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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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Chloroplast Stromules Function during Innate Immunity

Chloroplast Stromules Function during Innate Immunity | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Mary Williams's insight:

Chloroplast Stromules Function during Innate Immunity
This is nice - stromules are plastid extensions that connect plastids to other cellular compartments. It's been hard to pin down their function though. This study provide evidence that they may provide a mechanism by which plastid signals (proteins and / or small molecules such as H2O2) are conveyed to the nucleus.

Summary here: http://globalplantcouncil.org/…/chloroplast-tubes-play-a-ke…
Developmental Cell paper here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/…/article/pii/S1534580715003275

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Plant collections left in the cold by cuts

Plant collections left in the cold by cuts | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
North America’s herbaria wilt under pressure for space and cash.
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Morphinan biosynthesis in opium poppy requires a P450-oxidoreductase fusion protein

Morphinan biosynthesis in opium poppy requires a P450-oxidoreductase fusion protein | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Morphinan biosynthesis in opium poppy requires a P450-oxidoreductase fusion protein.
Neat - one of catalytic steps in the production of morphine requires an enzyme that is different in morphine-producing plants (but not others). In these plants, genes encoding two enzymes are fused to encode a single polypetide. This fusion protein is thought to be more effective at the catalytic step, by passing the product from the first reaction directly to the catalytic site for the second reaction (substrate channelling).
It's interesting from the point of view of morphine biosynthesis but also as an example of a recent evolutionary change that enhances secondary metabolism, and also as an example of how synthetic biologists can tinker with enzymes to enhance certain biosynthetic pathways.
http://www.sciencemag.org/…/early/2015/06/24/science.aab1852

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Comprehensive Tissue-specific Transcriptome Analysis Reveals Distinct Regulatory Programs During Early Tomato Fruit Development

Comprehensive Tissue-specific Transcriptome Analysis Reveals Distinct Regulatory Programs During Early Tomato Fruit Development | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Laser capture microdissection coupled to high-throughput RNA-sequencing analysis of the transcriptome of ovaries and fruit tissues of the wild tomato species Solanum pimpinellifolium. Co-expressed gene clusters linked specific tissues and stages to major transcriptional changes underlying the ovary to fruit transition, and provided evidence of regulatory modules related to cell division, photosynthesis and auxin transport in internal fruit tissues, together with parallel specialization of the pericarp transcriptome in stress responses and secondary metabolism. Major alterations in the expression of hormone metabolic and signaling components illustrate the complex hormonal control underpinning fruit formation, with intricate spatiotemporal variations suggesting separate regulatory programs.

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An Interview with Mary Williams: Plant Teaching & Social Media

An Interview with Mary Williams: Plant Teaching & Social Media | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
This week we spoke to Mary Williams about plant science education, her role as features editor of The Plant Cell, and effective use of social media for scientists.       What inspire...
Mary Williams's insight:

Why I do what I do

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PNAS: The butterfly plant arms-race escalated by gene and genome duplications (2015)

PNAS: The butterfly plant arms-race escalated by gene and genome duplications (2015) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Coevolutionary interactions are thought to have spurred the evolution of key innovations and driven the diversification of much of life on Earth. However, the genetic and evolutionary basis of the innovations that facilitate such interactions remains poorly understood. We examined the coevolutionary interactions between plants (Brassicales) and butterflies (Pieridae), and uncovered evidence for an escalating evolutionary arms-race. Although gradual changes in trait complexity appear to have been facilitated by allelic turnover, key innovations are associated with gene and genome duplications. Furthermore, we show that the origins of both chemical defenses and of molecular counter adaptations were associated with shifts in diversification rates during the arms-race. These findings provide an important connection between the origins of biodiversity, coevolution, and the role of gene and genome duplications as a substrate for novel traits.


See also blog post https://decodingscience.missouri.edu/2015/06/22/scientists-uncover-how-caterpillars-created-condiments/


Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL
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Resources and advice for students and postdocs | Keogh Lab

Resources and advice for students and postdocs | Keogh Lab | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

From Scott Keough, ANU, "I have a long-standing interest in helping students develop the skills they need to be successful in science and so I have constructed this web site as a first source of information on the development of these important life skills."

