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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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Research in Focus: Recognizing pathogens, and recognizing errors | Plant Science Today

Research in Focus: Recognizing pathogens, and recognizing errors | Plant Science Today | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

This week’s Research in Focus article has two take-home messages. The first is about how an important plant pathogen is recognized by its host: specifically, the role of a newly-identified tyrosine-sulfated bacterial protein. The second is about the process of science and the foundation of trust on which it rests: specifically, how to proceed when an error is recognized.

http://blog.aspb.org/2015/08/19/research-in-focus-recognizing-pathogens-and-recognizing-errors/

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Illustration by Maurice Vink CC BY 4.0.

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Soils: Our ally against climate change - YouTube

http://www.fao.org/soils-2015 A look at how our Soils help to combat climate change in their role of sequestering CO2, and how our collective habits can dama...
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As seas rise, saltwater plants offer hope farms will survive

As seas rise, saltwater plants offer hope farms will survive | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
VEDARANYAM, India (AP) — On a sun-scorched wasteland near India's southern tip, an unlikely garden filled with spiky shrubs and spindly greens is growing, seemingly against all odds. The plants are living on saltwater,…
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Five plants that could save the world

Five plants that could save the world | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Plant products are integral to human civilisation, from staple crops to medicines and commodities, such as cotton, tea and rubber. As humanity faces the challenges of pollution and resource shortages, plants may once again provide solutions, writes Tim Entwisle, the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.
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New feature, “Plants in the News” | Plant Science Today

New feature, “Plants in the News” | Plant Science Today | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Go to the ASPB blog for resources and links

http://blog.aspb.org/2015/08/14/new-feature-plants-in-the-news/

If you have a story you think we should feature, send it to me before Friday each week!

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The floral dilemma — Roots and Shoots

The floral dilemma - Roots and Shoots - Medium

"Floral scents and nectar attract pollinators, but they can also attract herbivores...."


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Modified yeast produce opiates from sugar

Modified yeast produce opiates from sugar | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Move over, poppies. In one of the most elaborate feats of synthetic bio logy to date, a research team has engineered yeast with a medley of plant, bacterial, and rodent genes to turn sugar into thebaine, the key opiate precursor to morphine and other powerful painkilling drugs that have been harvested for thousands of years from poppy plants.

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Coral Bleaching | HHMI.org

Coral Bleaching | HHMI.org | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Coral bleaching occurs when heat or other stresses impact the symbiotic algae that live within the animal cells. Coral bleaching is also a way to draw students into the topic of photosynthesis. This nice animation from HHMI shows the relationship between photosynthesis and coral reefs.

There's a classroom activity associated with it also

https://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/coral-bleaching-activity

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Telling Science Through Story - the art of creative nonfiction

Telling Science Through Story - the art of creative nonfiction | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

One of the pleasures of my job is meeting people with a wide range of interests about plants. At the recent Plant Biology meeting in Minneapolis, I had a chance to meet with Dana D'Amico, a science writer with a special interest in plants. She introduced me to the concept of "creative nonfiction", which she explains further in her own words on her contribution to the ASPB Blog, here

http://blog.aspb.org/2015/08/12/telling-science-through-story/


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Lignin modifications for enhanced biofuel production

Lignin modifications for enhanced biofuel production | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

There is so much carbon locked up inside plant cell walls that could be repurposed for biofuels, but it's difficult to get at due to the complex polymer lignin that binds it together. Several studies that have altered plant lignin composition have also result in dwarfed plants or plants with collapsed xylem elements. In this study, plants were produced with altered lignin content but normal plant stature and architecture, opening the door for the development of better biofuel plants.
http://www.plantcell.org/…/early/2015/08/11/tpc.15.00373.ab…

Mary Williams's insight:

This paper requires a subscription to The Plant Cell

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Model–data synthesis for the next generation of forest free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiments

