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Published on: April 18, 2019

The North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee (NAASC) is committed to promoting a global plant sciences community that reflects the true diversity of all its members. To further this mission, the NAASC Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has created the DiversifyPlantSci online resource, a list of plant biologists from under-represented groups to reference for speakers, reviewers, and participants for career or mentorship opportunities.

This list is intended to highlight the diversity within the global plant science community.

We hope to increase diversity and inclusion by making it easy to expand invitations past one’s personal networks.

To Add yourself fill out this google form: https://goo.gl/forms/s461eDrbKzoK1JzD2        

  1. Nominate yourself if you are a plant scientist who: identifies as a woman; identifies as LGBTQIA+; has a disability; and/or is a member of an under-represented ethnic or racial group***.        
  2. Please do not nominate others, we allow self-registration only. However we strongly encourage you to forward this form’s URL to others that you know and invite them to consider signing up for inclusion.

GUIDELINES FOR LIST USAGE                               

*we’ve used some language from the DiversityEEB list, and here’s their reference: https://diversifyeeb.com/entries/                                                                       

You may view the entries to identify diverse plant scientists for conferences, hiring, awards, etc.                                                                 

You may self-nominate by filling in the google form: https://goo.gl/forms/s461eDrbKzoK1JzD2         

Please do not nominate others, we allow self-registration only. However we strongly encourage you to forward this form’s URL to others that you know and invite them to consider signing up for inclusion.                                                                                                                 

We welcome the use of information provided for distributing relevant announcements, however, please use the list judiciously and do not simply spam members.

Moreover, a personal email is much more effective than a mass mailing. If you do send an email to more than one person, please use the ‘bcc’ option to reduce the likelihood of an annoying ‘reply-all’ chain.”                                                                                                                 

Filters for several categories are listed in the DiversifyPlantSci list under Data–> Filter Views: Selecting a Filter view will show only names in that category. To reset, select “None”                                                             

While we are aware that there are other categories of under- representation or disadvantage within plant sciences, we are focusing on the categories of gender/racial/ethnicity/sexual orientation/disability                                                                                                                 

All my best,

Joanna Friesner, PhD
Pronouns she/her
National Network Coordinator
Inter-institutional Network for Food, Agriculture and Sustainability (INFAS)
Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI)
University of California, Davis
Phone: 530-752-7556Pronouns she/herNational Network CoordinatorInter-institutional Network for Food, Agriculture and Sustainability (INFAS)
Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI)

GARNet Research Roundup: April 11th 2019

This edition of the GARNet Research Roundup is led by two papers from John Christie’s lab at the University of Glasgow. First is a study that looks at the function of the NPH3 protein during phototropism whilst the second paper is a collaboration with Mike Blatt’s group and has used an synthetic biology approach to increase plant biomass by altering stomatal conductance.

Third is a paper from the University Dundee and James Hutton Institute that looks at the extent of alternative splicing of long non-coding RNAs in response to cold stress.

The fourth paper is from Royal Holloway and defines the role of a MAP kinase module during meristem development. The fifth paper is led by Charles Spillane in Galway and includes Mary O’Connell at the University of Nottingham as a co-author and investigates the selective pressures that are applied to parentally imprinted genes.

The penultimate paper is from Aberystwyth and uses microCT imaging to determine grain parameters in wheat and barley whilst the final paper is from Queens Mary University of London looks at nonphotochemical quenching in Berteroa incana.

Sullivan S, Kharshiing E, Laird J, Sakai T, Christie J (2019) De-etiolation Enhances Phototropism by Modulating NON-PHOTOTROPIC HYPOCOTYL 3 Phosphorylation Status. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.19.00206

Open Access

Stuart Sullivan is first author on this work from John Christie’s lab at the University of Glasgow in which they investigate the functional significance of dephosphorylation of the NON-PHOTOTROPIC HYPOCOTYL 3 (NPH3) protein that occurs following activation of Phototropin receptor kinases. They show that plant greening (de-etiolation) enhances phototropic responses that are coincident with reduced NPH3 dephosphorylation and increased plasma membrane retention of the protein. They further investigate other genetic and environmental factors that impact NPH3 dephosphorylation, which allows young seedlings to maximise their establishment under changing light conditions.

