External news items of interest for the plant biology community. This section will also incorporate members in the news. Select "Subscribe" to receive notifications of new postings to this section and/or subscribe to the RSS feed. Members, feel free to post links to news articles you are featured in relating to plant biology.
Genetic engineering of food crops was front and center in the media once
again over the last few months.
Following the defeat of the genetically-modified (GM) foods labeling
initiative in California (Proposition 37), long time anti-GM activist and
journalist Mark Lynas apologized for his past activities and hailed genetic
engineering as an important tool to help meet the nutritional demands of a
growing global population. His lecture
to the Oxford Farming Conference can be viewed or read in its entirety here: http://bit.ly/UyBbfj.
An op/ed article in Forbes, "Can a Rose Catch Your Cold?
Threat of 'Killer' Viral Plant Gene Is Latest Anti-GMO Rant [http://onforb.es/WOxksP]”, discussed a
recent campaign against genetic engineering based on a paper published in GM Crops and
Food: Biotechnology in Agriculture and the Food Chain [http://bit.ly/Ya8aln].
The authors, Podevin and du Jardin, examine the possible expression of portions of the cauliflower mosaic
virus (CaMV) P6 gene that overlaps with the CaMV 35S promoter used to drive
gene expression in many GM crops. Anti-GM advocates warn that expression of
portions of P6 in biotech crops would have "serious ramifications for crop
biotechnology and its regulation, but possibly even greater ones for consumers
and farmers" (Independent Science
In a win for genetic engineering advocates, the Philippines have given
the green light for distribution of golden rice—genetically modified to produce
enhanced levels of vitamin A and expected to combat Vitamin A deficiency— to farmers. The
Guardian article, "After 30 years, is a GM food breakthrough finally here?”
[http://bit.ly/XnUpii] features ASPB members
Cathie Martin and Jonathan Jones. Cathie is quoted on the subject
of excessive regulation, stating "At institutes like ours, we can prioritise
research to bring new consumer health benefits and environmental benefits to
market [via GM], as long as the regulatory process is not prohibitively
expensive for publicly funded organizations;” whereas Jonathan touches on the
safety record of genetically engineered crops, "When I started making GM plants
30 years ago I did wonder if there might be unknown unknowns. But the evidence
now is clear. GM food and crops are as safe as non-GM food and crops.” According to the article, distribution of
golden rice is also under consideration in India and other unnamed nations.
Articles on the science news website, Science
Daily, recently featured several ASPB members, including: Zhiyong Wang, scientist at the Carnegie
Institution for Science, and Patricia Springer, associate professor of genetics
at the University of California, Riverside, for their work connecting brassinosteriod
function to plant architecture (http://bit.ly/11HJdEG); José Dinneny, also at Carnegie, for his lab’s
real time imaging of root growth to demonstrate a role for the endodermis and
abscisic acid in guarding against root growth in inhospitable environments,
recently published in The Plant Cell (http://bit.ly/Y8yaO2); Robert Turgeon, professor at Cornell
University, for demonstrating the involvement of SCARECROW in Kranz anatomy,
which underlies the improved photosynthetic efficiency of C4 plants (http://bit.ly/YBdGzy); Elison Blancaflor, professor at the Samuel Roberts
Nobel Foundation, for his review of the current hypotheses on gravitropism (http://bit.ly/Y8zfp7); John Shanklin and Xiaohong Yu, at DOE’s Brookhaven National
Laboratory, for creating a bifunctional enzyme for efficient biofuel production
(http://bit.ly/11RkzNe); and David
Jackson, professor at Cold
Spring Harbor Laboratory, for his lab’s work on
boosting corn yields by increasing meristem size. David's lab found specific
mutations in the gene FEA2 that lead
to increased numbers of kernels. (http://bit.ly/WP0JzW).
Hadwiger, professor at Washington State University, was featured in a Capital
Press article for his work on using fungal DNases to elicit plant immunity (http://bit.ly/WZZdhf).
Finally, as pollution continues to throw curveballs at our crops, ASPB
Ainsworth and Andrew Leakey of the University of Illinois aim to
generate an ozone-tolerant maize variety with the help of a recently awarded,
multi-million dollar NSF grant. Don
Ort is also quoted in the Daily Illini
article [http://bit.ly/14RSgCz] on the
current possibility of transferring ozone resistance to field varieties of
If you or your
colleagues have been featured in the news and would like to be included in the
next issue of ASPB News, please contact ASPB’s Associate Director of Public
Affairs, Kathy Munkvold (firstname.lastname@example.org).
plant science research contribute to addressing the societal challenges of
today and tomorrow? What areas of
research will facilitate solutions to these challenges? And how will we train
the next generation of plant scientists to most effectively meet the needs of
the future? These are just a few of the questions tackled at the second phase
of the Plant Science Research
Summit in January at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase,
ringing in the new year with family and friends, a carefully selected group of sixteen
participants – chosen for their diverse expertise across plant science –
came together to ring in a new era for plant science research. The meeting
served as a follow up to the 2011 Plant Science Research Summit and aimed to
build upon the foundational
work of that first meeting to develop a compelling
set of recommended plant science research priorities aimed at addressing
profound and urgent societal challenges. For two days, the participants
set aside their personal research
interests and worked diligently as representatives of the community to identify
key areas of research that would move the field forward most efficiently toward
solving grand challenges in agriculture and the environment, and contributing
to the economy.
