I have been trying to pin-point when exactly I became interested in science outreach. The earliest I can think back is when we had to dissect Helix aspersa, the garden snail, in our undergraduate zoology practical. It was a slimy business. Our lecturer had asked us to remove the specimen’s body from its shell. It […]
While national food supplies have diversified during the last 50 years, the global crop selection has homogenized, new analysis shows.
This link is to a review of a new OA article in PNAS. Check out the article itself (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/02/26/1313490111) which has some really interesting data. I think you could give the article to students to read and ask them to consider the causes and effects of the observed crop coalescence.
Biology: Changing the world inspiring and celebrating the great biologists of the UK - a new project by the Society of Biology, Heritage Lottery Fund and BBSRC.
Biology: Changing the World will celebrate life science research and life scientists, communicating their discoveries to students and teachers. The project focusses on how biology has saved the world, from discoveries that have changed how we treat a disease to scientists that have campaigned to save a species on the bridge of extinction. Sharing the journey of the individual; how they became a biologist and the hurdles they overcame will be a crucial part of our project." .
"Light and temperature, in coordination with the endogenous clock and the hormones gibberellin (GA) and brassinosteroids (BRs), modulate plant growth and development by affecting the expression of multiple cell wall- and auxin-related genes. PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTORS (PIFs) play a central role in the activation of these genes, the activity of these factors being regulated by the circadian clock and phytochrome-mediated protein destabilization. "
By Benjamin Petre and Sophien Kamoun. They conclude, "The major challenge for the community is methodological. We therefore need to develop genetic, biochemical, and cell biological methods to manipulate, tag, detect, and observe effectors during infection."
"To cope with fluctuating nutrient availabilities, plants integrate systemic signals pertaining to their nutritional status into developmental pathways that regulate the spatial arrangement of roots. "
Really useful article from PLOS Comp Bio - what should students learn in a comp bio / bioinformatics degree program? Also differentiates between the skills needed for a bioinformatics user / scientist / engineer.
"Only about 15% of biomedical Ph.D. researchers ever secure a tenure-track position. The rest end up—often after a long, uncertain transition—in a very wide range of careers. In 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) committed to doing more to help this other 85% by (among other initiatives) providing some training for Ph.D. students and postdocs in the skills needed for careers outside academia."
""Gene clusters are common features of prokaryotic genomes also present in eukaryotes. Most clustered genes known are involved in the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites. ...The predominant source of cluster formation in eukaryotes appears to arise de novo or through gene duplication followed by neo- and sub-functionalization or translocation. Here we aim to provide an overview of the current knowledge and open questions related to plant gene cluster functioning, assembly, and regulation."
Mary Williams's insight:
Really interesting perspective about seondary metabolism synthesis genes!
The NRT1/PTR family of proton-coupled transporters are responsible for nitrogen assimilation in eukaryotes and bacteria through the uptake of peptides. However, in most plant species members of this family have evolved to transport nitrate as well as additional secondary metabolites and hormones. In response to falling nitrate levels, NRT1.1 is phosphorylated on an intracellular threonine that switches the transporter from a low-affinity to high-affinity state. Here we present both the apo and nitrate-bound crystal structures of Arabidopsis thaliana NRT1.1, which together with in vitro binding and transport data identify a key role for His 356 in nitrate binding. Our data support a model whereby phosphorylation increases structural flexibility and in turn the rate of transport. Comparison with peptide transporters further reveals how the NRT1/PTR family has evolved to recognize diverse nitrogenous ligands, while maintaining elements of a conserved coupling mechanism within this superfamily of nutrient transporters.
"With the biological sciences moving rapidly into the “omics/big data” era, which has an inherent need for relatively sophisticated data analysis techniques, we may find that a more maths-savvy generation of biologists arises. In the meantime though, how can we address this issue? A great start would be to make every biologist read The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics by cartoonist Grady Klein and statistician Associate Professor Alan Dabney (Texas A&M University)." .