Monday, June 22, 2009

Monitoring Long-term Changes in British Woodlands

Forest Ecology Group of the British Ecological Society
Friday 2nd October 2009
Department of Plant Sciences, Cambridge University

Our aim is to discuss the following questions:

What scientific issues are being addressed by analysis of long-term datasets collected in British woodlands?
What scientific issues are being addressed by analysis of long-term datasets collected in British woodlands?
What other analyses could / should be conducted?
What long-term monitoring datasets are available, and in what form are these datasets?
What efforts are under way to remeasure permanently marked plots / lines?
Are there to plans to collect new datasets?
What's going on in the rest of the EU?
How might we secure funding for further monitoring and analyses?

If you would like to contribute a presentation that addresses any of these questions, please email us with a brief description of your interests or fill out the online form

All enquiries to Helen Scott - - please.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

David Baulcombe receives award

Professor David Baulcombe has been awarded Knights Bachelor for services to plant sciences in the Queen's Birthday Honours list

Cambridge University news page

Friday, June 5, 2009

Maternal influence through small RNA

Just as the universe is filled with mysterious and unexplained matter, so living cells are filled with small RNAs – the “dark matter” of genetics. Plants cells contain hundreds of thousands of these tiny molecules but only for a few of them is there a known function. Cambridge University scientists recently discovered a surprising characteristic of small RNAs in plants. In an article published online today in the journal Nature, researchers led by Professor David Baulcombe describe maternal-specific expression of the most abundant class of small RNAs in developing seeds. Although the small RNAs are produced from cells containing genes from both parents, only the maternal genes are active. Scientists have known for decades that organisms have a molecular memory of which genes they have inherited from each parent and this “imprint” is of critical importance in a number of human diseases. However, very little is known about the nature of imprinting or why such a mechanism would evolve. Dr. Rebecca Mosher, a senior researcher in the group, suggests that imprinted expression of small RNAs indicates large-scale genetic control by the mother – perhaps an evolutionary example of over-parenting.

Read the publication in Nature

A developing seed contains two cell types with maternal DNA – the endosperm (green area) and the embryo (brown). The maternal (purple edge) and paternal (brown) genomes are both active but only the maternal genomes generate small RNA (purple line).

Monday, June 1, 2009

A new face to facilitate translational research

An introduction to Bea, the new InCrops Business and Innovation Officer

My name is Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley (Bea for short), and I have this month taken up the post of InCrops Business and Innovation Officer, based partly here in Plant Sciences, partly at UEA. I am employed 80% FTE by the InCrops Enterprise Hub, of which Plant Sciences are a partner. The InCrops Project has two key aims:

  1. to stimulate the commercialisation of new biorenewable and low carbon products from alternative and non food crop feedstocks

  2. to lever out the East of England's world class research capability in plant and crop science

My aim is to interact both with industry eg through CPPS, and with academic research in the Department, to achieve this.

I also hold a Business Fellowship with the School of Biological Sciences and London Technology Network (10% FTE), which has the much broader remit of facilitating translational research in any sector.

Finally, I will take up some other responsibilities in the Department which are currently still being worked out.

In whichever capacity – I look forward very much to interacting with you!

Best wishes,