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PLOS Pathogens: Mining Herbaria for Plant Pathogen Genomes: Back to the Future (2014)

PLOS Pathogens: Mining Herbaria for Plant Pathogen Genomes: Back to the Future (2014) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Since the dawn of agriculture, plant pathogens and pests have been a scourge of humanity. Yet we have come a long way since the Romans attempted to mitigate the effects of plant disease by worshipping and honoring the god Robigus. Books in the Middle Ages by Islamic and European scholars described various plant diseases and even proposed particular disease management strategies. Surprisingly, the causes of plant diseases remained a matter of debate over a long period. It took Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau's elegant demonstration in his 1728 “Explication Physique” paper that a “contagious” fungus was responsible for a saffron crocus disease to usher in an era of documented scientific inquiry. Confusion and debate about the exact nature of the causal agents of plant diseases continued until the 19th century, which not only saw the first detailed analyses of plant pathogens but also provided much-needed insight into the mechanisms of plant disease. An example of this is Anton de Bary's demonstration that a “fungus” is a cause, not a consequence, of plant disease. This coming of age of plant pathology was timely. In the 19th century, severe plant disease epidemics hit Europe and caused economic and social upheaval. These epidemics were not only widely covered in the press but also recognized as serious political issues by governments. Many of the diseases, including late blight of potato, powdery and downy mildew of grapevine, as well as phylloxera, were due to exotic introductions from the Americas and elsewhere. These and subsequent epidemics motivated scientific investigations into crop breeding and plant disease management that developed into modern plant pathology science over the 20th century.


Nowadays, our understanding of plant pathogens and the diseases they cause greatly benefits from molecular genetics and genomics. All aspects of plant pathology, from population biology and epidemiology to mechanistic research, are impacted. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) first enabled access to plant pathogen DNA sequences from historical specimens deposited in herbaria. Historical records in combination with herbarium specimens have turned out to provide powerful tools for understanding the course of past plant epidemics. Recently, thanks to new developments in DNA sequencing technology, it has become possible to reconstruct the genomes of plant pathogens in herbaria. In this article, we first summarize how whole genome analysis of ancient DNA has been recently used to reconstruct the 19th-century potato-blight epidemic that rapidly spread throughout Europe and triggered the Irish potato famine. We then discuss the exciting prospects offered by the emergence of the discipline of ancient plant pathogen genomics.


Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL
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Good overview for students - very accessible and interesting!

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Freddy Monteiro's comment, April 25, 4:21 AM
This is a great source of teaching materials for potato late blight. Congrats on the work behind it.
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The Love Life of Plants - YouTube

"Bill Gates recently met with some researchers at Cornell University. Cornell is one of the world's top universities for research on improving crops. Their work involves a lot of plant breeding. Because most of the world's poor people are farmers, helping farmers grow more food is one of the most powerful levers we have for fighting poverty".

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Kutschera & Briggs (2013) on Sachs' studies of light and development

Kutschera & Briggs (2013) on Sachs' studies of light and development | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Numerous botanists of the early 19th century investigated the effect of sunlight on plant development, but no clear picture developed. One hundred and fifty years ago, Julius Sachs (1863) systematically analysed the light–plant relationships, using developing garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) and seedlings of buckwheat (Fagopyron esculentum) as experimental material. From these studies, Sachs elucidated the phenomenon of photomorphogenesis (plant development under the influence of daylight) and the associated ‘shade-avoidance response’." 

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Japan’s Vanishing Terraced Rice Fields | Spoon & Tamago

Japan’s Vanishing Terraced Rice Fields | Spoon & Tamago | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Beautiful photos of terraced rice paddies. Whether in Japan, the Philippines or elsewhere, rice terraces are amongst the most visually stunning ways that food is produced!

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Why Are Adults Left Out of Hands-On Science Learning?

Why Are Adults Left Out of Hands-On Science Learning? | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
A struggle I have with trying to learn science as an adult is that it's often a solitary activity. Working in a children's museum, I'm constantly trying to promote interactive science experiences for kids, but outside museums I haven't found consiste...
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B.B. Singh's quest to make cowpea the food legume of the 21st century | American Society of Agronomy

B.B. Singh's quest to make cowpea the food legume of the 21st century | American Society of Agronomy | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
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Intracellular catalytic domain of Symbiosis Receptor Kinase (SYMRK) hyperactivates spontaneous nodulation in absence of rhizobia

