Arabidopsis Research Round-up

Categories: Arabidopsis, Global, Round-up
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Published on: August 28, 2014

Here’s your UK Arabidopsis Research Round-up for this week.  Today we feature a mixed bag of new work from the Universities of CambridgeLeicesterLeeds andLiverpool. One of the Leeds authors, Emily Hawkes, has been selected to present her work at GARNet 2014, which takes place in just two weeks’ time (9–10 September 2014)! If you haven’t already registered for this conference – the largest Arabidopsis conference in Europe this year, we might add! – it’s not too late to do so. Simply browse our website for more information at and click the ‘Registration’ tab to sign up and join us in Bristol!


  • Rennie EA, Ebert B, Miles GP, et alIdentification of a sphingolipid a-glucuronosyltransferase that is essential for pollen function in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell, 1 August 2014. DOI: 10.1105/tpc.114.129171. [Open Access]

Scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Leicester worked with American colleagues on this Plant Cell paper. It has been known for some times that glycosyl inositol phosphorylceramide (GIPC) sphingolipids make up a large proportion of the lipids in the plant plasma membrane, and that they are often decorated with glycan residues. However, until now, no glycosylating proteins have been discovered that are responsible for these residues. This group shows that the Arabidopsis thalianaprotein INOSITOL PHOSPHRYLCERAMIDE GLUCURONOSYLTRANSFERASE1 (IPUT1) transfers glucuronic acid A (GlcA) from UDP-GlcA to GIPCs. Furthermore, mutations in IPUT1 are not transmitted through pollen, suggesting that sphingolipids are essential in plants.


  • Watson M, Hawkes E and Meyer P. Transmission of epi-alleles with MET1-dependent dense methylation in Arabidopsis thalianaPLOS ONE, 19 August 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105338. [Open Access]

This is a neat paper by three researchers at the University of Leeds, in which they describe an unusual pattern of ‘dense methylation’ under the control of METHYLTRANSFERASE1 (MET1). This protein is found to be responsible for three different methylation contexts: CG, CHG and CHH (where H represents A, C or T). Epi-alleles of dense methylation at non-coding RNA loci are stably maintains and transmitted in genetic crosses, suggesting that at certain loci MET1 is able to create transcriptional diversity based on the generation of independent epi-alleles. Though rare in Arabidopsis, it will be interesting to explore the possibility that MET1 is a contributor to epigenetic diversity in other plant species.

Emily Hawkes, middle author on this paper, was selected to give an oral presentation of her abstract at GARNet 2014. So, if you haven’t already registered, do so today and join us in Bristol to hear more about her work!


  • Parry G. Components of the Arabidopsis nuclear pore complex play multiple diverse roles in control of plant growth. Journal of Experimental Botany, 27 August 2014. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/eru346. [Open Access]

Geraint Parry from the University of Liverpool here presents evidence to suggest that nucleoporins – involved in nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) that facilitate movement of RNA and protein between the nucleus and cytoplasm – may play distinct roles in nuclear transport. In Arabidopsis lines with defective nucleoporins in NPCs, it was noted that nuclear export of mRNA is differentially affected.

Plant science podcasts: PlantSci 2014 and Radio 4

Categories: Friday Film, resource
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Published on: August 22, 2014

Just a quick blog post this week on some new plant science podcasts, for your entertainment! 

First, Radio 4′s much-retweeted Plants: From Roots to Riches. This programme has been running all month and ends today so it’s not really news, but I’ve been listening to this bit by bit and was delighted to hear a familiar voice in the ‘Signals of Growth‘ episode. Nick Harberd, one of our Advisory Committee members, discussed the Green Revolution wheat and rice varieties with presenter Kathy Willis.

This is a great series, although the episodes are quite short and only focus on a small area of plant science so I’d advise skipping any episodes on a topic you know too much about or that just isn’t of interest to you. Highlights for me so far have been the ‘Blight on the Landscape‘ episode about plant-microbe interactions, which had a very interesting section on Beatrix Potter’s work on lichens; and the episode based entirely around Kew’s Arboretum, ‘An Ill Wind‘, which gave me a new appreciation of the great value of tree science and forestry. 

Friday’s episode was about Arabidopsis – I haven’t reached that one yet though!