A written report
establishing a strategic vision for plant science research over the next decade
is expected to be completed in spring of 2013. It is ASPB’s hope that the
report will inspire federal and private funding agencies, the scientific
community, plant-related industries, commodity groups, and other key
stakeholders to pursue a more coordinated research agenda that will span the
entire discipline and generate new resources. The report will be shared widely
within the plant science research community and we will encourage your
feedback. To stay up to date on Summit
related activities, be the first to know when the report is released and easily
provide feedback, simply add your email address on our website (plantsummit.wordpress.org) under "Follow
Summit Activities via Email” (right), confirm, and choose the frequency for
receiving updates. We look forward to
your continued engagement and the upcoming release of the report.
From left to right: Dan Stanzione, Ian
Baldwin, Toni Kutchan, April Burke (Lewis-Burke Associates), Sue Hartman
(facilitator; the Hartman Group), Sally Mackenzie, Pat Schnable, Ana Caicedo,
David Stern, Machi Dilworth, Ray Riley, Rob Horsch, Christoph Benning, Rob
Last, and Nick Carpita. Absent from photo: Annie Schmitt, Pam Ronald, and
Crispin Taylor (ASPB).
The Plant Science Research Summit has
received direct or in kind support from the following sponsors:
Society of Plant Biologists
Science Foundation (Award # MCB-1136911)
of Agriculture (NIFA Award # 2011-67013-30637)
After reading the paper by Podevin and du Jardin, do you think it’s
likely that expression of portions of P6 in biotech crops would have
"serious ramifications for crop biotechnology and its regulation, but
possibly even greater ones for consumers and farmers" (Independent Science News)?
Podevin, N. and du Jardin, P. (2012) Possible
consequences of the overlap between the CaMV 35S promoter regions in plant transformation
vectors used and the viral gene VI in transgenic plants. GM Crops and Food: Biotechnology in Agriculture and the Food Chain
3:4, 296-300. http://www.es.landesbioscience.com/journals/gmcrops/2012GMC0020R.pdf
Articles on the science news website, Science
Daily, recently featured several ASPB members, including: Zhangjun Fei, scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) and Jim Giovannoni, scientist at
BTI and research molecular biologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, for their contributions
to the completion of the watermelon genome sequence (http://bit.ly/Vzyg1D);
Henrik Scheller, senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, for his
lab’s work on tailoring plants for more efficient biofuel production (http://bit.ly/TNzQee); Rob McClung, Professor of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth College, for his lab’s work
on the connections between reduced water availability,
stomatal opening, and circadian rhythms (http://bit.ly/TNBEUD);
Springer, assistant professor of Biology at St. Joseph’s
University, who discusses the environmental benefits of choosing a real
Christmas tree for the holidays (http://bit.ly/Vj7skf).
If you or your colleagues
have been featured in the news and would like to be included in the next issue
of ASPB News, please contact ASPB’s Associate Director of Public Affairs, Kathy
announcement: Executive Director (60%)
of the Global Plant Council
The Global Plant Council (GPC) is a coalition of 29 national plant and
crop science organizations as well as plant
breeding societies from around the world (http://globalplantcouncil.org).
The key objective of the GPC is to increase the impact of plant and crop
research to address global challenges and to make society and world leaders
more aware of the important contributions that improved crop plants and the
fundamental research that underpins their development can make to achieve food
security and sustainable agriculture.
GPC has developed a Strategic
Research Agenda identifying nine challenges for global societies and economies
("GPC Challenges for Global Action”) as priority areas of activity to which
plant research and breeding can contribute.
In the next few years GPC will focus
on promoting and advocating strategic and internationally competitive research
and development via targeted research programs, embracing innovation, education
and communication including general policy statements. To support these activities, GPC is seeking
to employ a highly motivated and dynamic
The Executive Director (60%
position) will report to the GPC Executive Board and work closely with the GPC
Executive Board, the GPC President, and the GPC member societies in the
successful execution of policies, programs and procedures established by the
GPC. She/he will be the primary contact
person for the GPC member societies in issues related to GPC and will have full
authority in the overall administration and management/coordination of
activities related to the GPC Challenges for Global Action. The Executive Director will oversee the
effective utilization of the GPC financial resources and she/he will be
actively involved in raising funds for support of GPC operations and programs.
The Executive Director must be
objective and balanced in relation to different GPC member societies’ policies,
the interests of the research community, and constraints in different parts of
the world in advancing the GPC Challenges for Global Action. She/he must be
able to explore, develop and maintain a robust network of contacts at national/international
organizations and private/public funding agencies/foundations that support
plant research and agricultural development.
