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Top tomatoes secure “Most Promising Innovator” award | News from the John Innes Centre

Top tomatoes secure “Most Promising Innovator” award | News from the John Innes Centre | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

“We have been inspired by the need to redefine the meaning of healthy food,” says Professor Cathie Martin from the John Innes Centre, winner of the BBSRC award of “Most Promising Innovator 2014” with Dr Eugenio Butelli, for the development of tomatoes with high levels of beneficial compounds.


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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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The Coming Chocpocalypse

The Coming Chocpocalypse | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
A tropical greenhouse in drizzly Reading, England, is on the front lines of a war against bugs, blights, and confectionary ruin.
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Purity Through Food: How Religious Ideas Sell Diets

Purity Through Food: How Religious Ideas Sell Diets | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
I go to some stores and see ten flavors of Oreos and I'm like, good God, I clearly don't understand reality.
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Hyperspectral phenotyping on the microscopic scale: towards automated characterization of plant-pathogen interactions

Hyperspectral phenotyping on the microscopic scale: towards automated characterization of plant-pathogen interactions | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Background The detection and characterization of resistance reactions of crop plants against fungal pathogens are essential to select resistant genotypes. In breeding practice phenotyping of plant genotypes is realized by time consuming and expensive visual rating. In this context hyperspectral imaging (HSI) is a promising non-invasive sensor technique in order to accelerate and to automate classical phenotyping methods.A hyperspectral microscope was established to determine spectral changes on the leaf and cellular level of barley (Hordeum vulgare) during resistance reactions against powdery mildew (Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei, isolate K1). Experiments were conducted with near isogenic barley lines of cv. Ingrid, including the susceptible wild type (WT), mildew locus a 12 (Mla12 based resistance) and the resistant mildew locus o 3 (mlo3 based resistance), respectively. The reflection of inoculated and non-inoculated leaves was recorded daily with a hyperspectral linescanner in the visual (400 – 700 nm) and near infrared (700 – 1000 nm) range 3 to 14 days after inoculation.Results  Data analysis showed no significant differences in spectral signatures between non-inoculated genotypes. Barley leaves of the near-isogenic genotypes, inoculated with B. graminis f.sp. hordeidiffered in the spectral reflectance over time, respectively. The susceptible genotypes (WT, Mla12) showed an increase in reflectance in the visible range according to symptom development. However, the spectral signature of the resistant mlo-genotype did not show significant changes over the experimental period. In addition, a recent data driven approach for automated discovery of disease specific signatures, which is based on a new representation of the data using Simplex Volume Maximization (SiVM) was applied. The automated approach - evaluated in only a fraction of time revealed results similar to the time and labor intensive manually assessed hyperspectral signatures. The new representation determined by SiVM was also used to generate intuitive and easy to interpretable summaries, e.g. fingerprints or traces of hyperspectral dynamics of the different genotypes.Conclusion  With this HSI based and data driven phenotyping approach an evaluation of host-pathogen interactions over time and a discrimination of barley genotypes differing in susceptibility to powdery mildew is possible.


Via IPM Lab, Steve Marek
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How I Got Converted to G.M.O. Food, from the New York Times by Mark Lynas

How I Got Converted to G.M.O. Food, from the New York Times by Mark Lynas | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
We can’t deny the science: Biotech works — for good.
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Super online games to learn about evolution

Super online games to learn about evolution | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Lots to explore here, including a game where you build phylogenetic trees based on shared traits - very well done!

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Carla Pinheiro's curator insight, April 25, 2:31 PM

Design your tree and choose the path

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Establishment of Anthoceros agrestis as a model species for studying the biology of hornworts

Establishment of Anthoceros agrestis as a model species for studying the biology of hornworts | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Establishment of Anthoceros agrestis as a model species for studying the biology of hornworts
Mary Williams's insight:

"Methods and resources have been developed to enable A. agrestis to be used as a model species for developmental, molecular, genomic, and genetic studies. This advance provides an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the biology of hornworts"

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Mila Bristow's curator insight, April 21, 7:33 PM

If you are starting to revise lifecycles for the exam, have a look at this. It might be useful. I might even use it for next year's teaching!

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Don't forget, deadline for Teaching Tools pre-proposal submissions is 30 April

Don't forget, deadline for Teaching Tools pre-proposal submissions is 30 April | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Read more here

http://blog.aspb.org/2015/03/02/share-your-enthusiasm-teaching-tools-submission-competition/

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Bill Nye, Science Guy, and GMOs - oh my!

Bill Nye, Science Guy, and GMOs - oh my! | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Bill Nye caused a bit of drama over his stance on GMOs with the publication of his recent book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. Biologists were dismayed by some of the unsourced ...
Mary Williams's insight:

Good on you, Bill! I will once again consider you "the science guy".

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Science Writing Competition - UWE Bristol: Science Communication Unit

Science Writing Competition - UWE Bristol: Science Communication Unit | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Want to get recognized for your science writing?

