Daily Archives: 30th of September 2011

Food Crisis in 2050?

Wheat Ears Anthesis

Wheat Ears Anthesis by Pat Heslop-Harrison

A realistic scenario, if the production of major crops does not increase significantly. Estimated 9 billion people will need 70% more food than today. In June 2011, The G20 Agriculture Ministers agreed on an “Action plan on food price volatility and agriculture”. As a first step of the G20 Action, an International Research Initiative for Wheat Improvement (IRIWI) has been launched in Paris on September 15, 2011. This initiative should pave the way to similar initiatives for other crops.

Wheat is the most widely grown crop worldwide and provides 20% of all calories and 20% of all protein. Despite the importance of wheat for food security, its production has not met demand in 6 of the last 10 years. The yields are stagnating and the investment in wheat research and development is disproportionally low. The first aims of IRIWI will be targeted towards generating and sharing tools, methods and results that will enable breeders to take full advantage of genomics assisted approaches.

A publicly available high quality annotated sequence of the wheat genome is one of the much needed resources. In order to tackle the huge and polyploid genome of 17Gb, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) adopted the chromosome strategy, which relies on the ability to dissect the genome to 42 small parts represented by individual chromosome arms. These are physically mapped and sequenced. The strategy facilitates division of labor and international collaboration.

On our Scoop It between September 21st and September 30th

These are links from our Scoop It page between September 21st and September 30th:

How to Grow a Beautiful But Deadly Garden

From hemlock through castor bean to nightshade and monkshood … while “most of the plants you’d find in a garden are harmless beauties, not all are so innocent and a few can even be downright deadly. But some gardeners prefer to grow on the wild side, cultivating botanical killers that can be as beautiful as they are lethal.
From rat-eating carnivores to toxin-producing plants tapped by KGB assassins, these are some of the strangest and most deadly botanicals

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/09/28/how-to-grow-beautiful-but-deadly-garden/?test=faces#ixzz1ZQ2YIeX4



Flowers bloom for a second time

UK plants are flowering for a second time this year because of the unseasonably warm weather. With temperatures soaring, plants such as foxglove and cowslip, which usually flower in the spring, are in full bloom six to eight months early. Cold nights experienced across the UK in August are thought to have led to the early onset of autumn colours. This warmer spell now has plants acting like it is spring.



Affable Nerds and Second Bananas: What Science Communicators Can Learn From Top Gear

“Why has academia largely ignored one of the world’s most popular technology programmes – and what does the show tell us about the effective communication of complex ideas?”

A review of a scholarly paper on what we as scientists can learn from Top Gear about presentation of technical material …



Starting and Maintaining Your First Laboratory An Essential Checklist

Valuable points and pointers about starting a new lab in this three-part series. Make sure you learn these skills as a PhD student or post-doc!

 

Running your own lab is an exciting venture filled with success, discovery, and the opportunity to pursue novel research. With such excitement comes great responsibility, whether in the form of mentoring graduate students, helping postdocs find jobs, publishing a steady stream of research, and securing tenure at your university or research institute. In addition, the combined logistics of managing startup (and additional grant) funding, ordering supplies and setting up a functional lab, not to mention relocating and finding housing, can be very overwhelming and stressful, to the point of impeding productivity. But it doesn’t have to be.



Money for shiny new rope?

Thoughtful comments on what research is needed to support farming in Africa. Exactly how useful is a genome to the typical farmer?



The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy

The future of our world depends on addressing global challenges now. We need to create sustainable livelihoods, feed a growing population and safeguard the environment. Agriculture accounts for 37% of employment, but 97% of these live in developing countries. We must increase productivity and reduce wait, increasing quality and biodiversity.



Plant bends to bury its own seeds

A new plant that “bends down” to deposit its seeds has been discovered in the Atlantic forest in the state of Bahia, northeastern Brazil. The new species has been named Spigelia genuflexa after its unusual adaptation. After fruits are formed, the fruiting branches bend down, depositing the capsules of seeds on the ground and sometimes burying them in the soft cover of moss



Smithsonian magazine: Maize geneticist Barbara McClintock is a female scientist you should know

Barbara McClincock determined that genes could move within and between chromosomes by observing the patterns of coloration of maize kernels over generations of plants. The finding didn’t fit in with conventional thinking on genetics, however, and was largely ignored; McClintock began studying the origins of maize in South America. But after improved molecular techniques that became available in the 1970s and early 1980s confirmed her theory and these “jumping genes” were found in microorganisms, insects and humans, McClintock was awarded a Lasker Prize in 1981 and Nobel Prize in 1983.

 

Link via American Society of Plant Biologists

Source: my.aspb.org



Plant biodiversity theory debunked

Why are some environments teeming with different plant species whereas others support only a few? Light, not productivity, may control species richness.



Search for ‘lost apples’ widens

A search of a variety of apple first grown in the Highlands has widened out into an effort to trace four other ‘lost’ types.