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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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Kevin Zelnio's moving personal account of leaving science

Kevin Zelnio's moving personal account of leaving science | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Today I end a 5-year run at Deep Sea News. I'm sad that I am unable to continuing committing to this great group, and indeed science and science communication more generally.
Mary Williams's insight:

I think you'll enjoy reading this very personal account of Kevin's sometimes frustrating experiences as a scientist and science writer. From unsupportive and obstructionist PhD advisors to money worries, stress, and the struggle to spend time with children, but finally a new start. Go Kevin!

 

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Science: Losing Arable Land, China Faces Stark Choice: Adapt or Go Hungry

Science: Losing Arable Land, China Faces Stark Choice: Adapt or Go Hungry | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Must read article from Science.

"Across the globe, scientists and policy-makers are studying how climate change will affect agriculture. But in China, the question is especially urgent. The country has roughly 20% of the world's population but only 7% of its arable land—a share that is shrinking in the face of rapid urbanization"

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Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism: Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship

Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism: Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

$10,000 fellowship, application due April 1, to write about food or farming.

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Atlantic: What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Food

Atlantic: What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Food | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Myths and facts about health, corruption, and saving the world
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PLOS Blogs #Scio13: Dispatches from the Hive Mind

PLOS Blogs #Scio13: Dispatches from the Hive Mind | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

The ins and outs of online science communication: a summary of the recent science-online conference.

Mary Williams's insight:

This is worth a look, and pass it along to any students who are considering joining the online science writing community.

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North American Invasive Species: Information, Images, Videos, Distribution Maps

North American Invasive Species: Information, Images, Videos, Distribution Maps | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Invasive Species: any species of insects, animals, plants and pathogens, including its seeds, eggs, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species, that is not native to that ecosystem; and whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health."

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Structure–function analysis of the GmRIC1 signal peptide and CLE domain required for nodulation control in soybean

Legumes control the nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis in response to external and internal stimuli, such as nitrate, and via systemic autoregulation of nodulation (AON). Overexpression of the CLV3/ESR-related (CLE) pre-propeptide-encoding genes GmNIC1 (nitrate-induced and acting locally) and GmRIC1 (Bradyrhizobium-induced and acting systemically) suppresses soybean nodulation dependent on the activity of the nodulation autoregulation receptor kinase (GmNARK). This nodule inhibition response was used to assess the relative importance of key structural components within and around the CLE domain sequences of these genes. Using a site-directed mutagenesis approach, mutants were produced at each amino acid within the CLE domain (RLAPEGPDPHHN) ofGmRIC1. This approach identified the Arg1, Ala3, Pro4, Gly6, Pro7, Asp8, His11, and Asn12 residues as critical to GmRIC1 nodulation suppression activity (NSA). In contrast, none of the mutations in conserved residues outside of the CLE domain showed compromised NSA. Chimeric genes derived from combinations of GmRIC1 and GmNIC1 domains were used to determine the role of each pre-propeptide domain in NSA differences that exist between the two peptides. It was found that the transit peptide and CLE peptide regions of GmRIC1 significantly enhanced activity of GmNIC1. In contrast, the comparable GmNIC1 domains reduced the NSA of GmRIC1. Identification of these critical residues and domains provides a better understanding of how these hormone-like peptides function in plant development and regulation.


Via Jean-Michel Ané
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Naturejobs: Free-range learning (the future of informal science education)

Naturejobs: Free-range learning (the future of informal science education) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
The budding field of informal science education offers varied research paths but uncertain funding.
Mary Williams's insight:

I missed this last month - if you are considering a career in informal science education or at a science museum, you'll find this interesting.

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PLOS Biology: Evolutionary Biology for the 21st Century

PLOS Biology: Evolutionary Biology for the 21st Century | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Outcomes from a workshop on the teaching and training in evolutionary biology.

"In the following sections, we briefly highlight some key applications of evolutionary biology, provide examples of emerging research areas, and identify infrastructure and training needs".

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Nature Genetics: Quantitative variation in maize kernel row number is controlled by the FASCIATED EAR2 locus

Nature Genetics: Quantitative variation in maize kernel row number is controlled by the FASCIATED EAR2 locus | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Domesticated maize make 8-20 rows of kernels, whereas its ancestor teosinte makes 2 rows.We show that variation in the CLAVATA receptor–like protein FASCIATED EAR2 leads to increased inflorescence meristem size and kernel row number. These findings indicate that modulation of fundamental stem cell proliferation control pathways has the potential to enhance crop yields.

 

Here's a summary from Science Daily http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130203145600.htm

Mary Williams's insight:

Congrats David Jackson and co - lovely study!

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Planting trees may not reverse climate change but it will help locally

Planting trees may not reverse climate change but it will help locally | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

What would be the long-term impacts of planting trees in Europe?

