Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education)
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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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The Conversation: What makes a good teacher?

The Conversation: What makes a good teacher? | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Do you have a good university lecturer? What makes them good? Is it because they make their classes relevant? Are their lectures interesting or challenging? Or maybe they’re just fun to be around?
Mary Williams's insight:

I agree with the conclusion of this short piece - "if you cannot explain the concepts in a way that the audience can understand, it doesn’t matter what else you do."

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Kirsten Macaulay's curator insight, January 21, 2014 2:36 AM

Interesting discussion; but one size ("good") does not "fit all".

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Meet-the-Terpenes, from JamesKennedyMonash

Meet-the-Terpenes, from JamesKennedyMonash | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

James makes some stunning posters - see more and download a high resolution versin of "Meet the Terpenes" at his website http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/

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PNAS: Perennial grasslands enhance biodiversity and multiple ecosystem services in bioenergy landscapes

PNAS: Perennial grasslands enhance biodiversity and multiple ecosystem services in bioenergy landscapes | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Here we show that perennial bioenergy crops provide an alternative to annual grains that increases biodiversity of multiple taxa and sustain a variety of ecosystem functions, promoting the creation of multifunctional agricultural landscapes. We found that switchgrass and prairie plantings harbored significantly greater plant, methanotrophic bacteria, arthropod, and bird diversity than maize."

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Plant geneticist Dubcovsky tapped for Wolf Prize, ag's Nobel

Plant geneticist Dubcovsky tapped for Wolf Prize, ag's Nobel | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Jorge Dubcovsky, an acclaimed UC Davis plant geneticist and international leader in wheat genomics, was named a recipient of the 2014 Wolf Prize in Agriculture on Thursday. The $100,000 Wolf Prizes...
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Science: Identification of a Plant Receptor for Extracellular ATP

Science: Identification of a Plant Receptor for Extracellular ATP | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Extracellular adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) is an essential signaling molecule that is perceived in mammals by plasma membrane P2-type purinoceptors. Similar ATP receptors do not exist in plants, although extracellular ATP has been shown to play critical roles in plant growth, development, and stress responses. Here, we identify an ATP-insensitive Arabidopsis mutant, dorn1 (Does not Respond to Nucleotides 1)."

Mary Williams's insight:

Interesting. For a historical perspective on the role of ATP as an extacellular signal in animals, see this article in Bioessays:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bies.201100130/abstract.

 

(This cute figure is from the supplemental materials)

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DevCell: Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier Protein SUMO Enables Plants to Control Growth Independently of Gibberellin

DevCell: Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier Protein SUMO Enables Plants to Control Growth Independently of Gibberellin | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Plants survive adverse conditions by modulating their growth in response to a changing environment. Gibberellins (GAs) play a key role in these adaptive responses by stimulating the degradation of growth-repressing DELLA proteins. GA binding to its receptor GID1 enables association of GID1 with DELLAs. This leads to the ubiquitin-mediated proteasomal degradation of DELLAs and consequently growth promotion. We report that DELLA-dependent growth control can be regulated independently of GA. We demonstrate that when a proportion of DELLAs is conjugated to the Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier (SUMO) protein, the extent of conjugation increases during stress."

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Teaching Tools in Plant Biology "Plants and Arthropods: Friends or Foes" revised

Teaching Tools in Plant Biology "Plants and Arthropods: Friends or Foes" revised | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

As  2013 drew to a close, we finished revising and updating the Teaching Tool about "Plants and Arthropods" [arthropods are insects + arachnids (mites) and others, and as mites are important interactors of plants, we used the broader classification!].

 

This one is written with Merijn Kant, who has a real appreciation for the tug-of-war that goes on between these two groups - how do plants simultaneously defend against herbivores and attract pollinators? It also has a good introduction to the very hot field of chemical ecology.

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The potential of Physcomitrella patens as a platform for the production of plant-based vaccines, Expert Review of Vaccines, Informa Healthcare

The potential of Physcomitrella patens as a platform for the production of plant-based vaccines, Expert Review of Vaccines, Informa Healthcare | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

The moss Physcomitrella patens has a number of advantages for the production of biopharmaceuticals, including: i) availability of standardized conditions for cultivation in bioreactors; ii) not being part of the food chain; iii) high biosafety; iv) availability of highly efficient transformation methods; v) a haploid, fully sequenced genome providing genetic stability and uniform expression; vi) efficient gene targeting at the nuclear level allows for the generation of mutants with specific post-translational modifications (e.g., glycosylation patterns); and vii) oral formulations are a viable approach as no toxic effects are attributed to ingestion of this moss. In the light of this panorama, this opinion paper analyzes the possibilities of using P. patens for the production of oral vaccines and presents some specific cases where its use may represent significant progress in the field of plant-based vaccine development. The advantages represented by putative adjuvant effects of endogenous secondary metabolites and producing specific glycosylation patterns are highlighted


