SS-ASPB Newsletter of the Southern Section of the American Society of Plant Biologists
Greetings from Dr. Rick Turley 2015-2016 Chair of the SS-ASPB
In This Issue Letter from the Chair….1 SS-ASPB 2016 Summary……………....2
Another excellent SS-ASPB meeting is now in the books. We all enjoyed the great weather in Denton, a chance to renew old friendships, and most of all the opportunity to discuss research in plant biology. I thank Dr. Nihal Dharmasiri, our Secretary/Treasurer, and Dr. Rebecca Dickstein, our local site coordinator, for the excellent meeting they organized. The University of North Texas was a wonderful host and provided the SSASPB meeting with classrooms designed for both oral and poster presentations. I would also like to thank Dr. Ken Korth, who organized a very informative Kriton-Hatzios Symposium on genome editing. Please be aware that in the next few months we will be electing our new Secretary/Treasurer, and we ask your participation.
Kriton-Hatzios Symposium……………8 SS-ASPB 2016 Sponsors………………11 SS-ASPB 2017………..12 Officer Listing…….…..13 ASPB 2016…………....13
SS-ASPB 2016 University of North Texas, Denton, TX The Environmental Education, Science & Technology Building (EESAT) on the UNT campus was an excellent venue to hold the first two days of the 2016 SS-ASPB Meeting. The EESAT has a large central atrium, three theater style classrooms and a room designed to view posters. This design allowed us to hold concurrent oral presentations and poster sessions, along with meals and the banquet in one general location. Over 145 scientists attended from 24 different locations making this an ideal meeting to establish collaborations and enter into scientific discussion. The meeting began at 11:00 AM Saturday, April 2, as 42 plant biologists boarded a bus to the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT)/Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Details of the trip are on page four.
About the same time as the bus was leaving for BRIT, Dr. Dharmasiri (Secretary/Treasurer) and his wife Dr. Sunethra Dharmasiri (right) were setting up the registration booth. Registration continued throughout the day and into the evening as the mixer exploded around them and the registration table. Fruit and cheese platters were emptied as old friends were reacquainted and new friendships were made.
Rick Turley opened the meeting followed by a welcome by Dr. Neal J. Smatresk, President of UNT. A new tradition was begun this year when Ken Korth introduced each speaker of the Kriton-Hatzios Symposium. Each speaker gave a short introduction to his symposium talk. This tradition is being started to give students more access to the symposium speaker throughout the meeting. During Sunday’s meeting there were 62 talks in three concurrent sessions. Thirty- seven of these were graduate students in the Oral Presentation Competition. There were also 49 poster presentations with 12 of these from undergraduates in the Aubrey Naylor Undergraduate Poster Competition. As usual, the presentations were of very high quality and these students represented their affiliated institutions well.
As the sessions concluded and the judges were deliberating the outcome of the multiple competitions it became a well-deserved break for those in the various competitions. The banquet followed later that evening and included a short talk by Dr. Richard Dixon, President of ASPB titled “The Changing Face of ASPB”. Rick Turley presented the student awards and the banquet ended.
On Monday, we changed venues to the Gateway Center on the UNT campus where Ken Korth (above, left) directed the Kriton-Hatzios Symposium “Genome Editing: Applications in Plant Science and Agriculture”. The speakers included Dr. Yunde Zhao, Dr. Pon Samuels, and Dr. Yinong Yang, (above, left to right). The talks and discussions were excellent.
Field Trip to the Botanical Research Institute of Texas By Dr. Rebecca Dickstein Under brilliant sunny skies with a cool breeze wafting, our yellow school bus departed from the Environmental Education, Science and Technology (EESAT) building with about 35 participants from the Southern Section’s annual meeting aboard. Our driver, Miss Tina, skillfully navigated the construction on I35W and brought us to the joint Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) and Ft. Worth Botanic Garden (FWBG) parking lot. Once at BRIT, our group split up into three subgroups for an in-depth tour of BRIT, with each subgroup taking turns with a BRIT scientist who showed us a different part of BRIT. Keri Barfield (right), Research Programs Manager, showed us the impressive features of BRIT’s 70,000 sq. ft. platinum certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building. BRIT’s building has floorto-ceiling north facing walls, allowing use of natural sunlight rather electric lights, low volatile organic compound (VOC)-emitting natural wool carpeting and recycled cypress logs in the lobby. Outside the building, one can see the green, vegetated roof that reduces heating and cooling and landscaping with drought-tolerant native Texas plants irrigated mostly with storm-water runoff stored in an on-site retention pond and cistern. We also learned about geothermal wells that help modulate the building’s temperature and the solar panels which help provide power for the building.
Keri Barfield, Research Programs Manager at BRIT, was one of our guides.
