Genes: Out of
into the news.
Media Fellowship Program
Biosciences for Farming in Africa
Opening by connecting
“Shopping for food: we all do it, whether at
the supermarket, or from traditional
neighborhood shops, or in a market. It’s the
modern equivalent of what our ancestors
would have done in long-gone huntergatherer days.”
--Noel Kingsbury, opening lines in the
introduction of Hybrid: The History and
Science of Plant Breeding
Please come with me
Extend a hand
Lead the way
Speak to your audience
A story about crops might speak to:
All of the above
Typical press release
An international team of researchers,
including a University of Minnesota scientist,
has developed an integrated physical,
genetic and functional sequence assembly
of the barley genome, one of the world’s
most important and genetically complex
cereal crops. Results are published in
today’s issue of Nature.
--University of Minnesota, 17 October 2012
No food is more basic than the lowly bean. From
the campfire cuisine of the American cowboys to
modern kitchens around the world, plants in the
family known as legumes have sustained billions of
people since the Stone Age.
Thus, the nutritional power packed into your next
bowl of beans is well known. The mystery has been
the genetic code that directs the growth of these
valuable plants from seed to mature pod.
Now, the University of Minnesota is leading an
international effort to crack that code.
-- Sharon Schmickle, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Typical journal article
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a major crop plant
and a model system for fruit development. Solanum is
one of the largest angiosperm genera1 and includes
annual and perennial plants from diverse habitats. Here
we present a high-quality genome sequence of
domesticated tomato, a draft sequence of its closest
wild relative, Solanumpimpinellifolium2, and compare
them to each other and to the potato genome
(Solanumtuberosum). The two tomato genomes show
only 0.6% nucleotide divergence and signs of recent
admixture, but show more than 8% divergence from
potato, with nine large and several smaller inversions.
--Nature, 31 May 2012
What is your idea of a dream tomato? Women selling
the juicy globes in the markets, no doubt, would wish for
a slow-spoiling variety so that today’s leftovers would sell
tomorrow. Buyers, of course, would want luscious flavor.
Growers would hope for fortification against yieldstealing pests.
The day when all of those wishes could come true has
been advanced by news published online in the journal
Nature: tomato’s genome has been decoded. Now
that scientists have the full genetic code of a common
tomato, they have an unprecedented view of some
35,000 genes that make the tomato what it is.
-- Sharon Schmickle, B4FA web site
Another approach: tell a story
RUSSIA'S greatest plant scientists died of starvation rather
than eat their collection. . . . By 1941, the Soviet Union had
established an enormous gene bank of plants containing
187,000 varieties at the Institute of Plant Industry in Leningrad
(now St Petersburg). When the city was blockaded by the
Germans, so important was the collection some of the
scientists gave their lives to save it.
By January and February of 1942, temperatures had fallen to
record lows of minus 36-40 degrees. Workers, numb with cold
and emaciated from hunger, struggled to save the collection
while bombs pounded nearby. And as the citizens of
Leningrad began to starve, so did the plant scientists. . . .
Around them were collections of peas, rice, corn and wheat.
--The Economist, 6 August 2010
Try extending your own hand
Identify the audience for your article
Craft a top that speaks to the audience
Share your creation
Your invitation was accepted.
Now you must deliver the full story with