You'll find advice about finding a PhD or postdoc position and funding, writing grants etc.

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Jean-Michel Ané's curator insight, June 22, 9:05 PM

Very nice resource.

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Plants make big decisions with microscopic cellular competition

Plants make big decisions with microscopic cellular competition | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Here we report in Arabidopsis that Stomagen (also called EPF-LIKE9) peptide, which promotes stomatal development, requires ERECTA (ER)-family receptor kinases and interferes with the inhibition of stomatal development by the EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR 2 (EPF2)–ER module. Both EPF2 and Stomagen directly bind to ER and its co-receptor TOO MANY MOUTHS. Stomagen peptide competitively replaced EPF2 binding to ER. Furthermore, application of EPF2, but not Stomagen, elicited rapid phosphorylation of downstream signalling components in vivo.

Mary Williams's insight:

Link to the new paper here http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature14561.html

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Scientist deconstructs Séralini’s PLOS GMO study: ‘Failed attempt at redemption’ | Genetic Literacy Project

Scientist deconstructs Séralini’s PLOS GMO study: ‘Failed attempt at redemption’ | Genetic Literacy Project | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Interesting deconstruction of Séralini's latest paper


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The man who grows fields full of tables and chairs - BBC News

The man who grows fields full of tables and chairs - BBC News | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
It takes Gavin Munro six years to grow a full crop of willow furniture on his Derbyshire furniture farm.
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Undergraduate education at SEB annual main meeting, Prague 30 June

Undergraduate education at SEB annual main meeting, Prague 30 June | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Hear how innovators in undergraduate education are inspiring their students. Abstracts here http://www.sebiology.org/meetings/Prague/programmes/EPA_Abstracts.pdf

(There's still time to register for the meeting!)

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An Estimate of the Total DNA in the Biosphere

An Estimate of the Total DNA in the Biosphere | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The diversity of life on Earth is typically considered in terms of the total number of species. However, this essay, by estimating the total amount of DNA in the biosphere at 5.4 x 10 31 megabases, offers an information-based view of biodiversity.
Mary Williams's insight:

I love questions that force students to make "back-of-the-envelope" calculations, as they are very effective teaching strategies. What do you need to know to figure out how much DNA is in the biosphere? What estimates are needed?

This paper shows the results of one well-informed effort to answer this question. One of the most interesting results to me is that most of the DNA in the biosphere is in plants - almost 100x more than is in animals. Maybe funding agencies should take note....

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A domestication gene in rice that affects cytokinin synthesis and awn formation

A domestication gene in rice that affects cytokinin synthesis and awn formation | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Nice study. "LABA1, a domestication gene associated with long, barbed awns in wild rice".
LABA1 is a homolog of rice LONELY GUY (LOG), which encodes a cytokinin riboside 5'-monophosphate phosphoribohydrolase that directly converts inactive cytokinin nucleotide 5'-monophosphate (iPRMP and tZRMP) to the biologically active free-base form (iP and tZ) in the final step of bioactive cytokinin biosynthesis.
www.plantcell.org/content/…/2015/06/16/tpc.15.00260.abstract
Summary here http://www.plantcell.org/conte…/early/2015/…/16/tpc.15.00504

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Eye-like ocelloids are built from different endosymbiotically acquired components : Nature : Nature Publishing Group

Eye-like ocelloids are built from different endosymbiotically acquired components : Nature : Nature Publishing Group | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Eye-like ‘ocelloids' from some dinoflagellates "are built from pre-existing organelles, including a cornea-like layer made of mitochondria and a retinal body made of anastomosing plastids. We find that the retinal body forms the central core of a network of peridinin-type plastids, which in dinoflagellates and their relatives originated through an ancient endosymbiosis with a red alga2. As such, the ocelloid is a chimaeric structure, incorporating organelles with different endosymbiotic histories."