Via Jean-Pierre Zryd
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US: Scientist uses helicopter drone to detect wheat-disease progression

US: Scientist uses helicopter drone to detect wheat-disease progression | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
AMARILLO, Texas — Charlie Rush hopes to use a helicopter drone to track disease across wheat fields, to eventually help producers make better irrigation decisions.

Via CIMMYT, Int.
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Rob Dawson's comment, January 13, 2014 3:42 AM
Rothamstead in the UK is using them too: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2013/131202-pr-octocopter-to-monitor-crops.aspx
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The Upside Of The Bitter Cold: It Kills Bugs That Kill Trees

The Upside Of The Bitter Cold: It Kills Bugs That Kill Trees | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Scientists say the freezing weather can help reduce the populations of a number of invasive species.
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To UW-Madison professor, there's nothing ordinary about vanilla

To UW-Madison professor, there's nothing ordinary about vanilla | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

A UW-Madison expert on vanilla orchids crosses the world to ensure that the spice it produces remains a valuable agricultural product.

Madison— To Ken Cameron, vanilla is a lot sexier than its name implies.

The world's leading expert on the biology of vanilla orchids sees the popular spice, not as plain or ordinary, but as a beautifully complex and valuable commodity produced from the world's largest family of plants.

While bottles of vanilla extract fly off store shelves at this time of year as holiday bakers mix it into cakes, pies and cookies, vanilla is much more than a pastry chef's favorite spice.

Deodorants, household cleaners, popular brands of vodka, pill coatings, the finest perfumes, even Coke and Pepsi count vanilla as an ingredient. And, of course, it's the No. 1 selling ice cream.

"I often tell people, 'I'll challenge you that within 10 minutes of waking, you will encounter vanilla,'" Cameron said in his book- and plant-filled office at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he's a botany professor and director of the Wisconsin State Herbarium."


Read more from Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/newswatch/to-uw-madison-professor-theres-nothing-ordinary-about-vanilla-b99156145z1-236666281.html#ixzz2q3Z6nlzh
Follow us: @JournalSentinel on Twitter


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Eve Emshwiller's curator insight, January 10, 2014 10:24 PM

A feature on my colleague Ken Cameron's research on vanilla orchids.

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Here's a terrific example of a clear Social Media Policy, from PAG XXII

Here's a terrific example of a clear Social Media Policy, from PAG XXII | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Important policies for PAGXX attendees.
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Science: A Spatial Accommodation by Neighboring Cells Is Required for Organ Initiation in Arabidopsis

Science: A Spatial Accommodation by Neighboring Cells Is Required for Organ Initiation in Arabidopsis | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Plant cells are immobilized by their rigid cells walls, and the root endodermal cell layer maintains a impervious perimeter seal made of an indigestible irregular polymer. Despite these mechanical obstacles, lateral root primordia, which initiate in the deep layers of the root, manage to break through to the surface. Vermeer et al. used live-tissue imaging and genetics to show that signals are exchanged between the root primordium and the handful of cells overlying it, which then cave in on themselves to open up a channel for the growing root primordium. "

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PLOS ONE: Diversity of Global Rice Markets and the Science Required for Consumer-Targeted Rice Breeding

PLOS ONE: Diversity of Global Rice Markets and the Science Required for Consumer-Targeted Rice Breeding | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

What a terrific article! Fascinating for students to think about the genetics of rice grain diversity as well as regional preferences. Perhaps you could read it with your class along with a taste test!

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Isoetes echinospora

Isoetes echinospora | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

From the Oxford Plants 400 page, here is their plant of the week, Isoetes echinospora. It's a lycophyte! Read more here http://herbaria.plants.ox.ac.uk/bol/plants400/Pages/Isoetesechinospora

 

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Mark O Martin shares the fruits of his students' creativity

Mark O Martin shares the fruits of his students' creativity | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"I find that students become more engaged in their studies when there is a creative element, and that element often expresses itself artistically.  This can be seen here.  Thus, in last semester's microbiology course, I gave my students the opportunity to have an extra credit "creative" project revolving around microbiology."

