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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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BBC How Plants Communicate & Think - Amazing Nature Documentary - YouTube

I hadn't seen this documentary before, it's quite good!


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Eve Emshwiller's curator insight, May 29, 10:26 PM

I'll watch it too.

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Medicines from plants top trump game

Medicines from plants top trump game | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I love the "top trumps" format for teaching. Here's a set of trumps cards designed by Dr Sarah McLusky about medicine from plants, which you can find on the SAPS site. http://www.saps.org.uk/…/871-medicines-and-drugs-from-plant…. Generic instructions for Top Trumps are here http://www.toptrumps.com/how-to-play-top-trumps/
You can also have students design their own top trumps card games - the topic can be plant species, proteins, amino acids, pigments, pathogens, nutrients, etc.

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How do you stimulate curiosity and learning? Please share ideas for our new portal!

How do you stimulate curiosity and learning? Please share ideas for our new portal! | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

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!

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Therapeutic properties of Celastrol, a pentacyclic triterpene from Tripterygium wilfordii (Lei Gong Teng)

Therapeutic properties of Celastrol, a pentacyclic triterpene from Tripterygium wilfordii (Lei Gong Teng) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

More support for bioactive properties of Celastrol, a pentacyclic triterpene from Tripterygium wilfordii (Lei Gong Teng; Thunder god vine), used in Chinese medicine. Here's the latest, newly published in Cell (www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867415005590), and you can read more about celastrol at PubChem, my latest favorite site (http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/celastrol).

Mary Williams's insight:

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.

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Tomorrow’s Food, Tomorrow’s Farmers - links and videos from Planet Forward "Feeding the Planet" summit

Tomorrow’s Food, Tomorrow’s Farmers - links and videos from Planet Forward "Feeding the Planet" summit | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Sonny Ramaswamy, Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture
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A novel highly differentially expressed gene in wheat endosperm associated with bread quality

A novel highly differentially expressed gene in wheat endosperm associated with bread quality | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Good one to read with students. The genetics and the plant biology are both easy to understand and the application is very evident.

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Team pinpoints genes that make plant stem cells, revealing origin of beefsteak tomatoes

Team pinpoints genes that make plant stem cells, revealing origin of beefsteak tomatoes | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
A team of scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has identified a set of genes that control stem cell production in tomato. Mutations in these genes explain the origin of mammoth beefsteak tomatoes. More important, the research suggests how breeders can optimize fruit size in potentially any fruit-bearing crop.
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From pond slime to rain forest: the evolution of ABA signalling and the acquisition of dehydration tolerance - Cuming - 2015 - New Phytologist - Wiley Online Library

From pond slime to rain forest: the evolution of ABA signalling and the acquisition of dehydration tolerance - Cuming - 2015 - New Phytologist - Wiley Online Library | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Let us cast our minds back half a billion years and look around us. We do not see a green and pleasant land. Instead, we see a barren wasteland. We see a land without plants, the landscape comprising bare rock and its erosion products – at best a mineral sludge. But it was around this time that the first land plants emerged, evolving from pond slime – an aquatic algal ancestor most likely left on the banks of a receding body of water. Unlike today's climax vegetation, the first land plants were simple. They lacked the complex anatomical adaptations characteristic of the modern flora –ramifying root systems scavenging water from deep below the surface, vascular tissues to deliver this to aerial parts of the plant, whence it evaporates via the stomatal apertures of the leaves.
Mary Williams's insight:

Great job drawing the reader into this topic, nice writing!

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Traffic Lines: New Tools for Genetic Analysis in Arabidopsis thaliana

Traffic Lines: New Tools for Genetic Analysis in Arabidopsis thaliana | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

This paper summary is contributed by Dr. Clint Springer @clintspringer (http://www.sju.edu/about-sju/faculty-staff/faculty-experts/clint-springer-phd).

Scott Poethig’s group at the University of Pennsylvania has created an excellent new tool for use in genetic analysis studies of Arabidopsis thaliana. Using the “traffic lines” they have created, one can use a pair of seed-expressed green and red fluorescent transgenes that flank the mutation of interest to identify the genotype of mutants without the need for phenotypic analysis. This powerful tool cuts mutant analysis time substantially in all mutant genotypes and provides a way of determining genotype if a visible phenotype is not present. Because of the coverage of the “traffic line” insertions across the genome, one could make use of this resource in classroom studies of plant genetics to examine segregating populations as well mutant analysis. The “traffic lines” are available in both the Columbia and Landsberg erecta genetic backgrounds and can be ordered from the The Arabidopsis Information Resource center.

http://www.genetics.org/content/200/1/35.abstract

Mary Williams's insight:

Thanks Clint for sharing that. If any of you see a paper you want to share with others interested in plant biology education like this, drop me a line and I can share here. Also, when the new platform for plant science launches later this year we can get a nice "journal club" going with contributions and discussions.