The second part of the tour was of BRIT’s library and what a library it is! Dr. Barney Lipscomb (left), Director of BRIT Press and Leonhardt Chair of Texas Botany, showed us parts of the library collection, from treatises on plants of various types of uses like herbals and plants of medicinal use to BRIT’s collections of botanical journals to the BRIT collection of treasures. These treasures include very old books from times when botany was first being organized as a systematic study. These books were written in various languages and some had handcolored illustrations – they were magnificent and those of us on the tour had the opportunity to touch the books through cotton gloves. We were also shown the Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, published by BRIT, and examples of the many different Floras and field guides to diverse geographic regions, mostly in North and Central America, that BRIT publishes.
Dr. Barney Lipscomb showed us many amazing examples from the BRIT library, including this copy of Linnaeus.
Part three was a tour of the BRIT Herbarium led by Tiana Rehman (right), the Herbarium Collections Manager. The Herbarium is housed in a specialized part of the building that was built for the purpose from the beginning of construction. Particular specimens had been arranged for our visit, so that we could see the breadth of the collection. The collection includes specimens of historic interest that had been collected by famous botanists, like the one in the image below collected by Ferdinand Lindheimer, the German Texas botanist who was the first to describe many plants in Texas and American West. We were shown the place where the Herbarium is being digitized, itself a time consuming but extremely important undertaking.
Tiana Rehman, Herbarium Collections Manager, gave us a tour of the facilities.
An herbal printed in 1640 is just one of the many historical texts housed in the BRIT library’s “treasure room”.
An herbarium specimen collected by Ferdinand Lindheimer, which is part of the vast BRIT Herbarium collection.
After the three-part tour of BRIT, participants were “on their own” in the FWBG. FWBG is the oldest botanic garden in Texas and features over 20 specialized gardens, and one day is insufficient to see them all. Some people went to the Japanese Garden (right), while others visited the butterfly exhibit in the conservatory, and still others toured the test gardens maintained by the Master Gardeners society. At 4:00 pm, everyone met back at the bus for the uneventful trip back to Denton and the official start of the Annual Southern Section ASPB meeting. To learn more about BRIT and the FWBG, you may visit their respective websites at www.brit.org/ and http://www.fwbg.org/ respectively. 5
2016 Graduate Student Oral Presentation Award Recipients
First place was awarded to Ashley E. Cannon from the University of Texas at Austin. Her talk was titled “Assessing the Role of Extracellular Nucleotides in the Gravity Response of Ceratopteris Spores”.
Second place awarded to Susan John from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her talk was titled “RNA-Seq Transcriptome and Biochemical Analysis of the Resurrection Fern, Pleopeltis polypodioides”.
Third place was awarded to Jade Newsome from University of Arkansas. Her talk was titled “Salt Tolerance in Soybean Characterized by Genotype, Phenotype, and Gene Expression”.
2016 Aubrey Naylor Undergraduate Student Poster Competition Award Recipients First place was awarded to Eliott Pruett from the University of Arkansas. His poster was titled “Toward Trait Stacking in Crops: Efficiency of I-SecI Nuclease in Excising DNA Fragments from the Arabidopsis Genome”.
Second place was awarded to Melanie Flood from the University of North Georgia. Her poster was titled “Investigating Changes in Bloom Phenology in Three Southern Appalachian Plants”.
Third place was awarded to Clayton H. Dorrity from Texas Tech University/USDAARS. His poster was titled “Development and Methods for an Open Source Data Visualization Tool”.
2016 Kriton-Hatzios Symposium
Genome Editing: Applications in Plant Science and Agriculture The annual Hatzios Symposium was held on the final day of the meeting, April 4th. Meeting attendees were fortunate to hear from three leaders in the fields of genome editing and its applications in plant biology. The symposium topic was very timely, as genome editing is rapidly being adopted by the biological and medical research communities. The organizer of the symposium, Dr. Ken Korth, University of Arkansas – Division of Agriculture, presented a brief history of the symposium’s namesake, Dr. Kriton Hatzios. He followed this with a synopsis of the impacts that genome editing is having in the research environment. This was followed by outstanding presentations covering three different approaches and views of the topic. The invited speakers and summaries of their presentations are below.
Dr. Yinong Yang Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology, Penn State University
Improving CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing tools for plant functional genomics and precision breeding The bacterial cluster regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 nuclease (Cas9) system has emerged as an efficient and versatile tool for genome editing. Recently, we have demonstrated precise genome editing and targeted mutagenesis in both monocot and and dicot plants with the CRISPR/Cas9 system. To increase the editing specificity and minimize potential off-target effects of CRISPR/Cas9, we performed genome-wide prediction of highly specific gRNA spacer sequences in model plants and major crops and developed bioinformatic database and web tool for gRNA design. To facilitate multiplex genome editing, a novel polycistronic tRNA-gRNA strategy has been developed for simultaneous mutation of multiple genes, deletion of chromosomal fragments, and other more sophisticated CRISPR/Cas9 applications. Furthermore, various strategies have been utilized to produce transgene-free, genetically modified crops such as rice, potato and mushroom. With improved tools and strategies for gRNA/Cas9 design, delivery and editing, CRISPR/Cas9 has become a powerful technology for plant genome engineering, functional genomics and precision breeding of agricultural crops. 8
