Nature Plants | Plant Life

Convivial Rice, Decoded Cotton and Bronze Medals

Last week was a busy week for Nature Plants for a number of reasons. Various members of the team were out at meetings so if you were at the TIP conference on the “Dynamics of Plant DNA” in Strasbourg you might have run into Guillaume. While if you were at UK Plant Sciences meeting on “Breeding plants for the future” you could have had the opportunity to chat with Anna over coffee.

What with all that, plus getting to grips with the first official submissions to the journal there wasn’t much time for blogging. There is nothing staler than old news so while they are still semi fresh in my mind here are some of the interesting things that I saw last week and intended to write about, but didn’t quite get to:

  • Timely focus on Photosynthesis
    The BBC radio 4 program “In our Time” tackled the question of photosynthesis this week with a discussion between Sandy Knapp, Nick Lane and John Allan. Great fun and well worth listening again to.
  • Table Manners
    Science published a provocative article called “Large-Scale Psychological Differences Within China Explained by Rice Versus Wheat Agriculture” which looked at different areas of China that either primarily dependent on rice or wheat culture. It seems that growing rice results in a more “interdependent and holistic-thinking” population. If you haven’t time to reads the article itself there is a good summary in the accompanying perspective, “Rice, Psychology, and Innovation“.
  • Barn-raised Biotech
    There was a nice piece on the TechRepublic blog about ‘Open Source Agriculture’. It talks about the Open Source Seed initiative that, taking its cue from Open Source software, is developing ways to distribute seeds in a way that makes them “available in perpetuity in a protected commons”.
  • Roses are red, Tomatoes are blue
    Cathie Martin and Eugenio Butelli of the John Innes Centre won the BBSRC Innovator of the Year award for their development of food varieties with enhanced vitamin contents, most notable their high-anthocyanin tomatoes.
  • Cotton Genomics
    Nature Genetics has published the genome sequence of tree cotton, Gossypium arboreum, from a team of researchers, principally based at the Institute of Cotton Research of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. This is not only one of the major cultivated diploid species of cotton but also provides the major part of the genetic material of tetraploid cotton.
  • Prize Design
    The maize Genetics Executive committee has already announced that the first recipient of he Barbara McClintock Prize for Plant Genetics and Genome Studies will be David Baulcombe. What they don’t know yet is what that prize will look like. So they have started a further competition to design the prize, “a bronze medal (60 millimeters in diameter, 4 millimeters in thickness) that will carry a picture of Dr McClintock on one side and an image symbolizing one or more of her unique scientific contributions on the other”.


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