GPC is looking
for a candidate with the following profile:
understanding of science, with a Master or PhD degree in plant science and/or
Knowledge and preferably
experience of working with science societies and international organizations
with research and innovation funding programs
working in a global environment
communication and impacting skills with a thorough knowledge of English; other
languages are a plus
Ability to act
as an entrepreneur and acquire third party funding
Experience in project
coordination and management skills
Ability to analyze complex
situations, draw appropriate conclusions, and develop strategies for solutions
and their implementation
Experience in advising
policy makers on plant and crop research activities and policies strongly
daily work, the GPC Executive Director will:
Assess priorities according to objectives
Represent GPC at meetings, conferences, and high level
events with professionalism, commitment, and enthusiasm, projecting a positive
image of plant science as a whole and the involvement of the GPC member
updated and structured information and presentations about GPC, its member
societies, objectives, activities, success rate, and events, as well as
about related issues at institutional level
and distribute on a regular basis communication material about GPC
activities to both member societies and external stakeholders
Engage a network at the institutional level that is
constantly enlarged at all levels.
and keep contacts with other international organizations (e.g., FAO,
CGIAR, WHO, IPCC)
Be fully updated on major national and international
initiatives in plant/crop research and breeding
informed and informs GPC members about relevant funding programs
GPC initiatives in assessing relevant research programs
interest and priorities of opportunities for GPC in related areas
Look for/create opportunities to promote GPC and plant
research and breeding
Organize events (e.g., GPC annual meeting, workshops)
to promote GPC Challenges for Global Action
Manage and control the GPC budget
Candidates interested in this position are requested
to send a PDF of their motivation letter including a detailed CV, preferred
work venue (from home or in the office of a GPC member organization or some combination)
and salary expectations to the Global Plant Council at email@example.com 10 February 2013 (Subject line: GPC Executive
Only complete applications will be considered.
Additional country- and continent-specific
Europe: Work permit required for non-EU citizens.
U.S.: Only permanent residents and citizens may apply
As plant biologists, we have a strong understanding of the science underlying the genetic engineering of crop plants and can provide an informed opinion. So please share this link widely and quickly with your colleagues. The poll is open for only one more day!
The National Academies, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources (BANR) is planning a study on workforce needs in agriculture. The excerpt below was taken directly from the inaugural BANR newsletter.
Workforce Needs in Agriculture A
strong and well-trained workforce in U.S. agriculture is necessary for
the nation to meet the challenges of maintaining long-term adequacy of
food, feed, fiber and biofuels. Although the United States has been a
leader in global agricultural development, there are concerns that not
enough skilled technical workers have been trained to meet the growing
demands of the agricultural sciences. BANR proposes to convene a series
of workshops under the framework of a consensus study to examine
available data on students trained in the United States in various
disciplines relevant to agriculture, assess information on agricultural
workforce needs of academia, federal agencies and industry, and to
discuss the education and training needs and how to attract future
students to agricultural sciences.
Although there is anecdotal
evidence of a shortage of a skilled agricultural workforce, the
workforce pipeline is not well characterized. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture and the Department of Education might have data on students
trained in agriculture, but the available data are not necessarily
organized in a way that would facilitate an assessment of workforce
supply. On the demand side, the quantities of trained personnel needed
and the expertise and skill required to fill jobs in industry,
government, and academe have not been well-documented. The workforce
needs range from BS graduates, for example, to conduct field work and
studies, MS graduates to carry out a management plan, and Ph.D.
researchers and project managers. The workforce needs for academia,
federal agencies, and industry are likely to differ by disciplines,
skill sets, and experience.
Collecting information on workforce
supply and demand and getting representatives from different types of
institutional employers to interpret the data would be a first step
towards workforce planning in agriculture. A discussion of possible ways
to attract students to agricultural and food science now would be
helpful in addressing any gaps between workforce supply and demand in
the future. The ultimate goal is to get "the right number of people with
the right skills, experiences, and competencies in the right jobs at
the right time” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). To bring
national focus to the issue of workforce planning in agriculture, the
NRC proposes to conduct a study encompassing a series of workshops. The
first would focus on the needs related to plant sciences; the second on
animal science and production; other workshop would cover additional
fields and industry sectors.
For more information on BANR's projects-in-development, send an email to Robin Schoen - firstname.lastname@example.org
In September 2011, the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB)convened
the Plant Science Research Summit- with
support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USDA, NSF, and DOE - to
engage the broad plant science research community in developing a consensus
plan to invigorate and guide plant science research over the next decade.
During discussions following the meeting it became clear that although many
critical issues and experimental challenges were raised, the community must
further distill the input gleaned from the 2011 Summit into a
succinct set of recommended plant science research priorities. We envision
these recommendations as a tool to excite, engage, educate, and, perhaps most
important, impact future budgetary discussions and decisions at the state and
To achieve this objective, we will convene a second, smaller
cohort of plant scientists in early 2013 (please visit the website for a list of participants). Importantly, the
priorities and recommendations that emerge from this subsequent activity are
not an immutable end point, and they will not be developed in isolation.
