The Universities of St. Andrews and Aberdeen have put out a Call for Papers for the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity 2011. It looks like they have a lot that’s relevant to botanists and usefully they have sessions organised by theme to draw disciplines together. You can get more details on their website.
AoB Blog was offline this afternoon. The reason was that I tried to install a new back up plugin, in case anything went horrifically wrong with the site. Unfortunately, despite testing, the module was not happy and something went horrifically wrong with the site.
The site has been fixed by deleting WordPress and then re-installing it. I don’t think we’ve lost any comments or scheduled posts, so at least the current back up procedures work.
Please feel free to report any bugs you see, as they’re almost certainly long term bugs that I’ve missed.
Work by Rebecca Tashiro et al. (Crop Science 50: 1260–1268, 2010), which identifies a gene that converts 3-leaved white clover (Trifolium repens) into 4-leafed versions, reminds me of comments by Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift (1667–1745). In his book Gulliver’s Travels he writes, ‘And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together’ (http://www.bartleby.com/100/211.html). Sadly, one suspects in the trefoil situation that the same biomass is generated but spread over four lobes rather than three. But if four lobes can increase photosynthesis of the plant overall, then more sunlight – albeit in its fixed chemical form as sugar – might be extracted from the legume’s efforts. And thereby echo another of Swift’s far-sighted Lilliputian notions of ‘extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers’ (http://www.bartleby.com/100/211.html). They do say that prescience is a virtue, and maybe a trawl through other ancient texts might reveal still more imaginative ways of easing widely predicted global future food shortages. Although we should probably stop short of adopting Swift’s ‘modest proposal’ of eating the children of the Irish poor (http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html), which may not go down too well with modern-day audiences (and not just the vegetarians)!