News-Timeline · People and Careers · Promoting young researchers · SPPMB

SciComm Award for dialogues about the chances of genome editing

Svenja Augustin, co-organiser of the EU-wide “Give Genes a Chance” movement receives the SciComm-Award 2024. Photo: private

PhD student Svenja Augustin from the Cluster of Excellence in Plant Sciences (CEPLAS) at Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany, will be awarded with the Prize for Science Communication (in short: SciComm-Award) of our Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology Section (SPPMB) within the German Society for Plant Sciences (DBG) this year. The biologist communicates complex scientific findings about genes, former and modern genome editing techniques in dialogue settings. “We are amazed, how much Augustin cares to address the needs and concerns of her audiences and to pick up and answer their questions”, Professor Dr. Stefan Rensing, SPPMB’s speaker, says. Augustin, who does basic research on plant stem cells in Arabidopsis, profits from her former experiences in unions. With her communication style and expertise she has not only reached politicians from her federal state but also in Berlin and Brussels. In the give genes a chance movement, which she launched together with Sci-Comm awardee David Spencer in 2021, she collected several hundred signatures from researchers who are all in favour of science-based regulation of genome-edited crops.

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News-Timeline · People and Careers · Promoting young researchers · SPPMB

SciComm-Award for the People who created Plants and Pipettes

Joram Schwartzmann (left) and Dr. Tegan Armarego-Marriott at the Potsdamer Science Days 2019 (Potsdamer Wissenschaftstage). Photo: Armarego-Marriott

Dr. Tegan Armarego-Marriott and Joram Schwartzmann receive this year’s SciComm–Award for founding the web-based platform Plants and Pipettes, where they blog and podcast about current results in molecular plant science in a witty and informative way. As Schwartzmann puts it; “We like to shed light on scientific publications that we find interesting and that are or were not part of our own, more narrow research focus”. Articles on the blog for example include: “My bees bring all the sugar to the flower” or “The Algae Expert who helped Crack Code in WWII”. The scientists of our Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology Section (SPPMB) want to award their science communication (in short: SciComm) and their talent to explain complicated facts in clear sentences, without over-simplifying the contents. In one of their recent podcasts, “Party of Pokers” they for example introduced underground orchids, microplastics in phytotelmata and bioaerosols over the amazon, and underlay this – as in other podcasts - with acoustic backings.

Armarego-Marriott and Schwartzman became close friends while studying at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam. As early career scientists they founded the Plants and Pipettes platform as part of their desire to go beyond their PhD student ‘day jobs’, to read, write and talk about the wide and fascinating range of plant science, and practice their creative skills in blogging, designing, drawing and podcasting. Ultimately, they hope that Plants and Pipettes can help highlight plants’ role as “an absolute requirement for our continued survival”, and encourage people’s interest in plant science, while also discussing other topics relevant to plant science, such as the need to consider biases and to value diversity.

Armarego-Marriott studied conservation biology and biochemistry before she moved to Potsdam and now works as an editor for a scientific publishing house. Schwartzmann also worked in Potsdam, became a father of two, worked for PLANT 2030, a BMBF-funded agency that covers applied plant research in Germany, and now is working for the Prototype Fund, a BMBF-funded NGO to support open-source software development. In 2019 he won a price for his German video explaining gene editing with the CRISPR-Cas9 technology in the online-competition Fast Forward Science.

Both received the Section's third award for excellent science communication on 8th February 2023 during the Conference Molecular Biology of Plants (MBP2023) of our Section Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology (SPPMB) of the German Society for Plant Sciences (DBG).

-> photos of the awarding ceremony

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News-Timeline · People and Careers · Promoting young researchers · SPPMB

#SciComm Award: Genetic Engineering for a sustainable future

David Spencer receives the award for sceince communication during our Molecular Biology of Plants conference. Photo: private

For his entertaining and creative formats in which he explains plant sciences and genetic engineering for a sustainable future plant scientist David Spencer received the Section's second award for excellent science communication on 15th February 2022 during the online Conference Molecular Biology of Plants of our Section Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology (SPPMB) of the German Society for Plant Sciences (DBG).  

Sorry, further details available in German only.