Indeed, we are asking you, the plant science research community, to provide
input today that will help inform the process and the development of research
priorities. To share your thoughts, please visit the Plant Science Research
Summit website (http://plantsummit.wordpress.com/) and click the
"COMMUNITY INPUT" tab at the upper right of the page. There, you will
find links to three key questions:
Input can be provided
directly on the website or by emailing PlantSummit@aspb.org. For maximum impact, all
feedback should be submitted by December
19, 2012. We encourage ongoing dialogue regarding the
recommendations from the 2013 meeting, once they have been disseminated. Engagement
and alignment with the broad community will be essential if our effort is to be
successful in garnering additional research funds for plant science.
The more input we receive,
the better; so please share this email widely among the greater plant science
research community. Also, please be sure to sign up to receive email updates on
our activities; instructions are located on the right side of the website.
The Department of Energy, Office of Science,
Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Biological Systems Science
Division is seeking a Microbiologist. Please see the description below or at USA jobs: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/332057200
Job Title: Microbiologist
Department: Department Of Energy
Job Announcement Number: 13-DE-SC-HQ-004
SALARY RANGE:$89,033.00 to$155,500.00 / Per Year
OPEN PERIOD:Wednesday, November 28, 2012 to Tuesday, December 11, 2012
SERIES & GRADE:GS-0403-13/15
POSITION INFORMATION:Full-time – Permanent
WHO MAY BE CONSIDERED:All current U. S. citizens.
The Department of Energy, Office of Science,
Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Biological Systems Science
Division, is seeking a motivated and highly qualified individual to serve as
the microbiologist responsible for all aspects of the program consisting of
microbial genomics and microbial physiology research.
If selected for this position, at the full performance level,
Serve as a recognized technical authority and expert in
microbial genomics and microbial physiology, and as such, have the
responsibility to plan, coordinate, implement, and evaluate research programs
in this field on a national and international level.
You will serve as an expert and consultant to other
biologists, scientists, and senior management in areas of assigned
responsibility and serve as a Program Manager determining scientific focus and
direction of the microbial genomics and microbial
physiology aspects of the research program.
You will examine and ascertain pioneering research needs and
opportunities of the genomics research programs against scientific and
technological advances and of potential needs of the DOE.
You will prepare, justify, and support the portions of the
budget relation to the microbial genomics and microbial physiology
research and critically evaluate contractor, DOE laboratory, and grantee
research proposals and performance.
You will critically review reports and studies prepared by
other offices in DOE and other Federal agencies as they impact the
microbial genomics and Microbial physiology programs and develop and
prepare analytical documents to communicate with top management.
Must be a U.S. citizen
All basic qualifications must be met by the closing date of announcement.
Requires the successful completion of a background
All documents must be submitted by 11:59 pm on closing date of
Must submit transcripts or course listing by 11:59pm on closing
Males born after 12/31/59 must certify registration with the
Posted By Nancy Winchester,
Friday, November 30, 2012
Bob Buchanan, UC Berkeley, conducted an interview last
June with Andrew Benson. A video based on the interview has been posted on
YouTube together with the transcript. A brief description of the video is given
on YouTube. http://youtu.be/GfQQJ2vR_xE
Benson worked closely with Calvin in research leading to
the discovery of the photosynthesis carbon cycle. In the interview Benson
describes how the research was done and also discloses previously unreported
details surrounding the work. It is Bob's hope that the film will be useful for
The video served as the focus of a seminar Bob gave at
the Energy Biosciences Institute upon its departure from the Calvin Laboratory
for a new building. The seminar was the final EBI seminar in the Calvin
A As you pack in another mouthful of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, consider the thousands of years of domestication that turned the wild potato and other staple crops such as corn into a tasty traditional meal. Thanks to the genetic revolution, we now know more than ever before about the evolution of our favorite foods, and we have the power to shape their future by introducing genes that increase resistance against disease, drought, and pests.
However, many worry that these advances could also result in risks to our health and the environment. How should scientists address these fears? How will the foods of the future differ from those of the past? And how will the controversy about GM foods play out over the next decade?
See how genomics experts Hans-Jörg Jacobsen and Jordi Garcia-Mas tackle these questions. Find us on Twitter at #ScienceLive. And don't forget, this and other chats are archived.
lecturers include ASPB members Roger Beachy (2010), then USDA National Institute
for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) director, and Pamela Ronald (2011), Professor,
Department of Plant Pathology at the University of California, Davis.
*The 2013 nominees should be well-respected
scientists working at the forefront of a pressing issue at the nexus of
agriculture and society. They should have outstanding scientific contributions
or significant policy accomplishments related to agriculture with demonstrated
societal impact. The lecture carries an honorarium of $5,000.
