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Welcome to PmWiki for the MBI workshop 1 on plants and insects, 27 September - 1 October 2010, at the Ohio State University. We can share all our relevant material here, as well as in Google docs.

Information about using a wiki like this, if you're not familiar with it, is in the documentation index. We've also put a short set of notes on a separate page.

First posting: Jan Vos, of Wageningen University, wishes us all to visit the link to his group's site at

New posting by Vince Gutschick: a paper that might be useful to discuss at the workshop is Eldar and Elowitz (2010), in the latest issue of Nature. It's title is Functional roles for noise in genetic circuits. Here are a few intriguing quotes:

"One of the key functional advantages of noise is its ability to enable probabilistic differentiation of otherwise identical cells....In procrastinating differentiation systems, individual cells gradually and variably build up the level of a key regulator to generate a broad distribution of delays before committing to a new, markedly different fate."
"Theoretical and experimental analysis has shown that random switching between states can be advantageous in unpredictable environments and is optimal when the switching rate is tuned to the typical timescale for environmental fluctuations"
"In addition to its roles in physiology and differentiation, noise can also have an integral role in evolution by expanding the range of phenotypes that can result from a given genotype."

An almost instantaneous followup: a paper in today's (9 Sept. 10) issue of Science, by Miguel A. Moreno-Risueno et al. and entitled "Oscillating Gene Expression Determines Competence for Periodic Arabidopsis Root Branching". Here is the abstract:

Plants and animals produce modular developmental units in a periodic fashion. In plants, lateral roots form as repeating units along the root primary axis; however, the developmental mechanism regulating this process is unknown. We found that cyclic expression pulses of a reporter gene mark the position of future lateral roots by establishing prebranch sites and that prebranch site production and root bending are periodic. Microarray and promoter-luciferase studies revealed two sets of genes oscillating in opposite phases at the root tip. Genetic studies show that some oscillating transcriptional regulators are required for periodicity in one or both developmental processes. This molecular mechanism has characteristics that resemble molecular clock–driven activities in animal species

Vince Gutschick set up a site for a session on big models in ecology, for the 2009 meeting of the Ecological Society. There are links on the site for the philosophy of modelling, types of models, etc.

The workshop organizers would be very pleased to have participants post any relevant information, and particularly copies of published papers. In this way, we can all appreciate each other's work, and we will be able to grasp more easily the significance of what each person will present at the workshop.

Vince originated this wiki but he'll be out of the US (in Indonesia) from 29 June to 23 July). Use of the wiki becomes fairly straightforward. If you need help, I think that Michael Chelle has the computing background to help. Please note that any changes that you make and save are permanent. If you are not sure about the effects of your editing, you can try out the changes in the WikiSandbox (see the link at upper left).

We look forward to the workshop eagerly.

Here are pages for each of us. The pages are simple placeholders if you haven't edited them; your page will just have your name, essentially, as a start:

AAA Declaration of Columbus files (Christine Beveridge)

Tom Buckley

Eric Casella

Michael Chelle

Karine Chenu

Evelyne Costes

Ted DeJong

Matt Disney

Xavier Draye

Abraham Escobar-Gutierrez

Vince Gutschick

Ilya Ioslovich

Lyn Jones

MengZhen Kang

Alex Komarov

Jan Kozlowski

Veronique Letort

Phillip Lewis

Sharon Lubkin

Marcos Malosetti

Greg McLean

Ylo Niinemets

Kiona Ogle

Wendy Silk

Thierry Simonneau

Jean-Christophe Soulie

John Sperry

Tom Vogelmann

Jan Vos