Monthly Archives: July 2012

Connecting you with plant scientists on Google+

We’re adding a couple of things for Google+ users from our page. They both tackle a problem that particularly affects new users, that Google+ can look a bit empty.

The first is a Botanic Gardens circle. This is a collection of all the botanic gardens we’ve found using Google+. Some accounts are more active than others, but it should give you a steady drip of plant-related posts into your stream.

The other is being set up at the moment. It’s a professional botanist / plant scientist circle. This is a way for new people to connect with others already on site. If we update it regularly then it should be a useful way for people to get their posts noticed by others in similar fields. It’s not going to be as tightly focussed on plant science as the Botanic Gardens circle, because plant scientists are just as likely as anyone else to post videos of kittens. If you do post about a conference or job opportunity then by being in this circle you’re more likely to have someone with an interest read it.

To join the botanist / plant scientist circle you’ll need to be on Google+, following our page and then click on the +1 button. If you’re not following us we can’t add you to the circle for privacy reasons. Or to put it another way, would you really want companies highlighting you without your permission?

Variable seed dormancy and germination in Hibbertia

Variable seed dormancy and germination in <i>Hibbertia</i>

Variable seed dormancy and germination in Hibbertia

Several ecologically important plant families in Mediterranean biomes have seeds with morphophysiological dormancy. Hidayati et al. study four species of the intractably dormant Australian genus Hibbertia (Dilleniaceae) and find that although they are congeneric, sympatric and produce seeds of identical morphology, they show a remarkable level of variation in dormancy-break and germination requirements. The results have important implications for current classification systems of seed dormancy and highlight the difficulties, and caution required, in extrapolating dormancy requirements in biodiverse regions such as the south-west Australian biodiversity hotspot.

Mistletoes and mutant albino shoots as nutrient traps

Mistletoes and mutant albino shoots as nutrient traps

Mistletoes and mutant albino shoots as nutrient traps

Potassium, sulphur and zinc contents of mistletoe leaves are generally higher than in their hosts because elements that are cycled between xylem and phloem in the process of phloem loading of sugars are trapped in the mistletoe. Lo Gullo et al. hypothesize that mutant albino shoots should behave similarly because they lack photosynthesis and thus cannot recycle elements involved in sugar loading. They find that comparison of the mineral nutrition of the mistletoe Scurrula elata with that of albino shoots on Citrus sinensis and Nerium oleander supports this view. The absence of phloem loading is reflected in the phloem anatomy of the abnormal shoots, whilst in mistletoes the evolution of a parasitic lifestyle has clearly eliminated substantial feeding of the host with photosynthates produced by the mistletoe.

Effect of external stress on density and size of glandular trichomes in full-grown Artemisia annua, the source of anti-malarial artemisinin

Glandular trichomes of Artemisia annua Glandular trichomes (GT) on Artemisia annua produce and store the anti-malarial compound artemisinin (AN) and other secondary metabolites (SM) that have several pharmaceutical and industrial uses. This paper investigates the spatial and temporal distribution of GT on leaves and tests the hypotheses that environmental stress influences the size and density of GT.

 

Effect of external stress on density and size of glandular trichomes in full-grown Artemisia annua, the source of anti-malarial artemisinin. AoB Plants (2012) pls018 doi: 10.1093/aobpla/pls018

Plantwise knowledge bank of crop pests & diseases

See on Scoop.itAnnBot

release of the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, the open-access information resource from CABI covering crop pests and diseases.

Plantwise is a global programme to improve food security, alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods. Plantwise helps developing countries establish a network of plant clinics run by CABI trained ‘plant doctors’, where farmers can bring crops afflicted by pests or disease.

With diagnostic tools, treatment advice and pest distribution information, the Knowledge Bank was designed to support those involved in plant health in developing countries, especially plant doctors. However, as this information is of value to a wide range of users we also invite all working in plant health across the world to access the resource.

The Knowledge Bank contains a range of features, all of which can be filtered by country, including:

·         Interactive pest and disease distribution maps
·         Thousands of fact sheets and data sheets on plants and their pests
·         Diagnostic tools
·         New pest alerts
·         The latest news on plant health from around the world

The Knowledge Bank is central to the Plantwise programme, providing truly global information support. From university academics, to smallholder farmers, the knowledge provided will benefit the entire plant health community.
See on www.plantwise.org

Predicting photosynthetic light-response curves

Predicting photosynthetic light-response curves

Predicting photosynthetic light-response curves

Photosynthetic light-response curves describe how leaf photosynthesis changes with light intensity, but they are time-consuming to measure, differ between species and change depending on the growth environment of the leaf. Lachapelle and Shipley study plants of 25 herbaceous species grown in four different light and fertility environments in an interspecific context and show that light-response curves can be predicted on the basis of two static leaf traits that are available in large trait databases, namely specific leaf mass and leaf nitrogen content.

