mobilizing banana science for sustainable livelihoods | The 'best genomics Venn diagram ever' deconstructed : ProMusa blog

Promusa - Mobilizing banana science for sustainable livelihoods | The 'best genomics Venn diagram ever' deconstructed : ProMusa blog | AnnBot | Scoop.it
"It didn’t take long after the journal Nature put online the article on the banana genome sequence for bloggers to start commenting on the Venn diagram featuring a a bright yellow banana. David Ng at Popperfont qualified it as, “quite possibly the most complicated (and therefore awesome) Venn Diagram ever”. Jonathan Eisen, the scientist who coined the term phylogenomics, said that it was “perhaps the best genomics Venn diagram ever”, while Joe, of the It’s okay to be smart blog wrote that it is “a pretty genius way of delivering a bunch of banana data all at once”. He added that it was the first time he ever saw a six-way Venn diagram. Joe is right to be impressed, but the truth is that this is not the first ever six-way Venn diagram.

As a graphic designer correctly noted, the diagram was inspired by Edward's six-set Venn diagram. I can confirm this because the bioinformatics scientist who did the number crunching and the Venn diagram for the Nature article is a Bioversity colleague.

It says a lot about the banana that its distinct shape would make people notice an otherwise arcane diagram. "
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Obesity produces diabetes epidemic in India - ABC News Don't equate development with Western diet

Obesity produces diabetes epidemic in India - ABC News Don't equate development with Western diet | AnnBot | Scoop.it
PHH comment: Don't equate development with Western diet.

India is bracing for a massive surge in type 2 diabetes, with credible estimates putting the number of sufferers in the next 20 years at more than 100 million.

via Cathryn Weller
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Arabidopsis conference tweets as storify #icar #ICAR2012

The International Conference on Arabidopsis Research was held in Vienna, Austria July 3-7th 2012. As usual it was jammed packed full of interesting talks. here are all the tweets brought together.
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The banana (Musa acuminata) genome and the evolution of monocotyledonous plants

The banana (Musa acuminata) genome and the evolution of monocotyledonous plants | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Bananas (Musa spp.), including dessert and cooking types, are giant perennial monocotyledonous herbs of the order Zingiberales, a sister group to the well-studied Poales, which include cereals. here the complete genome sequence is analysed in comparison with other monocots.
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Welsh botanists create plant database

Welsh botanists create plant database | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Botanists in Wales have created a database of more than 1,000 plant species which they hope will help with conservation and health research.
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Algorithms - Leave the thinking to us. A sociologists view. Times Higher Ed

Put starkly, the day cannot be far away when there is an "app" that tells us what articles to read. I'm imagining a simple application that builds up a personalised profile of the research articles we read, and then uses that profile to predict what we are likely to want to read. Such devices are already informing us what music to listen to, what films to watch and what books to buy, so it can't be long before they are doing our research for us, too.

Imagine the ease of researching in a world where the research materials "find" us. Where we need only log in to see what we must read in order to complete a project. No more searching, no more wasting time reading the wrong things or looking in the wrong places, no more aimless flâneurs wandering around libraries or flicking through e-journals to see what they might find. None of this will be needed because the power of algorithms, as sociologist Scott Lash has put it, will be reshaping the academy. These algorithms will streamline, predict, make decisions for us and do work on our behalf, taking some of the agency from researchers and research processes - and making it their own.

This might sound like futurism, but the reality is that algorithms are already sorting the academy in lots of ways.

I've been quite speculative in suggesting that research articles will come to find their readers, but in many ways this is already the case with books. We need only to think of how Amazon's predictive algorithms already shape our encounters with academic books..."
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Google Scholar Updates: Making New Connections

Google Scholar Updates: Making New Connections | AnnBot | Scoop.it
The official source for information about Google Scholar...

"often the spark for discovery comes from making a new connection or looking in a direction that you hadn’t yet considered and that -- before your aha! moment -- you wouldn’t have known to look for. Today we hope to start fostering these new connections with Scholar Updates.