 

"Large contiguous forest blocks can have distinctive biogeophysical effect on the climate on regional and local scale. In certain regions of the temperate zone, climate change signal due to greenhouse gas emission can be reduced by afforestation due to the dominant evaporative cooling effect during summer."


Via R K Upadhyay
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Toxic algae species is full of freeloading cheaters... and why that makes them even deadlier

Toxic algae species is full of freeloading cheaters... and why that makes them even deadlier | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Prymnesium parvum is a single-celled, toxic algae species that wreaks havoc throughout U.S. waters. The toxin is designed to wipe out their competition for sunlight and nutrients...

 

Nice story, here's the article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/evo.12030/abstract

Mary Williams's insight:

I love this video "Golden algae attacking" - Prymnesium parvum algae ganging up on a marine green alga... http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-01/uoa-tht011813.php. Show your students, they'll love it and want to learn more!

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Nature News: Coffee rust regains foothold (2013)

Nature News: Coffee rust regains foothold (2013) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Researchers marshal technology in bid to thwart fungal outbreak in Central America. - Where there is coffee, there is ‘coffee rust’. But the long stalemate between growers and the fungus behind the devastating disease has broken — with the fungus taking the advantage. As one of the most severe outbreaks ever rages through Central America, researchers are reaching for the latest tools in an effort to combat the pest, from sequencing its genome to cross-breeding coffee plants with resistant strains. Caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix, coffee rust generally does not kill plants, but the Institute of Coffee of Costa Rica estimates that the latest outbreak may halve the 2013–14 harvest in the worst affected areas of the nation. This outbreak is “the worst we’ve seen in Central America and Mexico since the rust arrived” in the region more than 40 years ago, says John Vandermeer, an ecologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who has received “reports of devastation in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico”.


Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL
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The impact of bad science in the headlines

The impact of bad science in the headlines | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Mary Williams's insight:

We’re putting together some information about bad science, headlines and public perception. It is, frankly, depressing.

 

“The more a technology is associated with “risk” in the media, the greater the public experiences as “risky” – this is called the ‘social amplification of risk’.”.(You can read more about that here http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/0272-4332.00062/abstract).

 

Solution? Education, education, education.

 

These data are from here: http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Measles/EpidemiologicalData/

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Gary Stevens's curator insight, February 11, 2013 1:11 PM

Intresting correlation to explore for anyone looking for examples of poor science coverage in the media. Source of data is provided below.

Science Education 225's curator insight, March 4, 2013 10:37 PM

Data in UK 

These data are from here: http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/InfectiousDiseases/InfectionsAZ/Measles/EpidemiologicalData/

Science Education 225's curator insight, March 20, 2013 8:29 PM

How can you interpret these 2 graphs. Go to the source and then explain what the graphs mean in 2 or 3 sentences

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Science: Jack of All Trades, Master of Flowering

Science: Jack of All Trades, Master of Flowering | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Carbohydrates are thought to play a crucial role in the regulation of flowering, and trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P) has been suggested to function as a proxy for carbohydrate status in plants. The loss of TREHALOSE-6-PHOSPHATE SYNTHASE 1 (TPS1) causes Arabidopsis thaliana to flower extremely late, even under otherwise inductive environmental conditions. This suggests that TPS1 is required for the timely initiation of flowering. We show that the T6P pathway affects flowering both in the leaves and at the shoot meristem, and integrate TPS1 into the existing genetic framework of flowering-time control. "

Mary Williams's insight:

Great! Trehalose-6-phophate is such an interesting molecule....

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Slate: Chemophobia is bad for you

Slate: Chemophobia is bad for you | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"We are a chemophobic culture. Chemical has become a synonym for something artificial, adulterated, hazardous, or toxic. Chemicals are bad—for you, for your children, for the environment. But whatever chemophobics would like to think, there is no avoiding chemicals, no way to create chemical-free zones. Absolutely everything is made of atoms and molecules; it’s all chemistry."

Mary Williams's insight:

This is good! Is it safer to treat your ailments with "Spirit of feathers" or "Four-marvels powder" than "Naproxen" or "Amethopterin"? Why do people put more trust  in chemicals if they have warm and friendly names?

It's not just chemophobia, it's also chem-illiteracy!

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A Tripartite Growth Regulatory Cascade of Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors

A Tripartite Growth Regulatory Cascade of Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Plant growth is regulated by a multiplicity of factors, many of which are transduced via hormone signaling. However, how these hormone signals converge to affect growth is not entirely clear (reviewed in Depuydt and Hardtke, 2011). New work from Ikeda et al. (pages 4483–4497, November 2012) and Bai et al. (pages 4917–4929) demonstrates that the cell elongation component of growth is regulated by a mechanism involving groups of three basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors (some of which lack the basic domain).