Model–data synthesis for the next generation of forest free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiments | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The first generation of forest free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) experiments has successfully provided deeper understanding about how forests respond to an increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Located in aggrading stands in the temperate zone, they have provided a strong foundation for testing critical assumptions in terrestrial biosphere models that are being used to project future interactions between forest productivity and the atmosphere, despite the limited inference space of these experiments with regards to the range of global ecosystems. Now, a new generation of FACE experiments in mature forests in different biomes and over a wide range of climate space and biodiversity will significantly expand the inference space. These new experiments are: EucFACE in a mature Eucalyptus stand on highly weathered soil in subtropical Australia; AmazonFACE in a highly diverse, primary rainforest in Brazil; BIFoR-FACE in a 150-yr-old deciduous woodland stand in central England; and SwedFACE proposed in a hemiboreal, Pinus sylvestris stand in Sweden. We now have a unique opportunity to initiate a model–data interaction as an integral part of experimental design and to address a set of cross-site science questions on topics including responses of mature forests; interactions with temperature, water stress, and phosphorus limitation; and the influence of biodiversity.

Via Francis Martin
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The Reason for Flowers

The Reason for Flowers | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
NPR coverage of The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives by Stephen Buchmann. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
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Ask a Plant Scientist: Noah Fahlgren, Ph.D, Director of the Bioinformatics Core Facility, Danforth Plant Science Center

The Bioinformatics Core Facility is a physical and intellectual infrastructure that is providing essential horsepower to analyze vast amounts of information — big data — that are critical to understanding genome function in plants. Dr. Fahlgren is also a co-founder of the Danforth Center’s Maker Team, a group of 45 Danforth Center scientists, staff and trainees who are spearheading the design and construction of low-cost instruments and software engineering tools to address specific research needs.

Mary Williams's insight:

Nice intereview of a scientists with an interesting job!

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Stanford research shows how to improve students' critical thinking about scientific evidence

Stanford research shows how to improve students' critical thinking about scientific evidence | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Physicists at the University of British Columbia and Stanford have found that encouraging students to repeatedly make decisions about data collected during introductory lab courses improves their critical thinking skills.
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How the Internet Changed Chemistry (Biology etc)

How the Internet Changed Chemistry (Biology etc) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Nice collection of articles about the impact of the internet on the ways we do / think / learn / communicate about science, from Chemical and Engineering News

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Mechanisms and ecological consequences of plant defence induction and suppression in herbivore communities

Mechanisms and ecological consequences of plant defence induction and suppression in herbivore communities | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

From molecules to ecology, this is an excellent review of the interactions between plants and herbivores.

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'Telephone farmers' reaping the benefits of agri-tech - BBC News

'Telephone farmers' reaping the benefits of agri-tech - BBC News | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Small-scale farmers in Kenya are using a range of technologies to help them choose and manage their crops more efficiently, boosting incomes and productivity.
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With BioDirect, Monsanto Hopes RNA Sprays Can Someday Deliver Drought Tolerance and Other Traits to Plants on Demand | MIT Technology Review

With BioDirect, Monsanto Hopes RNA Sprays Can Someday Deliver Drought Tolerance and Other Traits to Plants on Demand | MIT Technology Review | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Deep inside its labs, Monsanto is learning how to modify crops by spraying them with RNA rather than tinkering with their genes.
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Anjali Misra's comment, August 20, 8:49 PM
Is it going to be true, if so then we still need more trials...
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On the origins of observations of heterostyly in Primula - Gilmartin - 2015 - New Phytologist

