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Greetings from latitude 55!

Greetings from latitude 55! | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Glasgow Scotland, where I live, is about 55 degrees north (Aarhus, Denmark, and Moscow, Russia, are other cities of similar latitude; we're slightly north of Edmonton, Canada, and south of Juneau, Alaska. We're farther from the equator than the southern tip of South America, and all of Australia and New Zealand http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_by_latitude).

 

Living here means that seasonal changes are more extreme, and the rate of change is faster, than most parts of the world, and particularly interesting for me as a plant biologist. It's like watching a time-lapse movie in which plants suddenly sprout or burst into leaf, whizz through the summer making as much sugar as they can, and then, in the blink of an eye, drop their leaves or retreat underground to survive as rhizomes or seeds through the frozen winter.

 

When I look out my window now all I see are bare branches and frozen mud, but I know it won't be too many weeks before the show starts again. I hope wherever you are, whether you're basking in the long days of summer in the south, or enjoying the constancy of the tropics, that you're finding the time to appreciate the plants outside of your window, too.

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Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education)
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The Plant Detective’s Manual

The Plant Detective’s Manual | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The Plant Detective’s Manual
A research-led approach for teaching plant science

Gonzalo M. Estavillo, Ulrike Mathesius, Michael Djordjevic and Adrienne B. Nicotra
Mary Williams's insight:

Super - I saw a presentation about this award-winning set of investigative labs and loved it, how great that it's now available as a free PDF or epublication!

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Making designer mutants in all kinds of model organisms

Making designer mutants in all kinds of model organisms | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Recent advances in the targeted modification of complex eukaryotic genomes have unlocked a new era of genome engineering. From the pioneering work using zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs), to the advent of the versatile and specific TALEN systems, and most recently the highly accessible CRISPR/Cas9 systems, we now possess an unprecedented ability to analyze developmental processes using sophisticated designer genetic tools. Excitingly, these robust and simple genomic engineering tools also promise to revolutionize developmental studies using less well established experimental organisms.


Modern developmental biology was born out of the fruitful marriage between traditional embryology and genetics. Genetic tools, together with advanced microscopy techniques, serve as the most fundamental means for developmental biologists to elucidate the logistics and the molecular control of growth, differentiation and morphogenesis. For this reason, model organisms with sophisticated and comprehensive genetic tools have been highly favored for developmental studies. Advances made in developmental biology using these genetically amenable models have been well recognized. The Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded in 1995 to Edward B. Lewis, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Eric F. Wieschaus for their discoveries on the ‘Genetic control of early structural development’ usingDrosophila melanogaster, and again in 2002 to John Sulston, Robert Horvitz and Sydney Brenner for their discoveries of ‘Genetic regulation of development and programmed cell death’ using the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. These fly and worm systems remain powerful and popular models for invertebrate development studies, while zebrafish (Danio rerio), the dual frog species Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis, rat (Rattus norvegicus), and particularly mouse (Mus musculus) represent the most commonly used vertebrate model systems. To date, random or semi-random mutagenesis (‘forward genetic’) approaches have been extraordinarily successful at advancing the use of these model organisms in developmental studies. With the advent of reference genomic data, however, sequence-specific genomic engineering tools (‘reverse genetics’) enable targeted manipulation of the genome and thus allow previously untestable hypotheses of gene function to be addressed.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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These Scientists Are Training Computers to Help Farmers Save Their Crops | WIRED

These Scientists Are Training Computers to Help Farmers Save Their Crops | WIRED | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Can’t for the life of you figure out what those white spots on your squash plants are? A new app called PlantVillage may be able to help.
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Plant Evolution Infographic

Plant Evolution Infographic | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
It's like having a time machine—supercomputers and gene sequencing allow scientists to study early events in plant evolution.  One of our conservation scientists, Norman Wickett, Ph.D., is co-leade...
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Plants talk to each other using an internet of fungus

Plants talk to each other using an internet of fungus | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Hidden under your feet is an information superhighway that allows plants to communicate and help each other out. It’s made of fungus
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Very good summary of the roles of mycorrhizal fungi in plant communication and responses

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Coral Bleaching -- HHMI BioInteractive Animation

Zoom into a coral reef and discover photosynthetic algae inside the coral’s cells. Reef-building corals rely on these symbionts for their survival. This stun...
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Rescooped by Mary Williams from Effectors and Plant Immunity
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Mol. Plant Pathol.: The zigzag model of plant–microbe interactions: is it time to move on? (2014)

Mol. Plant Pathol.: The zigzag model of plant–microbe interactions: is it time to move on? (2014) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Via Nicolas Denancé
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Summary of the Internationl Rice Congress, with photos and videos

