From Global Plant Council: "With another year nearly over we recently put out a call for nominations for the Most Influential Plant Science Research of 2015. Suggestions flooded in, and we also trawled through our social media feeds to see which stories inspired the most discussion and engagement. It was fantastic to read about so much amazing research from around the world. Below are our top five, selected based on impact for the plant science research community, engagement on social media, and importance for both policy and potential end product/application."
Mary Williams's insight:
Good top-five list from the Global Plant Council - a nice list to share with students!
Making sure that a tablet claiming to have 500 mg of paracetamol really does contain 500 mg of paracetamol is relatively easy. But how do you test for herbs?
Mary Williams's insight:
Here's a link to the article this article is based on, "Combined DNA, toxicological and heavy metal analyses provides an auditing toolkit to improve pharmacovigilance of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)" http://www.nature.com/articles/srep17475 (it's open access too).
Wow - here's something to talk about. Hard-hitting Opinion article in PNAS by Paul Ehrlich and John Harte. "Opinion: To feed the world in 2050 will require a global revolution" They suggest a multi-pronged approach, but say, "Whether such a set of reforms can be instituted, given the influence wielded by those who profit from the status quo, and the indifference of far greater numbers, remains a huge question; we find it hard to be optimistic." What do you think of their opinion article? Are they asking too much? Do you think any of the changes they endorse will happen?
I don't have any insights to this story but it is remarkable. It concerns the handling of an Xylella fastidiosa outbreak in the olive producing trees of southern Italy. In an effort to stop the spread, infected trees have been cut and removed. As many of these trees are quite old and charismatic, this is a harsh measure. One of the questions is, is it justified and necessary to save other trees from this pathogen? The surprise twist is that several people, including researchers at the University of Bari, are now under investigation for their handling of the crisis, including for "the destruction or disfigurement of natural beauty". It will be interesting to follow this emerging story - it reminds me of the case last year in which Italian scientists were charged with manslaughter for failing to predict an earthquake.
This is really cool - you have to check it out. The future of storytelling?
"What’s in your noodle soup? You may never have heard of it before. Cassava - or tapioca - is a root crop like sweet potato originally from South America, where it is steamed or boiled and eaten as a source of carbohydrate. It appears that Spanish traders introduced the species from Mexico to Southeast Asia in the 19th Century, where it survived drought and high temperatures. It’s still eaten as a root crop in some areas, especially in mountainous areas where few other crops will grow. But today it’s also used in a wide range of other foods and markets, and cassava starch is used to make everything from noodles to sweeteners. "
We’re delighted to announce that the latest Teaching Tool in Plant Biology article “Light-Dependent Reactions of Photosynthesis” is published. This article was written by me (Mary Williams), as well Ru Zhong (Carnegie Institute of Science) and Johnna Roose (Louisiana State University). Link to Teaching Tool: http://www.plantcell.org/site/teachingtools/TTPB32.xhtml
Nice video introduces the photosymbiosis between a vertebrate salamander and an alga. We cover this in the new Teaching Tool on the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis, because it's fascinating.
There are several good articles and comments in this week's Nature (3 December 2015) on the topic of soil management, including a very good Open Access overview of the hows and whys of nutrient reclamation from wastewater, "Chemistry: Reuse water pollutants"
One of the major problems with applying fertilizers to crops is the downstream contamination of wastewaters. Extracting these nutrient contaminants both extends nutrient reserves (particularly important for P) and decreases environmental harm. It's an interesting topic for discussion in your Plant Nutrition lessons.
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