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That’s OK, I’ll just pick around the gravy

"

Yesterday at the Women in Science dinner at the Society of Experimental Biology main meeting we were served chicken. I’m a pescatarian, which I mentioned to the waiter. The head of service came by to show me the "special meals" list, and beside my name was written “No red meat”. “And chicken is white meat” she announced as she offloaded the plate in front of me.

I’m not a confrontational person, and usually willing to eat the vegetables in such a situation, but the whole plate was doused with gravy and very unappealing. I quietly pushed the plate away and prepared to listen to the speaker. However, three  other people at my table were having similar discussions with the wait staff, including one of the organizers. She went off to speak to the supervisor, and was assured that fresh vegetarian plates would be prepared.

As we enjoyed our late dinners, one of us observed that it was an interesting coincidence that all of the vegetarians were seated at the same table.


What do you think? Were we the only vegetarians? Or were there isolated individuals at many tables who didn’t want to cause a fuss and so either went hungry or tried to pick around the gravy? Maybe those at our table received what we needed for success because we were not isolated, and because we had a leader who was willing to stand up for us?


It’s something to think about when you hear someone say, “I don’t hear anyone complaining” about the work environment. A good leader doesn’t assume that “no complaints” means no problems, and finds ways to support those who, without the tangible support of others with the same concerns, may be silently and miserably picking around the gravy.

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The first crop plant genetically engineered to release an insect pheromone for defence : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group

The first crop plant genetically engineered to release an insect pheromone for defence : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
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Results of the Rothamsted field trial (the one that was nearly disrupted by activists before scientists engaged them in conversation instead) are published. Disappointedly, the study indicates that although production of insect pheremone conferred protection against aphids in the lab it doesn't in the field. Erratic weather in the field and low numbers of aphids overall may have contributed to their inability to see a positive effect.
More here http://www.nature.com/…/gm-wheat-that-emits-pest-alarm-sign…

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Easy come, easy go: capillary forces enable rapid refilling of embolized primary xylem vessels.

Easy come, easy go: capillary forces enable rapid refilling of embolized primary xylem vessels. | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Easy come, easy go: capillary forces enable rapid refilling of embolized primary xylem vessels" - Beautifully illustrated study demonstrates that protoxylem serves as a fuse to protect other tissues from embolism, but also readily repairs embolisms when water becomes available.
"Thus, while protoxylem may be an “Achilles’ heel” for stem function under extreme conditions, they may also promote recovery of function upon rewatering. In this sense, their “easy come, easy go” behavior may offer more benefits than detriments to the integrated function of plants in complex, highly variable environments."


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Genome Sequencing of Arabidopsis abp1-5 Reveals Second-Site Mutations That May Affect Phenotypes

Genome Sequencing of Arabidopsis abp1-5 Reveals Second-Site Mutations That May Affect Phenotypes | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Another chink in the ABP armor - ABP1 was identified back in the 1970s as an Auxin Binding Protein. Evidence for its functional role came from knock-down studies using antisense RNA, intereferring with its function by the addition of monoclonal antibodies, and finally the identification of Arabidopsis mutants, which were difficult to study as they conferred an embryo-lethal phenotype. Subsequently, a weaker allele was identified, abp1-5, with a phenotype consistent with a role for ABP in auxin signaling.

Earlier this year, Gao et al got our attention by generating mutations in the ABP gene using genome-editing CRISPR technology; the advantage of this approach is it doesn't subject the genome to other off-site mutations. Gao et al stated, "Auxin binding protein 1 (ABP1) is not required for either auxin signaling or Arabidopsis development", which raised questions about the origin of the phenotypes described previously (http://www.pnas.org/content/112/7/2275.abstract).

Now a new study suggests that the phenotype of abp1-5 could come at least in part from those other, messy mutations. By sequencing the whole genome of abp1-5 (an approach that was not readily available until recently), Enders et al found "Genome Sequencing of Arabidopsis abp1-5 Reveals Second-Site Mutations That May Affect Phenotypes" (http://www.plantcell.org/content/early/2015/06/23/tpc.15.00214.abstract).

