Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education)
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Science: Young Researchers Deserve More Support, Reviews Say ($)

Science: Young Researchers Deserve More Support, Reviews Say ($) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

This one requires a subscription, but it's worth the effort to get it.

A National Institute of Health (NIH) advisory committee looks at the plight of PhD students, because "the supply of new Ph.D. students each year far exceeds the number of new academic positions".

 

They recommend that more students be funded through fellowships (to the student) or institutional training grants, rather than through grants to their PI; the vast increase in number of PhD studentships over the past 25 years is attributable to an increase in positions funded via PI grants. They say that "students funded through research assistantships run the risk of being treated as a source of labor rather than as scientists in training".

 

This change would allow funding agencies to demand that the PhD training include career guidance for jobs outside of academia.  The report also suggest that universities support more staff scientist positions, which would ensure that research goes on without endlessly training new students for whom there are no jobs.

 

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Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education)
Hooks and hot topics for university teachers and students
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Why do we consume only a tiny fraction of the world's edible plants?

Why do we consume only a tiny fraction of the world's edible plants? | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
With over 200,000 edible plant species on earth, why do we concentrate on so few?

A good question - the answer may surprise you. (See if your students can come up with the same answer)

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Bioengineering: Evolved to overcome Bt-toxin resistance

Bioengineering: Evolved to overcome Bt-toxin resistance | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Since becoming commercially available in 1996, crops that produce Bt toxins have been widely adopted, and more than 420 million hectares have been planted around the world2. However, insect resistance quickly emerged as a major threat to the long-term success of such crops2. In a paper online in Nature, Badran et al.3 present an elegant method for the continuous evolution of engineered Bt toxins, and describe a toxin that targets a new receptor on insect cells and thus overcomes existing resistance."

The paper, "Continuous evolution of Bacillus thuringiensis toxins overcomes insect resistance" is here:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature17938.html

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Witty gene names in plants. Who remembers Kojak?

Witty gene names in plants. Who remembers Kojak? | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
It is a well known fact that biologists are a clever bunch. Most of the time they're out applying their intellect and tackling the world's problems, but occasionally (probably at happy hour on
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How much do scientists lecture, and why? Poll results and commentary

How much do scientists lecture, and why? Poll results and commentary | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Thanks so much to everyone who completed my little poll on how much science faculty lecture, and why. I conducted the poll because of my admittedly-anecdotal sense that much of the vigorous online debate about how to teach--in particular, whether to lecture--is a bit disconnected from the practical decision-making of many faculty. The online discussions…
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Useful survey and discussion from Jeremy Fox, University of Calgary

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Why the world is storing so many seeds in a ‘doomsday’ vault

Why the world is storing so many seeds in a ‘doomsday’ vault | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Storing genetic diversity now could have a big payoff in the future.
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An introduction to the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP)

An introduction to the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I spent a few days at the wonderful MPI-MP, a wonderful research Institute.

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Plan(t)s for the Future

Glucosinolates are natural substances made from plants such as canola, cabbage and broccoli. The plants use their glucosinolates as a defense agains
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Career building: Where do you want to go and how will you get there?

Career building: Where do you want to go and how will you get there? | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
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Take-home messages and resources from a talk on building and managing your career, by Mary Williams

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Eight things I learnt from #tardigate

Eight things I learnt from #tardigate | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Tardigrades, endearing eight legged minibeasts related to insects and spiders and also known as water bears or moss piglets, are among my favourite animals. In late November 2015, a colleague, Bob …
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Very intereting first-person account about what it's like to correct someone else's high-profile paper. The way science is communicated and shared is changing and it's important to keep up with those changes. Encourage your students to read this and think about the take-away messages.

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These Probiotics For Plants Could Help Feed The World

These Probiotics For Plants Could Help Feed The World | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Agriculture has a math problem. To feed an extra two billion people by 2050—the equivalent of six more United States—the world will need to increase crop production by 70% to 100%. But yield gains have slowed to just 1% a year, and the technology farmers rely on for those meager gains, such as pesticides, cause problems of their own.

The plant microbiome evolved with the plant over millions of years until modern technology systematically decimated them.
A Cambridge-based startup called Indigo, which announced a $56-million funding round today, thinks the solution may lie in probiotics for plants. By dosing seeds in healthy microbes, farmers can grow as much as 10% more food, and as the technology develops, yields may increase even more.