Papanatsiou M, Petersen J, Henderson L, Wang Y, Christie JM, Blatt MR (2019) Optogenetic manipulation of stomatal kinetics improves carbon assimilation, water use, and growth. Science. doi: 10.1126/science.aaw0046

Maria Papanatsiou is lead author on this work from the University of Glasgow that occured in the labs of Mike Blatt and John Christie. They aimed to address a phenomonen that occurs during changing environmental conditions in which stomatal dynamics lag behind biochemical photosynthetic changes. This prevents plants from maximising their outputs due to inefficiencies in gas and water exchange. In this work they express a synthetic blue light-gated K+ channel BLINK1 in guard cells. This introduced a K+ conductance to these cells resulting in accelerated stomatal opening under light exposure and closing after irradiation. Ultimately they show that this significantly increases biomass without incurring a water use cost. This approach has clear potential for improving plant productivity under changing environmental conditions.


Calixto CPG, Tzioutziou NA, James AB, Hornyik C, Guo W, Zhang R, Nimmo HG, Brown JWS (2019) Cold-Dependent Expression and Alternative Splicing of Arabidopsis Long Non-coding RNAs. Front Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00235

Open Access

Cristiane Calixto and John Brown from the University of Dundee and the James Hutton Institute lead this study into alternative splicing of lncRNAs in response to cold. This is a follow-up to their large scale scale study on the extent of alternative splicing in Arabidopsis.  The authors identified 135 lncRNA genes with cold-dependent differential expression (DE) and/or differential alternative splicing (DAS), some of which were highly sensitive to small temperature changes. This system identified a set of lncRNAs that could be targets for future research aimed at understanding how plants respond to cold and freezing stresses.

Dóczi R, Hatzimasoura E, Farahi Bilooei S, Ahmad Z, Ditengou FA, López-Juez E, Palme K, Bögre L (2019) The MKK7-MPK6 MAP Kinase Module Is a Regulator of Meristem Quiescence or Active Growth in Arabidopsis. Front Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00202

Open Access

Robert Doczi is the first author on this UK, Hungarian and German collaboration that is led from Royal Holloway University of London. They use genetic approaches to show that the MKK7-MPK6 MAP kinase module is a suppressor of meristem activity. They use mkk7 and mpk6 mutants as well as overexpression lines to demonstrate that perturbation of the MAPK signaling pathway alters both shoot and root meristem development and plays important roles in the control of plant developmental plasticity.

Tuteja R, McKeown PC, Ryan P, Morgan CC, Donoghue MTA, Downing T, O’Connell MJ, Spillane C (2019) Paternally expressed imprinted genes under positive Darwinian selection in Arabidopsis thaliana. Mol Biol Evol. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msz063

Open Access

Reetu Tuteja from the National University of Ireland at Galway is first author on this paper that includes Mary O’Connell from the University of Nottingham. The authors used Arabidopsis to look at 140 endosperm-expressed genes that are regulated by genomic imprinting and found that they were evolving more rapidly than expected. This investigation was extended across 34 other plant species and they found that paternally, but not maternally imprinted genes were under positive selection, indicating that imprinted genes of different parental origin were subject to different selective pressures. This data supports a model wherein positive selection effects paternally-expressed genes that are under continued conflict with maternal sporophyte tissues.

Hughes N, Oliveira HR, Fradgley N, Corke FMK, Cockram J, Doonan JH, Nibau C (2019) μCT trait analysis reveals morphometric differences between domesticated temperate small grain cereals and their wild relatives. Plant J doi: 10.1111/tpj.14312

Open Access

Nathan Hughes and Candida Nibau at the Aberystwyth University lead this work that uses microCT imaging alongside novel image analysis techniques and mathematical modeling to assess grain size and shape across accessions of wheat and barley. They find that grain depth is a major driver of shape change and that it is also an excellent predictor of ploidy levels. In addition they have developed a model that enables the prediction of the origin of a grain sample from measurements of its length, width and depth.

