Many of the world's biggest problems require asking questions of scientists -- but why should we believe what they say? Historian of science Naomi Oreskes thinks deeply about our relationship to belief and draws out three problems with common attitudes toward scientific inquiry -- and gives her own reasoning for why we ought to trust science.
"Cellular signals evoke rapid and broad changes in gene regulatory networks. To uncover these network dynamics, we developed an approach able to monitor primary targets of a transcription factor (TF) based solely on gene regulation, in the absence of detectable binding. This enabled us to follow the transient propagation of a nitrogen (N) nutrient signal as a direct impact of the master TF Basic Leucine Zipper 1 (bZIP1)
Unexpectedly, the largest class of primary targets that exhibit transient associations with bZIP1 is uniquely relevant to the rapid and dynamic propagation of the N signal. Our ability to uncover this transient network architecture has revealed the “dark matter” of dynamic N nutrient signaling in plants that has previously eluded detection.."
Coffee is one of Latin America's major exports, sustaining independent farmers in rural areas as well as corporate bankers in metropolitan areas. But changing climate patterns have exaggerated plagues and droughts in the region, and this has produced less than desirable conditions for coffee production.
Plants engage in mutualistic interactions with microbes that improve their mineral nutrient supply. The most wide-spread symbiotic association is arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM), in which fungi of the order Glomeromycota invade roots and colonize the cellular lumen of cortical cells. The establishment of this interaction requires a dedicated molecular-genetic program and a cellular machinery of the plant host. This program is partially shared with the root nodule symbiosis (RNS), which involves prokaryotic partners collectively referred to as rhizobia. Both, AM and RNS are endosymbioses that involve intracellular accommodation of the microbial partner in the cells of the plant host. Since plant cells are surrounded by sturdy cell walls, root penetration and cell invasion requires mechanisms to overcome this barrier while maintaining the cytoplasm of the two partners separate during development of the symbiotic association. Here, we discuss the diverse functions of the cell wall compartment in establishment and functioning of plant symbioses with the emphasis on AM and RNS, and we describe the stages of the AM association between the model organisms Petunia hybrida and Rhizophagus irregularis.
"The eminent plant scientist Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram, born in India and a citizen of Mexico, will be honored as the 2014 World Food Prize Laureate for his scientific research that led to a prodigious increase in world wheat production – by more than 200 million tons – building upon the successes of the Green Revolution.
His breakthrough breeding technologies have had a far-reaching and significant impact in providing more nutritious food around the globe and alleviating world hunger. Dr. Rajaram succeeded Dr. Norman Borlaug in leading CIMMYT's wheat breeding program, and developed an astounding 480 wheat varieties that have been released in 51 countries on six continents and have been widely adopted by small- and large-scale farmers alike."
Mary Williams's insight:
Nice, inspring article on this year's World Food Prize winner, Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram
"The 2014 Gruber Genetics Prize will be awarded to David Baulcombe, PhD, professor of botany at the University of Cambridge; Victor Ambros, PhD, professor of molecular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; and Gary Ruvkun, PhD., professor of genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. These three distinguished scientists are being recognized with this prestigious international prize for their pioneering discoveries of the existence and function of microRNAs and small interfering RNAs, molecules that are now known to play a critical role in gene expression."
The U.S. National Arboretum bestowed its Medal of Excellence on Peter H. Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, for his career promoting gardens and ornamental horticulture as a way to interest the public in plant conservation and biodiversity.
Not one to shy away from controversy, Bruce Ames has pitted himself against industry groups, environmentalists, and his peers through his work identifying DNA mutagens. And he’s not done yet.
Mary Williams's insight:
This is a wonderful profile of an inspiring scientists. When I was an undergraduate at Berkeley, second year life science students were invited to a meeting in which members of each subdiscipline explained their field of study to us. Bruce Ames talked to us about Biochemistry and I signed up to be a Biochem major the next day.
You can see his infectious enthusiasm and humor in this article.
"When I feel like exercise, I run my experiments, I skip my controls, and I jump to conclusions."
At Harris Farms in California’s Central Valley, it is not difficult to discern the effects of the state’s continuing drought. Fields that in previous years would have been lined with tomatoes or broccoli now contain nothing but brown earth. Around two thirds of the farm’s 14,000 acres are fallow, and for the first year since it started to grow salad leaves more than three decades ago, the farm has planted not a single head of lettuce.
Edward Farmer's lab has been studying the systemic signals that arise from insect herbivory, including electrical signals. See the link also to their paper showing the involvement of Glutamate Receptor Like Genes in transduction of thsi signal.
Really enjoyed today's talk by Giles Oldroyd on the molecular basis of root nodule symbiosis establishment, which has the goal of (ultimately) introducing this capacity to grains- see the proejct overview at ENSA https://www.ensa.ac.uk/
From the AoB Blog: This week guest author Charlie Haynes is AoB Blog’s roving reporter at the EPSO/FESPB plant biology Europe conference. Hans Lambers is the Winthrop Professor at the University of Western Australia. His research focuses on mineral nutrition of native Australian plants and crop and pasture legumes.
"Continuing our series of articles on Great British bioscience pioneers, we take a look at the career of Professor Richard Cogdell, Director of the Institute of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology at the University of Glasgow and his pioneering research on photosynthetic bacteria, whose intricate processes could be harnessed for the production of clean, green energy."
The goal of WDCD is not only to talk about the problems, but also the solutions. It’s clear that climate change will increase the risk of drought and desertification. But how much do we know – and what does this mean for agriculture? What are some solutions that farmers are already putting into action? Droughts are affecting greater land area, especially in the subtropics and mid-latitudes. In the coming decades, droughts are expected to become more frequent and more severe under climate change.