There are still unanswered questions, but this new study is an important contribution to the question of ABP1 function, and a good paper with which to show that the path to knowledge is not always obstacle free.

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The plant destroyer behind the Great Famine

The plant destroyer behind the Great Famine - Roots and Shoots - Medium
The microbe that triggered the Irish potato famine has been identified from 150-year-old DNA.
Mary Williams's insight:

New article in Roots and Shoots on a paper published in eLife in 2013

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The long and short of wheat breeding in Hays | Kansas Wheat

The long and short of wheat breeding in Hays | Kansas Wheat | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The next great wheat variety started out as a single cross between two parents. But before that variety is planted in a farmer’s field, it will have been selected and tested over ten to 12 years.
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With Google’s Support, Plant Biologists Build First Online Database Of All The World’s Plant Species

With Google’s Support, Plant Biologists Build First Online Database Of All The World’s Plant Species | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Four leading botanical gardens from around the world want to make it easier for researchers to identify plants in the field.
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Once And Future Nut: How Genetic Engineering May Bring Back Chestnuts

Once And Future Nut: How Genetic Engineering May Bring Back Chestnuts | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The American chestnut is poised to return — as a bionic, blight-resistant tree. Scientists hope to plant about 10,000 transgenic plantlets to pollinate trees in the "wild."
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Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction

Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Y-axis is cumulative extinctions.
You could start just about any talk or class with this slide. How / can humans use our big brains and technological innovations to reduce the damage we've done with our big brains and technological innovations?

Mary Williams's insight:
More coverage of this new paper here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33209548
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MH's curator insight, June 22, 3:23 AM

Est-ce qu'on ne devrait pas changer quelque chose dans notre mode de fonctionnement ? La crise de la biodiversité est une urgence depuis des années mais les changements de comportement consentis sont bien loin du compte. Il en va de même concernant le changement climatique.

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Moss-made pharmaceuticals: from bench to bedside - Reski - 2015 - Plant Biotechnology Journal - Wiley Online Library

Moss-made pharmaceuticals: from bench to bedside - Reski - 2015 - Plant Biotechnology Journal - Wiley Online Library | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Over the past two decades, the moss Physcomitrella patens has been developed from scratch to a model species in basic research and in biotechnology. A fully sequenced genome, outstanding possibilities for precise genome-engineering via homologous recombination (knockout moss), a certified GMP production in moss bioreactors, successful upscaling to 500 L wave reactors, excellent homogeneity of protein glycosylation, remarkable batch-to-batch stability and a safe cryopreservation for master cell banking are some of the key features of the moss system. Several human proteins are being produced in this system as potential biopharmaceuticals. Among the products are tumour-directed monoclonal antibodies with enhanced antibody-dependent cytotoxicity (ADCC), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), complement factor H (FH), keratinocyte growth factor (FGF7/KGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), asialo-erythropoietin (asialo-EPO, AEPO), alpha-galactosidase (aGal) and beta-glucocerebrosidase (GBA). Further, an Env-derived multi-epitope HIV protein as a candidate vaccine was produced, and first steps for a metabolic engineering of P. patens have been made. Some of the recombinant biopharmaceuticals from moss bioreactors are not only similar to those produced in mammalian systems such as CHO cells, but are of superior quality (biobetters). The first moss-made pharmaceutical, aGal to treat Morbus Fabry, is in clinical trials.


Via Jean-Pierre Zryd
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From the Concept of Totipotency to Biofortified Cereals - Autobiographical sketch by Ingo Potrykus

From the Concept of Totipotency to Biofortified Cereals - Autobiographical sketch by Ingo Potrykus | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"I realized that this rice would remain an academic exercise if product development and product registration were not addressed, and this is what I focused on after my retirement. Although progress is slowly being made, had I known what this pursuit would entail, perhaps I would not have started. Hopefully Golden Rice will reach the needy during my lifetime."

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