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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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PNAS: Microbial biogeography of wine grapes is conditioned by cultivar, vintage, and climate

PNAS: Microbial biogeography of wine grapes is conditioned by cultivar, vintage, and climate | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Mary Williams's insight:

"We demonstrate that grape-associated microbial biogeography is nonrandomly associated with regional, varietal, and climatic factors across multiscale viticultural zones. This poses a paradigm shift in our understanding of food and agricultural systems beyond grape and wine production, wherein patterning of whole microbial communities associated with agricultural products may associate with downstream quality characteristics. Elucidating the relationship between production region, climate, and microbial patterns may enhance biological control within these systems, improving the supply, consumer acceptance, and economic value of important agricultural commodities. "

See also commentary "Microbial terroir for wine grapes " http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/04/1320471110.full.pdf+html

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Jean-Michel Ané's curator insight, December 6, 2013 11:01 AM

That's why we neet to indicate the  "terroir" on the bottles and not only the cultivar and the vintage...

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From CIMMYT: Weekly photo competition winners, including Intercropping in Bangladesh

From CIMMYT: Weekly photo competition winners, including Intercropping in Bangladesh | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
D.B. Pandit, cropping systems agronomist at CSISA-Bangladesh, shared with us this photo showing maize intercropped with red amaranth (a leaf vegetable widely used in Bangladesh) from the CSISA-Bangladesh demonstration plot in the Mymensingh hub.

 

See more stunning photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cimmyt/sets/72157632653906284/with/8456054993/

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PNAS via IRRI: Gene discovery leads way to more rice

PNAS via IRRI: Gene discovery leads way to more rice | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Scientists from Japan and IRRI have discovered a rice gene that could increase production by 13–36%.

 

The article in PNAS, "NAL1 allele from a rice landrace greatly increases yield in modern indica cultivars", is OA and here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/11/27/1310790110.abstract

Mary Williams's insight:

I love the photo;  rows and rows of plant tags lined up waiting for the seedlings to emerge. Is there anything more thrilling than plant breeding and genetics?

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The broad bacterial blight resistance of rice line CBB23 is triggered by a novel TAL effector of Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae - Wang - Mol. Plant Pathol.

The broad bacterial blight resistance of rice line CBB23 is triggered by a novel TAL effector of Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae - Wang - Mol. Plant Pathol. | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Wang et al, 2013

Bacterial blight (BB), caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae (Xoo), is not only a disease devastating rice production worldwide but also an ideal model system for studying the interaction between plants and their bacterial pathogens. The rice near-isogenic line (NIL) CBB23, derived from a cross between a wild rice Oryza rufipogon accession (RBB16) and a susceptible indica rice variety Jingang 30, is highly resistant to all field Xoo strains tested so far. Although the BB-resistance of CBB23 has been widely used in rice breeding programs, the mechanism of its extremely broad-spectrum resistance remains unknown. Here, we report the molecular cloning of an avirulence gene, designated as avrXa23, from Xoo strain PXO99A. We validate that AvrXa23, a novel transcription activator-like effector, specifically triggers the broad-spectrum BB-resistance in CBB23. Prevalence of avrXa23 in all 38 Xoo strains surveyed may explain the broad-spectrum feature of BB-resistance in CBB23. The results will significantly facilitate the molecular cloning of the corresponding R-gene in the host, and provide new insights into our understanding of molecular mechanism for broad-spectrum disease resistance in plants.


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Science: China's Publication Bazaar (first authorship for sale)

Science: China's Publication Bazaar (first authorship for sale) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Grim. Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and compromised editors—many of them operating in plain view. The commodity: papers in journals indexed by Thomson Reuters' Science Citation Index, Thomson Reuters' Social Sciences Citation Index, and Elsevier's Engineering Index.

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Controversial Seralini GMO-rats paper to be retracted

Controversial Seralini GMO-rats paper to be retracted | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"A heavily criticized study of the effects of genetically modified maize and the Roundup herbicide on rats is being retracted -- one way or another."

 

Thanks to Retraction Watch for the tip!

http://retractionwatch.com/2013/11/28/controversial-seralini-gmo-rats-paper-to-be-retracted/

Mary Williams's insight:

We discussed the problems associated with this paper in Teaching Tools in Plant Biology 16: Genetic Improvements in Agriculture http://www.plantcell.org/site/teachingtools/TTPB16.xhtml

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The Arabidopsis Book: Abscisic Acid Synthesis and Response (R. Finkelstein) (Nov 2013)

The Arabidopsis Book: Abscisic Acid Synthesis and Response       (R. Finkelstein) (Nov 2013) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Ruth Finkelstein (2013) Abscisic Acid Synthesis and Response. The Arabidopsis Book:  doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1199/tab.0166

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Teaching Tools in Plant Biology. Intimate Alliances: Plants and their Microsymbionts (revised)

Teaching Tools in Plant Biology. Intimate Alliances: Plants and their Microsymbionts (revised) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

We've just uploaded revised files for TTPB19, Plants and their Microsymbionts (written with Ulrike Mathesius).


