Student Research: Fall 2015 Update

ASPB collaborates with, a learning community where scientists provide online mentoring to student teams in middle school through undergraduate settings so students can design and think through their own inquiry projects. Scroll to the end of this post for an impressive list of who is doing what. The fall 2015 online meeting space was … Read more

Plants in the News: Help us identify 2015’s Plant Science Highlights

Normally, our Friday posts highlight plants featured in the news over the past week, but this week we take a short break to make an appeal for your thoughts on the most notable and newsworthy plant-related events, resources, breakthroughs and headline makers of the past year. Here are the stories we featured last year as … Read more

Meet the litter trappers

Plants that do the unexpected or that don’t conform to stereotype command attention and serve as portals to the diversity of the plant kingdom. Litter-trapping plants have an unusual and interesting strategy for obtaining nutrients. Zona and Christenhusz (2015), writing in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, describe plants that have evolved specialized adaptations … Read more

Metabolism: The final frontier

Metabolism is a widely-used term. It is used colloquially, as in, “My metabolism slowed down once I hit 40,” a usage that considers metabolism as a black box and focuses on its energetic inputs and outputs. Or, there’s the single-reaction view of metabolism, as in, “He doesn’t metabolize alcohol very well.” This view underpins the … Read more

Petition: Scientists in Support of GMO Technology for Crop Improvement

Dear  Colleagues, As you know, there is substantial fear of GMO technology both within commercial and public spheres. Recently, companies like Chipotle and initiatives such as the Non-GMO Project (representing over 4,500 non-GMO brands) have cited a petition of 300 scientists that claim there is no consensus regarding the scientific safety of GMOs. A group of scientists and myself have organized a petition … Read more

Recognizing Our Authors: Casal, Ori, Gruissem, and Bressan

This post is part of the Recognizing our Authors series. Jorge Casal The Plant Cell, Plant Physiology Jorge Casal undertook his early studies at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), where he completed his MSc in 1987, before moving to the University of Leicester (UK) where he completed his PhD in 1989. He is now professor at UBA, … Read more

Industrial chemistry, prepare to be biohacked*

*Note that we use the term biohacking as it has been used since 1988 to refer to DIY biology (Strange, 1988). More recently biohacking has been used also to refer to strategies to enhance the human body through wearable technology and nutritional supplements. Imagine a typical industrial process – say the production of gasoline or … Read more

NYT Publishes ASPB Response to 10/24 Article on European GMO Policies

The New York Times published the following letter to the editor from ASPB on October 30, 2015.  ASPB’s letter was in response to the October 24th article by Mark Lynas, the political director for the Cornell Alliance for Science.  In his piece, Lynas laments that due to “Europe’s Coalition of the Ignorant, we are witnessing … Read more

Recognizing featured Plant Cell first authors, October 2015

Recently, we’ve been profiling first authors of Plant Cell papers that are selected for In Brief summaries. Here are the first-author profiles from October’s issue of The Plant Cell. Suzanne Gerttula, featured author of Transcriptional and Hormonal Regulation of Gravitropism of Woody Stems in Populus Current Position: Volunteer Scientist, US Forest Service, Davis CA. Education: … Read more

Optimizing Crops for Biocontrol of Pests and Disease

This week we feature an article published by Stenberg et al in Trends in Plant Science that describes the potential benefits of optimizing crops for biocontrol of pests. It is difficult to estimate the true costs of herbivore damage to crop plants, but it is clearly in the billions of dollars; much more when pesticide … Read more

Recognizing our “first authors” September 2015

Recognizing our Authors is a regular blog series that profiles ASPB’s most highly cited authors. Recently, we’ve been profiling first authors of Plant Cell papers that are selected for In Brief summaries. Here we present the first-author profiles from September’s issue of The Plant Cell. Jonathan Flowers, featured author of Whole-Genome Resequencing Reveals Extensive Natural … Read more

Recognizing Our Authors: Hwang, Gilliham, Zanetti, and Leister

This post is part of the Recognizing our Authors series. Inhwan Hwang The Plant Cell, Plant Physiology Inhwan Hwang received his BS and MS degrees from the Department of Chemistry, Seoul National University, in 1977–1981 and 1981–1983, respectively, and his PhD degree (molecular biology, adviser: Chi-Bom Chae) from the Department of Biochemistry University of North … Read more

Recognizing Our Authors: Van Aken, Foresi, Leon-Reyes, and Ljung

This post is part of the Recognizing our Authors series. Olivier Van Aken The Plant Cell, Plant Physiology Olivier Van Aken obtained his PhD at Ghent University (Belgium) in the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology (VIB, Plant Systems Biology). He then moved to the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at The University of … Read more

CRISPR here, CRISPR there, CRISPR CRISPR everywhere

Scientists have long dreamed of the ability to make targeted genomic changes: precise and specific alterations in an organism’s DNA to affect its phenotype. Recently, this dream has become a reality through the discovery and engineering of nucleases that can be targeted to precise genomic locations. Double-strand breaks produced by targeted nucleases can induce mutations … Read more

Recognizing Our Authors: Carrie, Tyerman, Welti, and Yamaji

This post is part of the Recognizing our Authors Series. Chris Carrie The Plant Cell, Plant Physiology Chris Carrie received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Western Australia in 2005. He then went on to obtain his PhD in 2011 working at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Biology located at the University … Read more

Evolution and function of strigolactone / karrikin receptors

Karrikins are small molecules found in smoke that promote seed germination and have been associated with the activation of seeds following fire (Nelson et al., 2012). Strigolactones are structurally similar small molecules that act as endogenous hormones and as secreted signals that promote the germination of parasitic plants and branching responses in mycrorrhizal fungi (Brewer … Read more

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

Recognizing Our Authors: Xing Wang Deng, Christine Beveridge, and Nicolas Taylor

This post is part of the Recognizing our Authors series. Xing Wang Deng The Plant Cell, Plant Physiology Xing Wang Deng is a university endowed professor of plant biology at Peking University. He graduated from Peking University in 1985 with an MS degree and then from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1989 with a … Read more

Federal Programs to Support Early Career Faculty

In an increasingly competitive environment to earn federal grants, opportunities exist to help researchers at the beginning of their careers. The following report contains an overview of federal government funding opportunities and fellowship programs that provide support for early career researchers working at universities or other non-government institutions. Some programs provide support for early career … 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