On the origins of observations of heterostyly in Primula - Gilmartin - 2015 - New Phytologist | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"In 1862, Charles Darwin published his landmark study on the different forms of flower in Primula; he coined the term distyly and subsequently expanded his studies to other species, including those with tristyly. Darwin is widely recognized as the first to study pin and thrum flowers in Primula, and to provide an explanation for the functional significance of the two floral morphs. Our laboratory is pursuing the genes that underpin floral heteromorphy in Primula, work influenced by Darwin's observations. One day, while appreciating a print of Primula vulgaris from William Curtis’ Flora Londinensis, I was struck by the fact that I was looking at images of dimorphic Primula flowers captured in a late-1700s copper-plate engraving that predated Darwin's observations by over 70 yr. This realization triggered a journey into archives of botanical texts, herbals and florilegia from the 16th to 19th Centuries, and correspondence archives, in search of earlier documents that could have influenced Darwin and the origins of an idea. Darwin was not the first to observe floral heteromorphy in Primula, but he was the first to realize the significance of the two floral morphs. Darwin's insight and exposition of purpose have underpinned all consequent work on the subject."

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Octopus genome holds clues to uncanny intelligence

Octopus genome holds clues to uncanny intelligence | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
DNA sequence expanded in areas otherwise reserved for vertebrates.

Via Neelima Sinha
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Neelima Sinha's curator insight, August 12, 1:43 PM

Massive gene number increase in only two types of genes may account for why Octopuses are so smart!

Matthew Bauer's curator insight, August 13, 12:21 PM

Not plants, but interesting none-the-less

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Research in Focus: Identification of inositol pyrophosphates and their functions in plants

Research in Focus: Identification of inositol pyrophosphates and their functions in plants | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

We're starting a new series, "Plant Science Research in Focus", on the ASPB blog and soon the Plantae.org site.

Do you have a suggestion for a hot research topic you think should be featured? If so, let me know (see post for info).

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Primed for battle: helping plants fight off pathogens by enhancing their immune systems

Primed for battle: helping plants fight off pathogens by enhancing their immune systems | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Vaccines aren't just for animals anymore. Research shows priming plants with pathogen-derived compounds strengthens their immune systems and enhances protection against future attack.
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Gene expression maps show surprising similarity in Selaginella & angiosperm root development

Gene expression maps show surprising similarity in Selaginella & angiosperm root development | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Gene expression maps from the roots of seven plant species show a surprising degree of conservation in the genes and expression patterns employed during root development. This is interesting because it shows that Selaginella uses many of the same genes during root development as angiosperms, yet based on the fossil record it had been thought that roots evolved independently in these two lineages. Perhaps a proto-root existed before Selaginella and other vascular plants diverged, or maybe there's a rooted ancestor whose fossils haven't been found yet?
http://www.plantcell.org/content/early/2015/08/11/tpc.15.00328.abstract

Mary Williams's insight:

Note that the paper requires a subscription to Plant Cell

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Get With the Program | The Scientist Magazine®

Get With the Program | The Scientist Magazine® | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Biological science these days is all about Big Data. Whether it’s in the form of DNA sequences, photomicrographs, or mass spectra, researchers increasingly need to collect, integrate, manipulate, and interpret enormous pools of information.

This article from The Scientist introduces DIY tops for adding coding to your analysis arsenal.

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Plants and the Human Brain by David O. Kennedy - Interesting course book

Plants and the Human Brain

~ David O. Kennedy (author) More about this product
Price: $59.95

Neuroscience is a particularly stimulating topic for a lot of people. Not surprisingly there has been a lot of press coverage for this new paper in Nature Communications by Ramesh et al., which demonstrates that an important neurotransmitter, GABA, also functions as a signal in plants (although to be fair, there have been indications for GABA being functional in plants for some time). Last year, Professor David Kennedy, of Northumbria University published an excellent book called “Plants and the Human Brain”, which I think would form the basis for an interesting interdisciplinary undergraduate biology course.  It encompasses fundamental concepts in chemistry, plant science, neuroscience, evolution, and ecology through a study of the biological properties of alkaloids, terpenes and phenolics.

I’d love to hear from anybody who has taught a course using this book about how it was received and whether it succeeded in getting human-biology focused students a bit more interested in the science of plants.


Mary Williams's insight:

Note - this book is about the chemicals plants produce, not about whether plants are intelligent...

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