We analyze your articles (as identified in your Scholar profile), scan the entire web looking for new articles relevant to your research, and then show you the most relevant articles when you visit Scholar. We determine relevance using a statistical model that incorporates what your work is about, the citation graph between articles, the fact that interests can change over time, and the authors you work with and cite."

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Urban Agriculture: Overcoming the Legacy of a City’s Past

Urban Agriculture: Overcoming the Legacy of a City’s Past | AnnBot | Scoop.it
When most people think about cities, heavy industry, crowded housing and vacant lots are some of the images that can come to mind. Lush vegetable fields and orchards are rarely part of the picture.
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Mangrove CO2 storage 'economic'

Mangrove CO2 storage 'economic' | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Protecting mangroves to lock carbon away in trees may be an economic way to curb climate change, research suggests.
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Suburbs and sustainability: Unlocking the greyfields to inhibit urban sprawl from Peter Newton

Suburbs and sustainability: Unlocking the greyfields to inhibit urban sprawl from Peter Newton | AnnBot | Scoop.it
In the face of sustained population growth, our big cities continue to sprawl into the greenfields, despite the now well recognised problems associated with higher infrastructure costs, lack of amenity, car dependency, poor job access, diminished agriculture and open space.

A model for directing population and investment inwards - to inner city brownfield precincts - was established over 20 years ago thanks to the federal government's Better Cities program. Of itself, however, brownfield redevelopment will fail to deliver the net additions of infill housing required.

The solution lies in the greyfields - those ageing but occupied tracts of inner and middle ring suburbia that are physically, technologically and environmentally failing and which represent under-capitalised assets in The Conversation, Research Professor in Sustainable Urbanism at Swinburne University of Technology Peter Newton states that the solution to the problem of urban sprawl in Australia lies in inner and middle greyfields suburbs.

Announcements by both NSW and Victorian governments in recent weeks that they would continue to encourage the development of new housing on the fringes of Sydney and Melbourne revealed that urban planning in Australia is yet to find a solution for unlocking the potential for housing redevelopment in the middle suburbs of the nation's largest and fastest growing cities.

Targets of more than 60 per cent and 50 per cent of infill housing for each city respectively, established in recent metro strategic plans, are not being achieved."

from http://WWW.greencareers.net.au and
http://theconversation.edu.au/unlocking-the-greyfields-to-inhibit-urban-sprawl-7748
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PLoS ONE: Weed Risk Assessment for Aquatic Plants: Modification of a New Zealand System for the United States

PLoS ONE: Weed Risk Assessment for Aquatic Plants: Modification of a New Zealand System for the United States | AnnBot | Scoop.it
PLoS ONE: an inclusive, peer-reviewed, open-access resource from the PUBLIC LIBRARY OF SCIENCE. Reports of well-performed scientific studies from all disciplines freely available to the whole world.
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Fossils hint at first grasslands

Fossils hint at first grasslands | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Early rodents add evidence for Earth’s first grasslands
By Nick Crumpton BBC News
One of the recently discovered fossil rodents hinted at a grassland ecosystem. The finds add weight to the suggestion that grasslands appeared in South America 15 million years before anywhere else on Earth, after a period of global cooling.
The structure of the animals' cheek teeth have been interpreted as being adapted to a diet of plants found in open, dry environments.

The work appears in American Museum Novitates.
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Frontiers | A Vision for 21st Century Agricultural Research | From Rich Jorgensen

Frontiers | A Vision for 21st Century Agricultural Research | From Rich Jorgensen | AnnBot | Scoop.it
from Richard A. Jorgensen, Guanajuato, México
Let’s admit an unfortunate truth: agricultural research in most of the world is based on old models that no longer serve us well in the twenty-first century as arable land diminishes, populations increase, and climate is changing. A dramatically new vision is needed in order to remake agricultural research, perhaps radically, to address the challenges of the world we find ourselves in today. Here is an attempt to begin to develop such a vision.

(1) We must learn to value foundational (basic) and applied research equally.
(2) We need much stronger Foundational Research than currently exists
(3) Applied Science must be reorganized around major concepts

(4) To repeat and extend the first point above (because it is so important), success requires that we foster development of new cultures and new communities that are coincident with needs, not tradition. The needs for new communities are many and varied.