Via Jennifer Mach, Andres Zurita
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Andres Zurita's curator insight, February 7, 2013 6:20 AM

A free Plant Cell paper

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Pretty plant & pathogen fabric from Guinea-Bissau

Pretty plant & pathogen fabric from Guinea-Bissau | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
I found this picture today - it's fabric from Guinea-Bissau. Can you guess what plant and pathogen it depicts? (The link is here http://www.invasive.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=5356671). Did anybody recognize it without help?
Mary Williams's insight:

Does anyone know the story behind this beatiful fabric? Is it for educational use (recognize your diseased plant!), or is it an artistic expression, or ??

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Abigail Rumsey's comment, February 7, 2013 3:57 AM
I guessed it right! Good to know that after indexing hundreds of plant disease factsheets something's gone in!
Mary Williams's comment, February 7, 2013 5:41 AM
Congratulations! I think it's beautiful and interesting fabric...
Abigail Rumsey's comment, February 7, 2013 5:54 AM
Me too, maybe there should be more plant pathogen designs, although some are less beautiful than others...
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USDA Climate Change and Agriculture Report

USDA Climate Change and Agriculture Report | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Hot off the presses, 186 pages, I lost count how many figures, and references. Lots of discussion points for your courses. There's a companion report on forests, too.

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AckerbauHalle's curator insight, February 6, 2013 9:52 AM

USDA zu den Folgen der Klimaveränderungen

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NatChemBiol: Coordination of auxin and ethylene biosynthesis by the aminotransferase VAS1

NatChemBiol: Coordination of auxin and ethylene biosynthesis by the aminotransferase VAS1 | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

The VAS1 aminotransferase regulates the shade avoidance response in Arabidopsis thaliana by shunting metabolic flux away from auxin and ethylene, two growth regulatory plant hormones.- from the Chory and Noel labs at the Salk Institute.

 

Here's a good summary from the Salk: http://www.salk.edu/news/pressrelease_details.php?press_id=597

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New Phytologist: Pointing PINs in the right directions: a potassium transporter is required for the polar localization of auxin efflux carriers

New Phytologist: Pointing PINs in the right directions: a potassium transporter is required for the polar localization of auxin efflux carriers | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

This is a summary, the paper is here http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.12092/abstract

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Seeing the woods — statistics for the very young - Education - Significance Magazine

Seeing the woods — statistics for the very young - Education - Significance Magazine | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Looking for some very basic resources for teaching statistics, I found this excellent article from "Significance", the magazine of the Royal Statistics Society. It's a terrific plant biology exercise for 9 year olds - which leaves are bigger, those in the sun or the shade?

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Planta, Special Issue on Evolution and Biogenesis of Chloroplasts and Mitochondria

Planta, Special Issue on Evolution and Biogenesis of Chloroplasts and Mitochondria | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"In October 2012 an international symposium at the University of Munich in Germany entitled “Endosymbiosis: From Prokaryotes to Eukaryotic Organelles” highlighted many of the fundamental aspects surrounding the endosymbiotic process as well as mitochondrial and plastid function. Many colleagues who attended the conference contributed to this special volume in “Planta” on “Biogenesis and Function of Chloroplasts and Mitochondria”. It provides a number of fascinating peer-reviewed articles on how these organelles perform today, how their interplay works and what challenges we face in the future."

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Molecular interactions between plants

Molecular interactions between plants | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

The next Teaching Tool looks at how plants interact with each other, from molecules to ecosystems. For example, roots interact differently with "strangers" than "kin" or "self", as described further here in this new paper from the Benfey lab (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/01/24/1222821110.abstract).

 

We all know that shoots grow taller to compete for light, or do they? Some shade tolerant plants don't try to compete with their much taller neighbors, instead they adapt to life in the dim lane. You can read more about that in this new TIPS article from the Pierik goup (http://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/abstract/S1360-1385%2812%2900215-4), and more about how plants detect and respond to their neighbors in their recent article in Functional Ecology (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2435.12010/abstract).

 

Although plant-to-plant interactions have been studied by ecologists for decades, we're only recently learning about these interactions at the molecular scale. As our Teaching Tool describes, the applications of this knowledge range from forestry management to mitigating the challenges of invasive species, and the design of better agroecosystems. Look for it in March.

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PhilTransRoySoc: Catch up on thylakoids with this special issue

PhilTransRoySoc: Catch up on thylakoids with this special issue | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

In case you missed it, there's a special issue on 'The plant thylakoid membrane: structure, organization, assembly and dynamic response to the environment' in Dec 2012 Phil Trans Roy Soc B. Lots of fine reviews!

 

http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1608.toc

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