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The Conversation: What's causing Australia's heat wave?

The Conversation: What's causing Australia's heat wave? | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Australia has started 2013 with a record-breaking heat wave that has lasted more than two weeks across many parts of the country.
Mary Williams's insight:

I started reading "The Conversation" from Australia a few months ago, and so far am impressed by the quality of its news reporting. Here they are on the record heat wave they're experiencing - check out the "highest temperature" map!

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Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education)
Hooks and hot topics for university teachers and students
Curated by Mary Williams
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JExpBot Darwin Review: Structure and dynamics of thylakoids in land plants

JExpBot Darwin Review: Structure and dynamics of thylakoids in land plants | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Thylakoids of land plants have a bipartite structure, consisting of cylindrical grana stacks, made of membranous discs piled one on top of the other, and stroma lamellae which are helically wound around the cylinders.... Depending on light conditions, thylakoid membranes undergo dynamic structural changes that involve alterations in granum diameter and height, vertical unstacking of grana, and swelling of the thylakoid lumen. This plasticity is realized predominantly by reorganization of the supramolecular structure of protein complexes within grana stacks and by changes in multiprotein complex composition between appressed and non-appressed membrane domains."

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Science: Paired Plant Immune Receptors (2014)

Science: Paired Plant Immune Receptors (2014) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Plants are constantly interpreting microbial signals from potential pathogens and potential commensals or mutualists. Because plants have no circulating cells dedicated to this task, every plant cell must, in principle, recognize any microbe as friend, foe, or irrelevant bystander. That tall order is mediated by an array of innate immune system receptors: pattern-recognition receptors outside the plant cell and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)–like receptors (NLRs) inside the cell. Despite their importance for plant health, how NLRs function mechanistically has remained obscure. On page 299 of this issue, Williams et al. (1) reveal a role for heterodimerization between NLRs and show how the rather limited NLR repertoire of any plant genome might be enhanced by combinatorial diversity.

 

Marc T. Nishimura, Jeffery L. Dangl


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Plant biologists FRET over stress

Plant biologists FRET over stress | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Summary of a pair of papers that use FRET as a biosensor for ABA

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Rescuing US biomedical research from its systemic flaws

Important Perspective from four heavy-hitters of US science (Bruce Alberts, Marc W. Kirschner, Shirley Tilghman, and Harold Varmus) = They call for a system that would " balance supply and demand in a sustainable fashion, adjust the pipeline that delivers new scientists, moderate the size of laboratories that are now difficult to fund, and restore an environment in which talented trainees and scientists can do their best work."

Mary Williams's insight:

One of their suggestions is to use more staff-level scientists in well-paid, permanent positions, rather than an endless stream of short-term postdocs. What do you think?

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Illuminating traffic control for cell–division planes

Illuminating traffic control for cell–division planes | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

From eLife,  an overview of plant cell divivision by Silke Robatzek

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Plant Cell: Efficient Genome-Wide Detection and Cataloging of EMS-Induced Mutations Using Exome Capture and Next-Generation Sequencing

Plant Cell: Efficient Genome-Wide Detection and Cataloging of EMS-Induced Mutations Using Exome Capture and Next-Generation Sequencing | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

" In conclusion, we provide a method for developing large-scale induced mutation resources with relatively small investments that is applicable to resource-poor organisms. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that large libraries of sequenced mutations can be readily generated, providing enhanced opportunities to study gene function and assess the effect of sequence and chromatin context on mutations. "

Mary Williams's insight:

Nice paper and resouce for genetic studies in rice and wheat

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Rescooped by Mary Williams from MycorWeb Plant-Microbe Interactions
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Central Cell–Derived Peptides Regulate Early Embryo Patterning in Flowering Plants

Central Cell–Derived Peptides Regulate Early Embryo Patterning in Flowering Plants | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Plant embryogenesis initiates with the establishment of an apical-basal axis; however, the molecular mechanisms accompanying this early event remain unclear. Here, we show that a small cysteine-rich peptide family is required for formation of the zygotic basal cell lineage and proembryo patterning in Arabidopsis. EMBRYO SURROUNDING FACTOR 1 (ESF1) peptides accumulate before fertilization in central cell gametes and thereafter in embryo-surrounding endosperm cells. Biochemical and structural analyses revealed cleavage of ESF1 propeptides to form biologically active mature peptides. Further, these peptides act in a non–cell-autonomous manner and synergistically with the receptor-like kinase SHORT SUSPENSOR to promote suspensor elongation through the YODA mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. Our findings demonstrate that the second female gamete and its sexually derived endosperm regulate early embryonic patterning in flowering plants.