They're looking for 700 words on "The science that will transform our future" - it seems like a perfect topic for plant scientists!

"There are no geographical restrictions on entrants but those wishing to take up the opportunity for work experience at BBC Focus and/or science writing classes must provide their own transport and accommodation for their visit to the BBC Focus offices in central Bristol and/or UWE's Frenchay Campus."

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Anna L. Sommer (1889–1973), pioneering plant scientist

Anna L. Sommer (1889–1973), pioneering plant scientist | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I've been assembling some of the early papers that demonstrated the roles for micronutrients in plant growth and have enjoyed reading about Anna Sommer, one of the major contributors during what has been described as "the trace nutrient gold rush." Sommer is credited with being the first to experimentally demonstrate the essential nature of zinc, copper, and boron.


She received her PhD in Plant Nutrition and Chemistry in 1924, studying with C.P. Lipman. Together they wrote an influential paper that was published in Plant Physiology (Volume 1) in 1926, "Evidence on the indispensable nature of zinc and boron for higher green plants" (http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/1/3/231.full.pdf+html). The following year she published a solo article in Science "The search for elements essential in only small amounts for plant growth" (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/66/1716/482.full.pdf). From 1929 - 1949 she was a tenured scientist at the University of Minnesota.


You can read more about her life and work here http://www.aic.ca/gender/pdf/Women_in_Agronomy.pdf and here http://www.aaes.auburn.edu/comm/pubs/askmagazine/fall02/pioneeringwoman.html,but as one of the articles says, she left "a rich scientific legacy through her significant journal publications but little record of her personal life. Thus, we can only guess what her life was like as the only women tenured in an Agronomy Department."

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Global Plants in the Classroom - teaching and learning resources from JSTOR :-)

Global Plants in the Classroom - teaching and learning resources from JSTOR :-) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
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Rescooped by Mary Williams from Plant immunity and legume symbiosis
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Secondary metabolites in plant innate immunity

Secondary metabolites in plant innate immunity | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Plant secondary metabolites carry out numerous functions in interactions between plants and a broad range of other organisms. Experimental evidence strongly supports the indispensable contribution of many constitutive and pathogen-inducible phytochemicals to plant innate immunity. Extensive studies on model plant species, particularly Arabidopsis thaliana, have brought significant advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underpinning pathogen-triggered biosynthesis and activation of defensive secondary metabolites. However, despite the proven significance of secondary metabolites in plant response to pathogenic microorganisms, little is known about the precise mechanisms underlying their contribution to plant immunity. This insufficiency concerns information on the dynamics of cellular and subcellular localization of defensive phytochemicals during the encounters with microbial pathogens and precise knowledge on their mode of action. As many secondary metabolites are characterized by their in vitro antimicrobial activity, these compounds were commonly considered to function in plant defense as in planta antibiotics. Strikingly, recent experimental evidence suggests that at least some of these compounds alternatively may be involved in controlling several immune responses that are evolutionarily conserved in the plant kingdom, including callose deposition and programmed cell death.

Via Christophe Jacquet
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Rare African plant signals diamonds beneath the soil

Rare African plant signals diamonds beneath the soil | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Geologist discovers first botanical indicator for diamond-bearing rock
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Single-Cell Telomere-Length Quantification Couples Telomere Length to Meristem Activity and Stem Cell Development in Arabidopsis: Cell Reports

Single-Cell Telomere-Length Quantification Couples Telomere Length to Meristem Activity and Stem Cell Development in Arabidopsis: Cell Reports | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Here, a quantitative analysis of telomere length of single cells in Arabidopsis root apex uncovered a heterogeneous telomere-length distribution of different cell lineages showing the longest telomeres at the stem cells.
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How to end hunger: lessons from the father of India’s green revolution

How to end hunger: lessons from the father of India’s green revolution | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The research of MS Swaminathan led to India reaching agricultural self-sufficiency in the 1970s. He reflects on scientists’ role in feeding the world

Via CIMMYT, Int.
Mary Williams's insight:

Good article by Professor MS Swaminathan in the Guardian - notable quote, "Chronic hunger does not move the media". It's true and lies at the root of a lot of problems! Wealthy, well-fed individuals need to care as deeply about the world's hungry as they do the latest celebrity....

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From NPR (National Public Radio): Plants Talk. Plants Listen. Here's How

From NPR (National Public Radio): Plants Talk. Plants Listen. Here's How | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Animals bark, sing, growl and chat. Plants, one would think, just sit there. But it turns out that plants bark, growl and chat as well. Here's how they do it.
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The Victorian Gentlewoman Who Documented 900 Plant Species

The Victorian Gentlewoman Who Documented 900 Plant Species | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Marianne North
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Role of transcriptional regulation in the evolution of plant phenotype: A dynamic systems approach (Great review for teaching)

Role of transcriptional regulation in the evolution of plant phenotype: A dynamic systems approach (Great review for teaching) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"A growing body of evidence suggests that alterations in transcriptional regulation of genes involved in modulating development are an important part of phenotypic evolution, and this can be documented among species and within populations. While the effects of differential transcriptional regulation in organismal development have been preferentially studied in animal systems, this phenomenon has also been addressed in plants. In this review, we summarize evidence for cis-regulatory mutations, trans-regulatory changes and epigenetic modifications as molecular events underlying important phenotypic alterations, and thus shaping the evolution of plant development."