Summary of the Internationl Rice Congress, with photos and videos | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
In the blink of an eye, IRC2014 has come and gone. A week ago we were saying farewell to friends old and new, and getting set to leave Bangkok and return home. Was IRC2014 a success? The feedback w...
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I love this photo - the goldfish are a brilliant touch

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Apple Science, From American Beauty to Zestar

Apple Science, From American Beauty to Zestar | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Between new crosses and old heritage varieties, there’s a world of apples beyond the Red Delicious.
Mary Williams's insight:

From Science Friday, featuring Susan Brown from Cornell http://plbrgen.cals.cornell.edu/people/susan-brown

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What is the World's Biggest Cash Crop? - Information Is Beautiful

What is the World's Biggest Cash Crop? - Information Is Beautiful | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Rice? Wheat? Maize? Soya? What's the world's biggest cash crop? The answer might surprise you.
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The Role of cis Regulatory Evolution in Maize Domestication

The Role of cis Regulatory Evolution in Maize Domestication | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Abstract


Gene expression differences between divergent lineages caused by modification of cisregulatory elements are thought to be important in evolution. We assayed genome-wide cis andtrans regulatory differences between maize and its wild progenitor, teosinte, using deep RNA sequencing in F1 hybrid and parent inbred lines for three tissue types (ear, leaf and stem). Pervasive regulatory variation was observed with approximately 70% of ~17,000 genes showing evidence of regulatory divergence between maize and teosinte. However, many fewer genes (1,079 genes) show consistent cis differences with all sampled maize and teosinte lines. For ~70% of these 1,079 genes, the cis differences are specific to a single tissue. The number of genes with cis regulatory differences is greatest for ear tissue, which underwent a drastic transformation in form during domestication. As expected from the domestication bottleneck, maize possesses less cis regulatory variation than teosinte with this deficit greatest for genes showing maize-teosinte cis regulatory divergence, suggesting selection oncis regulatory differences during domestication. Consistent with selection on cis regulatory elements, genes with cis effects correlated strongly with genes under positive selection during maize domestication and improvement, while genes with trans regulatory effects did not. We observed a directional bias such that genes with cis differences showed higher expression of the maize allele more often than the teosinte allele, suggesting domestication favored up-regulation of gene expression. Finally, this work documents the cis and trans regulatory changes between maize and teosinte in over 17,000 genes for three tissues.


Via Pierre-Marc Delaux
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Plant Physiology special issue - Weed Control

Plant Physiology special issue - Weed Control | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

You may not immediatly think, "Oh I want to organize a class around that topic", but in reality it is fascinating. How do you suppress weeds (plant-plant competition is one of the major limitations to crop production) when plants are chemically very similar? It's a much harder problem than suppressing insects or fungi. This topic also brings in the whole range of GM talking points including the evolution of herbicide resistance and gene flow. This issue includes a lot of excellent reviews, historical perspectives and cutting-edge research, as well as an article describing how examining the transcriptome of dodder identified genes associated with plant parasitism - something for everyone!

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Backyard Mystery Afterschool Curriculum

Backyard Mystery Afterschool Curriculum | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I've already shared this great set of activities for ages 10 - 12, but they've added a new game to their collection so thought I'd share again. Both the original set of activities and the new game are free to download.
http://ucbiotech.org/backyardmystery/
and the new game - bean bingo http://ucbiotech.org/backyardmystery/bingo/

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Systems-Wide Analysis of Acclimation Responses to Long-Term Heat Stress and Recovery in the Photosynthetic Model Organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Systems-Wide Analysis of Acclimation Responses to Long-Term Heat Stress and Recovery in the Photosynthetic Model Organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Interesting analysis of cellular responses including the dramatic increase in lipid saturation w/ heat - physical chemistry in action!


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NASA Computer Model Provides a New Portrait of Carbon Dioxide

NASA Computer Model Provides a New Portrait of Carbon Dioxide | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
An ultra-high-resolution computer model gives scientists a stunning new look at how atmospheric carbon dioxide travels around the globe.
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Great video to start your discussions about CO2 (photosynthesis, AGW) - swirls of CO2 showing global distribution and seasonal cycles.

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Has The End Of The Banana Arrived?

Has The End Of The Banana Arrived? | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Researchers fear that a relentless and virulent fungus could cripple the world's banana monoculture.

Via Ed Rybicki
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Ed Rybicki's curator insight, November 17, 3:32 AM

Transgenic bananas, people!  Like papaya - probably the only thing that will work.

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Vote for Science magazines's Breakthrough of the Year 2014!

Vote for Science magazines's Breakthrough of the Year 2014! | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
What do you think is this year's biggest scientific achievement?

Could it be the wheat genome?

http://www.sciencemag.org/site/extra/wheatgenome/

Engineered lignin?