2016 Kriton-Hatzios Symposium, cont.
Dr. Yunde Zhao Division of Biological Sciences University of California - San Diego
New strategies for CRISPR-mediated genome editing in Arabidopsis and rice CRISPR technology enables precise editing of DNA sequences in vivo. There are several challenges in using CRISPR for gene editing: 1) efficient production of gRNAs, 2) analysis of the mutations generated, 3) target sequence requirements, 4) simultaneously editing multiple targets. We have developed strategies to overcome the aforementioned challenges. We took advantage of the nuclease activity of ribozymes and designed an artificial gene RGR (Ribozyme-gRNA-Ribozyme) that produces an RNA molecule with ribozymes flanked at both ends of the designed gRNA. The primary transcripts of RGR undergo self-catalyzed cleavage to precisely release the designed gRNA. The produced gRNA efficiently guided Cas9-mediated cleavage of target DNA in vitro, in yeast, Arabidopsis, rice, and many other organisms. Our RGR design allows gRNA production from any promoters and in any organisms. With the RGR design, the target sequences are no longer limited to G(N)20GG or A(N)20GG because the method does not require the specific base for transcription initiation for gRNA production as was the case for U6 and U3 promoters. Moreover, the efficient production of gRNAs by in vitro transcription from a commonly used promoter such as SP6 makes it very easy to use gRNA and Cas9 protein to detect mutations caused by CRISPR/Cas9. Tandem RGR designs allow a single promoter to generate multiple gRNAs, thus allowing us to edit several genes in plants simultaneously. Dr. Zhao reported on his lab’s latest genome editing results in Arabidopsis and rice.
Texas bluebonnets photo credit Daniel Norton
2016 Kriton-Hatzios Symposium, cont.
Dr. J. Pon Samuel Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, IN
A Zinc Finger Nuclease technology platform for genetic engineering of crop plants
Programmable nucleases like Zinc Finger Nucleases (ZFNs) are powerful enabling tools that are redefining the boundaries of biological research. ZFNs enable a broad range of genetic modifications by inducing DNA double-strand breaks that stimulate nonhomologous end joining or homology-directed repair at specific genomic locations. Thus modern plant agriculture is able to exploit recent advances in genome engineering and make it possible to precisely alter DNA sequences in cells, providing options for improving the crop plant’s agronomic characteristics. Potential future crops derived through genome engineering include those that are resilient to pests, that have enhanced nutritional value, and that are able to help expand the crop geography. In many instances, crops with such traits will be created by altering only a few nucleotides among the billions that comprise plant genomes. As such, and with the appropriate regulatory structures in place, crops designed through genome engineering would provide complex traits needed for future biotech products. The commercial deployment of this enabling technology and performance of the engineered crop species will govern the extent to which it contributes towards securing the world's food resource and supply.
2016 SS-ASPB Meeting Sponsors We would like to thank the sponsors of the 2016 SS-ASPB meeting in Denton, Texas. Due to the generous financial support of the following organizations, we were able to keep lower registration fees especially for our students, encouraging their participation in the meeting.
Planning is already underway for another fun and exciting SS-ASPB meeting in Orlando, Florida. Incoming Secretary/Treasurer, Dr. Shahid Mukhtar and Executive Committee member Dr. Paul Stephenson (local coordinator) will be organizing this event. Come have fun in the sun while enjoying a weekend of excellence in research.
2015-2016 SS-ASPB Officers
Chair Dr. Rick Turley Research Plant Physiologist USDA-ARS, Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center Stoneville, MS 38776 662-686-5268 [email protected]
Executive Committee Members Dr. Ashlee McCaskill Editor, SS-ASPB Newsletter Associate Professor of Plant Biology University of North Georgia Dahlonega, GA 30597 706-864-1954 [email protected]
Vice-Chair Dr. Ken Korth Professor of Plant Pathology University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR 72701 479-575-5191 [email protected]
Dr. Jay Shockey USDA-ARS, Southern Regional Research Center New Orleans, LA 70124 504-286-4296 [email protected]
Dr. Paul Stephenson Associate Professor of Biology Rollins College Winter Park, FL 32789 407-646-2481 [email protected]
Secretary/Treasurer Dr. Nihal Dharmasiri Associate Professor Department of Biology Texas State University San Marcos, TX 78666 512-245-4911 [email protected]
2014-2017 Southern Section Representative to ASPB Council and ASPB Membership Committee Dr. Rebecca Dickstein [email protected]
ASPB2016 2016 ASPB Abstracts are now being accepted for Plant Biology 2016, which will be held Abstracts are now being accepted for July 9-13 in Austin, TX. Plant Biology 2016, which will be held July 9-13 inisAustin, TX. 30, 2016. Standard registration May 10-June More information is available at www.aspb.org.
Standard registration is May 10-June 30, 2016. More information is available at www.aspb.org.