Developmental genetics with Zoe Wilson

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Published on: January 18, 2013

In the fourth of our series of video podcasts from PlantSci 2012, Zoe Wilson from the University of Nottingham discusses about her work on Arabidopsis developmental genetics. She works on pollen, which she explains is important for food security and the cut flower industry. Like the previous interviewees Eric, Katherine, and John, she also talks about the future of plant science. She says, “The link between plants and science had been quite tenuous, more people are understanding the importance of that.”

Plant defence with Katherine Denby

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Published on: December 18, 2012

The second of our video podcasts from PlantSci 2012 is from Katherine Denby, from the University of Warwick. She works on how plants respond to changes in their environment, and in particular in response to pathogens. If you have a slightly cloudy idea of what systems biology is she explains it very well here, including how it can affect future food security. She also explains why she works on Arabidopsis, saying, “It’s just so much quicker to do things in Arabidopsis!”

2013 dates for your diary

Categories: funding, GARNet, UKPSF, Workshops
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Published on: December 11, 2012

Yes, it’s nearly Christmas and before you know it, we’ll be into the new year. Here’s some dates for your diary so you can at least start 2013 on top of things.


Major Funding deadlines

ERA-CAPS First Joint Call: 15 Febuary

BBSRC: 9 January; 21-22 May; June (TBC).

EPSRC: Outline proposal batch meetings 11 February; 15 April; 16 June.

FP7 KBBE theme: 5 Febuary

Marie Curie Actions: Researchers’ Night, Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways, International Research Staff Exchange Scheme, all in January; Career Integration Grants, 18 September.

ERC Consolidator Grants: 21 February

NERC Standard Research and New Investigator Grants: 1 July, 1 December. NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships: 1 May (more…)

A very planty November

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Published on: November 23, 2012

November is turning out to be a busy month for the plant science community, and here is a round-up of what you might have missed and what is still to come.

Coming up

NIAB has been granted over £600 000 to provide a community wheat transformation service. This is an excellent opportunity for Arabidopsis researchers to test the application of their research in a commercial crop – around 25 transformations will be granted to model crop researchers. For more information, go to the NIAB website and see this poster. Applications will open shortly.

This year’s meeting of the Genetics Society Arabidopsis special interest group is organized by GARNet and will take place on Monday in Liverpool, focusing on next generation sequencing applications in plant science research. It’s too late to register, but you can see the abstracts here, and the presentation slides will be online soon after the day. We will be live tweeting from the workshop on #ngsplant.

The European Research Area Network for molecular plant science (ERA-CAPS) launched its first joint call on 19 November. Up to £6M of BBSRC funding is available to support UK researchers in ERA-CAPS consortia. The deadline for application is 15 February 2013.

London-dwelling people with an interest in policy will be interested in a new series of events run by the Society of Biology, Policy Lates. On Thursday there will be a debate at Charles Darwin House on Do we need more scientists in Parliament. It is a free event and is now full, but there is a waiting list. I expect there will be live tweeting under #policylates – so keep your Twitter tuned if you want to be there virtually, if not in person.

Recent goings on

The UK Plant Science Federation had its second annual general meeting on 5th November. I wrote a blog post on it for the UKPSF blog, and news from the meeting was also highlighted on this blog by Alan Jones.

I went to the Society of Biology Autumn Members Meeting, where I found out more about the Degree Accreditation Programme. If you feel that original research in UK undergraduate biology courses is poor, get involved by accrediting courses at your own institution, or signing up as an assessor.

The Higher Education team at the Society of Biology launched an Open Educational Resources website last Friday. All the resources on it are peer reviewed by experts, so they are top quality. You can download resources to use yourself, or submit your own resources so they can be used by other lecturers.

NIAB has been granted over £600 000 to provide a community wheat transformation service. This is an excellent opportunity for Arabidopsis researchers to test the application of their research in a commercial crop – around 25 transformations will be granted to model crop researchers. For more information, go to the NIAB website and see this poster. Applications will open shortly.

Success falling from the air: how BeadaMoss has saved Sphagnum moorland

Categories: guest blogger, UKPSF
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Published on: November 20, 2012
Sphagnum moss

I’m delighted that Dr Alan Jones, who presented this story as part of the ‘Good news from UK plant science’ session at the UKPSF AGM, agreed to write a guest blog post for GARNet.

Degradation of the Pennine moorlands in northern England over the last 100 years has been severe. This rocky windswept spine runs through the centre of what was once the industrial powerhouse of Britain, and these upland areas have been subject to intense pressures from atmospheric pollution, overgrazing and recreational activity. The moorland soils are eroding, which rapidly exposes their carbon-rich peat to the elements and so they begin release carbon dioxide. This is a big issue for the UK because, owing to this sort of land degradation, our upland soils are currently releasing the carbon emissions equivalent to that of Manchester.

Eroded peatland in the Yorkshire Peak District.

At their heart, upland soils are built upon the few tiny plants that can survive harsh conditions, waterlogging and low nutrients. Sphagnum mosses are the building block that achieve this, but unfortunately once the soil has eroded, sphagnum cannot recolonize.

With the assistance of Manchester Metropolitan University and a small UK company – MicroPropagation Services, a product has been developed which promises to revolutionise upland conservation and reverse this degradation. The product is BeadaMosstm – a sphagnum culture formed into small gel beads, which stabilise and nurture these young plants, allowing them to re-establish on degraded peatlands where they would otherwise be unable. Remarkably, these green beads are actually airlifted by helicopter, so large quantities can be dropped to target specific areas of remote moorland, where volunteer workers then complete the final painstaking step of inserting them into the soil. (more…)

Funding round-up: Deadlines in Autumn 2012

Categories: funding, UKPSF
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Published on: September 4, 2012

A number of grant deadlines are coming up this autumn, from big fellowship grants to funding for development of methodology or for outreach. Many of them are bi-annual, so if you are interested you may want to prepare for a Spring 2013 application instead.

