"PHYA and high-irradiance responses have been considered unique to seed plants because the divergence of seed plants and cryptogams (e.g., ferns and mosses) preceded the evolution of PHYA. Seed plant phytochromes translocate into the nucleus and regulate gene expression. By contrast, there has been little evidence of a nuclear localization and function of cryptogam phytochromes. Here, we identified responses to FR light in cryptogams, which are highly reminiscent of PHYA signaling in seed plants.
Each year the Biochemical Society looks for talented science writers to take part in our annual Science Communication Competition. The competition is open to all undergraduates and postgraduates, including non-members.
Questionnaire suggests researchers not as safe as they feel.
Mary Williams's insight:
One of the most important, and overlooked, things that undergraduates and young graduate students have to learn is how to evaluate lab safety risks. It's particularly important that they're aware of the rules about working alone in the lab, which is a bad idea at best.... If you're mentoring a younger scientist, try to demonstrate your best practices!
It's revised with updated references and new introductory-level concepts. Walking students through a developmental program such as the development of a leaf from a primordium is a good way to help students understand how models are derived from experimental data. It also helps them see how transcription factors, hormones and small RNAs are integrated into 3D regulatory networks.
ASPB members and undergraduate students residing in any country can apply for undergraduate summer research fellowships. They're great opportunities for students, and provide $ for the student as well as supply money, and travel funds to atttend the Plant Biology 2014 meeting.
This is a very interesting and clear study about how warming climate is impacting plant-herbivore intereactions. The paper is accessible to students and has a big, far-reaching implication. (It might be especially effective if you live in a region that's suffered the effects of bark beetles, which are serious tree-killers throught the US and Canada - yuck!).
"Warming climate has increased access of native bark beetles to high-elevation pines that historically received only intermittent exposure to these tree-killing herbivores. Here we show that a dominant, relatively naïve, high-elevation species, whitebark pine, has inferior defenses against mountain pine beetle compared with its historical lower-elevation host, lodgepole pine."
"Consequences extend from reduced food supplies for endangered grizzly bears to altered landscape and hydrological processes."
"Here, we present GWAPP, a user-friendly and interactive Web application for GWAS in A. thaliana. GWAPP places a strong emphasis on informative and efficient visualization tools for interpreting the GWAS results and provides interactive features that allow for hands-on in-depth analysis."
"The determination of structures of small RNA-bound entire eukaryotic AGO proteins is an achievement of key importance to the understanding of RNA silencing. It offers precise physicochemical explanations to many biochemical and genetic observations of AGO function, as shown here with a systematic analysis of functional consequences of ago mutations recovered in Arabidopsis genetic screens."
Beverly Glover's group is involved in some of the most interesting, interdisciplinary work, and here's another. Her work examines the developmental and genetic foundations for flower characteristics and how they interact with pollinators - it's appealing and the questions are accessible to undergraduates.
"The optical properties of plant surfaces are strongly determined by the shape of epidermal cells and by the patterning of the cuticle on top of the cells. Combinations of particular cell shapes with particular nanoscale structures can generate a wide range of optical effects. Perhaps most notably, the development of ordered ridges of cuticle on top of flat petal cells can produce diffraction-grating-like structures."
How personal-health journalism ignores the fundamental pitfalls baked into all scientific research and serves up a daily diet of unreliable information
Mary Williams's insight:
This article, from the Columbia Journalism Review, should be included in any reading list about science and the media. It's from the perpsective of a journalist, so argues that the flaws in science reporting rest not solely with the journalists but also have foundations in the way science is conducted and presented. Great discussion fodder!
In case you missed it the first time around, David Jones has turned Darwin's voyage into a facebook and twitter stream, and is repeating it - read about it here: (http://www.metaburbia.com/darwin/). It's a stream of daily or so observations, in Darwin's voice, and stragely compelling.
For example, "Staggered for a few minutes on deck & was much struck by the appearance of the sea" and "Heavy weather. I very nearly fainted from exhaustion."
People are increasingly using new media as their source for science information, but how much to we really understand how new media influences how the messages are received? There are some thought provoking ideas in this short article - worth the read!
A biologist turned careers adviser writes a book offering pointers to scientists.
Mary Williams's insight:
Sarah's written a book called "Career Planning for Research Bioscientists" and I've read it and can recommend it for anyone in the biosciences job market, academic or not. In fact, I'm in it, as a case study of somewho who changes careers (from professor to this) mid-career. Sarah regularly runs careers workshops - keep track of her schedule, and get lots of tips here: http://www.biosciencecareers.org/
Here is one more resolution for your list: “In 2013, I will communicate about plants to a non-specialist audience.” I think you know WHY (plant science is underfunded, plants are perceived as boring, or less important than animals, etc.), but here are some suggestions for HOW.
Give a public lecture at a botanic garden, library, senior center, community group or other venue. You can talk about your research or about the roles of plants in our lives. Some of the Teaching Tools materials are easily adapted to a non-specialist audience, including “Why Study Plants?”, “Genetic Improvements in Agriculture”, “Plants, Food and Human Health”, and “Medicinal Plants”. (http://www.plantcell.org/site/teachingtools/teaching.xhtml).
Bring plants and a plant-based activity into a school classroom for an hour. Contact your local schools with a concrete proposal, and they’ll help to find a teacher who can work your idea into their curriculum. Many teachers have a very strict curriculum they have to follow, but if you can show them how your presentation fits into their needs they’re usually willing to bring you in as an invited guest. Here are some resources to guide and inspire you:
Share a popular science book about plants. You can donate a copy to your public library, school library, or to your favourite high school biology teacher. Here are a few I’ve read recently that I’d like to share:
“What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses” by Daniel Chamovitz
“Seed to Seed: The Secret Life of Plants” by Nicholas Harberd
“Hybrid: The History and Science of Plant Breeding” by Noel Kingsbury
"The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth's History” by David Beerling
“Eating the Sun” by Oliver Morton
“The Secret Life of Trees” by Colin Tudge
“Reinventing Life: A Guide to our Evolutionary Future” by Jeffrey Coker
“Reaching for the Sun: How Plants Work” by John King
“Tomorrows Table” by Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak
“The New Oxford Book of Food Plants” by J.G. Vaughan and C.A. Geissler
“The Natural History of Medicinal Plants” by Judith Sumner
"A Private Life of Plants" by David Attenborough (book and DVD!)
(if I missed any of your favorites let me know and I’ll add them!)
Plant scientists do have to shoulder a heavier burden of responsibility for communicating about our discipline than do animal biologists, but we also have a strong, supportive community and plenty of well-researched resources to make it easier. Have a very happy, fruitful year!