Via Francis Martin
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PNAS: Sugar demand, not auxin, is the initial regulator of apical dominance

PNAS: Sugar demand, not auxin, is the initial regulator of apical dominance | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"We have revealed that apical dominance is predominantly controlled by the shoot tip’s intense demand for sugars, which limits sugar availability to the axillary buds. These findings overturn a long-standing hypothesis on apical dominance and encourage us to reevaluate the relationship between hormones and sugars in this and other aspects of plant development."

By Michael G. Mason, John J. Ross, Benjamin A. Babst, Brittany N. Wienclaw, and Christine A. Beveridge

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3 April 2014 - Great British bioscience pioneers – Professor Ottoline Leyser - BBSRC

3 April 2014 - Great British bioscience pioneers – Professor Ottoline Leyser - BBSRC | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
In the fourth in a series of articles on Great British bioscience pioneers, Professor Ottoline Leyser at the University of Cambridge highlights advances in the understanding of plant developmental biology.
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NY Times: Eight (No, Nine!) Problems With Big Data

NY Times: Eight (No, Nine!) Problems With Big Data | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
It’s a valuable tool for analysis, but don’t believe all the hype.
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Rescooped by Mary Williams from Plant-Microbe Symbioses
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Low crown root number enhances nitrogen acquisition from low nitrogen soils in maize (Zea mays L.).

In developing nations, low soil nitrogen (N) availability is a primary limitation to crop production and food security, while in rich nations, intensive N fertilization is a primary economic, energy, and environmental cost to crop production. It has been proposed that genetic variation for root architectural and anatomical traits enhancing exploitation of deep soil strata could be deployed to develop crops with greater N acquisition. Here we provide evidence that maize (Zea mays L.) genotypes with few crown roots (crown root number: CN) have greater N acquisition from low N soils. Maize genotypes differed in their CN response to N limitation in greenhouse mesocosms and in the field. Low CN genotypes had 45% greater rooting depth in low N soils than high CN genotypes. Deep injection of 15N-labeled nitrate showed that low CN genotypes acquired more N from deep soil strata than high CN genotypes, resulting in greater photosynthesis and total nitrogen content. Under low N, low CN genotypes had greater biomass than high CN genotypes at flowering (85% in the field study in the US and 25% in South Africa). In the field in the US, 1.8x variation in CN was associated with 1.8x variation in yield reduction by N limitation. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the utility of CN for nutrient acquisition. Our results indicate that CN deserves consideration as a potential trait for genetic improvement of nitrogen acquisition from low N soils.


Via Jean-Michel Ané
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Jean-Michel Ané's curator insight, April 5, 11:51 AM

Very interesting.

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Isopentenyltransferase-1 (IPT1) knockout in Physcomitrella together with phylogenetic analyses of IPTs provide insights into evolution of plant cytokinin biosynthesis


Via PMG, Jean-Pierre Zryd
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PMG's curator insight, April 3, 5:17 PM

chloroplast-bound IPT1 was almost exclusively responsible for the A37 prenylation of tRNA in Physcomitrella. Ultra-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS)-based cytokinin profiling demonstrated that the total amount of all free cytokinins in tissue was almost unaffected. However, the knockout plants showed increased levels of the N 6-isopentenyladenine (iP)- andtrans-zeatin (tZ)-type cytokinins, considered to provide active forms, while cis-zeatin (cZ)-type cytokinins were reduced. The data provide evidence for an additional and unexpected tRNA-independent cytokinin biosynthetic pathway in moss. Comprehensive phylogenetic analysis indicates a diversification of tRNA-IPT-like genes in bryophytes probably related to additional functions.

