I've got a copy of this on my desk - it's very nice!
Several people have asked, "Is this the new edition of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plants?" - no, this is an undergraduate textbook that surveys plant processes from germination to senescence and reproduction - same Russell Jones, different book.
Sir David Baulcombe is one of the world's top scientists whose work identified small RNAs, and he's a nice person as well. He will be a Keynote Speaker at the upcoming UK Plant Sciences Federation meeting in Dundee, Scotland, April 2013, which is sure to be a stimulating meeting http://www.plantsci2013.org.uk/programme/
"Wheat is the most important food crop worldwide and a principal source of nutrients in some of the poorest countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But wheat, like all living organisms, is unimaginably complex"
Excellent analogy - like trying to design a more fuel-efficient car - many traits to consider. Bravo CIMMYT, thanks for this super video.
In Science there's a nice review of a new book "VISIBLE EMPIRE: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment" by Daniela Bleichmar. It's described as a "lavishly illustrated and lucidly written" book that taps a "treasure trove of botanical illustrations". It's going on my wish list, do you hear that Santa?
Free to download with registration, 36 page booklet written for the general public, appropirate for students too.
"Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices is intended to help people understand what is known about climate change. First, it lays out the evidence that human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, are responsible for much of the warming and related changes being observed around the world. Second, it summarizes projections of future climate changes and impacts expected in this century and beyond. Finally, the booklet examines how science can help inform choice about managing and reducing the risks posed by climate change. The information is based on a number of National Research Council reports, each of which represents the consensus of experts who have reviewed hundreds of studies describing many years of accumulating evidence."
We'd love to include these paintings in our upcoming Teaching Tool about medicinal plants, but we can't, so here's the link instead.
Several paintings illustrate material covered in the Teaching Tool, including "Serturner: First of the Alkaloid Chemists", which shows what happens when you ask your friends to be your experimental subjects.....
Last week at the "Voice of young scientists" media workshop, several early career scientists expressed an interest in communicating via new or social media but weren't sure how to get started (http://www.senseaboutscience.org/pages/voys.html).
Here are a few useful how-to articles to get you started communicating via a blog or twitter.
These posts will answer most of your questions, including how and why:
(The "blogroll" of the first two posts lists links to many of the top science blogs to inspire you).
You can start your own blog on wordpress or blogspot or other hosting sites (I like Scoopit). If you want to write a single article rather than start a blog, you can try to submit a guest post to an established blog like those in the blogroll. Science blogging is competitive though, so may be hard to get a high profile guest post without having an established blog already. Alternatively, look for a lower profile site, such as might be provided by your university, or a discipline-specific site. Fledgling group sites are often looking for contributions - here's one actively seeking content http://www.thetwentyfirstfloor.com/?page_id=2995. Or, start a group blog with colleagues!
Twitter has been embraced by a lot of leading scientists and science communicators. Its free and safe and you can be completely silent but still get a lot out of it. Start by creating an account and following people and organizations for a bit before you jump in. Most of the writers for influential blogs tweet, and you can find their user names on their blogs. I also follow my favorite journals (including @sciencemagazine and @naturemagazine) for updates on new content. Retweet things you like, and tweet links to content you find interesting, including your own blog posts!
You can also be a very effective science communicator by responding to newspaper articles about science "below the line" (in the comments section). For me this is the hardest, and I don't do it much, but I appreciate people who do. Most articles about nutrition, climate change, GM plants etc generate reams of comments from the scientifically ignorant, and I applaud those who take the time to point out errors, post links etc.
In a Nature commentary about the Seralini paper, Francois Houllier asks "How do we address the questions about the impact of GM crops, and how do we prevent this kind of negative reaction?" He then suggests more public finding for risk-benefit analyses, as well as "proper academic standards" - specifically, allowing data to be inspected and outside experts to comment on the results (these standards are notably lacking in the Seralini paper). He also points to a GM grapevine rootstock study that was publicly funded with no intention to develop a commercial variety, but nevertheless vandalized.