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IAN SUSSEX's Obituary in New Haven Register

IAN SUSSEX's Obituary in New Haven Register | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Ian Sussex died May 10. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Kerk of Guilford CT, brother Neil Sussex and family in New Zealand. Ian Sussex was an accomplished scientist ....

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Molecular Mechanisms of Nematode-Nematophagous Microbe Interactions: Basis for Biological Control of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes - Annual Review of Phytopathology

Molecular Mechanisms of Nematode-Nematophagous Microbe Interactions: Basis for Biological Control of Plant-Parasitic Nematodes - Annual Review of Phytopathology | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Plant-parasitic nematodes cause significant damage to a broad range of vegetables and agricultural crops throughout the world. As the natural enemies of nematodes, nematophagous microorganisms offer a promising approach to control the nematode pests. Some of these microorganisms produce traps to capture and kill the worms from the outside. Others act as internal parasites to produce toxins and virulence factors to kill the nematodes from within. Understanding the molecular basis of microbe-nematode interactions provides crucial insights for developing effective biological control agents against plant-parasitic nematodes. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of the interactions between nematodes and nematophagous microorganisms, with a focus on the molecular mechanisms by which nematophagous microorganisms infect nematodes and on the nematode defense against pathogenic attacks. We conclude by discussing several key areas for future research and development, including potential approaches to apply our recent understandings to develop effective biocontrol strategies.


Via Steve Marek
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Steve Marek's curator insight, May 8, 11:21 AM

Nice review including summary of commercialized biocontrols.

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India eases stance on GM crop trials

India eases stance on GM crop trials | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
States begin to permit field tests of transgenic plants.
Mary Williams's insight:

From part of a special issue on science in India, in Nature

http://www.nature.com/news/a-nation-with-ambition-1.17520

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Clips from "Botany a Blooming History"

Clips from "Botany a Blooming History" | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I loved the 2011 BBC series "Botany a Blooming History", but I don't think it's available on DVD. Correct me if I'm wrong!

I did find this page of clips from it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011vf07/clips

(Can you view them from outside the UK?)


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NY Times: A Proposal to Modify Plants Gives G.M.O. Debate New Life

NY Times: A Proposal to Modify Plants Gives G.M.O. Debate New Life | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

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.

The TIPS article is here: "Feasibility of new breeding techniques for organic farming"  http://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/abstract/S1360-1385(15)00112-0


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Collaboration: Strength in diversity

Collaboration: Strength in diversity | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
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.

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The Art of Science Communication: William Zinsser on How to Write Well About Science

The Art of Science Communication: William Zinsser on How to Write Well About Science | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
How to master the inverse pyramid of transmuting information into wisdom.

I have always considered writing a way of organizing reality --
Mary Williams's insight:

Yes - this is really good. Lots of gems here, including good suggestions for how to write about science, and the dangers associated with making writing "too easy"

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The case against inquiry-based learning | Education in Chemistry Blog

The case against inquiry-based learning | Education in Chemistry Blog | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

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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Tansley Review: Genes and networks regulating root anatomy and architecture

Tansley Review: Genes and networks regulating root anatomy and architecture | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

The root is an excellent model for studying developmental processes that underlie plant anatomy and architecture. Its modular structure, the lack of cell movement and relative accessibility to microscopic visualization facilitate research in a number of areas of plant biology. In this review, we describe several examples that demonstrate how cell type-specific developmental mechanisms determine cell fate and the formation of defined tissues with unique characteristics. In the last 10 yr, advances in genome-wide technologies have led to the sequencing of thousands of plant genomes, transcriptomes and proteomes. In parallel with the development of these high-throughput technologies, biologists have had to establish computational, statistical and bioinformatic tools that can deal with the wealth of data generated by them. These resources provide a foundation for posing more complex questions about molecular interactions, and have led to the discovery of new mechanisms that control phenotypic differences. Here we review several recent studies that shed new light on developmental processes, which are involved in establishing root anatomy and architecture. We highlight the power of combining large-scale experiments with classical techniques to uncover new pathways in root development.