Wilson S, Ruban AV (2019) Enhanced NPQ affects long-term acclimation in the spring ephemeral Berteroa incana. Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2019.03.005

This study is led by Sam Wilson and Alexander Ruban at QMUL and investigates nonphotochemical quenching in the Arabidopsis-relative Berteroa incana. They show that light tolerance and ability to recover from light stress is greatly enhanced in Berteroa compared to Arabidopsis. This is due to faster synthesis of zeaxanthin and a larger xanthophyll cycle (XC) pool available for deepoxidation. This result gives B.incana a greater capacity for protective NPQ allowing enhanced light-harvesting capability when acclimated to a range of light conditions. The authors suggest this short-term protection prevents the need for the metabolic toll of making long-term acclimations.

Opportunities at ICAR2020: Seattle

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Published on: April 8, 2019

Hi all,

I want to let you know that the ICAR 2020 conference webpage is up and that we (NAASC) are doing new and exciting things for ICAR 2020 – Seattle!

In response to community feedback we’ve gathered an External Advisory Board to discuss approaches to better meet the needs of plant science researchers and educators interested in a moderate sized conference such as ICAR, and that focuses on the resources, techniques, and fundamental research taking place in Arabidopsis labs and in other labs that depend on Arabidopsis knowledge and resources.

We consistently heard that attendees prioritize the chance to present their work, especially in a talk; that most want greater diversity in the invited speakers list and in conference session topics. In response we’ve dramatically changed our and we anticipate a highly engaging and more diverse program in Seattle next summer.

Some FIRSTS for ICAR 2020- Seattle:

  • Please share this call with your students and postdocs as we’ve reserved a number of sessions to be organized by early-career researchers
    • 31 July 2019: Deadline to apply to organize and invite speakers for a community-proposed ICAR 2020 symposium.
    • Selected symposia organizers will be provided budgets to enable them to recruit speakers for their sessions. Proposers may be at any career stage and are not limited to faculty submitters.
  • We are seeking community input on invited speakers for the non-community organized part of the program, and on the new themes we’ve developed with significant discussion with our international External Advisory Board.
  • Finally- we are putting significant emphasis on building, engaging, and supporting the diversity of our community, be it new parents, under-represented minorities, LGBTQ scientists, students, and others. We’re engaging in various approaches to enable fuller participation and inter-personal connections and are soliciting input via our survey/proposal submission mechanism, where we’ll invite folks to join and/or lead various groups at ICAR 2020.
  • As part of our diversity and inclusion endeavor, a NAASC subcommittee launched the DiversifyPlantSci list in February and there are nearly 250 plant scientists that have signed up.
  • Beyond ICAR, our DiversifyPlantSci list could be value to you– e.g. as you and colleagues consider inviting visiting speakers for local seminars. Please see the description below; I encourage you to join (if applicable) and please share with your labs and colleagues.
    • We’ve even gotten some press in Science Magazine! “Just last week, a group of plant scientists started a new database for women, members of underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups, people who identify as LGBTQ, and people with disabilities; as of today, 124 plant scientists are already on the list.” (now up to nearly 250)
  • Twitter: #ICAR2020 @ICAR_2020  
  • DiversifyPlantSci Twitter: @DiversifyPlants

Reintroducing the UK Plant Science Federation

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Published on: April 4, 2019

Over the past few weeks the GARNet coordinator, Geraint Parry, has been voted as Chairman of the UK Plant Science Federation (UKPSF), where he will represent the ideas of the GARNet community on this national committee.

So what’s the difference?