Für seine humorvolle wie kreative Art, Pflanzenforschung und Grüne Gentechnik allgemeinverständlich zu veranschaulichen, erhält der Pflanzenwissenschaftler David Spencer den diesjährigen Scicomm-Preis für Wissenschaftskommunikation. Spencer wird bald seine Doktorarbeit an der RWTH Aachen abgegeben, in der er den Cumarin-Stoffwechsel in Sojapflanzen gentechnisch so verändert hat, dass sie resistenter gegen Schadpilze werden. Das hilft Spritzmittel ui reduzieren. Da Grüne Gentechnik so ein schlechtes Image hat, wollte er schon früh die Vorteile seiner Forschung erklären. Um das Potential der Pflanzenforschung für eine nachhaltige Zukunft zu veranschaulichen, entwickelte Spencer verschiedene Beiträge: er gewann nicht nur seinen ersten Science Slam, betitelt als "Warum der Mops schlecht atmen kann - und was das mit Gentechnik zu tun hat", sondern auch spätere, die schon mal auf dem Parkplatz des Uni-Rektors in Aachen oder in der Hamburger U-Bahn stattfinden können. Darüber hinaus produzierte er die 20teilige Podcast-Serie Krautnah mit Folgen wie “Pflanzen zähmen leicht gemacht”, „die Retter der Kokosnuss“ oder der „Pflug der Karibik“. Spencer engagiert sich in der Initiative Progressive Agrarwende des Umweltvereins Öko-Progressives Netzwerk e.V., die sich für mehr Nachhaltigkeit in der Landwirtschaft einsetzt ohne “früher war alles besser”-Tenor. Im April wird sein erstes Buch "Alles bio-logisch?!" erscheinen. Spencer wünscht sich noch häufiger öffentliche Dialogformate, um mehr Menschen zu informieren, dass mehr „Natürlichkeit“ nicht automatisch mehr Nachhaltigkeit bedeute. Beispielsweise sei Braunkohle zwar natürlich, eine unnatürlich aussehende Solarzelle produziere jedoch wesentlich nachhaltiger Energie, veranschaulicht  Spencer. Über diesen Preis von einer wissenschaftlichen Organisation freut er sich sehr, „weil ich mir nach der Doktorarbeit auch einen Beruf in der Wissenschaftskommunikation vorstellen kann“.
„Mit dem diesjährigen Scicom-Award würdigt unsere Sektion die viele kreativen Formate von David Spencer und wie er darin mit Humor, anschaulichen Vergleichen und auf erfrischend unterhaltsame Art Menschen an komplexe Forschung heranführt, die sich sonst vielleicht nie auf dieses Thema eingelassen hätten,“ sagt Professorin Andrea Bräutigam von der Uni Bielefeld, Stellvertretende Sprecherin der SPPMB, die auch die Laudatio hielt, als Spencer die Auszeichnung während der virtuell veranstalteten Konferenz Molecular Biology of Plants am 15. Januar empfing.

SPPMB

Member Assembly in September

The date for the biannual members assembly is 27th September 2021 at 10 a.m. The agenda was sent to our members at 24th March 2021 and the link to our video meeting will be send to all members in advance.

SPPMB

We support the Statement on Regulation of Genome Edited Crops

The current regulation of modern plant breeding techniques of EU and New Zealand differs from other countries (see also Schmidt, Belisle, Frommer (2020), EMBO Rep 2020, e50680, https://doi.org/10.15252/embr.202050680)

Today more than 132 science institutes and associations strongly recommend to the European Union to revise the existing directive for precision breeding, also known as genome-editing in plants.

This modern method supports

  • the protection of natural resources
  • realizing the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations
  • the realisation of the Green Deal of the European Union
  • implementation of the Farm to Fork strategy of the European Union

Many scientific results have shown this. Therefore, our Section Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology endorses the open statement of the European Sustainable Agriculture through Genome Editing (EU-SAGE) networks, under which the institutions named above are united.

Read whole open statement on EU-SAGE’s website

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People and Careers · Promoting young researchers · SPPMB · SciComm

#SciComm Award for Robert Hoffie

Robert Hoffie, is doing a PhD on Braley at the IPK and. Photo: Iris Koeppel

Robert Hoffie, who tweets as @ForscherRobert on Twitter received the Section's first award for excellent science communication on 13th February 2020.

Sorry, futher details available in German only.