Second, videos of talks from the UK Plant Sciences Federation conference PlantSci 2014 are now available on the Journal of Experimental Botany YouTube channel. The talks were all excellent and the videos make good teaching resources. All the speakers pitched their science for a well-informed general audience, and all were clear about why their research is important. The highlight of the conference for me was the panel discussion about UK plant science challenges, achievements and future needs and I’m happy to see that it’s there in it’s entirety, including the comments from the floor – all 1 hour 27 minutes of it.

It’s been very quiet here on the blog recently, but we’re pretty much caught up after being away at the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research in Vancouver (you can still see the #ICAR2014 stream here). Things will be back to normal very soon.


Arabidopsis Research Round-up

Categories: Arabidopsis, Global, Round-up
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Published on: August 21, 2014

These Arabidopsis Research Round-ups are usually posted on the main GARNet website (and still will be) but we’re also going to start posting them here. We were recently approached by the Arabidopsis Information Portal to ask if we could make the Round-ups available for their website too, and it’s easier for us to do that from the blog. Long story…but enjoy!

This week we have 10 new papers published from the end of July to the middle of August, including one by our very own Charis Cook!

  • De Jong M, George G, Ongaro V, Williamson L, Willetts B, Ljung K, McCulloch H and Leyser O. Auxin and strigolactone signaling are required for modulation of Arabidopsis shoot branching by N supply. Plant Physiology, 21 July 2014. DOI: 10.1104/pp.114.242388. [Open Access]

Led by GARNet’s founder Ottoline Leyser from the University of Cambridge, this paper also involved UK plant science researchers from The Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge, the University of York and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Here the finding is presented that nitrate limitation results in increased auxin export from active buds, leading to reduced shoot branching and a characteristic shift in relative biomass allocation to the root.

  • Rautengarten C, Ebert B, Moreno I et alThe golgi localized bifunctional UDP-rhamnose/UDP-galactose transporter family of Arabidopsis.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 22 July 2014. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1406073111. [Open Access]

Paul Dupree and Jennifer Mortimer from the University of Cambridge are listed as authors on this PNAS paper. In order to understand more about nucleotide sugar transporting (NST) proteins and their substrate-specific actions, this team have developed a novel approach to reconstitute NSTs into liposomes and subsequently analyse nucleotide sugar uptake  by mass spectrometry. Using this approach, and by synthesizing UDP-L-rhamnose in a newly developed two-step reaction, it has been possible to identify and characterize six bifunctional UDL-L-Rha/UDP-D-galactose transporters. This work is supported by evidence from loss-of-function and overexpression Arabidopsis lines.

  • Yang H, Howard M and Dean C. Antagonistic roles for H3K36me3 and H3K27me3 in the cold-induced epigenetic switch at Arabidopsis FLCCurrent Biology, 24 July 2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.06.047. [Open Access]

Led by Professor Caroline Dean at the John Innes Centre, this paper in Current Biology unpicks the epigenetic mechanism behind the switching on and off of the FLCgene, which is responsible for the onset of vernalisation after a period of cold. It is found that the histone modification H3K36me3 causes the FLC gene to be active, while an alternate modification, H3K27me3, switches the gene off again. It is thought that accumulation of these opposing histone modifications allow the plant to register how long it has been exposed to cold, so that it knows when to start flowering.

You can read more about this research on our Latest News page here: How Plants Remember Winter, and Other Stories.

  • Smith S, Osman K and Franklin FCH. The condensin complexes play distinct roles to ensure normal chromosome morphogenesis during meiotic division in Arabidopsis. The Plant Journal, 26 July 2014. DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12628.

In a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and Durham University, this paper in The Plant Journal presents new information about meiosis in Arabidopsis. Specifically, the group looked at condensins – proteins involved in the organization of chromosomes during meiosis – and found distinct roles for condensin I and condensin II.

  • Bardou F, Ariel F, Simpson CG, Romero-Barrios N, Laporte P, Balzergue S, Brown JWS and Crespi M. Long noncoding RNA modulates alternative splicing regulators in Arabidopsis. Developmental Cell, 28 July 2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2014.06.017.

In this article, Craig Simpson and John Brown from the James Hutton Institute in Scotland worked with French colleagues to present the finding that nuclear speckle RNA-binding protein (NSR) and the alternative splicing competitor long noncoding RNA (ASCO-lncRNA) work together as a regulatory module to control alternative splicing patterns of transcription in Arabidopsis.  Furthermore, it is found that auxin induces a major change in the alternative splicing patterns of many genes, a response largely dependent on NSRs.