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Where Do Ph.D. Scientists Work? | Science Careers

Where Do Ph.D. Scientists Work? | Science Careers | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Follow this link to the full report about where PhD scientists find work, broken down by gender and ethnic background


http://www.air.org/sites/default/files/downloads/report/STEM%20nonacademic%20careers%20April14.pdf

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Science: Structural Basis for Assembly and Function of a Heterodimeric Plant Immune Receptor (2014)

Science: Structural Basis for Assembly and Function of a Heterodimeric Plant Immune Receptor (2014) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Cytoplasmic plant immune receptors recognize specific pathogen effector proteins and initiate effector-triggered immunity. In Arabidopsis, the immune receptors RPS4 and RRS1 are both required to activate defense to three different pathogens. We show that RPS4 and RRS1 physically associate. Crystal structures of the N-terminal Toll–interleukin-1 receptor/resistance (TIR) domains of RPS4 and RRS1, individually and as a heterodimeric complex (respectively at 2.05, 1.75, and 2.65 angstrom resolution), reveal a conserved TIR/TIR interaction interface. We show that TIR domain heterodimerization is required to form a functional RRS1/RPS4 effector recognition complex. The RPS4 TIR domain activates effector-independent defense, which is inhibited by the RRS1 TIR domain through the heterodimerization interface. Thus, RPS4 and RRS1 function as a receptor complex in which the two components play distinct roles in recognition and signaling.

 

Simon J. Williams, Kee Hoon Sohn, Li Wan, Maud Bernoux,  Panagiotis F. Sarris, Cecile Segonzac, Thomas Ve, Yan Ma, Simon B. Saucet, Daniel J. Ericsson, Lachlan W. Casey, Thierry Lonhienne, Donald J. Winzor, Xiaoxiao Zhang, Anne Coerdt, Jane E. Parker, Peter N. Dodds, Bostjan Kobe, Jonathan D. G. Jones


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Washington Post: Breeding a better crop seed, trait by trait

Washington Post: Breeding a better crop seed, trait by trait | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
A wide variety of plant scientists embrace the cutting-edge technology of marker-assisted DNA selection.
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Horizontal transfer of an adaptive chimeric photoreceptor from bryophytes to ferns

Horizontal transfer of an adaptive chimeric photoreceptor from bryophytes to ferns | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

What's going in in that understory?

Wonderful evolutionary story here

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Where Will a Biology PhD Take You?

Where Will a Biology PhD Take You? | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Based primarily on the 2012 NIH Workforce report this infographic represents current workforce sizes and annual fluxes before and after a PhD in the b...
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Plant Cell: What is Stress? Dose-Response Effects in Commonly Used In Vitro Stress Assays

Plant Cell: What is Stress? Dose-Response Effects in Commonly Used In Vitro Stress Assays | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"We found that the commonly used stress-inducing agents mannitol, sorbitol, NaCl and H2O2 impact shoot growth in a highly specific and dose-dependent way. Therefore, shoot growth is a sensitive, relevant and easily measured phenotype to assess stress tolerance over a wide range of stress levels."

Mary Williams's insight:

Often students use Arabidopsis seedlings in the teaching lab to learn about plant physiology. This paper shows that shoot growth is sensitive parameter to quantify even mild stress.

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Rescooped by Mary Williams from Plant-Microbe Symbioses
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Botany: Special issue: The microbiota of plants

In this Special Issue, we have tried to capture the diversity of plant–microbe research that is on-going, and that might not normally be marketed under the banner of “plant microbiome research”. Nevertheless, it belongs under this banner and we highlight some of this research here, including a variety of plant “habitats” such as roots, leaves, and floral parts, as well as a variety of microbes, from bacteria and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to dark septate fungi. Of course, the field is broader than what we are able present in a single issue, but we hope that it inspires researchers of overlooked aspects of plant microbiota research to get in on the game, and contribute to a more complete picture of this complex “ecosystem”.


Via Stéphane Hacquard, Jean-Michel Ané
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Natural soil microbes alter flowering phenology and the intensity of selection on flowering time in a wild Arabidopsis relative

Natural soil microbes alter flowering phenology and the intensity of selection on flowering time in a wild Arabidopsis relative | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Plant phenology is known to depend on many different environmental variables, but soil microbial communities have rarely been acknowledged as possible drivers of flowering time. Here, we tested separately the effects of four naturally occurring soil microbiomes and their constituent soil chemistries on flowering phenology and reproductive fitness of Boechera stricta, a wild relative of Arabidopsis. Flowering time was sensitive to both microbes and the abiotic properties of different soils; varying soil microbiota also altered patterns of selection on flowering time. Thus, soil microbes potentially contribute to phenotypic plasticity of flowering time and to differential selection observed between habitats. We also describe a method to dissect the microbiome into single axes of variation that can help identify candidate organisms whose abundance in soil correlates with flowering time. This approach is broadly applicable to search for microbial community members that alter biological characteristics of interest.