Erstmals haben wir unseren neuen Preis für Wissenschaftskommunikation verliehen. Die Auszeichnung ging an Robert Hoffie, Doktorand am Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung in Gatersleben (IPK). Als @ForscherRobert engagiert sich der Pflanzenforscher in Sozialen Medien, erklärt geduldig den Stand der Forschung über moderne Methoden in der Pflanzenforschung und scheut - wenn es nötig ist - auch nicht die Auseinandersetzung mit Politikern.
„Wenige andere Pflanzenwissenschaftler sind so engagiert in den sozialen Netzwerken wie Robert Hoffie“, sagte Prof. Dr. Stefan Rensing, Sprecher der Sektion. Er wünsche sich mehr Wissenschaftler wie Robert Hoffie, die unsere Themen in die Öffentlichkeit tragen und unsere Sichtbarkeit erhöhen.

Die Auszeichnung verlieh die Sektion am 13. Februar, während der jährlichen Konferenz Molecular Biology of Plants in Dabringhausen (Nordrhein-Westfalen). „Der Preis ist für mich Motivation und Bestätigung zugleich“, erklärte Robert Hoffie. Denn der aktuelle Stand der Wissenschaft sei das Beste, was wir haben, um zu fundierten Einschätzungen zu kommen. "Worauf, wenn nicht darauf, sollen wir unsere Einschätzungen denn künftig sonst stützen?“ fragt sich der 28-Jährige. Zwar könne die Wissenschaft nicht die Politik ersetzen, werde aber selbst immer mehr zu einem gesellschaftlichen Akteur.

Quelle: IPK beim idw

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SPPMB

New Section's speakers elected

Stefan Rensing and Andrea Bräutigam after the election. Use of photo with kind permission from Hartmut Lichtenthaler

Prof. Dr. Stefan Rensing (Marburg University) now became first speaker of our Section Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology (SPPMB) and Prof. Dr. Andrea Bräutigam (Bielefeld University) our deputy speaker. They were elected at the member assembly during this year's Botanikertagung at Rostock, Germany, on 17th September. Rensing, who was the Section's deputy speaker until now, follows Prof. Dr. Andreas Weber (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf), who did not stood for re-election after ten years being our Section’s speaker.

SPPMB

For precision breeding and sustainable agriculture

Our Section Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology (SPPMB) in the German Society for Plant Sciences (Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft, DBG), in which more than 200 scientific members are organised, reaches out to the newly elected European Parliament and the European Commission to adjust the old EU legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMO), issued in 2001, to current scientific knowledge and international stands. Together with 115 scientific organisations and  institutes they suggest useing the potential of precision breeding techniques like Genome Editing to enable sustainable agriculture and food production in the EU.

Read whole statement (pdf)

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SPPMB

Obituary and Tribute: Martin Bopp, 1923–2018

On August 30, 2018, Professor Emeritus Martin Bopp, an internationally highly regarded botanist and former director of the Botanical Institute at the University of Heidelberg, died in Wuppertal, Germany, at the age of 95 years. Professor Hartmut Lichtenthaler (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany and former speaker of our Section of Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology) and Rüdiger Hell (Bopps successor at the chair Molecular Biology of Plants, Centre for Organismal Studies, COS, Heidelberg, Germany) summarize his academic career as well as his other academic activities in their obituary in the Journal of Plant Physiology (DOI: 10.1016/j.jplph.2018.10.016). Plant physiologist Bopp besides many other honours and obligations served as deputy speaker of our Section of the German Society of Plant Sciences (Deutsche Botanische Gesellschaft, DBG) from 1980 – 1982 (see: Gründung und Geschichte der Sektion). The authors remind us of an esteemed scientific friend and an inspiring and enthusiastic academic teacher. Several images round off the obituary.

Source: Journal of Plant Physiology

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Sektionsgeschichte

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Die Sektion Pflanzenphysiologie und Molekularbiologie wurde 1978 parallel zur europäischen Föderation der Pflanzenphysiologen (Federation of European Societies of Plant Physiology, FESPP) gegründet. Zunächst noch unter anderem Namen. Prof. Dr. Hartmut Lichtenthaler hat mit den bisherigen Vorsitzenden gesprochen, zusammengestellt, welche Hürden sie nahmen und welche Neuerungen sie einführten und hat so die Geschichte der Sektion zusammengetragen. Er berichtet von den Gründungsvätern, der Wiedervereinigung mit den Kollegen aus der ehemaligen DDR und der Etablierung der berühmten Tagung in Dabringhausen.

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