Via Jean-Michel Ané
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A green evolution

A green evolution | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The farms of Africa are prospering at last thanks to persistence, technology and decent government
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Intersting story about changes and challenges in agriculture across the continent

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Daniel Wipf's curator insight, March 14, 7:19 AM

Intersting story about changes and challenges in agriculture across the continent

Rajesh Patkar's curator insight, March 15, 1:44 AM

Intersting story about changes and challenges in agriculture across the continent

Miyee Carney's curator insight, March 16, 12:26 PM

Intersting story about changes and challenges in agriculture across the continent

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Taking ownership of your own mentoring

Taking ownership of your own mentoring | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Have you ever had questions related to your career development that you didn’t know who to ask for answers for? Or have you ever felt that you would probably profit from having a mentor, but …
Mary Williams's insight:

Excellent article that explores the many different ways we all need mentoring - from sponsorship to emotional support. This article, derived form Earth Science Women's Network, explains the many kinds of mentor you need, their roles, and provides a worksheet so you can make sure you've got them all.

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Jimmy Ting's curator insight, March 13, 5:20 AM

Excellent article that explores the many different ways we all need mentoring - from sponsorship to emotional support. This article, derived form Earth Science Women's Network, explains the many kinds of mentor you need, their roles, and provides a worksheet so you can make sure you've got them all.

Eric Vincill's curator insight, March 15, 10:06 AM

Excellent article that explores the many different ways we all need mentoring - from sponsorship to emotional support. This article, derived form Earth Science Women's Network, explains the many kinds of mentor you need, their roles, and provides a worksheet so you can make sure you've got them all.

Thirumurugan's curator insight, March 26, 5:14 AM

Excellent article that explores the many different ways we all need mentoring - from sponsorship to emotional support. This article, derived form Earth Science Women's Network, explains the many kinds of mentor you need, their roles, and provides a worksheet so you can make sure you've got them all.

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Rootstocks: Diversity, Domestication, and Impacts on Shoot Phenotypes: Trends in Plant Science

Rootstocks: Diversity, Domestication, and Impacts on Shoot Phenotypes: Trends in Plant Science | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

New in Trends in Plant Science - an introduction to the use of grafting and rootstocks in agriculture. Why graft you say? Read on!

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JBEI Promotes STEM Education for Girls

During a recent visit to JBEI by Girls Inc. of Alameda, we spoke to JBEI’s scientists about why it is important to bring girls into the STEM fields at
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Joint BioEnergy Initiative

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'Betty' the ash tree offers hope against deadly dieback disease

'Betty' the ash tree offers hope against deadly dieback disease | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Scientists identify first tree to show strong tolerance to the disease raising hopes of developing a resistant strain
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Insights On the Impact of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis On Tomato Tolerance to Water Stress

Insights On the Impact of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbiosis On Tomato Tolerance to Water Stress | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
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All our food is 'genetically modified' in some way – where do you draw the line?

All our food is 'genetically modified' in some way – where do you draw the line? | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Everything from domesticated carrots to glow-in-the-dark tobacco fits somewhere on the spectrum. 'Banning GM' isn't a simple yes-no decision.
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R Bodies: Membrane-Rupturing Microscopic Tools

R Bodies: Membrane-Rupturing Microscopic Tools | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
R bodies are tiny, tunable molecule machines that can be used to break membranes. Learn all about them and their potential uses here.
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Not plants, but really interesting story about tunable protein machines that selectively break cell membranes. The research article is here http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acssynbio.5b00237

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Fifty years on: The Discovery of C4 Photosynthesis

Fifty years on: The Discovery of C4 Photosynthesis | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Related achievers Marshall Davidson Hatch Publications C4 photosynthesis publications Videos The C4 pathway parts 1 and 2 The C4 pathway – YouTube By the end of the 1950s it was widely believ…
Mary Williams's insight:

It is fifty years since Hatch & Slack published their proposal for a "novel carboxylation reaction" in C4 plants. Here's a nice overview of the discovery of C4 photosynthesis from CSIRO (https://csiropedia.csiro.au/the-discovery-of-c4-photosynth…/), a new review in J Exp Bot by Bob Furbank ($) (http://jxb.oxfordjournals.org/…/2…/04/08/jxb.erw161.abstract), and a link to the seminal 1966 paper in Biochem J. (http://www.biochemj.org/content/101/1/103)
Happy Birthday C4 photosynthesis!