On our Scoop It between July 2nd and July 25th

These are links from our Scoop It page between July 2nd and July 25th:

Frontiers | A Vision for 21st Century Agricultural Research | From Rich Jorgensen

from Richard A. Jorgensen, Guanajuato, México
Let’s admit an unfortunate truth: agricultural research in most of the world is based on old models that no longer serve us well in the twenty-first century as arable land diminishes, populations increase, and climate is changing. A dramatically new vision is needed in order to remake agricultural research, perhaps radically, to address the challenges of the world we find ourselves in today. Here is an attempt to begin to develop such a vision.

(1) We must learn to value foundational (basic) and applied research equally.
(2) We need much stronger Foundational Research than currently exists
(3) Applied Science must be reorganized around major concepts

(4) To repeat and extend the first point above (because it is so important), success requires that we foster development of new cultures and new communities that are coincident with needs, not tradition. The needs for new communities are many and varied.

To achieve this vision will require us to let go of habits and preconceived notions in order to work toward understanding the diverse cultures and communities that comprise research, extension, and industry and to find new ways of bringing them together productively and creatively in order to create synergies and achieve efficiencies. The specific ways for achieving this vision will be many and varied, and will require the creative efforts of scientists, engineers, funders, industry participants, and policymakers everywhere.

Where should we start? Three principal areas need to be dramatically reorganized: the ways that we fund research, the ways that organize our research institutions, and the ways that we define success and evaluate progress toward the goals above.

Funding priorities need to be dramatically refocused."



Promusa – Mobilizing banana science for sustainable livelihoods | The ‘best genomics Venn diagram ever’ deconstructed : ProMusa blog

"It didn’t take long after the journal Nature put online the article on the banana genome sequence for bloggers to start commenting on the Venn diagram featuring a a bright yellow banana. David Ng at Popperfont qualified it as, “quite possibly the most complicated (and therefore awesome) Venn Diagram ever”. Jonathan Eisen, the scientist who coined the term phylogenomics, said that it was “perhaps the best genomics Venn diagram ever”, while Joe, of the It’s okay to be smart blog wrote that it is “a pretty genius way of delivering a bunch of banana data all at once”. He added that it was the first time he ever saw a six-way Venn diagram. Joe is right to be impressed, but the truth is that this is not the first ever six-way Venn diagram.

As a graphic designer correctly noted, the diagram was inspired by Edward's six-set Venn diagram. I can confirm this because the bioinformatics scientist who did the number crunching and the Venn diagram for the Nature article is a Bioversity colleague.

It says a lot about the banana that its distinct shape would make people notice an otherwise arcane diagram. "



Promusa – Mobilizing banana science for sustainable livelihoods | Blogging your way out of anonymity : ProMusa blog

Blogging your way out of anonymity – ProMusa blog… There are some notable exceptions, but most scientists only exploit one way to share their research results: they publish a paper in a scientific journal. And these papers often tend to be … well, let’s admit it … quite dry, as Adam Ruben recently described it in his blog post about “How to write like a scientist”. Aside from the occasional presentation at a scientific conference (which, unless the scientist is an especially good speaker or presents ground-breaking results, are usually readily forgotten), most of us don’t take advantage of the wide range of other media that are available these days, such as videos, status updates, blog posts, blog comments, interactive graphs and maps, tweets, etc.

It’s a shame. These media can help scientists reach a larger and more diverse audience much faster than the long slog of submitting a paper to a journal.



Obesity produces diabetes epidemic in India – ABC News Don’t equate development with Western diet

PHH comment: Don't equate development with Western diet.

India is bracing for a massive surge in type 2 diabetes, with credible estimates putting the number of sufferers in the next 20 years at more than 100 million.

via Cathryn Weller



The Phytophactor: Hot summer garden pointers

Gardening tips from the Phytophactor, including what to water and what to leave alone. 



Arabidopsis conference tweets as storify #icar #ICAR2012

The International Conference on Arabidopsis Research was held in Vienna, Austria July 3-7th 2012. As usual it was jammed packed full of interesting talks. here are all the tweets brought together.



The evolution of the banana, star of the Western fruit bowl LA Times interview

Did you hear? The genome of the banana has been sequenced, an important development in scientists’ efforts to produce better bananas.



The banana (Musa acuminata) genome and the evolution of monocotyledonous plants

Bananas (Musa spp.), including dessert and cooking types, are giant perennial monocotyledonous herbs of the order Zingiberales, a sister group to the well-studied Poales, which include cereals. here the complete genome sequence is analysed in comparison with other monocots.



Fascinating case study – science and politics of non-browing "arctic" apples

This is going to be an interesting case to follow.