Via Stéphane Hacquard, Francis Martin, Jean-Michel Ané
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Bacterial tricks for turning plants into zombies

Bacterial tricks for turning plants into zombies | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Microbe deploys proteins that manipulate both the plant it infects and the insects that spread it.
Mary Williams's insight:

Here's the article in PLOS Biology http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001835

And an article about the research in the local Norwich newspaper

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/graphic_scientists_solve_mystery_of_the_zombie_plants_1_3533805

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JExpBot: Insights into evolution of plant cytokinin biosynthesis from Physcomitrella

JExpBot: Insights into evolution of plant cytokinin biosynthesis from Physcomitrella | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

It's always good to ask, "How does Physomitrella do this?"


"The moss Physcomitrella patens is part of an early divergent clade of land plants utilizing the plant hormone cytokinin for growth control. The rate-limiting step of cytokinin biosynthesis is mediated by isopentenyltransferases (IPTs), found in land plants either as adenylate-IPTs or as tRNA-IPTs. Although a dominant part of cytokinins in flowering plants are synthesized by adenylate-IPTs, the Physcomitrella genome only encodes homologues of tRNA-IPTs."

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Seeds for Needs: Climate-proofing agriculture by optimizing crop variety use - YouTube

s ehBioversity International scientist, Jacob van Etten (http://www.bioversityinternational.org/about-us/who-we-are/staff-bios/single-details-bios/van-etten-jaco...

Mary Williams's insight:

This is a nice short video that describes one approach to climate-proofing agriculture. There are lots of good ideas behind this project and it makes a good case study for students thinking about the diversity of farming methods as well as crops. 

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Rescooped by Mary Williams from Emerging Research in Plant Cell Biology
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Interaction between Two Timing MicroRNAs Controls Trichome Distribution in Arabidopsis

Interaction between Two Timing MicroRNAs Controls Trichome Distribution in Arabidopsis | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

The miR156-targeted SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN LIKE (SPL) transcription factors function as an endogenous age cue in regulating plant phase transition and phase-dependent morphogenesis, but the control of SPL output remains poorly understood. InArabidopsis thaliana the spatial pattern of trichome is a hallmark of phase transition and governed by SPLs. Here, by dissecting the regulatory network controlling trichome formation on stem, we show that the miR171-targeted LOST MERISTEMS 1 (LOM1), LOM2 and LOM3, encoding GRAS family members previously known to maintain meristem cell polarity, are involved in regulating the SPL activity. Reduced LOM abundance by overexpression of miR171 led to decreased trichome density on stems and floral organs, and conversely, constitutive expression of the miR171-resistant LOM (rLOM) genes promoted trichome production, indicating that LOMs enhance trichome initiation at reproductive stage. Genetic analysis demonstrated LOMs shaping trichome distribution is dependent on SPLs, which positively regulate trichome repressor genes TRICHOMELESS 1 (TCL1) and TRIPTYCHON (TRY). Physical interaction between the N-terminus of LOMs and SPLs underpins the repression of SPL activity. Importantly, other growth and developmental events, such as flowering, are also modulated by LOM-SPL interaction, indicating a broad effect of the LOM-SPL interplay. Furthermore, we provide evidence that MIR171 gene expression is regulated by its targeted LOMs, forming a homeostatic feedback loop. Our data uncover an antagonistic interplay between the two timing miRNAs in controlling plant growth, phase transition and morphogenesis through direct interaction of their targets.


Via Jennifer Mach
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Jennifer Mach's curator insight, April 4, 9:56 AM

From the punctuation makes a difference files, glad these were "two timing microRNAs", not "two-timing microRNAs".

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Plant defensins in eLife

Plant defensins in eLife | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

This article in elife got a lot of silly press coverage this week ("tobacco plants cure cancer"), but it provides an interesting look at the structural interaction of a plant defensin with membrane phosphoinisitides.
These two review articles provide good background on these intersting peptides
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1749461312000346
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019697810900045X

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