Recognizing pathogens, and recognizing errors

This week’s Research in Focus article has two take-home messages. The first is about how an important plant pathogen is recognized by its host: specifically, the role of a newly-identified tyrosine-sulfated bacterial protein. The second is about the process of science and the foundation of trust on which it rests: specifically, how to proceed when … Read more

How to Be an Ally to Professional Communicators: Working with Journalists

By Dana D’Amico In my last post, I introduced a few ways that the plant science community might look to storytelling and literature for outreach. Here, I’ll present some practical tips for working with science writers, as corroborated by working journalists at the Plant Biology 2015 “Standing Up For Science” workshop in Minneapolis (and for … Read more

Identification of inositol pyrophosphates and their functions in plants

Inositol phosphates are a family of small molecules in which one to eight phosphates are attached to an inositol ring. The number and positions of phosphates determine the molecules’ properties, which range from phosphate storage to vesicle trafficking, energy signaling and metabolism. Inositol hexakisphosphate (InsP6, also known as phytate) has a phosphate group attached to … Read more

Conference Tweeting for Plant Scientists Part 1: Twitter basics

Twitter is quickly becoming the platform of choice for connections and communications at scientific conferences and beyond. The current culture of science, which values openness, accessibility and broad participation, is enhanced by the barrier-free Twitter environment; everyone has an equal right to participate in Twitter conversations. At several conferences this summer I’ve been asked for … Read more

Conference Tweeting. Part 2: Getting the most out of conference tweeting

New to Twitter? Start with Part 1: Twitter Basics Why do people Tweet from talks and conferences? One of the main reasons is to broaden access to science beyond those able to attend a conference, benefitting the science, the speakers, and the off-site participants. Science is moving towards a more open, democratic culture, with Twitter … Read more

Winning entries of the April 2015 “Teaching Tools Proposal” competition

Earlier this year we announced a competition for proposals for the “Teaching Tools in Plant Biology” series of educational articles published by The Plant Cell. We had many excellent proposals submitted from which we selected three for further development. Sound intriguing? The competition has additional submission deadlines of August 31 and December 31 2015, and … Read more

Teaching Tools tackles Micronutrients and Metals

The latest Teaching Tool in Plant Biology explores the theme of “Micronutrients and Metals”. By definition, the micronutrients (Fe, Cu, Zn, Mn, Mo, Ni, B, Si and Cl) are essential for plant life, and most are also essential for human and other animal life. About a quarter of cellular proteins are metalloproteins that associate tightly … Read more

Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS): Seven universities, one graduate school

By Hanna Rovenich and Setareh Mohammadin of the EPS PhD council. Benefits of a Netherlands-wide multi-university graduate school The interuniversity Graduate School ‘Experimental Plant Sciences‘ (EPS) trains over 300 PhD candidates at any given time across seven different universities including Wageningen University, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Free University of Amsterdam, the University of Amsterdam, Leiden … Read more

Digital teaching tools and global learning communities (F1000Research article)

We’ve now been publishing “Teaching Tools in Plant Biology” for five years, and it’s clear that this feature of The Plant Cell is being used across the world; the articles are regularly accessed from sites in more than 100 countries (the figure shows 2014 country distribution). We recently ran a survey to find out how … Read more

Share your enthusiasm! Teaching Tools submission competition

For years we’ve been asking people how they define a great teacher. One trait that repeatedly comes up is “enthusiasm.” Nobody enthuses about plants better than plant scientists, so we’re offering you a chance to “share your enthusiasm”. Have you got a passion for plant science? Do you have a favorite paper, experiment, topic, or … Read more

From chemistry to current events: The six macronutrients that make up a plant (N, P, K, Mg, S & Ca)

In the second of three Teaching Tools in Plant Biology spanning the topic of Plant Nutrition, we examine how macronutrients affect plant growth. Specifically, we look at (1) the availability of nutrients in the soil along with the effects of soil microbes and physical properties on their availability; (2) nutrient uptake from the external environment, … Read more