To achieve this vision will require us to let go of habits and preconceived notions in order to work toward understanding the diverse cultures and communities that comprise research, extension, and industry and to find new ways of bringing them together productively and creatively in order to create synergies and achieve efficiencies. The specific ways for achieving this vision will be many and varied, and will require the creative efforts of scientists, engineers, funders, industry participants, and policymakers everywhere.

Where should we start? Three principal areas need to be dramatically reorganized: the ways that we fund research, the ways that organize our research institutions, and the ways that we define success and evaluate progress toward the goals above.

Funding priorities need to be dramatically refocused."
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Promusa - Mobilizing banana science for sustainable livelihoods | Blogging your way out of anonymity : ProMusa blog

Promusa - Mobilizing banana science for sustainable livelihoods | Blogging your way out of anonymity : ProMusa blog | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Blogging your way out of anonymity - ProMusa blog... There are some notable exceptions, but most scientists only exploit one way to share their research results: they publish a paper in a scientific journal. And these papers often tend to be … well, let’s admit it … quite dry, as Adam Ruben recently described it in his blog post about “How to write like a scientist”. Aside from the occasional presentation at a scientific conference (which, unless the scientist is an especially good speaker or presents ground-breaking results, are usually readily forgotten), most of us don’t take advantage of the wide range of other media that are available these days, such as videos, status updates, blog posts, blog comments, interactive graphs and maps, tweets, etc.

It’s a shame. These media can help scientists reach a larger and more diverse audience much faster than the long slog of submitting a paper to a journal.
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The Phytophactor: Hot summer garden pointers

The Phytophactor: Hot summer garden pointers | AnnBot | Scoop.it

Gardening tips from the Phytophactor, including what to water and what to leave alone. 

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The evolution of the banana, star of the Western fruit bowl LA Times interview

The evolution of the banana, star of the Western fruit bowl LA Times interview | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Did you hear? The genome of the banana has been sequenced, an important development in scientists’ efforts to produce better bananas.
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Fascinating case study - science and politics of non-browing "arctic" apples

Fascinating case study - science and politics of non-browing "arctic" apples | AnnBot | Scoop.it

This is going to be an interesting case to follow.

 

The science - Agrobacterium transformation used to introduce a silencing construct (derived from the endogenous apple gene) to switch off the four apple polyphenol oxidase (PPO) genes. PPO produces quinones, that upon cell damage non-enzymatically produce brown, lingin-like compounds (more science here http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/10_16101p.pdf).

 

The articTM apples were developed by a small Canadian biotech company Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (http://www.okspecialtyfruits.com/).

 

Here's a summary of some of the issues surrounding these biotech apples (http://appliedmythology.blogspot.ca/2012/07/consumers-should-get-to-try-first.html)

 

The US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is soliciting comments about the petition by OSF for the apples to be granted non-regulated status. They say, "We are particularly interested in receiving comments regarding biological, cultural, or ecological issues, and we encourage the submission of scientific data, studies, or research to support your comments." (https://federalregister.gov/a/2012-17144).

 

As of today, 54 comments have been submitted, and they are available for anyone to read (top right of the federal register page, under the green button).

 

It's a great learning opportunity for students, and chance for them to see and partaicipate in the intersection of science, policy, and public opinion. I would recommend asking students to draft and share their own comments!

 

 


Via Mary Williams
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Freddy Monteiro's comment, July 17, 2012 11:27 AM
Really Useful Mary. Every once in a couple years I am invited to present 2nd year BSc biotechnology students with techniques to improve crop production and resistance to pests. Most of the time we end up with the typical GMO Vs Breeding case, and go further with the technology required. In the past year I explored the Sarpo Mira potato case, which RXLR recognition was recently unveiled.
Although this Artic apple story is a bit controversial, it raises a new kind of question and concern when we talk about transgenic plants, and for that it is worth studying and talking about. For the first time, to my knowledge, we have an aesthetic trait being improved, and for sure we don't know about the social outcome this GMO will have.

A very interesting case for biology, biotech, and plant science clases. It will make everyone think for a while.

Thank you!