Nominations should be typed and include: (1) the
nominator’s name, title, institutional affiliation, email address, and phone
number; (2) the nominee’s name, title, institutional affiliation, address, email
address, and phone number; (3) a summary of the basis of the nomination (not to
exceed 500 words);
(4) a curriculum vitae (3 page maximum).
Please submit all nominations in PDF or Word format
via email to Anne Moraske at email@example.com by January 14, 2013. For more information, please contact Ms.
Moraske by email or phone (202-326-6759).
Nominees may not self-nominate;
Nominations must be for individuals and not
Members (and immediate family members) of the
Selection Committee and staff of AAAS, RMF, and WFPF are ineligible
year the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) presents the Borlaug
CAST Communication Award for "outstanding achievement by a scientist,
engineer, technologist, or other professional working in the agricultural,
environmental, or food sectors for contributing to the advancement of science
in the public policy arena.”
are due February 1, 2013. Nomination
packets must include the following:
the enclosed nomination form, completed and scanned
a curriculum vitae of the nominee
a written statement of the candidate’s ability to disseminate
research findings to the public that includes a list of pertinent publications,
public speaking engagements, television and/or radio appearances, or other
media activities within the past five years
a minimum of five (5) letters of support in PDF form in which the
references assess the candidate’s ability to communicate science to the public.
The nominator may be included as one of the five required references.
Geraniums are on the evolutionary fast track. A new comparative genomics study aims to find out why.
via Texas Advanced Computing Center
are actually natural mutants, evolving many times faster than their
plant peers, according to Robert Jansen, professor of biology at The
University of Texas at Austin.
Scientists use TACC's Ranger supercomputer to analyze unusual geranium genomes
Behold the geranium: mainstay of the home garden. These colorful
bundles of blooms are actually quite unique, evolving many times faster
than their plant peers, according to Robert Jansen, professor of biology
at The University of Texas at Austin.... (continue reading)
The article also emphasized ASPB’s evolution in
supporting an ever changing field of plant biology, where new subdisciplines continue
to emerge and the borders of traditional subdisciplines have begun to blur. It also stresses the importance of ASPB’s public affairs initiatives
in keeping "Congress and the Executive Branch informed about the benefits of
investments in fundamental plant science research.”
The American Association for the Advancement of Science
(AAAS) is accepting nominations for two mentor awards, the Lifetime Mentor Award and
the Mentor Award. Both awards recognize
individuals for their leadership and commitment in increasing participation of
underrepresented groups in science and engineering. Specifically, nominees should have mentored a
number of students from underrepresented groups that have gone onto receive PhDs
in these fields or have contributed to significantly increasing the number of
students from underrepresented groups that have completed PhDs in a department,
college, or institution.
of commitment to this effort include:
the number and diversity of students mentored;
assisting students to present and publish their work,
to find financial aid, and to provide career guidance;
providing psychological support, encouragement, and
essential strategies for life in the scholarly community;
continued interest in the individual's professional
Posted By Kaitlin Chell,
Monday, June 11, 2012
Updated: Monday, June 11, 2012
Articles on the science news website, Science
Daily, recently featured a long list of ASPB members, including: Sheng Yang He, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Michigan State
University, for his lab’s work on the balance between plant growth and pest and
pathogen resistance (http://bit.ly/LdiFyJ); Takato Imaizumi, assistant professor of biology at the University of Washington, for his
lab’s work on a photoreceptor involved in flowering time, recently published in
Science (http://bit.ly/Ljfk30); Joseph Noel, professor and director of the Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical
Biology and Proteomics at the Salk Institute, and Eve Syrkin Wurtele, professor of genetics, development and cell biology at Iowa State
University, for their identification of three proteins involved in fatty acid
metabolism, recently published in Nature,
that could be used to boost seed oil production of crop plants (http://bit.ly/KOFtcs); Michael Thomashow, director of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory also at Michigan
State University, for his lab’s work on the connection between circadian
rhythms and freezing tolerance (http://bit.ly/KDxeAx);
and Tom Brutnell,director of the
Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Donald
Danforth Plant Science Center, and Jeff Bennetzen,
professor of genetics at the University of Georgia, for their work in
sequencing the Setaria genome,
to be used as a reference genome for switchgrass (http://bit.ly/NVXnZb).
Interviews with ASPB members,
Sharon Long (http://bit.ly/LDznrx),
professor of biology at Stanford University, and Pamela Ronald (http://bit.ly/JS4n5x), professor of plant
pathology at the University of California, Davis, were featured on Scientific American Blogs in April. The series included graduate student
interviews with leading women biologists from the Women in Science Symposium held at Cornell University in April.
Tomatoes were the "it” plant in the media recently as the tomato genome
was published in Nature in May. Both the New
York Times (http://nyti.ms/KDxTC6) and
the Washington Post (http://wapo.st/LdjR5i) featured Jim Giovannoni, a scientist at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research and
USDA-ARS, in articles on the genomic sequences of a Heinz tomato variety and a
wild relative of tomato. Avtar Handa, professor of horticulture at Purdue University, was featured in the New York Times blog, Green (http://nyti.ms/NW2kkD), for his work on
finding a genetic cure for blossom end rot of tomato, a condition resulting in
economic losses in tomato production.
