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

We had many excellent proposals submitted for the second round of the the “Teaching Tools in Plant Biology” competition, from which we selected two for further development. The competition has one additional submission deadline December 31 2015, and full details can be found at Here are the two winning proposals and their authors from … 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

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

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

Far more than pots on sticks: Uptake and transport of water by plants

  “Plant-Water Relations 1: Uptake and Transport”  is the latest article in Teaching Tools in Plant Biology, and first of the in-depth series on the topic of Plant Physiology. It was written by me (Mary Williams), Mel Oliver of the USDA-ARS and Steve Pallardy of the University of Missouri.   This topic is a cornerstone … Read more