  • Rasool B, Karpinska B, Konert G, Durian G, Denessiouk K, Kangasjärvi S and Foyer CH. Effects of light and the regulatory Beta subunit composition of protein phosphatase 2A on the susceptibility of Arabidopsis thaliana to aphid (Myzus persicae) infestation. Frontiers in Plant Science, 29 July 2014. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00405. [Open Access]

The Foyer Lab at the University of Leeds takes the helm on this new research paper investigating the effects of light and the composition of the regulatory B-subunit of protein phosphatase 2A on aphid fecundity and plant susceptibility to Pseudomonas syringae infection. Low light-grown Arabidopsis thaliana mutant lines were used, defective in phosphatase regulatory subunit B’γ (gamma; pp2a-b’γ), B’ζ (zeta; pp2a-b’ζ1-1 and pp2a-b’ζ 1-2) or gamma zeta double mutants (pp2a-b’γζ), in the presence or absence of a high light pre-treatment. Findings suggest that pre-exposure of plants to high light, and the composition of B-subunits are important in regulating plant resistance to aphids.

  • Becker JD, Takeda S, Borges F, Dolan L and Feijó JA. Transcriptional profiling of Arabidopsis root hairs and pollen defines an apical cell growth signature. BMC Plant Biology, 1 August 2014. DOI: 10.1186/s12870-014-0197-3. [Open Access]

Researchers working on this paper, including those from the John Innes Centre and the University of Oxford, developed a new method for isolating growing and mature root hair cells to better analyse their transcriptomes my microarray analysis. By comparing the transcriptomes of these root hair cells with those of pollen tubes, the team found a statistical relationship between the datasets, suggesting a common transcriptional profile pattern for the apical growing cells in a plant. This study will underpin the further genetic and physiological dissection of the mechanisms underlying apical growth of plant cells.

  • Cook C, Francocci F, Cervone F, Bellincampi D, Bolwell PG, Ferrari S and Devoto A. Combination of pretreatment with white rot fungi and modification of primary and secondary cell walls improves saccharification. BioEnergy Research, 5 August 2014. DOI: 10.1007/s12155-014-9512-y. [Open Access]

Here’s a paper from GARNet’s very own communication and liaison officer, Charis Cook! The final paper to be published from her PhD in the Devoto lab at Royal Holloway, here Charis et al describe how pre-treating biomass with two types of white rot fungi can improve saccharification and thus increase the accessibility of cellulose in the cell wall. The work was done in tobacco and in Arabidopsis thaliana lines with reduced de-esterified homogalacturonan content.

  • Mitchell K, Brown I, Knox P and Mansfield J. The role of cell wall-based defences in the early restriction of non-pathogenic hrp mutant bacteria in Arabidopsis. Phytochemistry, 6 August 2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2014.07.015.

Scientists from the Universities of KentLeeds and Imperial College London studied the effects of challenging Arabidopsis leaves with an hrp mutant strain ofPseudomonas syringae. It was found that, although they remained viable, hrp mutant bacteria were restricted in growth within 6 hours, and the plant accumulated for H2Oand peroxidase around the mutant than in the wild type. The results suggest that the generation of H2Ocould be a likely target for effector proteins injected into plant cells by the wild-type bacteria.

  • Koster T, Meyer K, Weinholdt C, Smith LM, Lummer M, Speth C, Grosse I, Weigel D and Staiger D. Regulation of pri-miRNA processing by the hnRNP-like protein AtGRP7 in Arabidopsis. Nucleic Acids Research, 7 August 2014. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gku716.

Lisa Smith from the University of Sheffield worked with German colleagues on this Nucleic Acids Research paper. It is already known that the hnRNP-like glycine-rich RNA-binding protein AtGRP7 regulates pre-mRNA splicing in Arabidopsis, but here it is shown the AtGRP7 as has an effect on miRNA levels in the plant. Arabidopsis lines overexpressing AtGRP7 showed a significant reduction in the level of 30 different miRNAs, and an increase in a further 14; RNA immunoprecipitation also revealed that AtGRP7 interacts directly wit the pri-miRNAs in vivo.