Mary Williams's insight:

This would be a great review article to read with a genetics class

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The genome of cultivated sweet potato contains Agrobacterium T-DNAs with expressed genes: An example of a naturally transgenic food crop

The genome of cultivated sweet potato contains Agrobacterium T-DNAs with expressed genes: An example of a naturally transgenic food crop | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"We communicate the rather remarkable observation that among 291 tested accessions of cultivated sweet potato, all contain one or more transfer DNA (T-DNA) sequences. These sequences, which are shown to be expressed in a cultivated sweet potato clone (“Huachano”) that was analyzed in detail, suggest that an Agrobacterium infection occurred in evolutionary times. One of the T-DNAs is apparently present in all cultivated sweet potato clones, but not in the crop’s closely related wild relatives, suggesting the T-DNA provided a trait or traits that were selected for during domestication. This finding draws attention to the importance of plant–microbe interactions, and given that this crop has been eaten for millennia, it may change the paradigm governing the “unnatural” status of transgenic crops. "

Mary Williams's insight:

Someone on facebook asked if this could be a consequence of contamination from pollen of GM crops. Here's my answer.


"No - there are two things that tell us that this has nothing to do with contamination from modern GMOs. First and most importantly, the Agrobacterium T-DNA genes found in sweet potato are not present in genetically-engineered crops. Instead, they are the native bacterial genes found in wild Agrobacterium T-DNA, which are removed when this organism is used for gene transfer protocols. Second, this cluster of genes is conserved in several hundred cultivated varieties, indicating that it was introduced into the sweet potato genome long ago (thousands of years?), long before biotechnology was invented."

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Plant defense phenotypes determine the consequences of volatile emission for individuals and neighbors

Plant defense phenotypes determine the consequences of volatile emission for individuals and neighbors | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Both the frequency of sesquiterpene-emitting individuals and the defense capacity of individual plants determine the consequences of sesquiterpene volatile emission for individuals and their neighbors in populations of the wild tobacco Nicotiana attenuata.
Mary Williams's insight:

Nice press release here too http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150415114028.htm

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The increasing importance of distinguishing among plant nitrogen sources

The increasing importance of distinguishing among plant nitrogen sources | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Many studies of plant nitrogen relations assess only the total amount of the element available from the soil and the total amount of the element within the plant. Nitrogen, however, is a constituent of diverse compounds that participate in some of the most energy-intensive reactions in the biosphere. The following characterizes some of these reactions, especially those that involve ammonium and nitrate, and highlights the importance of distinguishing both among the nitrogen sources available to plants and among the nitrogen forms within plants when considering plant responses to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

Via Jean-Michel Ané
Mary Williams's insight:

The figure shows that because elevated CO2 lowers photorespiration in C3 plants, less NADH is available to reduce NO3, hence growth rate slows in plants that depend on NO3. It's particularly interesting that the three CO2 values represent 50 years ago (subambient), today (ambient), and elevated (50 years from now). That's a lot of change for a 100 year period...

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The SCICOMM 25 most talked about science communication stories (weekly blog)

The SCICOMM 25 most talked about science communication stories (weekly blog) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I want to draw your attention to Kirk Englehardt's (@kirkenglehardt) weekly roundup of science communication stories (http://www.scilogs.com/the-leap/scicomm2541715/), with a facebook page too (https://www.facebook.com/scicommcentral).
I always find something interesting. Two gems I found this week - a new PLOS blog about science communication that's looking for contributors (http://blogs.plos.org/scicomm/sample-page/), and a 2014 Masters thesis by Sarah Wiley that analyzes how PIs meet the NSF's Broader Impact criteria - it's got a terrific literature review for those who might want to read up on the science of science outreach

(http://informalscience.org/…/ic-000-0…/Doing_broader_impacts)

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USA National Phenology Network - Botany Primer

USA National Phenology Network - Botany Primer | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

This is an excellent guide to plant structure and function - downloadable PDF here

https://www.usanpn.org/files/shared/files/USA-NPN_Botany-Primer.pdf

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Exploiting Differential Gene Expression and Epistasis to Discover Candidate Genes for Drought-Associated QTLs in Arabidopsis thaliana

Exploiting Differential Gene Expression and Epistasis to Discover Candidate Genes for Drought-Associated QTLs in Arabidopsis thaliana | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Nice combination of QTL mapping and gene expression analysis to identify new genes involved in drought response. From this approach, the authors "produced ranked lists of candidate genes for several drought-associated traits, including water use efficiency, growth, abscisic acid concentration (ABA), and proline concentration."

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