During anedotal conversations there is some confusion in the community regarding the difference between GARNet and UKPSF. To clarify:

GARNet is a BBSRC-funded community network that is focused on supporting researchers that are involved in fundamental plant science. These activities include knowledge exchange through online (website and blog) and social media platforms, organisation of meetings and workshops as well as representing the needs of fundamental plant scientists in discussions with the BBSRC or in government consultations on relevant topics, such as gene editing, big data or immigration policy.

GARNet is a member of UKPSF, which has a much broader remit that is currently primarily focused on education and policy. The UKPSF was founded in 2011 with the ambitious aim of bringing together plant scientists across all disciplines, from Arabidopsis to Ecology, in order to provide a unified voice for UK plant science.

Over the subsequent years the management of UKPSF has moved within the Royal Society of Biology (RSB) as a Special Advisory Committee. Therefore any organisation that is a member of RSB has the option of interacting with the UKPSF. Currently there are 21 member organisations that, as originally planned, cross the spectrum of UK plant science and include participants from academia, education, industry, learned societies and publishers. Each member organisation provides input into the advisory board that meets twice yearly whilst more immediate decisions are made by the UKPSF Executive Committee, which meets four times annually. The members of the Executive Commitee are listed here so please contact any of them if you have an issue that you feel needs to be raised. The Chairpersons email is geraint@garnetcommunity.org.uk yet contact information for all other members can be easily found online and they will be happy to receive your correspondence.

What is the role of UKPSF?

In its early years UKPSF organised an annual broad-based conference that brought together people with an interest in different areas of plant science who might not ordinarily communicate. However this conference has not taken place over the past few years, due in part to the challenges of finding a place for a very general meeting in an already packed conference and workshop schedule.

With over 18000 members the RSB is the largest society that focuses on all areas of the biological sciences. Therefore the primary role of the UKPSF is to ensure that plant science is represented throughout RSB activities and more generally within the wider public and scientific communities.

Growing the Future

Over the past few years members of UKPSF have interacted with the community to produce the ‘Growing the Future’ report. This important document outlines the exciting potential for UK plant science to tackle many societal challenges over the coming decades through ‘Improving crops and agricultural systems, ‘Plant health and biosecurity’, ‘Plant biotechnology’ and ‘Biodiversity and ecosystems’. This document was introduced at a breakfast reception at the House of Commons on January 29th in an event that included contributions from Stephen Metcalfe MP, Lord Matt Ridley, UKPSF Chair Rick Mumford, Professor Dale Sanders from the John Innes Centre and Professor Belinda Clarke from AgriTech East.

Where now for UKPSF?

Following publication of ‘Growing the Future’ the challenge for UKPSF is to now follow up on the recommendations outlined the document in order to support plant-focused activities at RSB.

Initially the executive are working with RSB to promote plant science in their career-facing activities during Biology Week 2019. Secondly members of the committee are involved in policy discussions on the future of genetic technologies in the UK. This primarily will occur during a ‘Workshop on Genetic Technologies’ on May 10th and the recommendations from this forum will be disseminated through usual Royal Society of Biology channels. In addition UKPSF are working with Celia Knight to promote the undergraduate RSB Plant Health Studentships that are funded through DEFRA, the BSPP, N8 Agrifood and the David Colegrave Foundation.

The UKPSF Chairman is also acting as the National Coordinator for upcoming Fascination of Plants day (FoPD19) on May 18th. If you are organising an event then please communicate it to the National Coordinator.

Future UKPSF activities will primarily rely on funding from RSB so there is limited scope to what can be achieved individually through direct activities of the committee ‘on the ground’. However the significant reach of RSB is extremely useful in promoting the outstanding resources developed by member organisations that aim to develop an educational and public interest in plant science.

Please get in contact with UKPSF if you would like the executive group to suggest any specific activities with which they could be involved.

Martin van Rongen talks to GARNet

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Published on: April 3, 2019

Martin van Rongen who works with Ottoline Leyser in the Sainsbury Lab Cambridge discusses a recent paper published in PLoS Genetics entitled ‘Connective auxin transport contributes to strigolactone-mediated shoot branching control independent of the transcription factor BRC1‘.

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