The TREE of plant science education

Aurora Levesley is the Project Officer for the Gatsby Plant Science TREE. The TREE grew out of the Gatsby Plant Science Summer Schools as a means of sharing the valuable resources produced for and during the Schools. Here she discusses the value of the TREE’s online lectures, which are the subject of a current New Phytologist paper. 

David Beerling at the Gatsby Plant Science Summer School
David Beerling gives a lecture at the Gatsby Plant Science Summer School. This is one of many lectures that have been edited for interactive online delivery and shared on the Plant Science TREE.

The Plant Science TREE is a free online central repository of plant science educational resources. More than 90 research academics and publishers have contributed over 2000 resources, including online research lectures, research-led lecture slides, practicals, video clips and other resources on topical plant science. It was developed by the University of Leeds with funding from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, and is currently used by scientists, educators and students from over 320 institutes worldwide.

Many students enter biological sciences courses with little interest in or knowledge of plants, and engaging students with plant science early in their studies is arguably an important step in reversing the decline in uptake of this vulnerable yet strategically important subject linked to food security and other globally important issues. Prof Alison Baker of the Centre for Plant Sciences at the University of Leeds, says of the TREE: “The aim is to put a tool in the hands of educators that will engage students in plant science and research, especially where expertise is becoming limited.”

Our recent study, published in New Phytologist, showed the online research lectures that form a large part of the TREE successfully engage undergraduates with plant science (Levesley et al 2014, New Phytologist Early View).

In this study, undergraduates from four UK universities were provided with links to online research lectures as part of their course. The lectures, filmed at the Gatsby Plant Science summer schools, were given by research leaders but pitched at a level to engage undergraduates and provided a first-hand insight into how discoveries are made and science is carried out.

Not only were the online lectures successful in engaging students with plant science and research in general, but students were unanimous in the opinion that they were a good way to learn about a subject. Interestingly the study also showed that the online viewing experience was comparable to watching the research lectures live.

These online undergraduate research lectures are freely available through the Plant Science TREE. Our study shows they represent a valuable plant science education tool to help lecturers and teachers introduce cutting-edge research examples that address globally relevant applied initiatives – as well as curiosity-driven research – to their students. As such they have the potential to change student attitudes to plant science, engage students in research and are able to reach a large and wide global student audience.

The full reference for the Plant Science TREE paper is: Levesley A, Paxton S, Collins R, Baker A and Knight CD. “Engaging students with plant science: the Plant Science TREE”, New Phytologist, published online ahead of print in June 2014.


GARNet goes global with the Global Plant Council

If you follow me on Twitter (@GARNetweets) then you’ll know that I’ve been out of the office quite a lot recently, attending a variety of conferences.

Charis has already blogged about our trip to Manchester for the Society of Experimental Biology conference a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve also been helping out our colleague Ruth Bastow at some conferences further afield.

The Global Plant CouncilAs well as being GARNet’s part-time co-ordinator, Ruth is also Executive Director for the Global Plant Council (GPC) – a coalition of global crop and plant science societies that aims to connect the wealth of knowledge and expertise from around the world to help find solutions to global plant science challenges.

The GPC is focusing on three priority initiatives: firstly the creation of a Digital Seed Bank, which aims to capture and exploit the wealth of diversity in crop collections around the globe. The Digital Seed Bank is part of larger project; the Diversity Seek Initiative (DivSeek), whose mission is to unlock the potential of crop diversity stored in genebanks around the world and make it available to all so that it can enhance the productivity, sustainability and resilience of crops and agricultural systems.

This is an ambitious project and will need to tackle problems such as how to tag or assign a DOI to genetic resources, just as you can to a journal paper. If this can be done, scientists will be able to trace published work or data back to a single seed, accession or group, and know where they can find and access that germplasm to cross-reference and compare data. A grand aspiration, but aim high and you never know what you might achieve!

GPC is also working to join up global research and policy in the areas of biofortification and stress resilience. There are many scientists across the globe working on the improvement of crops, whether by traditional or marker assisted breeding, or using GM or synthetic biology technologies – wouldn’t it be great if we could facilitate better global collaborations on these projects?

The Convention Centre Dublin, or The Coke Can, to its friends!
The Convention Centre Dublin, or The Coke Can, to its friends!