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6179/90

Experimental flooding in the Colorado River delta?

http://news.sciencemag.org/environment/2014/03/u.s.-and-mexico-unleash-flood-restore-colorado-river-delta

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▶ Challenges of modifying root traits in crops for agriculture - YouTube

Created by Daniel P. Schachtman and colleagues (University of Nebraska Lincoln, USA). Read the related review article in Trends in Plant Science here http://...
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The review article ($) is here http://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/abstract/S1360-1385%2814%2900220-9

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Rescooped by Mary Williams from Sustainable agriculture and GMOs
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Synthetic biology could be big boost to interplanetary space travel

Synthetic biology could be big boost to interplanetary space travel | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Genetically engineered microbes could help make manned missions to Mars, the moon and other planets more practical, according to a new analysis by UC Berkeley and NASA scientists.

 


Via idtdna, Christophe Jacquet
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Increasing complexity and versatility: How the calcium signaling toolkit was shaped during plant land colonization

Calcium serves as a versatile messenger in adaptation reactions and developmental processes in plants and animals. Eukaryotic cells generate cytosolic Ca2+ signals via Ca2+-conducting channels. Ca2+ signals are represented in form of stimulus-specific spatially and temporally defined Ca2+ signatures. These Ca2+ signatures are detected, decoded and transmitted to downstream responses by an elaborate toolkit of Ca2+ binding proteins that function as Ca2+ sensors.

In this article, we examine the distribution and evolution of Ca2+-conducting channels and Ca2+ decoding proteins in the plant lineage. To this end, we have in addition to previously studied genomes of plant species, identified and analyzed the Ca2+-signaling components from species that hold key evolutionary positions like the filamentous terrestrial algae Klebsormidium flaccidum and Amborella trichopoda, the single living representative of the sister lineage to all other extant flowering plants.

Plants and animals exhibit substantial differences in their complements of Ca2+ channels and Ca2+ binding proteins. Within the plant lineage, remarkably differences in the evolution of complexity between different families of Ca2+ signaling proteins are observable. Using the CBL/CIPK Ca2+ sensor/kinase signaling network as model, we attempt to link evolutionary tendencies to functional predictions. Our analyses, for example, suggests Ca2+ dependent regulation of Na+ homeostasis as an evolutionary most ancient function of this signaling network. Overall, gene families of Ca2+ signaling proteins have significantly increased in their size during plant evolution reaching an extraordinary complexity in Angiosperms.

Via Jean-Michel Ané, Pierre-Marc Delaux
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Pierre-Marc Delaux's curator insight, November 9, 4:11 PM

Great paper ! CCaMK seems specific of land plants ! (really ? :p)

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Gallery - Psychedelic plants: The inner beauty of common species - Image 1 - New Scientist

Gallery - Psychedelic plants: The inner beauty of common species - Image 1 - New Scientist | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
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Opening Up the Synthetic Biology Toolkit

Opening Up the Synthetic Biology Toolkit | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Synthetic biologist Christopher Voigt and biotechnologist Stephen Streatfield discuss current trends in synthetic biology.
Mary Williams's insight:

17 minute radio broadcast - very good explanation of what synthetic biology is and what it can accomplish

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Teaching and Communicating Science in the Digital Age. 15th – 17th Dec.2014

Teaching and Communicating Science in the Digital Age. 15th – 17th Dec.2014 | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Early-bird registration closes 14 November

See the full program here - lots of demos and discussions as well as posters and talks.

http://sebiology.org/meetings/EPA2014/programme.html

Symposium description:
Technological advances are providing a bewildering array of platforms for teaching and communicating science. These opportunities are facilitating more creative delivery methods, whether in explaining the impact of science to the public, enhancing engagement or facilitating student progress through the education pipeline. Academic teachers and researchers are increasingly faced with the dual communication challenges of employing innovative teaching practices whilst being creative in promoting the impact of their research. New technologies provide a potential vehicle to do this, but also present their own challenges which range from the practical to the pedagogical.


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Rescooped by Mary Williams from AgroWorld - November | December
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Planet Money Makes A T-Shirt

Planet Money Makes A T-Shirt | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

The world behind a simple shirt, in five chapters. You can grow cotton in places where land and labor are cheap, yet the U.S. exports more cotton than any country in the world.


Via AgroWorld
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AgroWorld's curator insight, November 5, 7:59 PM

Learn more about how and why the U.S. exports so much cotton!

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Videos from New Phytologist next generation scientists symposium

Videos from New Phytologist next generation scientists symposium | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Super dooper videos from the recent New Phytologist "Next Generation Scientist" symposium - includes lectures and interviews with Charles Godfray, Kirsten Bomblies, Philip Benfey, Sarah O'Connor, Anne Osbourn, Jing-Ke Weng, Silke Robatzek, and Alistair Hetherington

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