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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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Threat to global GM soybean access as patent nears expiry : Nature Biotechnology : Nature Publishing Group

Threat to global GM soybean access as patent nears expiry : Nature Biotechnology : Nature Publishing Group | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Via Ali Taheri
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Plant Cell: An Evolutionarily Conserved Signaling Mechanism Mediates Far-Red Light Responses in Land Plants

Plant Cell: An Evolutionarily Conserved Signaling Mechanism Mediates Far-Red Light Responses in Land Plants | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"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.

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Nice paper!

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Plant Cell Physiol special focus issue: Blue light responses mediated by LOV ($)

Plant Cell Physiol special focus issue: Blue light responses mediated by LOV ($) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

There's a nice review by Suetsugu and Wada, and several research papers. Enjoy!

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Molecular Plant Pathology - Free posters

Molecular Plant Pathology - Free posters | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

We've already shared these, but they're so good we're going to share them again. Download your free posters of top 10 viral, fungal and bacterial plant pathogens!

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Biochemical Society: Science Communication Competition for students

Biochemical Society: Science Communication Competition for students | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

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. 

Cash prizes!

The page also has links to last year's winners.

 

http://www.biochemistry.org/GetInvolved/ScienceCommunicationCompetition.aspx

Mary Williams's insight:

You can give your students an assignment to write an essay for this assignment, and encourage them to submit it - who knows?

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Nature: Safety survey reveals lab risks

Nature: Safety survey reveals lab risks | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Questionnaire suggests researchers not as safe as they feel.
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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!

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Blog: Explorations of Style, about academic writing

Blog: Explorations of Style, about academic writing | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

This blog is a treasure trove of clear lessons about good writing. It's full of tips for resolving writing problems that you can pass along. 

This archived post covers a skill lacking in many student writers: making effective transitions. Check it out, and browse some of the other topics as well.

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Genetic Control of Leaf Development (TTPB3) Revised (OA)

Genetic Control of Leaf Development (TTPB3) Revised (OA) | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

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.

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Science: NextGenVoices. "What is the greatest challenge facing your country, and how would you use science to address it?"

Science: NextGenVoices. "What is the greatest challenge facing your country, and how would you use science to address it?" | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Inspiring answers from young scientists around the world - well done!

 

There's another NextGenVoices challenge "Ideally, how will scientists share their results with each other and the public in 50 years?"

Add your thoughts here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NextGen6

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ASPB: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship - deadline Feb 12

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.

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PNAS: Temperature-driven range expansion of an irruptive insect heightened by weakly coevolved plant defenses

PNAS: Temperature-driven range expansion of an irruptive insect heightened by weakly coevolved plant defenses | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

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."

 

And,

"Consequences extend from reduced food supplies for endangered grizzly bears to altered landscape and hydrological processes."

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Plant Cell. GWAPP: A Web Application for Genome-Wide Association Mapping in Arabidopsis

Plant Cell. GWAPP: A Web Application for Genome-Wide Association Mapping in Arabidopsis | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"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."

 

Find it here: http://gwas.gmi.oeaw.ac.at/

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Plant Physiology Update: Global Change Effects on Redox Signaling, Stress Tolerance

Plant Physiology Update: Global Change Effects on Redox Signaling, Stress Tolerance | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
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Excellent update on an important topic by Sergi Munné-Bosch, Guillaume Queval, and Christine H. Foyer.

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Plant Cell perspective: Lessons on RNA Silencing Mechanisms in Plants from Eukaryotic Argonaute Structures

Plant Cell perspective: Lessons on RNA Silencing Mechanisms in Plants from Eukaryotic Argonaute Structures | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

"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."

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Q&A with Malcom Bennet (Plant Science, Nottingham) in Curr Biol.

Q&A with Malcom Bennet (Plant Science, Nottingham) in Curr Biol. | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Turned on to Biology by lac operon - me too!

More info about the work in the Bennett lab:

http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/biosciences/people/malcolm.bennett

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Buckling as an origin of ordered cuticular patterns in flower petals

Buckling as an origin of ordered cuticular patterns in flower petals | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

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."