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Supercharged rice to feed the world

Supercharged rice to feed the world | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The discovery of C4 photosynthesis at a Brisbane sugar refinery 50 years ago spawned a whole new field of plant biology and is now well on the way to feeding the world.

[caption id=attachment_8867 align=alignright width=300] Professors Bob Furbank and Susanne von Caemmerer are two of the scientists involved in creating ‘supercharged’ rice to feed the world. Credit: James Walsh, ANU[/caption]

Three billion people rely on rice for survival, but C4 plants like maize and sugarcane grow faster, have higher yields, and are more drought-tolerant.

“C4 plants photosynthesise faster thanks to a biochemical ‘supercharger’ which concentrates CO2 in specialised structures in their leaves,” says Professor Bob Furbank from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis.

“If we can modify rice to use the C4 pathway, instead of C3, we can improve rice production and double its water efficiency.”



In 2015, the first rice plant to contain the five genes necessary for C4 photosynthesis was created at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.



The discovery of C4 photosynthesis by Hal Hatch and Roger Slack 50 years ago could soon help feed the world.




To speed up the evolution of rice from C3 to its C4 form, the researchers take genes from maize, splice them into the rice genome, then cross breed the rice until they get the combinations required to trigger the C4 pathway.

It’s a task that involves 12 institutions in eight countries, including Bob, who is a plant biologist, and his colleague Professor Susanne von Caemmerer, who has a background in mathematics.

[caption id=attachment_8871 align=alignright width=295] Specialised cells (called bundle sheath cells) inside a C4 plant leaf (bottom) trap CO2 and allow it to photosynthesise more efficiently than a C3 plant like rice (top). Credit: International Rice Research Institute[/caption]

“What I love about this project is that it has unified researchers from different fields for a common, and very worthy cause,” says Susanne.

“It’s also grabbed the attention of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who’ve just renewed our funding for the third time.”

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis is holding a Conference to celebrate 50 years of C4 photosynthesis the discovery and innovation in Canberra in April.

For more information:
Natalia Bateman,
ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis
natalia.bateman@anu.edu.au

Banner image credit : International Rice Research Institute
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Behind the scenes with Brilliant Botany’s Claire Hopkins

Behind the scenes with Brilliant Botany’s Claire Hopkins | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Mary Williams's insight:

Many scientists are exploring the use of videos and video blogs (vlogs) for science communication. I asked Claire Hopkins, creator of the Brilliant Botany videos and website, how she got started making science videos and if she has any advice for getting started in science communication. Here are her replies

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These vitamin-fortified bananas might get you thinking differently about GMOs

These vitamin-fortified bananas might get you thinking differently about GMOs | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
A controversial effort is underway to fight vitamin A deficiency with engineered bananas.
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Root Endophyte Colletotrichum tofieldiae Confers Plant Fitness Benefits that Are Phosphate Status Dependent: Cell

Root Endophyte Colletotrichum tofieldiae Confers Plant Fitness Benefits that Are Phosphate Status Dependent: Cell | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Mary Williams's insight:

This is cool - Arabidopsis is one of a small number of plants that do not form myocorrhizal symbioses. A new study finds that an endophytic fungus that is normally pathogenic enhances P uptake in Arabidopsis. The paper also explores the molecular interactions between host and pathogenic / beneficial fungus

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Jennifer Mach's curator insight, March 21, 3:50 PM

This is cool - Arabidopsis is one of a small number of plants that do not form myocorrhizal symbioses. A new study finds that an endophytic fungus that is normally pathogenic enhances P uptake in Arabidopsis. The paper also explores the molecular interactions between host and pathogenic / beneficial fungus

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All 2.3 Million Species Are Mapped into a Single Circle of Life

All 2.3 Million Species Are Mapped into a Single Circle of Life | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Lineages of all known species on Earth are finally pieced together
Mary Williams's insight:

This is great - the inner circles are known species, and the outer circle shows the estimated relative  of proportion of each type of organism (plants are truly dwarfed by those arthropods and bacteria!)

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BUCostantino's curator insight, March 14, 12:00 PM

This is great - the inner circles are known species, and the outer circle shows the estimated relative  of proportion of each type of organism (plants are truly dwarfed by those arthropods and bacteria!)

Lucia Kusumawati's curator insight, March 20, 5:20 AM
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