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BIO Magazine - Help Save Chocolate… …and other interesting plant biology problems Δεκέμβριος 2015
Δεκέμβριος 2015 No38

BIO Career

Help Save Chocolate… …and other interesting plant biology problems
Help Save Chocolate… …and other interesting plant biology problems

Unless you are like my friend Sunny, who does not usually care for the taste of chocolate, then perhaps you can agree with me that it would be nice to save the cacao plant, which produces the cacao bean required for the production of chocolate.  The cacao crop in South America is currently under attack by a fungal pathogen that causes the disease Witches’ Broom and threatens our chocolate source!!!   

The potential loss of the cacao plant is just one of many intriguing and important plant biology problems that exist, and the field of plant biology needs skilled researchers to study these challenges.  Therefore, if you are currently seeking a job that allows you to continue in research and utilize your lab and analytical skills, I would encourage you to expand the scope of your job search to include plant biology positions.  

The approaches employed to study plant biology problems require bioinformatics, molecular techniques, chemistry tools, etc.; tools that are very comparable (and in many cases exactly the same) as those used to study animal biology problems.  However, based on many conversations I have had with multiple scientists, I get the impression that plant biology research may be viewed as less prestigious than other disciplines like cancer research.  With that said, we all need to eat and that makes plant biology an important area of research.

Currently one of the most challenging problems facing biologists today is how to increase crop yield (which will in turn increase food production) on a decreasing amount of agriculturally-suitable land given the increasing global population.  This is a huge task, with many dimensions to study.  If this challenge intrigues you, I encourage you to look at job boards from plant biology Web sites, such as postings on The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) and Soybase.    The study of plant biology needs top-notch bioinformaticians, molecular biologists, biophysicists, etc. to tackle the complex problems facing the world’s food supply.

Figure:  One molecular approach that is common for studying proteins in many different organisms is tagging the protein of interest with a fluorescent label to determine where the peptide of interest localizes within the cell.  Molecular biologists concluded that this particular plant protein of interest (shown in green) localizes in distinct spots at the edge of the chloroplast (shown in red).  This localization may help the biologists in determining the function of this protein in plant development.

 

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Other postings by same blogger:

Done with the Bench?(12.02.2011) 

What makes you tick?(10.11.2011) 

Resume or CV?(09.08.2011) 

Learning to speak multiple “scientific languages,” one benefit of being a USDA postdoc(08.14.2011) 

Out of grad school and into the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture(08.08.2011) 

How to use LinkedIn (or how not to use it)(08.03.2011) 

What’s your elevator conversation?(06.22.2011) 

Small-town Girl in a Big World(05.20.2011) 

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Submitted by Mandy Kendrick


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