The GPC is made up of (at present) 28 member organisations, including some big players such as the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO), the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) and our own UK Plant Sciences Federation (UKPSF).

As members of these societies, many researchers are also members of the GPC by default – whether they realise it or not! To help spread the word to these organisation’s members, I’ve been helping Ruth to man (woman?) an exhibition booth.

So first we flew off to Dublin and attended EPSO’s Plant Biology Europe 2014 conference (23–26th June). This was held at the Convention Centre Dublin in Ireland (known locally, I’m reliably informed, as the ‘Coke Can’!).

Delegates at the EPSO conference came from all over the world
Delegates at the EPSO conference came from all over the world

Our booth was well attended and generated lots of interest from not just European plant scientists as you might expect, but also the global community. Rather than just collecting email addresses in a list, we collected business cards, or got people to fill in a GPC card, and pinned them to a world map so we could see exactly how ‘global’ the GPC’s reach is – I was surprised to meet delegates in Dublin from as far afield as Africa, Australia and New Zealand!

As well as working on the booth, we also had the opportunity to hear some great talks, including a public evening lecture given by Charles Godfray from Oxford University. Charles put a population biologist’s twist on ‘The Challenge of Global Food Security”; lamenting our ‘Malthusian pessimism’ about the need to feed 10 billion people by 2050 and resistance to technologies that might allow us to do this, Godfray said that failure is not an option – “If we fail to have food security, everything will fail,” he said. A sobering thought!

Portland is known for being a bit on the "alternative" side
Portland is known for being a bit on the “alternative” side

After Dublin, and a week in Manchester at SEB, I was back on the plane again; this time heading to Portland in Oregon in the US’s pacific northwest. After a few days’ holiday exploring this very cool ‘hipster’ city and sampling the infamous Voodoo Donuts, Ruth and I set up our GPC booth, this time at the Oregon Convention Centre for the ASPB Plant Biology 2014 conference.

As you can see from the map we generated this time, it was a different demographic who visited the booth; mostly researchers from the US, Canada and western Europe, although we did speak to a few people from Asia and Latin America too. The GPC’s giveaway pens went down a treat here and I came home with only one left!

Our Global Plant Council map at the ASPB conference
Our Global Plant Council map at the ASPB conference

Again, I found some time between exhibit sessions to attend a few talks, and was particularly impressed by journalist/food writer Nathanael Johnson, winner of the ASPB award for Leadership in Science. He spoke about the challenge of communicating science to the public, arguing “facts are not enough”. The big issues in science, he said, are simply too big and too complex for people to grasp, so instead they will grasp at small pieces of information they can understand – and this is often how things like the anti-vaccination movement, or anti-GM campaigners get started. Building trust between scientists, industry and the public is of huge importance, because simply giving people piles of ‘evidence’ has no impact a) if people do not understand it, and b) if there is an assumption that it is inaccurate or they are being misled.

Ruth in the Booth
Ruth in the Booth

So now I’m back in the GARNet office (though the weather here in Coventry is just as hot as it was in Portland!) but only for a week. This weekend the whole GARNet team is off to Vancouver for the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR), so stay tuned for more blog posts and tweets from Canada!

Effector-triggered defence: A new concept in plant pathogen defence

In June, a team of Brassica researchers from the University of Hertfordshire proposed a new classification for a type of plant defence mechanism: effector-triggered defence (ETD).

Henrik Stotz is first author of the paper describing ETD, currently In Press in Trends in Plant Science. He explains, “In the same way that humans have developed immune responses against human disease pathogens, crops can be bred for resistance against disease pathogens, but we need to improve our understanding of effective resistance mechanisms within plants. Our research enhances the traditional understanding of the plant defence system and describes a new concept, which is how plants protect themselves against the pathogens that grow in the space outside plant cells (the apoplast) – a new concept called effector-triggered defence or ETD.”

Traditionally, plant pathogen defence is broken into two broad forms: pathogen-triggered immunity (PTI) and effector-triggered immunity (ETI). PTI is the first action the plant takes against a pathogen and is triggered when the pathogen lands on the plant. The pathogen releases molecules called effectors into the plant cells, which the plant recognises and reacts against. If the effectors are not recognised, the pathogen can spread with little resistance.