This lecture describes two very intimate symbiotic mutualisms: one is that which occurs between bacteria (rhizobia or Frankia) and their plant hosts resulting in the production of nitrogen-fixing nodules. The other is the interaction between two different types of mycorrhizal fungi and their plant hosts resulting in enhanced nutrient uptake. Successful formation of these mutualistic symbioses is a complex process that requires signaling and recognition, morphological and physiological responses, and biochemical contributions from both the plant and microsymbiont. Collectively these intimate alliances play a major role in nutrient assimilation by plants, and by extension, to humans and other animals.

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Jean-Michel Ané's curator insight, November 27, 2013 9:58 AM

Great teaching tools. Check it out!

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National Farmers' Union: Crop biotechnology conversation success (w/presentations)

National Farmers' Union: Crop biotechnology conversation success (w/presentations) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Success for the 1st NFU farmer scientist crop biotechnology conversation. With leading scientists from Rothamstead, University of Leeds and John Innes
Mary Williams's insight:

Scientists and farmers talking to each other! Presentations are available as PDFs. Interesting and practical stuff.

 

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Cytokinins Secreted by Agrobacterium Promote Transformation by Repressing a Plant Myb Transcription Factor -- Sardesai et al. 6 (302): ra100 -- Science Signaling

Cytokinins Secreted by Agrobacterium Promote Transformation by Repressing a Plant Myb Transcription Factor -- Sardesai et al. 6 (302): ra100 -- Science Signaling | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Agrobacterium-mediated transformation is the most widely used technique for generating transgenic plants. However, many crops remain recalcitrant. We found that an Arabidopsis myb family transcription factor (MTF1) inhibited plant transformation susceptibility. Mutating MTF1 increased attachment of several Agrobacterium strains to roots and increased both stable and transient transformation in both susceptible and transformation-resistant Arabidopsis ecotypes. Cytokinins fromAgrobacterium tumefaciens decreased the expression of MTF1 through activation of the cytokinin response regulator ARR3. Mutating AHK3 and AHK4, genes that encode cytokinin-responsive kinases, increased the expression of MTF1 and impaired plant transformation. Mutant mtf1 plants also had increased expression of AT14A, which encodes a putative transmembrane receptor for cell adhesion molecules. Plants overexpressing AT14A exhibited increased susceptibility to transformation, whereasat14a mutant plants exhibited decreased attachment of bacteria to roots and decreased transformation, suggesting that AT14A may serve as an anchor point for Agrobacteria. Thus, by promoting bacterial attachment and transformation of resistant plants and increasing such processes in susceptible plants, treating roots with cytokinins may help engineer crops with improved features or yield.


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Low investment in sexual reproduction threatens plants adapted to phosphorus limitation

Plant species diversity in Eurasian wetlands and grasslands depends not only on productivity but also on the relative availability of nutrients, particularly of nitrogen and phosphorus.

Via Francis Martin
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La plus ca change... A report about teaching plant physiology from 1938 suggests similar challenges to today

La plus ca change... A report about teaching plant physiology from 1938 suggests similar challenges to today | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

La plus ca change... I was digging through the archives at Plant Physiology and found this report of a discussion from 1938 about "Teaching Methods in Plant Physiology".

Here's a sample: "Emphasis was placed on the shortage of enthusiasm for a complex subject like ours, and the usual difficulties in providing the expensive quarters and equipment for a relatively uninmportant elective course in a biology department."
Link to PDF here: http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/13/4/873.full.pdf+html

The session was chaired by Charles A. Shull (pictured), editor-in-chief of Plant Physiology at the time

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Understanding and Teaching Genetics Using Analogies

Understanding and Teaching Genetics Using Analogies | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I really enjoyed this little article from the American Biology Teacher (http://www.nabt.org/websites/institution/index.php?p=30) that suggests a few simple analogies to explain possibly confusing genetic concepts.

The article and the nice drawings are available freely at the website of the "Fast Plants (self-compatible)" program, which develops hands-on activities for teaching genetics and plant science.

http://www.fpsc.wisc.edu/publications/analogies.shtm

Kudos to Scott Woody and Ed Himelblau for a useful set of resources!

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Climate Change — The state of the science

"Climate Change — The state of the science Produced by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and Globaia and funded by the UN Foundation for the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report"

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International Day for Abolition of Slavery - 2 December

International Day for Abolition of Slavery - 2 December | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Today is International Day for the abolition of slavery (http://www.un.org/en/events/slaveryabolitionday/).
Here is a map from the Liverpool museums showing some of the product from the more than 12 million adults and children working in forced labor.
http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/learning/slavery-today/about-slavery/map-products-of-slavery.pdf
As Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon says, "...[I]t is vital that we give special consideration to ending modern-day slavery and servitude which affects the poorest, most socially excluded groups – including migrants, women, discriminated ethnic groups, minorities and indigenous peoples."