In keeping with the tomato theme, Harry Klee, professor of horticulture
at the University of Florida, in addition to being recently elected to the
National Academy of Sciences, was featured on the Wired Science Blog (http://bit.ly/LDAPua) and National Public
Radio’s food blog, the Salt (http://n.pr/K5qKt8),
for his lab’s recent work published in Current
Biology on the chemical basis of tomato flavor. Harry was also interviewed in an article
appearing in the The Scientist (http://bit.ly/K5qYAy) on making a successful
transition from industry to academia, something that he also wrote about in Plant Physiology in 2001 (http://bit.ly/MnTsoG).
ASPB President Elect, Peggy Lemaux also appeared in an article on the Salt (http://n.pr/KoE0pl)
concerning California’s upcoming referendum on modified food labeling. Work from Mark Johnson’s laboratory on the
precision of fertilization of a single ovule by a single pollen tube, recently
published in Current Biology, was
featured in a New York Times article
(http://nyti.ms/MnTY65). Mark is an associate professor of biology at
Brown University. And BBC News reported on (http://bbc.in/LD9PZH) the release of What a
Plant Knows, a book by ASPB member, Daniel Chamovitz, Director of
the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University, on how plants
perceive and respond to their environment.
The ASPB Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
program funds young investigators as they conduct novel research in a mentor’s
lab. This program is rooted in helping
these budding scientists to successfully launch a career in plant biology. SURF emphasizes both quality research
alongside outreach and mentoring as integral to professional development. Two recent SURF recipients exemplify the
success of the program.
Jonathan Herrmann (pictured at right) and his mentor Joe Jez
(both of Washington University - St. Louis, MO) have wasted no time since
Jonathan won a SURF award in 2011. Along
with four other authors Herrmann and Jez were published in the May 24thScience Express highlights under the
entry entitled How GH3
Proteins Control Plant Hormones . Publication in Science Express precedes publication of the full article in an
upcoming print edition of Science.
When asked about the research, Jez (pictured at left)
explained, "The work reveals how a large gene family in plants recognizes a
structurally diverse set of signaling molecules — jasmonates, auxins, and
benzoates — and how these enzymes work as gate-keepers to control hormone
responses — think of them as cellular stop-lights. Jonathan worked with
Corey Westfall (one of the two first authors) to express, purify, and
crystallize the GH3 proteins and to analyze their molecular function.
This was an exciting project for everyone involved and emphasizes the value of
getting undergraduate students hooked on plant biology and biochemistry!”
Herrmann added, "Thank you to ASPB for
the opportunities they afford undergraduates to perform research. Undergraduates
really can perform meaningful research and the ASPB-SURF program shows that
ASPB believes in the students who are the future of the field of plant biology.”
Bobby Bayne (pictured at right)
just received his 2012 SURF award this spring for his project, Evaluating the Interaction between the KC1 K + Channel and
the SNARE SYP121, and
already he is participating in international outreach. Bobby, a student at University of North
Carolina, has been visiting the University of Glasgow and working with his SURF
mentor, Michael Blatt. On May 18th Bobby participated along with
Glasgow student Emanuela Sani in the first international Fascination of Plants Day. This world-wide event included the activities
jointly sponsored by the University of Glasgow at the Glasgow Botanic
Gardens. Bobby had the opportunity to
celebrate plants and demonstrate pigment extractions to nearly 500 school
children over the course of the day.
Bobby enthused, "Glasgow's
Fascination of Plants Day was a great opportunity to connect with Glasgow's community.
I taught British schoolchildren about some of the ways that plant science might
benefit society in the future. They were very interested and enjoyed the
activities that we had arranged for them. It was encouraging to see children
get so excited about plants! Science education is an important part of creating
future scientists, and I was proud to take part. Indeed, being able to
effectively share knowledge is crucial for scientific progress, and this was
good practice in doing that at the most fundamental level."
ASPB Invited Back to Host Science Outreach at the White House
Society ‘Hops to It’ to Bring Plant Biology to 2012 Easter Egg
By Katie Engen and Kathy Munkvold
On Monday, April 9, ASPB returned to the White House to host
a plant science outreach booth as part of the 134th Easter Egg Roll. A traditional event started in 1878 by President
Rutherford B. and Lucy Hayes, the Easter Egg Roll soon became known as an
exhilarating day of play for everyone. This year’s theme, "Let's go. Let's
play. Let's move," embodied that same high-energy spirit. From 7:30
a.m. to 6:45 p.m. some 30,000 visitors (in five waves of 6,000 people) from
all 50 states and Washington, D.C. hopped, strolled, sprinted, and rolled
across the South Lawn to all the activities,
sports, and games.
