On our Scoop It between August 8th and September 3rd

These are links from our Scoop It page between August 8th and September 3rd:

Rye-wheat introgression & alien translocations

Rolf Schlegel has put together an extensive list of all wheat varieties containing the 1RS.1BL translocation and recently updated his website at http://www.rye-gene-map.de/rye-introgression/. Recent surveys show that more than 45 % of breeding material may contain those translocations (Zhou et al. 2007) or 55% of CIMMYT bread wheat germplasm. This translocation has been deemed so important that it has been incorporated into >60 wheat varieties that occupy >50% of all developing country wheat area, almost 40 million hectares.


Illustration shows a wheat breeding line (2n = 6x + 2 = 44) with a pair of chromosome arms from rye (labeled green with genomic DNA from rye) translocated onto a wheat chromosome (1BL.1RS) and an additional chromosome pair from the wild species Thinopyrum bessarabicum (labeled red with genomic T bessarabicum DNA) from Trude Schwarzacher (eg Practical In Situ Hybridization, 2000, BIOS publishers).

The Power of Blogs in Forming New Fields of International Study

…one thing that I have found really interesting about the turn to speculative realism is that is has clearly been fuelled by online communities which have turned above all to blogs as an important means of swapping material, revealing first thoughts, and making revisions. I doubt that the growth of speculative realism would have been so insistent without these communities scattered all over the world, or so rapid. Why?

The importance of social media in research | CGIAR

Collaborate, Create, Communicate…

For years, we have been advocating the use of social media to inform as broad an audience as possible of our research and also to get our research outputs into the hands of people who can make them travel even further across their own communication networks and/or apply them to their own work. Nonetheless, not everyone understands the value of social media.


Although it’s heartening to see researchers the length and breadth of the CGIAR using social media to expand the reach of their research, communicate with colleagues in remote offices, and collaborate with scientists in other organizations, there is still much to be done. There are still staff who are a little wary of using social media, citing reasons like loss of privacy, lack of time and abuse of intellectual property rights. Some will tell you that social media is just another one of those things that add to the “noise” already on the Internet.


It usually takes time for all great inventions and innovations to become mainstream. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone took a while to catch on, as did cell phones and email. I wonder how we could possibly cope now without email or mobile communication devices. As such, I believe it will just be a matter of time before everyone realizes that social media has an important role to play in research.

One hundred important questions facing plant science research – Grierson – 2011 – New Phytologist

Plant science is central to addressing many of the most important questions facing humanity. Secure food production and quality remain key issues for the world in the 21st Century, and the importance of plants extends well beyond agriculture and horticulture as we face declining fossil fuel reserves, climate change, and a need for more sustainable methods to produce fuel, fibre, wood, and industrial feedstocks. There is also untapped potential in optimizing the nutritional properties of foods, and in identifying novel plant products such as medicines. Tackling these frontiers will require new scientific
methods and collaborations as existing approaches
are delivering incomplete answers.


Many of the most important questions that we have
identified can only be addressed by the integrated efforts of scientists with diverse expertise.

Farmers benefit by providing environmental services — AgriCultures Network

More and more land in Africa is being cultivated, reducing the area covered by forests, the existing biodiversity, and affecting the water supplies of nearby cities. Could farmers produce the same services as forests do – at least partly?

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms

Introducing divergent thinking to education. A talk by Sir Ken Robinson, education and creativity thinker … more than 5 million YouTube views, and an interesting presentation approach too.

Sri Lanka national flower threatened by hybrid species

Recent research has revealed that the national flower of Sri Lanka ‘Blue Water Lily or Nil Manel’ (Nymphaea nouchali) is facing the threat of extinction due to its hybridization with the violet flowered Nymphaea which is often misidentified as the national flower.

This research by Peradeniya University Botany Department Senior Lecturer Prof Deepthi Yakandawala and Wayamba University Horticulture and Landscape Gardening Department Senior Lecturer Dr Kapila Yakandawala has revealed a range of hybrids of these two varieties some closer to the native and some closer to the violet flowered Nymphaea which is acting as a silent invader. Prof Deepthi Yakandawala said that these hybrids are widely spreading over the country becoming a threat to the native original national flower.

“The violet flowered Nymphaea is thought to have been introduced into the country as an ornamental aquatic a long time back and has now got established in local water-bodies. It has been erroneously identified as the native variety in many literatures. It has not only invaded the natural habitats of the native variety, but has also extended its territory into larger tanks which are habitats of other aquatic plants."

Nature reaches for the high-hanging fruit

In the first study of its kind, researchers have used tools of paleontology to gain new insights into the diversity of natural plant chemicals. They have shown that during the evolution of these compounds nature doesn't settle for the 'low-hanging fruit' but favours rarer, harder to synthesise forms, giving pointers that will help in the search for potent new drugs.

Why plant ‘clones’ aren’t identical

Scientists have known for some time that 'clonal' (regenerant) organisms are not always identical: their observable characteristics and traits can vary, and this variation can be passed on to the next generation. This is despite the fact that they are derived from genetically identical founder cells.
Now, a team from Oxford University, UK, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, believe they have found out why this is the case in plants: the genomes of regenerant plants carry relatively high frequencies of new DNA sequence mutations that were not present in the genome of the donor plant.

Environment Agency’s ‘hit list’ of ten most invasive species – Telegraph

A “hit list” of the ten invasive species which pose the biggest threat to
native wildlife on Britain’s waterways and cost £1.7bn a year to tackle has
been released by the Environment Agency.

Top 10 Invasive Species
Killer Shrimp
Water primrose
Floating pennywort
American Signal Crayfish
Top Mouth Gudgen
Giant Hogweed
Japanese Knotweed
Himalayan Balsam
Chinese Mitten Crab


EA press release at: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/news/132112.aspx