Monday, April 11, 2005

Arabidopsis minisymposium

The sixth Arabidopsis minisymposium, joined this year with the spring Mid-Atlantic section ASPB meeting, was a big success. It's great to be at the center of something, and helping to host a regional meeting of such high quality definitely makes me feel that I am at the center of Arabidopsis research, even though my colleagues are entirely responsible for the excellent selection of speakers and I still have to pause and mentally review whenever anyone relies on my knowledge of photosynthesis, parts of the flower or plant hormones. Caren gets credit for putting the two meetings together and for inviting Susan Lolle to tell us about the work that put Arabidopsis on the front page of the New York Times. Heven, Zhongchi, June and their students all deserve credit for making this happen.

My own talk was well received, even though it was the last and delayed by an unplanned break when the projector overheated after about eight hours of nearly continuous use. I am happy to have made the case before this audience that RNA processing, including alternative splicing, is important in plants. I was aided in this by talks that presented roles for RNA binding proteins in crosstalk between ethylene and auxin (Jose Alonso), pollen tube growth (Mark Johnson) and leaf polarity (Randy Kerstetter); RNA binding proteins are getting hot! The question I most appreciate came from Ken Birnbaum, who challenged me to think of an example in which a forward genetic screen identified regulated alternative splicing. Of course, there is the regulation of flowering time through FLC (Simpson and Dean) but that appears to be regulated by polyadenylation, not alternative splicing.

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