作者:玛丽·威廉姆斯 (Mary Williams)和 顾方为 (Fangwei Gu) This article is also posted in English (link). [玛丽]        对于那些想要开拓眼界,并提高自己英语水平的植物学家来说,美国依然是他们的一个主要目的地。但通过移民系统前往美国的道路却注定不会轻松。顾方为是美国密歇根大学的一名博士生,他愿意向我们分享被美国大学录取的经验。本篇日志将以中英文双语的形式发布 (link)。 [方为] 有多少在美国实验室中工作的植物学家出生在美国之外?如果你翻阅美国植物生物学家协会2014年年会的名册,你会发现许多来自中国,印度,日本,韩国,德国等国家的研究生和博士后。   我是他们中的一员。诚然与20多年前相比,来自海外的科学家有更多的机会前往美国,但我们依然需要花上几年的努力来抓住这样的机会。我从2007年开始准备出国留学,并在2009年获得了博士的录取通知书。对于那些母语并非英语的学生来说,他们必须参加托福 (TOEFL )考试。此外,为了满足申请的条件,他们还需要提供 GRE 的成绩单。在我申请的时候,中国大陆每年只有两次参加GRE考试的机会。这个数字在2014年已经提高到了30次,但为了确保考位,学生们依旧需要提早注册。   在等待托福和GRE考试成绩时,我开始在网上寻找想要申请的研究生项目。我想要从事植物发育方向的研究,所以我翻出了美国新闻网的《大学排名》(,依次打开这些大学的生物系页面,并用“植物发育”作为关键词进行搜索。我列出了那些我想要加入的课题组的名字,并向相关教授询问,他们是否有招收研究生的意愿与资金。最终我定下了我想要申请的7所大学(一般候选大学名单会在10-20不等)。   当我有了选校名单和考试成绩后,我就开始了正式的申请。部分的申请工作是在网上进行的。我需要上传我的简历,我的个人陈述(回答为什么选择这所学校之类的问题),我的三名推荐人的联系方式,以及托福和GRE的成绩。之后我需要将我的本科成绩单,学位证书的复印件以及其他必须的材料一起寄往这些大学。   但这些只是个开头。这一切努力的目的仅仅在于让你在众多申请者中脱颖而出,并获得一个面试的机会。在美国本土的学生能够亲自访问学校并参加面试,但对我们这些国际学生来说,面试则一般用电话或者Skype进行。我很幸运地能够在北京与两名教授进行面对面的面试。他们在中国一共面试了将近50名学生,只有我和其他的5名学生最终被录取。   被录取的学生将在面试的几周或者几个月后收到录取通知和I-20(给学生的移民材料)。对许多国际学生来说,为了进入美国,他们需要有F1类型的签证。获得签证的过程比申请学校要来得简单,但依旧非常麻烦。你能从SEVIS的网站上(Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)得到更多相关的信息。F1签证的申请者需要在线填写一份DS-160表,并联系当地的美国大使馆或领事馆来预约面签。在面签的过程中,面试官会询问申请者一系列关于专业与未来学习计划的问题。由于F1是非移民签证的一种,如果申请者流露出任何毕业后想要留在美国的意图,那么他/她的申请就有可能被拒绝。通过面试后,签证签发的时间可长可短,我当时等了5周。   博士后赴美的过程与研究生有着些许不同。他们直接受雇于实验室的负责人,而并非被院系录取。因此他们并不需要准备院系的申请材料,也无需参加托福和GRE考试。为了得到博士后的职位,申请者往往需要直接与潜在的导师联系,并附上自己的简历和研究计划。导师会通过电话或Skype与候选人们进行面试,而这也是测试申请者英语能力的场合。通过面试的申请者会收到聘书。为了进入并合法地留在美国工作,博士后需要J1(,或参阅或H1B类(签证。大家可以从全美博士后协会的网站上(得到更多关于这两种签证的信息。   如果你经历了以上的这些步骤,那么恭喜了,欢迎来到美国!   其他的事实: 一名学生每年的学费和生活费大约在5万美元左右。如果一名学生没有从大学处得到资助,那么他/她需要提供财产证明(一般是银行对帐单)来证实他/她能够承担这些费用。但我们也要知道,2012年中国家庭的平均年收入是2100美元(。   托福考试,GRE考试和签证申请的费用都在100-150美元不等。   国际学生的申请费(平均在70美金)往往比美国本土学生的申请费要贵,而申请的截止日期也更早。   [玛丽] 顾方为 目前在埃里克·尼尔森(Erik … Read more

Charging ahead with plant nutrition

Teaching Tools in Plant Biology has released the first of a three-part series on the topic of Plant Nutrition, “Plant Nutrition 1: Membrane Transport and Energetics, K Nutrition and Na Toxicity”,  co-authored by Michael Blatt. This lesson starts by describing the central role of membrane transport and energetics in plant nutrition. The proton-motive force needed … Read more

Editors advise “How to publish” at Plant Biology 2014

During the recent Plant Biology conference, editors from the ASPB journals The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology shared insights and fielded questions about how to publish in top journals, to an audience of about 100 early career researchers. Mike Blatt (Editor-in-Chief of Plant Physiology) recognized the important contributions of the journals’ geographically diverse academic editorial … Read more

What happens when “nature’s driving force” runs dry?

Leonardo da Vinci compared the movement of water in nature to the movement of blood in an animal, and concluded that, “Water is the driving force of all nature.” Five hundred years later we still can recognize the truth in this statement. However, with groundwater resources dwindling and rainfall patterns becoming irregular, could nature’s driving … Read more