Intracellular catalytic domain of Symbiosis Receptor Kinase (SYMRK) hyperactivates spontaneous nodulation in absence of rhizobia | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Symbiosis Receptor Kinase (SYMRK), a member of Nod-factor signalling pathway is indispensible for both nodule organogenesis and intracellular colonisation of symbionts in rhizobia-legume symbiosis. Here we show that the intracellular kinase-domain of a SYMRK (SYMRK-kd), but not its inactive or full length version, leads to hyperactivation of the nodule organogenic program in Medicago truncatula TR25 (symrk knockout mutant) in absence of rhizobia. Spontaneous nodulation in TR25/SYMRK-kd was 6 fold higher than rhizobia induced nodulation in TR25/SYMRK roots. The merged clusters of spontaneous nodules indicated that TR25 roots in presence of SYMRK-kd have overcome the control over both nodule numbers and their spatial position. In presence of rhizobia, SYMRK-kd could rescue the epidermal infection processes in TR25, but colonisation of symbionts in the nodule interior was significantly compromised. In summary, ligand independent deregulated activation of SYMRK hyperactivates nodule organogenesis in absence of rhizobia but its ectodomain is required for proper symbiont colonisation.

Via Christophe Jacquet
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Searchable image collections from the National Museum of Natural History

Searchable image collections from the National Museum of Natural History | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I discovered this great image database today, enjoy browsing their collection of plant photos, paintings and drawings!

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ASPB's hiring an Executive Coordinator to.....

ASPB's hiring an Executive Coordinator to..... | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

to develop and implement a communications strategy and heighten recognition and awareness of the National Plant Science Council (NPSC), and to increase support for the goals articulated in the Plant Science Decadal Vision (http://tinyurl.com/PSDecadalVision).

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Plant Physiology, Focus Issue on Roots, October 2014

Plant Physiology, Focus Issue on Roots, October 2014 | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"The nature of roots is to bury themselves into the soil and to enter into most intimate contact with their substrate, such that it is very hard to observe their growth and development, much less to extract them from the soil intact. Moreover, the soil is a substrate of mind-boggling heterogeneity and complexity, its complicated chemical and physical structure being potentiated by the biological diversity in the form of microbial communities. "

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If he were alive today Alfred Nobel would have wanted an environment prize

If he were alive today Alfred Nobel would have wanted an environment prize | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
It’s Nobel Prize week, with awards for Medicine and Physiology, Physics, Chemistry, Peace and Economics being announced over the next seven days. We will discover who will win the literature prize later…
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Nature Is Speaking – Kevin Spacey is The Rainforest | Conservation International (CI) - YouTube

Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Kevin Spacey, Edward Norton, Penélope Cruz, and Robert Redford all join forces to give nature a voice. Watch the films and take...
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"Humans, making air. Ha. That'll be fun to watch" says the rainforest

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Growing the Next Generation of Botanical Pioneers - who have to deal with a natural world "shredded by human demand"

Growing the Next Generation of Botanical Pioneers - who have to deal with a natural world "shredded by human demand" | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
By Mike Maunder, Interim Director, The Kampong, National Tropical Botanical Garden Two weeks ago I was in South Sudan working with East African and South Sudanese colleagues preparing a plant conse...
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Chemistry: Chemical con artists foil drug discovery

Chemistry: Chemical con artists foil drug discovery | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Naivety about promiscuous, assay-duping molecules is polluting the literature and wasting resources, warn Jonathan Baell and Michael A. Walters.
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Don't you love Roz Chast cartoons? Good article.

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China's GMO Research Juggernaut Prepares for Climate-Changed Future | MIT Technology Review

China's GMO Research Juggernaut Prepares for Climate-Changed Future | MIT Technology Review | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Fascinating article. In spite of extensive strides in the developent of plant biotech and breeding strategies, policies and public perception keep the brakes on GM in China. Nice review of the scentific tools.


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Special Issue on Plant Cell Walls – Free Online. Annals of Botany

Special Issue on Plant Cell Walls – Free Online.  Annals of Botany | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Although plants and many algae (e.g. the Phaeophyceae, brown, and Rhodophyceae, red) are only very distantly related they are united in their possession of carbohydrate-rich cell walls, which are of integral importance being involved in many physiological processes."

