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Little Shop of Horrors: A Moving Plot of an other-world's unmanned land...
#6
"We're in this exciting and terrifying time 

Scientists: 'Time is ripe' to use big data for planet-sized plant questions
January 1, 2019, Florida Museum of Natural History

[Image: scientiststi.jpg]
Data from millions of museum specimens, such as this Ziziphus celata or Florida jujube, are now available to scientists around the world via digital databases such as iDigBio. Credit: Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage


A group of Florida Museum of Natural History scientists has issued a "call to action" to use big data to tackle longstanding questions about plant diversity and evolution and forecast how plant life will fare on an increasingly human-dominated planet.




In a commentary published today in Nature Plants, the scientists urged their colleagues to take advantage of massive, open-access data resources in their research and help grow these resources by filling in remaining data gaps.

"Using big data to address major biodiversity issues at the global scale has enormous practical implications, ranging from conservation efforts to predicting and buffering the impacts of climate change," said study author Doug Soltis, a Florida Museum curator and distinguished professor in the University of Florida department of biology. "The links between big data resources we see now were unimaginable just a decade ago. The time is ripe to leverage these tools and applications, not just for plants but for all groups of organisms."

Over several centuries, natural history museums have built collections of billions of specimens and their associated data, much of which is now available online. New technologies such as remote sensors and drones allow scientists to monitor plants and animals and transmit data in real time. And citizen scientists are contributing biological data by recording and reporting their observations via digital tools such as iNaturalist.

Together, these data resources provide scientists and conservationists with a wealth of information about the past, present and future of life on Earth. As these databases have grown, so have the computational tools needed not only to analyze but also link immense data sets.

Studies that previously focused on a handful of species or a single plant community can now expand to a global level, thanks to the development of databases such as GenBank, which stores DNA sequences, iDigBio, a University of Florida-led effort to digitize U.S. natural history collections, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, a repository of species' location information.

These resources can be valuable to a wide range of users, from scientists in pursuit of fundamental insights into plant evolution and ecology to land managers and policymakers looking to identify the regions most in need of conservation, said Julie Allen, co-lead author and an assistant professor in the University of Nevada-Reno department of biology.

If Earth's plant life were a medical patient, small-scale studies might examine the plant equivalent of a cold sore or an ingrown toenail. With big data, scientists can gain a clearer understanding of global plant health as a whole, make timely diagnoses and prescribe the right treatment plans.

Such plans are urgently needed, Allen said.

"We're in this exciting and terrifying time in which the unprecedented amount of data available to us intersects with global threats to biodiversity such as habitat loss and climate change," said Allen, a former Florida Museum postdoctoral researcher and UF doctoral graduate. "Understanding the processes that have shaped our world—how plants are doing, where they are now and why—can help us get a handle on how they might respond to future changes."

Why is it so vital to track these regional and global changes?

"We can't survive without plants," said co-lead author and museum research associate Ryan Folk. "A lot of groups evolved in the shadow of flowering plants. As these plants spread and diversified, so did ants, beetles, ferns and other organisms. They are the base layer to the diversity of life we see on the planet today."

In addition to using and growing plant data resources, the authors hope the scientific community will address one of the toughest remaining obstacles to using biological big data: getting databases to work smoothly with each other.

"This is still a huge limitation," Allen said. "The data in each system are often collected in completely different ways. Integrating these to connect in seamless ways is a major challenge."

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Local conditions shape plant communities

More information: Julie M. Allen et al, Biodiversity synthesis across the green branches of the tree of life, Nature Plants (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41477-018-0322-7 

Journal reference: Nature Plants [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: Florida Museum of Natural History



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2019-01-scientists-ripe-big-planet-sized.html#jCp







Plants have a plan for all seasons
December 28, 2018, John Innes Centre

[Image: plant.jpg]
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Many plants need to avoid flowering in the autumn – even if conditions are favourable – otherwise they would perish in winter.




To flower in the spring they need to sense and then remember winter, a process known as vernalisation. But how do plants sense vital information such as temperatures to align flowering with the seasons?

Until now, many researchers thought that fluctuations in monthly, daily, hourly temperatures were detected by a small number of dedicated sensors.

But new research by the John Innes Centre reveals that plants combine the temperature sensitivity of multiple processes to distinguish between the seasons.

"At first glance this might seem like a surprising finding, however in hindsight, it is very reasonable and it is also more likely as a mechanism to evolve," comments Dr. Rea Antoniou-Kourounioti, first author of the study which appears in the journal Cell Systems.

"Biochemical reactions are naturally temperature sensitive, so the alternative, a few specialised sensors, would suggest that the temperature sensitivity of everything else must be ignored or compensated for. On the other hand, taking inputs from multiple pathways that were already responding to temperature, and evolving to use this combined information is less complicated and can lead to a more robust system," she explains.


Credit: John Innes Centre
The team from the labs of Professors Martin Howard and Caroline Dean developed a predictive mathematical model of temperature sensing for the key flowering regulator FLC in Arabidopsis.

This vernalisation model can be used in combination with climate models to predict how plants will change their flowering in future climates. In this study, the team collaborated with groups from Sweden to test the model on patterns of data from plants grown in field sites in Sweden and Norwich – and the model matched these well.

Arabidopsis is a relative of many crop species, such as broccoli and oilseed rape, so the work could be extended to help breeders develop climate-resilient varieties.

Future work will involve adjusting the model in crop species and integrating it into current crop prediction models for farmers and breeders.

The team will work with climate modellers to more accurately predict the temperatures that plants will actually experience in future.

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Absence of warm temperature spikes revealed as driver for vernalisation

More information: Rea L. Antoniou-Kourounioti et al. Temperature Sensing Is Distributed throughout the Regulatory Network that Controls FLC Epigenetic Silencing in Vernalization, Cell Systems (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.cels.2018.10.011 

Journal reference: Cell Systems [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: John Innes Centre



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-12-seasons.html#jCp
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RE: Little Shop of Horrors - by EA - 12-07-2018, 10:35 PM
RE: Little Shop of Horrors - by EA - 12-22-2018, 10:00 PM
RE: Little Shop of Horrors: A Moving Plot of an other-world's unmanned land... - by EA - 01-02-2019, 07:46 AM

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