At midday the Obama Family and Easter Bunny greeted the
crowd from the White House South Portico then joined the fun on the South
Lawn. The First Lady spoke at the Kids' Kitchen with weather guru Al
Roker, Chef Marcus Samuelsson, and three children about gardening and how
fresh, seasonal eating is a healthy goal everyone should aim to achieve. Afterwards
Mrs. Obama greeted members of the crowd, including ASPB President Steve
Huber and several others who were volunteering in the ASPB booth. Steve
shook the First Lady’s hand while wearing a lab apron bearing the ASPB name,
and Mrs. Obama indicated she recognized the Society. Steve thanked her for all
her effective efforts to promote health and nutrition, pleased that such a
brief encounter sparked a positive comment for ASPB.
Inside the ASPB ‘Quick-Like-a-Bunny’ booth youngsters sowed lettuce, carrot,
and radish seeds to
start mini garden cups full of yummy bunny- and kid-friendly food. These quick-germinating vegetable seeds were
selected since they provide nutritious foods that help brains and bodies act quick-like-a-bunny,
too. Volunteers from the Society guided the young visitors to
assemble garden cups and chat about what seeds are, how plants
develop, and the many ways plants are important in daily life. For example, many families were pleased to
learn that the garden cups and lids
were made not from regular plastic but with recyclable corn-based material. Overall, booth visitors were very eager to dig
in to all the biology concepts we offered, a response our volunteers especially
appreciated since ASPB was the only scientific society hosting an activity on
the South Lawn this year.
We really had to ‘hop to it’ to keep pace with the crowd of
youngsters eager to make garden cups and talk about plants. Staff representatives Katie Engen, Shoshana
Kronfeld, Diane McCauley, Kathy Munkvold, and Crispin Taylor are grateful for
the expertise and energy volunteered by the Society members and associates who
joined ASPB President Steve Huber for a fun and productive day. Thank you: Andrew Auffarth, Briana Bostic, Elena Del
Campillo, Brennah Engen, Joan Huber, Melantha Jackson, Samuel Jones, Daniela
Parker, James Parker, Janet Slovin, Clare Taylor, Cynthia Taylor, Dylan Taylor,
Emma Taylor, George Ude, and Maria Elena Zavala.
Well-deserved thanks also goes to the six volunteers from
the general public assigned to our booth by the White House. The booth benefited from their energetic
efforts, and each volunteer learned a bit about plant biology, too.
biology research was well represented in this
year’s selections to the National Academy of Sciences. Four American Society of Plant Biologists
(ASPB) members were elected as new members and two as foreign associates. Each year the Academy elects a maximum of 84
members and 21 foreign associates based on their exemplary achievements in
original research. Congratulations to
the following plant biologists and ASPB members selected for this highest honor:
Xinnian Dong – Professor of Biology, Duke University;
and Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Investigator. Xinnian currently
serves as a coeditor for The Plant Celland has previously
served as a monitoring editor for Plant Physiology.
Klee – Professor of
Horticultural Sciences; University of Florida, Gainesville.
Merchant – Professor of
Biochemistry; University of California, Los Angeles. Sabeeha has received several ASPB
awards, including the Charles Albert Shull Award in
1999, Charles F. Kettering Award 2010, and was named and ASPB Fellow in
Natasha Raikhel – Distinguished Professor of Plant
Biology; University of California, Riverside. Natasha served as Editor in Chief of Plant
Physiology from 2000-2005, received the ASPB Stephen Hales Prize
in 2004, and was named an ASPB Fellow in 2007.
George Coupland – Director, Max Planck Institute for
Plant Breeding Research.
– Associate Director; The Sainsbury
Laboratory University of Cambridge. Ottoline formerly served on the
editorial board of The Arabidopsis Book
additional plant biologist, unaffiliated with the society, was also selected as
a new member:
Pedro Sanchez –
Director, Tropical Agriculture and
Rural Environment; The Earth Institute, Columbia University.
The University of Southern California (USC) announced the
appointment of ASPB member Steve Kay as dean of the Dana and David Dornsife
College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Kay
currently serves as Dean and Richard C. Atkinson Chair in the Division of
Biological Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, where he also
holds the title of Distinguished Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. His appointment as dean at USC officially
begins October 1, 2012.
Kay has been honored for his pioneering research in the
genetics of the circadian rhythms of plants by his selection to the National
Academy of Sciences in 2008, as an American Association for the Advancement of
Science Fellow in 2009, and as the recipient of the ASPB Martin Gibbs Medal in
2011. Steve will be speaking at the
Martin Gibbs Medal Symposium on Clock Biology at the Plant Biology 2012 meeting
in Austin, Texas on July 22 (http://austin2012.aspb.org/).
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC ,
Thursday, April 19, 2012
On April 17, the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Office of
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced that it will present a
live webcast called ‘Educational Opportunities on Bioenergy’ on Monday, April
23 from 2:00-3:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time.
The webinar will feature experts from DOE’s National
Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory discussing
bioenergy research programs as well as various educational opportunities
available at both labs for undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students.
