For the lack of activity, it might seem that I’ve abandoned my venture… let’s just say that I did lose some of my zeal due to very busy summer months. But, I’m back with renewed passion to share some of my plant-based stories.
Perhaps it would be best to start at the beginning of the summer and progress towards today. It means I need to tell you first of the conference I attended at the end of June in Prague, Czech Republic (the featured photo indicates the beauty of the city, which I visited for the first time). This was the Plant Biology Europe conference organised by EPSO (European Plant Science Organisation) and FESPB (The Federation of European Societies of Plant Biology) and it attracted around 800 participants. In the Macronutrient Section I had (in co-authorship with Philip J. White) a presentation entitled “The importance of cell-type-specific distributions of mineral elements for plant nutrition” with the following abstract:
Plants require seventeen mineral elements and five mineral elements are considered beneficial . Other elements are taken up by plants, when they are phytoavailable in soils. Our knowledge of the distribution of mineral elements between organs (e.g. roots, shoots, leaves, flowers, seeds) has increased considerably over the last century. In addition, we are beginning to discover the distribution of mineral elements between specific cell-types within an organ. It is evident that the concentration of a particular mineral element can differ by an order of magnitude between cell types within an organ. This could be associated with the site of delivery of these mineral elements to the organ, sites of complexation or metabolism of the mineral element, or cell-type-specific uptake, efflux or sequestration processes . Cell-type specific distributions of mineral elements have been documented in leaves of numerous plant species including plants that hyperaccumulate mineral elements [2,3]. However, a comprehensive overview of the cell-type specific distributions of essential, beneficial and toxic elements in plants remains to be undertaken. This talk will attempt to integrate information on cell-type specific distributions of mineral elements in different plant organs and discuss it in the context of the mineral nutrition of higher plants.
This photo was taken just after the talk and I’m in company of a PhD student Patrick Hayes, who works on localisation of mineral elements in plants as well.
Unfortunately, I cannot share my presentation as it includes too much unpublished data, but I can share few representative slides which show a co-localisation of phosphorus (P) in red, calcium (Ca) in green and potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and sulphur (S) in leaf cross-sections of different plant species. I mostly focused on the exclusion of P and Ca in different plant species, which prevents the formation of calcium phosphate precipitates.
The conference was wonderful, especially as I also got to meet some of my former colleagues. Particularly I want to mention Prof. Charlotte Poschenrieder and Prof. Juan Barceló (from the Autonomous University of Barcelona,) with whom I spent 3 months in 2006. Also this was a great opportunity to meet with an Erasmus Student I worked with in the lab in Bayreuth, Martina Benáková, who, as a local, gave me an unforgettable night tour of the town. Also I met with some Slovenian researchers and I was updated with the current scientific situation in Slovenia, where, hopefully, I’ll find a job next year when we return to Slovenia.
 Conn S, Gillham M (2010) Comparative physiology of elemental distributions in plants. Annals of Botany 105, 1081–1102.
 White PJ, Brown PH (2010) Plant nutrition for sustainable development and global health. Annals of Botany 105, 1073–1080.
 White PJ, Pongrac P (2016) Heavy metal toxicity in plants. In: Plant Stress Physiology. Shabala S (Ed.) CABI Publishing; in press