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PlantPhys: A novel protective function for cytokinin in the light stress response is mediated by the AHK2 and AHK3 receptors

PlantPhys: A novel protective function for cytokinin in the light stress response is mediated by the AHK2 and AHK3 receptors | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

" We demonstrate that in plants with a reduced cytokinin status the D1 protein level was strongly decreased upon light stress.... The efficiency of photoprotective mechanisms, such as non-enzymatic and enzymatic scavenging systems, was decreased in plants with a reduced cytokinin status which could be a cause for the increased photodamage and subsequent D1 degradation....We conclude that proper cytokinin signaling and regulation of specific target genes is necessary to protect plants efficiently from light stress."

Mary Williams's insight:

Nice molecular link between cytokinin signaling and protection from photodamage.

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▶ Phytoplasmas in Plants - Foodskey - YouTube

Professor Matthew Dickinson from the University of Nottingham researches the field of plant pathogens. More videos: http://www.foodskey.net This video was fi...
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Nature: Rate of tree carbon accumulation increases continuously with tree size

Nature: Rate of tree carbon accumulation increases continuously with tree size | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"Forests are major components of the global carbon cycle, providing substantial feedback to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.... Here we present a global analysis of 403 tropical and temperate tree species, showing that for most species mass growth rate increases continuously with tree size."

Green dots are eucalyptus and red are coast redwoods - very big trees and still growing!

Mary Williams's insight:

This study shows that although the rate of carbon fixed per leaf may be lower for larger trees, it's made up for by the fact that leaf area scales with the square of trunk diameter- so big trees are major carbon fixers.

(In other words, let's protect our old-growth forests!).

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Plant Cell: AUXIN BINDING PROTEIN1 Links Cell Wall Remodeling, Auxin Signaling, and Cell Expansion in Arabidopsis

Plant Cell: AUXIN BINDING PROTEIN1 Links Cell Wall Remodeling, Auxin Signaling, and Cell Expansion in Arabidopsis | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

" Molecular and genetic evidence indicates that ABP1 affects the expression of a broad range of cell wall–related genes, especially cell wall remodeling genes, mainly via an SCFTIR/AFB-dependent pathway. ABP1 also functions in the modulation of hemicellulose xyloglucan structure... In muro remodeling of xyloglucan side chains via an ABP1-dependent pathway appears to be of critical importance for temporal and spatial control of cell expansion."

Mary Williams's insight:

Nice study into the function of the the ABP1 auxin receptor

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Herman Höfte's curator insight, February 15, 2014 6:13 AM

This study suprisingly shows a role for xyloglucan modification in the control of cell elongation downstream of the auxin receptor ABP . I schematically summarized one of the most striking findings of this article in the figure. ABP activation triggers the transcriptional activation of a XG fucosidase, An inducible abp mutant is impaired in  this fucosidase  activity as well as hypocotyl elongation. Interestingly ectopically expressing a XG fucosidase restores growth even in the abp mutant. It will be interesting to see whether the effect of the XG defucosylation has a direct effect on the mechanics of the cell wall (see previous scoop).or involves oligosaccharide signaling. 

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Love Wine and Tea? Scientists Discover Plant Part Whence Their Pucker Springs

Love Wine and Tea? Scientists Discover Plant Part Whence Their Pucker Springs | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"When you take a sip of red wine or black tea, you’re swallowing a stiff swig of tannins. These astringent plant chemicals give the beverages their characteristic pucker. Now, the part of plant cells that makes and transports tannins — long overlooked by botanists — has at last been discovered, hiding right under our noses."

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Michael Eisen: Nathanael Johnson lets the anti-GMO movement off the hook

Michael Eisen: Nathanael Johnson lets the anti-GMO movement off the hook | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

This by Michael Eisen (Berkeley) is worth reading - "What is most disturbing about the GMO debate – and why it matters – is that the anti-GMO movement at almost every turn rejects empiricism as a means of understanding the world and making decisions about it" - written in response to Nathanial Johnson's epic series of articles that conclude with "none of it matters"

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Heredity - Special Issue, Quantitative Genetics ($)

"As illustrated in this special issue, quantitative genetics is a dynamic and expanding field. New developments in methodologies (molecular and statistical) coupled with new theoretical approaches (such as associative effects models where members of a group influence the trait value of a focal individual) have significant implications for evolutionary biologists, breeders, and human geneticists."

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology short YouTube video: Speciation, An Illustrated Introduction

Just in case you needed an 8 minute video explaining speciation, this is a good one that uses birds as an example!

 

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