The team from Hertfordshire, led by Bruce Fitt, argue that one line of defence, R gene-mediated host resistance against fungal pathogens that grow in the space between cells, is not adequately explained by either mechanism.

Effector-triggered defence (ETD) is mediated by R genes encoding cell surface-bound receptor-like proteins that engage the receptor-like kinase SOBIR1 – an extracellular recognition. The response is host cell death after an extended period of endophytic pathogen growth. This is in contrast to ETI, in which detection of the pathogen occurs within cells and usually triggers fast host cell death.

ETD is described in Stotz et al. (In Press) Trends in Plant Science DOI:

The quotes used in this article are from this BBSRC Press Release. This story was originally posted on the UK Brassica Research Community website.


Funding round-up: Summer 2014

Categories: funding
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Published on: July 16, 2014

Here’s your irregular round-up of funding opportunities. Some of these deadlines will already be burned into your brains, but hopefully there a few useful new ones for you to think about!

Many of the options below are only available if you are a member of a society. Funding is one of many benefits to joining a learned society (blog post on this from Sarah Blackford), and if you’re a student your institution might even pay for the membership fee for you.


Travel – conferences

British Mycological Society Small Grants: Deadlines 20 July, 20 September, 20 December, 20 March every year. Not pure plant science, but worth a look if you work on plant-fungi interactions or soil. Grants available for fieldwork, travel to meetings, to buy books or scientific equipment.

The Genetics Society Conference Grants: Deadlines 1 August, 1 November, 1 February, 1 May. Two types of grants are available depending on whether the event is linked to the Genetics Society or not.


SEB 2014: The future is bright in the Plant Section

Categories: conferences
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Published on: July 1, 2014

Lisa and I are at the Society of Experimental Biology’s 2014 (SEB 2014) conference this week. The highlight so far was the first session, when the Plant Section gathered for talks from their President’s Medallist Cristobal Uauy and three Young Scientist Award Finalists: Beth Dyson, Caroline Upton, Stephanie Johnson.

Cristobal Uauy spoke first about his career and work on wheat genetics. He was frank about the difficulties of working with wheat, but said, “I’m not going to complain about how difficult it is to work on wheat, and blah blah blah … because actually it’s getting much better.”

This optimism was sustained throughout Cristobal’s talk. He aims to improve yield in wheat, and has found a trait that increases grain width by what looks like a tiny amount – but the difference adds up very quickly. Over 20 grains, you gain the equivalent of one whole grain. Scaled up to a field, this trait would give an extra 700 loaves of bread. This is certainly something to be proud of, yet Cristobal is excited about increasing this 5% difference to 20% or 30%. His current trait is the result of a mutation on just one copy of the gene – he hopes to find and modify its homologues on the other ancient genomes that make up the huge modern wheat genome.

Cristobal is keen to promote crop research. He pointed out that Arabidopsis dwarfs all other plant species at SEB meetings, yet the current focus on food security in the plant science community necessitates breakthroughs in crop science. At GARNet obviously we have Views on this, but as Cristobal said at the beginning of his talk, “A huge number of people all over the world eat wheat – so anything we can do to improve wheat will have a huge impact.”

Cristobal is a member of the SEB Plant Section Committee, and has started a new sub-group within the Plant Section entitled Crop Molecular Genetics. If you’re interested in getting involved, I’m sure he’d love to speak to you.

The Young Scientist Award Finalists also gave inspiring talks:

  • Beth Dyson measured metabolite, amino acid and organic acid levels in Arabidopsis plants grown in optimum and cold conditions. She has identified key mechanisms that enable photosynthesis to respond to low temperatures.
  • Caroline Upton’s research on barley roots is laying the groundwork in transparent soil methodology. She finds it far easier to analyse images from roots grown in transparent soil than the CT images she initially had to work with.
  • Stephanie Johnson outlined her PhD project on the molecular mechanisms that gives Stay-Green Sorghum its desirable trait. She spent 3 months with experts at the University of Queensland generating transgenic sorghum and is now waiting to confirm the hypothesis developed from her early models.

The President’s Medal and the Young Scientist Awards are both intended to reward and encourage early career excellence and the speakers were all worthy of this recognition. The UK plant sciences community rightly speaks out regularly about funding cuts and skills gaps, but this morning’s session was a refreshing celebration of the talent our community produces and nurtures.

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