Via Francis Martin
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Field guide to the future by Ian Lunt

Field guide to the future by Ian Lunt | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
I could ask "what was your first field guide?" but my first field guides belonged to my parents, not me. So instead I’ll ask "what was the first field guide you remember using?" I remember two: Tre...
Mary Williams's insight:

Terrific article about the transition from paper field guides to digital - thought provoking!

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Horsetails Are Ancient Polyploids: Evidence from Equisetum giganteum

Horsetails Are Ancient Polyploids: Evidence from Equisetum giganteum | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Can you look at Equisetum without thinking "dinosaurs!"? A new study explores the molecular basis for their persistence (and it involves whole genome duplication - more genes good). http://www.plantcell.org/…/early/2015/05/22/tpc.15.00157.ab… and summary http://www.plantcell.org/conte…/early/2015/…/22/tpc.15.00409

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My tribute to Ian Sussex, mentor and friend

My tribute to Ian Sussex, mentor and friend | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I learned today that my postdoctoral advisor and friend Ian Sussex has died. He was an important figure in my life and in the world of plant science, and I wanted to share three important lessons I learned from him.


“Animals respond behaviorally, plants respond developmentally”

For me, coming from a background where plants were often considered green yeast, the biggest lesson I learned from Ian was that plants have a different ethos. They’ve been doing things their own way for a couple of billion years, and it’s hard to understand them without first shedding our animal biases. Ian’s encyclopedic knowledge and powerful intellect gave him an unparalleled intuition about plants. As he described to me and in his autobiographical sketch, published in 1998 in Annual Reviews of Plant Biology, his curiosity about plants stemmed from his childhood and the freedom he had to wander and explore in his mother’s garden and beyond, “I was born and grew up in a semirural suburb of Auckland ...we had access to pastures, salt marshes, mud flats, beaches, and native bush. It was easy in this environment to develop an interest in plants.” One of the biggest challenges in teaching plant science is to help students who grow up without such easy access to the natural world to find their plant curiosity and to develop their plant intuition.

http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.arplant.49.1.0


“Don’t ask what experiment you can do, ask what experiment you should do, and then find a way to do it”

Ian was a phenomenally good teacher, and my enthusiasm for teaching is a direct consequence of the time I spent working with him. Walking back to the lab after a seminar, he’d ask the group what we thought the next experiment ought to be. Our replies tended to focus on what the speaker could do next, whereas Ian was able to see what they should do next. A lot of Ian’s research success came about because he found ways to answer important questions, even when this meant inventing a new approach. We praise and reward students for figuring out what could be done, but it’s important to also ask them what should be done, even if at the time it seems impossible (and this applies to life as well as science!).

 

“Does this say exactly what you want it to say in the best way possible?”

Ian enjoyed writing and was able to bring clarity to complex ideas. I’ll never forget the moment I learned how this clarity came about. I’d written a draft of a post-doctoral grant proposal and arranged to revise it with him. I sat down beside him at his desk and he read aloud the first sentence. He then turned to me and said, “Does this say exactly what you want it to say in the best way you can possibly say it?” Indeed, we went through the entire proposal, line by line and word by word asking this question: the best lesson in how to write I’ve ever had.

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Loïc Lepiniec's comment, May 15, 1:56 AM
This is a text of from Mary Williams ! http://www.scoop.it/t/plant-biology-teaching-resouces-higher-education
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Dr Anne Osterrieder: Expert advice for plant science communication

Dr Anne Osterrieder: Expert advice for plant science communication | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Dr. Anne Osterrieder is a Research and Science Communication Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, UK. We asked her expert opinion on the best approaches to raise public awareness of the importance ...
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In the News / Keiko Torii / Saruhashi Prize-winning botanist unravels secret of plant pores

In the News / Keiko Torii / Saruhashi Prize-winning botanist unravels secret of plant pores | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Stomata, minute pores shaped like kiss marks, are dotted along the surface of the leaf of a plant to discharge oxygen and vapor into the atmosphere and absorb carbon dioxide.
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Professor Torii is also the Editor of The Arabidopsis Book

http://arabidopsisbook.org/

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Tweets about #FoPD hashtag on Twitter

Tweets about #FoPD hashtag on Twitter | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I've been tweeting fascinating fotos, facts and fun activities for Fascination of Plants Day. Here's a tiny summary. See twitter for legible versions! https://twitter.com/PlantTeaching


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