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Science: Phycobilisomes Supply Excitations to Both Photosystems in a Megacomplex in Cyanobacteria

Science: Phycobilisomes Supply Excitations to Both Photosystems in a Megacomplex in Cyanobacteria | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

From the editor's summary:

Photosynthesis operates through a series of protein complexes that harvest sunlight and turn it into chemical energy. The separate complexes—including photosystems I and II, phycobilisome antennae, and reaction centers—are understood for a number of photosynthetic organisms; however, the large-scale organization and interactions between them are less clear. Using protein cross-linking, Liu et al. (p. 1104) demonstrate how the individual components are organized when present as a megacomplex in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis PCC 6803. Time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy indicated that the phycobilisomes transfer energy to both photosystems, which is consistent with their molecular arrangement.

Mary Williams's insight:

Here's a nice press release as well:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-11/wuis-ssu112213.php

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Nature: Research ethics: 3 ways to blow the whistle

Nature: Research ethics: 3 ways to blow the whistle | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Reporting suspicions of scientific fraud is rarely easy, but some paths are more effective than others.
Mary Williams's insight:

Let's hope you never have to experience this particular challenge

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Frontiers | The importance of aboveground–belowground interactions on the evolution and maintenance of variation in plant defense traits

"Over the past two decades a growing body of empirical research has shown that many ecological processes are mediated by a complex array of indirect interactions occurring between rhizosphere-inhabiting organisms and those found on aboveground plant parts..."

Mary Williams's insight:

Intriguing! I like this perspective.

As the authors point out, "Unlike most terrestrial biota, the vast majority of plants occupy two connected “compartments”–the open air and soil– that differ in many biotic and abiotic properties. Aboveground plant structures include stems, branches, leaves, shoots, flowers, and seeds, whereas the soil is dominated by the root system. These differing plant structures facilitate interactions between biotic communities that rarely come into direct physical contact with one another".

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Plant Phys: A modern ampelography: a genetic basis for leaf shape and venation patterning in Vitis vinifera

Plant Phys: A modern ampelography: a genetic basis for leaf shape and venation patterning in Vitis vinifera | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

I had to look up "Ampelography" - here's the definition I found, "the field of botany concerned with the identification and classification of grapevines".

 

Anyhow, it's a lovely paper looking at a combination of morphometric analysis of grape leaves from >1200 accessions, combined with mathematical analysis of shape and venation patterns, and finally with GWAS to look at the genetic basis of leaf shape. Fascinating work, and, of course, very applied (to preserve the interaction between genotype, environment and culture in grape and wine production).

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400 years of botanical research and teaching by the University of Oxford...

400 years of botanical research and teaching by the University of Oxford... | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The 25th July 2021 marks 400 years of botanical research and teaching by the University of Oxford...

"As a celebration and count-down to this anniversary, the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum, together with the Oxford University Herbaria and the Department of Plant Sciences, will highlight 400 plants of scientific and cultural significance.

From November 24th 2013, one plant will be profiled weekly, enabling you to see images associated with the plant from Oxford University's living and preserved collections."

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Long Before Trees Overtook the Land, Earth Was Covered by Giant Mushrooms

Long Before Trees Overtook the Land, Earth Was Covered by Giant Mushrooms | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

From around 420 to 350 million years ago, when land plants were still the relatively new kids on the evolutionary block and “the tallest trees stood just a few feet high,” giant spires of life poked from the Earth. “The ancient organism boasted trunks up to 24 feet (8 meters) high and as wide as three feet (one meter),” said National Geographic in 2007.  With the help of a fossil dug up in Saudi Arabia scientists finally figured out what the giant creature was: a fungus. (We think.)

 



Read more: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/smartnews/2013/07/long-before-trees-overtook-the-land-earth-was-covered-by-giant-mushrooms/#ixzz2lTO5q28o ;
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter


Via Francis Martin
Mary Williams's insight:

How odd. My first thought was, "Where did it get its energy?". There's an intersting paper here that suggests that "non-vascular land plants or aquatic microbes were important contributors to its carbon sources" (based on carbon isotope analysis).

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/277/1691/2149.full

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Science Careers: A Career as a College Science Teacher

Science Careers: A Career as a College Science Teacher | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Are there positions out there where science Ph.D.s can earn a good, secure living by teaching? Are there teaching-focused positions that include a professional salary, benefits, reasonable working conditions, and the equanimity that can come from job security? Do positions like that exist?"

Mary Williams's insight:

If you love teaching undergraduate students about science, read about these people who have made a good, secure career out of it. Gone are the days when teaching meant "second rate" ....

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Nature. Policy: Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims

Nature. Policy: Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
This list will help non-scientists to interrogate advisers and to grasp the limitations of evidence, say William J.
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Plant physiology is cutting edge science

Plant physiology is cutting edge science | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
I love the juxtaposition of these two images...  The images are from LI-COR (http://www.licor.com/env/products/photosynthesis/?gclid=CJri_cCE87oCFfHItAodvDgAhw) and fanboyfactor (http://fanboyfactor.com/2013/05/check-out-the-star-trek-select-kirk-and-spock-figures-in-action/)
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