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Free online access until 14 Dec 2014, so get it while its hot

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A Microbial Avenue to Cell Cycle Control in the Plant Superkingdom

A Microbial Avenue to Cell Cycle Control in the Plant Superkingdom | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Cell cycle control in Chlamydomonas (and plants) - comparing function of regulatory genes from yeast and Chlamy

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ASPB Position Statement on Plant Genetic Engineering

ASPB Position Statement on Plant Genetic Engineering | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) supports the continued, responsible use of genetic engineering as an effective tool for advancing food security and reducing the negative environmental impacts of agriculture. ASPB also supports the continued use and further development of appropriate, science-based procedures and regulations to assess the risks and benefits of all new agricultural technologies and products, including those developed using GE......"

Read the full statement at the link

http://my.aspb.org/members/group_content_view.asp?group=68890&id=99039

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The brassinosteroid chemical toolbox

The brassinosteroid chemical toolbox | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Highlights



Brassinosteroid research benefited from several chemical biology approaches.


Small molecules target biosynthesis as well as signaling.


Analogs of brassinolide allowed binding studies and visualization.


Small molecules present large opportunities for future brassinosteroid research.

Chemical biology approaches have been instrumental in understanding the mode of action of brassinosteroids, a group of plant steroid hormones essential for plant development and growth. The small molecules used for such approaches include inhibitors of biosynthetic enzymes and signaling components. Additionally, recent structural data on the brassinosteroid receptor complex together with its ligand brassinolide, the most active brassinosteroid, and knowledge on its different analogs have given us a better view on the recognition of the hormone and signaling initiation. Moreover, a fluorescently labeled brassinosteroid enabled the visualization of the receptor–ligand pair in the cell. Given the insights obtained, small molecules will continue to provide new opportunities for probing brassinosteroid biosynthesis and for unraveling the dynamic and highly interconnected signaling.

Via Christophe Jacquet
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Oh - super review from the Dec 2014 Curr Opin Plant Biol!

I'm reading this on the plane tonight!

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A Broadly Implementable Research Course in Phage Discovery and Genomics for First-Year Undergraduate Students

A Broadly Implementable Research Course in Phage Discovery and Genomics for First-Year Undergraduate Students | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

This is from Feb 2014, but if you are interested hin how learning by doing can help your students get excited about biology it's good reading

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Biodiversity Heritage Library: Exploring the Rich History of Plant Science

Biodiversity Heritage Library: Exploring the Rich History of Plant Science | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

The wonderful Biodiversity Heritage Library interviewed me about how I use their oustanding collection of digitized natural history books .

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PLOS One: Imitation, Genetic Lineages, and Time Influenced the Morphological Evolution of the Violin

PLOS One: Imitation, Genetic Lineages, and Time Influenced the Morphological Evolution of the Violin | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The parallels between the factors responsible for the changes in violin shape over the centuries and the evolution of complex biological shapes are striking.
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Terrific - how to get your students thinking about shape and evolution, form and function, using a very different system

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Spread the word during European Biotech Week - science, not fiction. Growing Voices - Mybiotech

Spread the word during European Biotech Week - science, not fiction. Growing Voices - Mybiotech | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Plant science often appears on social media for the wrong reasons, with fictitious scare stories about ‘frankenfoods’. We want to show people that plants scientists are dedicated people trying to find solutions to the big problems facing the world – hunger, malnutrition and environmental protection. The best way we can do this is by showing them the faces of ordinary people like us who are proud to work in plant sciences and what we get up to on a day-to-day basis.This is science, not fiction.
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Life Sciences opening by Sir David... - University of Bristol | Facebook

Life Sciences opening by Sir David... - University of Bristol | Facebook | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Posing for selfies.

University of Bristol, Life Sciences Building Opening, Sir David Attenborough Bhagesh Sachania/University of Bristol
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I love this photo! Life scientists at the University of Bristol got to meet and mingle with David Attenborough at the opening of their new life science building yesterday

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Here's Why We Haven't Quite Figured Out How to Feed Billions More People

Here's Why We Haven't Quite Figured Out How to Feed Billions More People | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Solving the world's looming food crisis will require big investments in agricultural research, yet public support for that is lagging.
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How to read a scientific paper / How to read a paper in Plant Physiology

How to read a scientific paper / How to read a paper in Plant Physiology | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

We posted these last year and have had excellent feedback.

"How to Read a Scientific Paper"

(https://journalaccess.aspb.org/ReadaSciPaper/How%20to%20Read%20a%20Scientific%20Paper%20M%20Williams%20Mar%202013.pdf)


"How to read a paper in Plant Physiology"

https://journalaccess.aspb.org/CaseStudy/CaseStudy%20for%20How%20to%20Read%20a%20Sci%20Paper%20M%20Williams%20Mar%202013.pdf

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