Announcing the winners of the "Teaching Tools in Plant Biology" proposal competition. Congrats to all!
The three winning proposals were: *Seed development and germination, by Daniela Dietrich
*Biogenic volatile organic compounds: Solving the puzzle of plant communication, by Csengele Barta
*Rhythms of Life - The Plant Circadian Clock, by Katharine Hubbard and Antony Dodd Read more about the topics and the authors, and don't forget we're look for more proposals for Rounds 2 and 3 of the competition at the end of August and December! http://blog.aspb.org/…/winning-entries-of-the-april-2015-t…/
One of the world's most important staple crops, the sweet potato, is a naturally transgenic plant that was genetically modified thousands of years ago by a soil bacterium. This surprising discovery may influence the public view of GM crops.
How do children see their rights affected by digital media and tools? In July and August 2014, 148 children in 16 countries took part in workshops to discuss the opportunities and risks associated with digital media; these discussions – and the voices of the child participants of the workshops – are reflected in this report
I really like this approach to writing review summary. The question is, how does material move between the ER and Golgi - through vesicles or through tubes? The answer isn't simple, as there are data to support both answers, and other possibilities as well. So, "in this article, four leading plant cell biologists attempted to resolve this issue. Unfortunately, their opinions are so divergent and often opposing that it was not possible to reach a consensus. Thus, we decided to let each tell his or her version individually."
You all know I love cross-kingdom "infochemicals" (aka semiochemicals - "sema" in Greek means sign and is used in the semaphore language of flags). Check out this new paper "Interaction and signalling between a cosmopolitan phytoplankton and associated bacteria". Take home message:
"A Sulfitobacter species promotes diatom cell division via secretion of the hormone indole-3-acetic acid, synthesized by the bacterium using both diatom-secreted and endogenous tryptophan. Indole-3-acetic acid and tryptophan serve as signalling molecules that are part of a complex exchange of nutrients, including diatom-excreted organosulfur molecules and bacterial-excreted ammonia."
Secondary phloem and xylem tissues are produced through the activity of vascular cambium, the cylindrical secondary meristem which arises among the primary plant tissues.Despite its small size and herbaceous nature, Arabidopsis displays prominent secondary growth in several organs, including the root, hypocotyl and shoot. Together with the vast genetic resources and molecular research methods available for it, this has made Arabidopsis a versatile and accessible model organism for studying cambial development and wood formation.
Mary Williams's insight:
New review on the vascular cambium from The Arabidopsis Book
How are you engaging students in plant science? What hands-on inquiries, projects, POGILs, creative or dynamic approaches do you recommend? We're collecting links for all age levels including university for the new Plant Science portal. Send them and we'll share them!
I think it's fascinating to read about the coming together of traditional medicine and biochemistry. Removing the placebo effect, isolating a single compound and showing effect lends a lot of credibility to the powerful but not 100% accurate traditional lore.
BIE’s Essential Project Design Elements contain two new items, both of which are familiar to those who know PBL. One is “authenticity,” which has to do with how real-world the project is. The other is “reflection,” which we have previously coupled with “revision” but now stands on its own; students should reflect on what they’re learning, how they’re learning, and what they have accomplished in a project.
"Since humans first began burning fossil fuels on a large scale, the ocean has increased its acidity by 30 percent. To put that into perspective, imagine biting into an apple and discovering it’s as acidic as vinegar. Worse, says Feely, the trend has been accelerating as more and more CO2 is emitted. “If we continue on the same trajectory,” he cautions, “by the end of this century we will see a 100-to-150 percent increase in the acidity of the ocean.”"
Mary Williams's insight:
This article is from Earthzine which I hadn't seen before but it is the blog of IEEE (pronounced "I-triple E", Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and it is full of interesting science as it applies to the earth, from Agriculture to Weather.
Volatile Glycosylation in Tea Plants: Sequential Glycosylations for the Biosynthesis of Aroma β-Primeverosides Are Catalyzed by Two Camellia sinensis Glycosyltransferases "Tea, manufactured from Camellia sinensis, is the most popular beverage in the world and is classified as black, green, or oolong tea based on the manufacturing process, which affects the composition and quantity of aroma compounds. Tea plants store volatile organic compounds (VOCs; monoterpene, aromatic, and aliphatic alcohols) in the leaves in the form of water-soluble diglycosides, primarily as β-primeverosides. Here, we identified two UDP-glycosyltransferases (UGTs) from C. sinensis, UGT85K11 (CsGT1) and UGT94P1 (CsGT2), converting VOCs into β-primeverosides by sequential glucosylation and xylosylation, respectively. Our findings reveal the mechanism of aroma β-primeveroside biosynthesis in C. sinensis. This information can be used to preserve tea aroma better during the manufacturing process and to investigate the mechanism of plant chemical defenses." http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/168/2/464.abstract
Nice illustration of how to engage through action - this story is making the rounds. It's not very surprising or particularly interesting, but it's getting a lot of shares because it asks the reader to make a prediction about the data before reading about it. See how easy it is to make people want to read / learn? Note that the question and data refer to families in America. http://www.nytimes.com/…/you-draw-it-how-family-income-affe…
Terrific - Gina Kolata, science writer for the New York Times, looks at the new paper by Michael Palmgren's group out in Trends in Plant Science. They propose a new term, Rewilding, for introducing ancestral genes into today's crop to increase their resiliance to stress. Several other esteemed plant scientists are quoted in this very good story too.
Richard B. Freeman and Wei Huang reflect on a link between a team's ethnic mix and highly cited papers.
Mary Williams's insight:
So what do you think? There are lots of ways to explain the finding that papers with greater ethnic diversity among authors are more highly cited. Multi-institution labs are pretty common on "big" papers in plant science, which often indicates a greater diversity in methods and approaches and stronger science. It's an interesting finding, that's for sure, and building cross-cultural bridges is always rewarding.
Good topic for conversation. There is no doubt that some students find inquiry-based activities frustrating sometimes, but that's not cause to eliminate them, just improve them. In my opinion, students need good access to appropriate reference resources, a well-framed, guided question to explore, and an attentive teacher to support them.
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