Researchers generated genome sequences for nearly 600 green millet plants and released a very high quality reference S. viridis genome sequence. Analysis of these plant genome sequences also led researchers to identify a gene related to seed dispersal in wild populations for the first time.
Deprived of sunlight, plants are unable to transform carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into sugars. They are essentially starved of one of their most important building blocks. The plant’s not-so-secret weapon to combat this and other scarcity is autophagy. Similar to recycling, autophagy helps break down damaged or unwanted pieces of a cell, so that building blocks can be used again. New research shows that plants that lack the core components for autophagy have to get creative about recycling nutrients like carbon when they’re left in the dark.
Drought causes major crop losses in many regions of the world, and climate change threatens to exacerbate the occurrence of drought in temperate as well as arid regions. Researchers used a sophisticated mathematical modelling approach to study the effects of introducing CAM photosynthesis, which is used by plants that are able to thrive in arid conditions, into C3 plants, which tend to thrive only in areas where sunlight intensity and temperatures are moderate and water is plentiful.
Scientists have engineered a key plant enzyme and introduced it in Escherichia coli bacteria in order to create an optimal experimental environment for studying how to speed up photosynthesis, a holy grail for improving crop yields. Scientists have known that crop yields would increase if they could accelerate the photosynthesis process, where plants convert carbon dioxide (CO2), water and light into oxygen and eventually into sucrose, a sugar used for energy and for building new plant tissue.
Scientists have characterized a sucrose transporter protein found in common beans. The recently discovered protein could help us understand how beans tolerate hot temperatures.
A team of scientists have developed a method for visualizing microtubule dynamics and cell membrane protein endocytosis in living plant cells, an important step forward in plant cell biology.
Floral architecture influences pollination and reproduction: open flowers facilitate cross-pollination, while closed flowers limit outcross.
As a plant grows, it moves cellular material from its version of manufacturing sites to the cell wall construction zone. Transporter proteins, called motor proteins, are thought to move these cell wall cargo via a complex highway system made up of microtubule tracks. The position of these tracks must be stabilized so that cargo are delivered to the correct locations.
Glyphosate is a widely used broad-spectrum herbicide that targets both broadleaf plants and grasses (dicots and monocots). This recent work aids our understanding of adaptive evolution in amaranth plants and has implications for optimizing pesticide use in the environment.
Last April I joined the Global Plant Council as a New Media Fellow along with Sarah Jose from the University of Bristol. The GPC is a small organization with a big remit: to bring together stakeholders in the plant and crop sciences from around the world! As New Media Fellows, Sarah and I have have assisted in raising the online profile of the GPC through various social media platforms. We wrote about our experiences in growing this blog and the GPC Twitter and Facebook accounts in the The Global Plant Council Guide to Social Media, which details our successes and difficulties in creating a more established online presence.
Why do it?
I chose to apply for the fellowship during the third year of my PhD. Around this time I had started to consider that perhaps a job in research wasn’t for me. It was therefore important to gain experience outside of my daily life in the lab and field, explore possible careers outside of academia and of course to add vital lines to my CV. I still loved science, and found my work interesting, so knew I wanted to stay close to the scientific community. Furthermore, I had always enjoyed being active on Twitter, and following scientific blogs, so the GPC fellowship sounded like the perfect opportunity!
I think I can speak for both Sarah and myself when I say that this fellowship has been one of the best things I’ve done during my PhD. Managing this blog for a year has allowed me to speak to researchers working on diverse aspects of the plant sciences from around the world. My speed and writing efficiency have improved no end, and I can now write a decent 1000 word post in under an hour! I discovered the best places to find freely available photos, and best way to present a WordPress article. Assisting with Twitter gave me an excuse to spend hours reading interesting articles on the web – basically paid procrastination – and I got to use my creativity to come up with new ways of engaging our community.
Of course going to Brazil for the Stress Resilience Symposium, GPC AGM and IPMB was a highlight of my year. I got to present to the international community both about my own PhD research and the work of the GPC, Sarah and I became expert camera women while making the Stress Resilience videos, and I saw the backstage workings of a conference giving out Plantae badges on the ASPB stand at IPMB. It didn’t hurt that I got to see Iguassu Falls, drink more than a few caipirinhas and spend a sneaky week in Rio de Janeiro!
Working with the GPC team has been fantastic. I learnt a lot about how scientific societies are run and the work they do by talking to the representatives from member societies at the AGM. The executive board have been highly supportive of our activities throughout. Last but not least, the lovely GPC ladies, Ruth, Lisa and Sarah have been an amazing team to work with – I cannot thank you enough!
I have now handed in my PhD, left the GPC, and moved on to a new career outside of academic research. I’m going into a job focused on public engagement and widening access to higher education, and have no doubt my GPC experiences have helped me get there. My advice if you’re unsure about where you want to end up after your PhD? Say “yes” to all new opportunities as you never know where they will take you.
Thank you the GPC! Hopefully I’ll be back one day!