 

The science – Agrobacterium transformation used to introduce a silencing construct (derived from the endogenous apple gene) to switch off the four apple polyphenol oxidase (PPO) genes. PPO produces quinones, that upon cell damage non-enzymatically produce brown, lingin-like compounds (more science here http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/10_16101p.pdf).

 

The articTM apples were developed by a small Canadian biotech company Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (http://www.okspecialtyfruits.com/).

 

Here's a summary of some of the issues surrounding these biotech apples (http://appliedmythology.blogspot.ca/2012/07/consumers-should-get-to-try-first.html)

 

The US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is soliciting comments about the petition by OSF for the apples to be granted non-regulated status. They say, "We are particularly interested in receiving comments regarding biological, cultural, or ecological issues, and we encourage the submission of scientific data, studies, or research to support your comments." (https://federalregister.gov/a/2012-17144).

 

As of today, 54 comments have been submitted, and they are available for anyone to read (top right of the federal register page, under the green button).

 

It's a great learning opportunity for students, and chance for them to see and partaicipate in the intersection of science, policy, and public opinion. I would recommend asking students to draft and share their own comments!

 

 



Welsh botanists create plant database


Botanists in Wales have created a database of more than 1,000 plant species which they hope will help with conservation and health research.


Frontiers | A Vision for 21st Century Agricultural Research | From Rich Jorgensen

See on Scoop.itAnnBot

from Richard A. Jorgensen, Guanajuato, México
Let’s admit an unfortunate truth: agricultural research in most of the world is based on old models that no longer serve us well in the twenty-first century as arable land diminishes, populations increase, and climate is changing. A dramatically new vision is needed in order to remake agricultural research, perhaps radically, to address the challenges of the world we find ourselves in today. Here is an attempt to begin to develop such a vision.

(1) We must learn to value foundational (basic) and applied research equally.
(2) We need much stronger Foundational Research than currently exists
(3) Applied Science must be reorganized around major concepts

(4) To repeat and extend the first point above (because it is so important), success requires that we foster development of new cultures and new communities that are coincident with needs, not tradition. The needs for new communities are many and varied.

To achieve this vision will require us to let go of habits and preconceived notions in order to work toward understanding the diverse cultures and communities that comprise research, extension, and industry and to find new ways of bringing them together productively and creatively in order to create synergies and achieve efficiencies. The specific ways for achieving this vision will be many and varied, and will require the creative efforts of scientists, engineers, funders, industry participants, and policymakers everywhere.

Where should we start? Three principal areas need to be dramatically reorganized: the ways that we fund research, the ways that organize our research institutions, and the ways that we define success and evaluate progress toward the goals above.

Funding priorities need to be dramatically refocused.”
See on www.frontiersin.org

Promusa – Mobilizing banana science for sustainable livelihoods | The ‘best genomics Venn diagram ever’ deconstructed : ProMusa blog

See on Scoop.itAnnBot

“It didn’t take long after the journal Nature put online the article on the banana genome sequence for bloggers to start commenting on the Venn diagram featuring a a bright yellow banana. David Ng at Popperfont qualified it as, “quite possibly the most complicated (and therefore awesome) Venn Diagram ever”. Jonathan Eisen, the scientist who coined the term phylogenomics, said that it was “perhaps the best genomics Venn diagram ever”, while Joe, of the It’s okay to be smart blog wrote that it is “a pretty genius way of delivering a bunch of banana data all at once”. He added that it was the first time he ever saw a six-way Venn diagram. Joe is right to be impressed, but the truth is that this is not the first ever six-way Venn diagram.

As a graphic designer correctly noted, the diagram was inspired by Edward’s six-set Venn diagram. I can confirm this because the bioinformatics scientist who did the number crunching and the Venn diagram for the Nature article is a Bioversity colleague.

It says a lot about the banana that its distinct shape would make people notice an otherwise arcane diagram. “
See on www.promusa.org

This Is Not A Science Book

The Geek Manifesto

The Geek Manifesto by Mark Henderson

The Geek Manifesto by Mark Henderson is a book which wears its heart on its sleeve. This is unashamedly a political book – a campaign. The author, Mark Henderson, is Head of Communications at the Wellcome Trust, and was formerly Science Editor of The Times. With those credentials, it is no surprise that The Geek Manifesto is powerfully and clearly written.

And yet… having just finished the book, I am troubled by certain aspects of it. Henderson is clear about the need for more evidence-driven policy in poitics, and yet seems strangely naive about the nature of politics itself. For me, Henderson succeeds in making the case that politicians choose to ignore scientific evidence when it suits them. But he fails to convince me that this book will make any substantial difference in a age of coalition politics and political contingency.

Where does this book leave us and what role should scientists play in politics?

 

The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters
By Mark Henderson
Bantam Press
ISBN: 978-0-593-06823-6

Read: Online extracts