For more funding opportunities, other news and an events calendar, go to the UK Plant Sci website.

Nitrogen Ideas lab: deadline 7 September. You only have 3 days to apply for this but the application form is very short, and $12M funding from the BBSRC and NSF is available for projects that come out of the ideas lab, which will be held in Crewe (UK) from 3-7 December.

Fellowships for established researchers

BBSRC Industry Fellowships scheme: Deadline 5 October. This is funded by the Royal Society, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council, Rolls-Royce plc and Astra Zeneca as well as the BBSRC. It is for the transfer of knowledge between industry and academia. Fellowships can run for 2 years full time, or 4 years part time, during which the fellow will establish personal and corporate links between the 2 sectors of work.

The Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorships: Deadline 11 October. This programme may last three to ten months and funding is dependent on requirement. This is to enable overseas academics with excellent research and teaching skills to spend time at a UK University for the enrichment of the host university, and for the visiting academic.

Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowships: Deadline 8 November. Up to £45 000 for a fellowship of between 3 and 24 months is available for experienced researchers of any discipline. Researchers who have been prevented from doing original research by routine duties should apply for this fellowship.

BBSRC Partnering Awards: Deadline 14 November. Funding to set up partnership links between the UK and one of Japan, China, Indis, the USA, or Brazil. Both single partnerships and consortia are eligible, and partnerships may last up to 4 years.

Doctoral programme

BBSRC BRIC doctoral programme: Deadline 11 October. This four year scholarship is to support new PhD students with interest in the bioprocessing industry. Students will receive £5000 per annum for training and development.

Grants for researchers of any level

Biochemical Society Eric Reid Fund for Methodology: Deadline 1 November. Members of the Biochemical Society may apply for up to £1800 for developing or carrying out a new method, testing the feasibility of a new idea, and other methodology-led projects.

BBSRC International Workshops: Deadline 14 November. Current BBSRC grant holders or researchers at BBSRC funded institutions can apply for approximately £10k of funding for a workshop to involve another country.

Technology Strategy Board Synthetic Biology competition: Briefing event 15 October; Deadline for registration 14 November; deadline for submission 21 November. Up to £6.5M will be invested. Eligible projects will demonstrate the feasibility of a new synthetic biology approach in the creation of novel or improved products or processes. Projects must be collaborative and business-led. The BBSRC is involved in this initiative, and more information can be found in this BBSRC leaflet.

Agricultural Economics Society Prize Essay Competition: Deadline 30 November. £1000 will be awarded to the best essay on any aspect of agricultural economics. Entrants must be within six years of graduation, or under 30 for non-graduates.

Royal Society Brian Mercer Feasibility Award: Rolling bias. Initial support of up to £30 000 is provided to the winner of the grant, to test the technical and economic feasibility of commercializing an aspect of their scientific research.

Outreach grant

British Ecological Society Outreach grants: Deadline 17 September. Up to £2000 is available to support projects that promote ecology to the public. If mid-September is too close, the next deadline is in March 2013.

Coming up soon

Categories: resource, UKPSF, Workshops
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Published on: August 27, 2012

These are just a few of the events listed on the UKPSF Events Calender

Register now for the GARNet New Technologies to Advance Plant Research workshop:

Warwick Crop Centre are holding an Open Afternoon on 19th September. Visitors will be able to view the facilities, including field and glasshouse trials, and learn about the research and training opportunities.

Also on 19th September, EBI are holding a training course for PhD students and post-docs to train them to use the new PhytoPath resource.

The BBSRC funded Wheat Improvement Strategic Programme are running a course on wheat genetics at the John Innes Centre on 19-22 November 2012. There are only 10 places available but it will be a good introduction to cereals research and crop breeding for undergraduates, postgraduates or junior breeders. Apply here until 1 October.

There will be an international meeting on Imaging in Cell Biology in Windsor Great Park on 14-17 October. There are free places for graduate students and post-docs.

The International Symposium on Plant Photobiology will be held in Edinburgh in June 2013. To mark the launch of the event, a special launch price is available until 2 September – book early to get the good rate!

And something else…

Help GARNet assess the use of new Arabidopsis lines by doing a very short survey on MAGIC lines.

New open access resource for plant pest and disease management, detailed on PlantSci.

PLoS ONE have put together an impressive collection of all their synthetic biology papers.

The week in links

Categories: funding, UKPSF
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Published on: July 27, 2012

At GARNet this week…

– Ruth is heading to the 6th EPSO / 18th FESPB joint Conference in Feiburg and will be keeping us updated on Twitter – you can see her ICAR tweets on Storify.

– GARNet was privy to some UK PlantSci2013 planning and it looks like it will be a great week with exciting speakers from diverse areas of the plant science community. It will be in Dundee in April.

– Workshop talks from the Making Data Accessible to All Workshop hosted by GARNet at Egenis earlier in the month are now online.

– As well as the EU FP7 funding that was launched this month, the EU have earmarked €683 million for life science research in 2013. Go to UKPSF news to find out more.

– The UKPSF are looking for case studies on the impact of UK plant science – do you have any?

– Anne Osterrieder’s guest post on iridescence inadvertently coincided with a Guardian article about growing orchids that use iridescence to mimic insects in your garden.

– We want to encourage you to add yourself to Find a Scientist, the searchable database of plant scientists that lets users search for researchers by research interest, name or institution.

– If you want something to distract you from the weather, try out the Extinct! game on the BBSRC website. I’m afraid to say my outlook as a wild plant was pretty bleak.

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