Presenters in the webinar will include current and past student participants,
and leaders of the bioenergy programs at the labs. Specifically, the
webinar will discuss the different bioenergy research programs available to
students at these labs, and provide a list of contacts that can facilitate
student involvement in these programs.
The webinar will have a Q&A segment before its conclusion, and participants
may submit questions before the webcast. Questions should be sent to
Ashley Rose (Ashley.Rose@ee.doe.gov).
While the webcast is free of charge, space is limited.
Participants must register in advance to receive the Internet URL for the
Developing alternative energy sources, including bioenergy,
remains a top priority for the Obama Administration as a way to reduce
dependence on foreign oil and bolster the economy. In the President’s
fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request, EERE would receive $2.3 billion, up 25
percent from FY 2012. EERE is among the biggest winners in the
President’s FY 2013 budget request, signifying the Administration’s commitment
to improving energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.
ASPB Returns for More Science Outreach
at the White House
Plant biologists help kids learn how plants
impact their lives during Easter Egg Roll
ROCKVILLE, Md. -- The American Society of Plant Biologists
(ASPB) returns today to the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.
to offer science activities for kids as part of the 2012 White House Easter Egg
Roll. About 35,000 entry ticket winners representing all 50 states will enjoy
the 134th occurrence of this annual event.
The theme of this year’s Easter Egg Roll is "Let's Go, Let's Play, Let's Move!" and is aimed at promoting health and wellness. All of the activities will encourage children
to lead healthy and active lives and follow the First Lady’sLet’s
ASPB will staff the
hands-on activity ‘Quick-Like-A-Bunny’
Garden Cup Necklaces, where kids plant quick-germinating
seeds to grow delicious vegetables that provide a nutritious boost towards
thinking and moving ‘quick like a bunny.’
As youngsters create their miniature gardens friendly experts will chat
with them about seed care, plant growth and health.
election year, ASPB booth visitors also get to ‘hop to it’ and vote
for their favorite plant-based products.
Will voters choose the food, the fibers, or the fuels
made from plants as the products they need most for thinking and acting
‘quick like a bunny’ every day?
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLANT BIOLOGISTS:ASPB
is a professional scientific society, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland,
devoted to the advancement of the plant sciences worldwide. With a membership of more than 4,500 plant
scientists from throughout the United States and more than 50 other nations,
the Society publishes two of the most widely cited plant science journals: The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology, as well as the innovative online products
Teaching Tools in Plant Biology and The Arabidopsis Book. For more information about ASPB, please
visit http://www.aspb.org/. Also follow ASPB on Twitter @ASPB.
THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION:The
Park Foundation (NPF) is the official charity of America’s 394 national parks,
including the South Lawn of the White House. NPF assists in the coordination
and planning of the annual White House Easter Egg Roll and also accepts
donations to benefit the event. Chartered by Congress, NPF works hand in hand
with the National Park Service to strengthen and connect all Americans to our parks, so they
are protected for present and future generations. It is a legacy that began
more than a century ago, when private citizens took action to first establish,
then protect and endow our national parks. Today, the National Park Foundation
carries on that tradition as the only national charitable partner for America’s
national parks. To learn more visit www.nationalparks.org.
small RNAs have accounted for one of the hottest areas of plant biology
research. These tiny fragments of RNA
are often responsible for limiting the expression of genes important for basic plant
functions such as growth and development. However, determining the role of individual
small RNAs has not been easy. Fortunately,
the work of Guiliang
Tang, ASPB member and Associate Professor at Michigan Technological
University, has added another tool to the toolbox for assessing small RNA
function in plants. Small tandem target
mimics (STTMs) disrupt the actions of small RNAs by binding their small RNA
targets, eventually leading to their destruction. By analyzing the responses of plants
expressing STTMs, researchers can learn more about a particular small RNA’s
work, published in the Plant Cell, was recently featured in
on the science news website Science Daily.
The article highlights the usefulness of
Guiliang’s approach, citing the method’s flexibility. In the article Guiliang states, "You can
use this to study the function of any small RNA in the cell." Furthermore, the method allows for the
simultaneous analysis of related members of a small RNA family, making this a very
Jonathan Jones, ASPB
member and a senior scientist at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, England,
spoke on the safety of genetically engineered crops in a recent news article
stating, "If you have a plant with 30,000 genes, and you add another, you have
a plant that is 99.999 percent identical. It’s very unlikely that would make a
difference for human health.”
article entitled "How Scientists Manipulate the
Genetics of Crops,” which appeared in the March 6th issue of the
Washington Post, provides an overview
of the process of genetically engineering a crop from identifying useful genes
to modify, disable, or insertinto
the genome of the crop of interest to testing for the modification in the
genome and the safety of the newly modified plant.
has long been an advocate for the benefits of genetically engineered crops. His opinion articles on the subject have been
published in the Guardian and BBC News. His research focuses on the molecular and
genetic mechanisms of disease resistance and pathogen virulence in plants. As an ASPB member, Jonathan served as a
former editor of the Plant Cell.