He concludes, "As scientists, we must champion the multiple concerns of society, even when they make a contradictory call for more innovation as well as more precaution."
Here is a press release describing several newly funded projects for increased food security globally.
"Each project includes at least one partner from the UK and one from a developing nation. This approach aims to build scientific capacity in developing countries, with the aim of developing research teams and projects that tackle other local scientific challenges."
Check out the glossy PDF magazine that provides more info on the projects:
Our knowledge of the microbiology of the phyllosphere, or the aerial parts of plants, has historically lagged behind our knowledge of the microbiology of the rhizosphere, or the below-ground habitat of plants, particularly with respect to fundamental questions such as which microorganisms are present and what they do there. In recent years, however, this has begun to change. Cultivation-independent studies have revealed that a few bacterial phyla predominate in the phyllosphere of different plants and that plant factors are involved in shaping these phyllosphere communities, which feature specific adaptations and exhibit multipartite relationships both with host plants and among community members. Insights into the underlying structural principles of indigenous microbial phyllosphere populations will help us to develop a deeper understanding of the phyllosphere microbiota and will have applications in the promotion of plant growth and plant protection.
Plant pathogens are perceived by pattern recognition receptors, which are activated upon binding to pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). Ubiquitination and vesicle trafficking have been linked to the regulation of immune signaling. However, little information exists about components of vesicle trafficking involved in immune signaling and the mechanisms that regulate them. In this study, we identified Arabidopsis thaliana Exo70B2, a subunit of the exocyst complex that mediates vesicle tethering during exocytosis, as a target of the plant U-box–type ubiquitin ligase 22 (PUB22), which acts in concert with PUB23 and PUB24 as a negative regulator of PAMP-triggered responses. We show that Exo70B2 is required for both immediate and later responses triggered by all tested PAMPs, suggestive of a role in signaling. Exo70B2 is also necessary for the immune response against different pathogens. Our data demonstrate that PUB22 mediates the ubiquitination and degradation of Exo70B2 via the 26S Proteasome. Furthermore, degradation is regulated by the autocatalytic turnover of PUB22, which is stabilized upon PAMP perception. We therefore propose a mechanism by which PUB22-mediated degradation of Exo70B2 contributes to the attenuation of PAMP-induced signaling.
Here's a fun graph for a cause vs correlation discussion. (The NEJM article requires a subscription, but this SciAm summary doesn't, and provides the kernel needed for discussion).
There's a national-level correlation between chocolate consumption and # Nobel Prizes. Is it a causal relationship (and if so, which way?) What additional data or experiments could clarify this relationship?
Wheat stem rust has two hosts, wheat and barberry. Barberry, the "alternate" host, is needed for the fungus to complete it sexual cycle and geneticly diversify. Without barberry, the fungus only reproduces vegetatively. Therefore, the presence of the alternate host is good for the fungus, but bad for wheat. Barberry eradication programs succeeded in eliminating most barberry plants from wheat growing regions, but continued monitoring is important. This video describes the contribution of barberry to the spread of stem rust, and shows how to identify barberry plants and examine them for the presence of the rust.
To what extent does our evolutionary history affect how we perceive and respond to this kind of threat? The author argues that understanding the psychology of climate change rejection can lead to more effecitve communication - for example, "One solution for communicators is to combine climate facts with an appeal to values".
There are interesting conversations taking place in the comments section of the article too!
Dr Anne Osterrieder is a Research and Science Communication Fellow in Plant Cell Biology at the Department of Biological and Medical Sciences, Oxford Brookes University. Here she writes about how she juggles research and science communication - inspiring!
"The ability to engage different audiences is becoming increasingly important"
• Plants growing in various environments have a diversity of structures for acquiring and retaining water, exchanging gases, optimizing photosynthesis, and supporting growth and reproduction.
Learning objective: Compare and contrast the structures by which vascular and non-vascular plants obtain and retain water, allow for gas exchange for photosynthesis, and allow for long-distance internal transport of water.
• Plants cycle oxygen and carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and respiration.
Learning objective: Create a diagram that illustrates the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and respiration in an ecosystem.