 

Here's her publication list:

http://www.plantsci.cam.ac.uk/research/glover/publications.html

 

Dr. Glover has just been named as the director of the Cambridge Botanic Garden: http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/Botanic/NewsItem.aspx?p=27&ix=117&pid=2722&prcid=4&ppid=2722

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Meristemi's curator insight, January 8, 2013 8:26 AM

Studi che riguardano anche ambiti insospettabili per la biologia vegetale: la realizzazione di vernici speciali.

Mary Williams's comment, January 9, 2013 5:22 AM
As translated by google translate, Meristemi's comment is: Studies also cover unexpected areas for plant biology: the creation of special paints. True!
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PLOS Blog: Selling memories: museum education and consumerism | Sci-Ed

PLOS Blog: Selling memories: museum education and consumerism | Sci-Ed | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
Struggling to find funding, museums have to offer entertainment to visitors and use smart advertising techniques.
Mary Williams's insight:

Museums have important educational functions, but how do they stay viable? Interesting read about the challenges museums face as they try to balance education and entertainment.

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Proteaceae, Banksia, Macadamia nuts & Annals of Botany Cover

The story behind the Annals of Botany cover plants....

 

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Excellent article on the interface between science and journalism! ‘Survival of the wrongest’

Excellent article on the interface between science and journalism! ‘Survival of the wrongest’ | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
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!

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Follow Darwin's voyage on the Beagle, via twitter and Facebook

Follow Darwin's voyage on the Beagle, via twitter and Facebook | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

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."

You can follow it on twitter @cdarwin, or on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheBeagleVoyage).

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Science ($) Science, New Media, and the Public

Science ($) Science, New Media, and the Public | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

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!

 

Here's a bit more on that, without the paywall: http://www.news.wisc.edu/21392

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Turning point: Sarah Blackford : Naturejobs

Turning point: Sarah Blackford : Naturejobs | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it
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/

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PNAS: Local auxin biosynthesis regulation by PLETHORA transcription factors controls phyllotaxis in Arabidopsis

PNAS: Local auxin biosynthesis regulation by PLETHORA transcription factors controls phyllotaxis in Arabidopsis | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Here's a nice article for your phyllotaxy folder.

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3 Videos: The Food Dialogues

3 Videos: The Food Dialogues | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

Here's a set of three panel discussion videos from "Food Dialogues" recorded November 2012, 90 min each. The three topics are

Media, marketing and healthy choices

Antiobiotics and your food

Biotechnology (GMOs) and your food.

 

Pictured here is Bob Goldberg, from the GMO panel. (Bob's also the first Editor in Chief of Plant Cell).

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A new year’s resolution for your consideration…

A new year’s resolution for your consideration… | Plant Biology Teaching Resources (Higher Education) | Scoop.it

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.

 

Participate in Fascination of Plants Day 2013 (http://www.plantday12.eu/home.htm#). Contact your local organizer to find out what’s planned, and either join in or create an event. Here is a summary of the 2012 event to inspire you (http://www.plantday12.eu/downloads2013/Success_EPSOglobal_FoPD2012.pdf).

 

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:

 

Activities you can do with school children: (http://bit.ly/12SGZ41) and lots more here (http://www.aspb.org/education/NEWK12.CFM)  and here (http://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/K-12/Pages/default.aspx) and here (http://www.saps.org.uk/). Here’s a first-person account of a day in the classroom: (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/culturing-science/2011/08/31/it-only-takes-one-day-bringing-scientists-into-the-classroom/).  Here’s a UK resource to help you connect with teachers (https://www.sciencelearningcentres.org.uk/). Or, volunteer to be a mentor for a school group through Planting Science (http://www.plantingscience.org/) or at a school science fair: see more on p. 16 of this ASPB newsletter (http://newsletter.aspb.org/2004/marapr04.pdf).

 

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!

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M Dolores Rodriguez's comment, December 31, 2012 7:01 AM
Great idea!
Mary Williams's comment, January 1, 2013 11:56 AM
Thanks, and Happy New Year!