Students who have been enrolled in the S4010 Science Communication Course - Present Your Research Results with Confidence, will have their final talks open to other PhD students, postdocs, and senior researchers. Giving scientific presentations is an important part of sharing researchers' work and achieving recognition in the larger scientific communities. The ability to do so effectively can greatly contribute to career success, regardless if PhD students choose to pursue an academic career, join the industry or found their own company. However, instead of engaging audiences and conveying enthusiasm, many presentations include pitfalls such as overly complicated content, monotone delivery and focusing on what the speaker wants to say rather than what the audience is interested in hearing. Students enrolled in the course have learnt how to create clear, concise content for scientific presentations and how to deliver their message in the most efficient and dynamic way. This course has used self-reflection as a powerful improvement tool, as well as constructive feedback from peers, video recording available to each participant and the unique possibility to practice newly gained skills in an empty Scala movie theatre. The ultimate goal of this course was to teach relevant communication skills and to build students´ confidence.
The visitors of this Science Communication Show will have a unique chance to listen to five 10-minutes-long talks covering various life science topics and to see lessons of this Science Communication course applied in practice.
A Quest for finding superheroes and supervillains
By Narendra Gottumukkala from Michal Smida Research Group
CRISPR/Cas9 is a revolutionary technology that changed the evolution of the genome-editing landscape. It showed promising results in treating diseases with genetic mutations- Sickle Cell Disease and Cystic Fibrosis, and a few more in a row. On the other hand, Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells (CAR-T Cells) are modified T cells that can target the malignant cells of the body. With positive results in clinical trials, CAR-T Cell therapy can treat several Cancers like Leukaemia, especially Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL). Combining these two powerful tools can significantly change the course of Immunotherapy to cure cancer. Likewise, the other resistance mechanisms (e.g.: resistance to drugs) Cancer cells adopting to this therapy and developing resistance towards this treatment. Therefore, during my stay at CEITEC, I would like to find the key genetic factors that can help(superheroes) CAR-T cells efficiency towards the malignant cells in CLL model. On other hand, I will also be performing whole genome CRISPR screens to find out the resistance mechanisms(supervillains) towards this CAR-T cell therapy.
Uncovering the Function of PHD-HD Proteins, a Lesson from HAT3.1
By Lucia Badurova from Jan Hejatko Research Group
HAT3.1 is a transcription factor (TF) with a unique plant-specific domain combination: a homeodomain (HD) and a plant homeodomain (PHD). The HD is a DNA-binding domain often found within proteins involved in the developmental regulations. The PHD functions as an epigenetic reader, having the ability to recognize chromatin regions with distinct epigenetic marks. The presence of the HD and PHD within HAT3.1 may imply its yet unknown involvement in the developmental processes via epigenetically mediated transcriptional regulation. Our analysis of the spatiotemporal expression pattern of HAT3.1 revealed its presence in the developing organs, specifically associated with the regions of actively dividing cells. Moreover, we created a 35S::HAT3.1-EGFP transgenic line that confirmed a specific nuclear targeting of HAT3.1 protein with no signal detected in other cellular compartments. Interestingly, the HAT3.1-EGFP protein was shown to accumulate in subnuclear foci, which were further shown to colocalize with chromocenters, suggesting at least partial heterochromatin targeting of HAT3.1 and its putative repressive function.
Stomatal (density and size) adaptations to drought and wet habitats
By Kristyna Vesela from the Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University
Stomata are pores in plant epidermis and facilitate most of gas exchange with environment (carbon dioxide and water vapor). Size and density of stomata are more or less constant species characteristics and they determine gas exchange capacity and also affect a variety of physiological processes (photosynthesis, water management). Strong correlation of stomatal parameters with genome size does not allow simple observation how the plants adapt these parameters in long-term perspective for specific habitats and environmental conditions. We compared the values of different stomatal parameters after filtering out the effect of genome size between related species with contrast moisture requirements for
27 orders of Central European flora. Genome size affected stomatal parameters in similar way in species with kidney-shaped stomata and dumbbell-shaped stomata. The analysis showed that species of both dry and wet habitats adapt stomatal parameters primarily to obtain higher percentage pore area and gas exchange capacity of leaves. This aims likely to enable efficient carbon dioxide uptake during sporadic humid periods in dry habitats or to sustain enough gas exchange in spite of low water vapor-pressure deficits typical of wetland environments.
High-throughput Phenotyping of spike with Image analysis
In greenhouse and field environment, an automated detection and segmentation of grain spikes in cereal crops is a highly demanded task for extracting phenotypes, such as yield biomass, time stamping of plant life cycle from images and other associated agronomics traits. The predictive power of trained deep neural networks changes for a spike depends on its spatial location in plant canopy. The aim of this work is to optimize DNNs to detect and segment spike in cereal crops such as wheat, rye and barley. Our results show that the trained model on wheat show comparable performance (>80%) on unseen barley and rye images from the photo chamber with a similar optical setup. In the field environment having low illumination condition, a cascaded of ensemble DNNs with prior Lenet classifier on light and dark frame outperforms single trained DNNs.
Genetic variability in AHKs and its role in drought adaptation in Arabidopsis
By Katrina Nicolas from Jan Hejatko Research Group
The development of climate-adaptable varieties using advanced molecular breeding strategies and high-throughput phenotyping technologies emerges as a promising direction for overcoming the challenges to food production posed by severe weather unpredictability, diminishing arable lands, limited resources, and growing global population. One of the essential approaches is targeting molecular networks governed by endogenous factors including plant hormones and external environmental stimuli such as temperature, light, and humidity to facilitate plant adaptation to changing climate conditions. Using publicly available resource 1001 Genomes, we explored the natural variation in three cytokinin-responsive histidine kinases, AHK2, AHK3, and AHK4/CRE1. Accessions with SNPs located near a sequence previously shown to have an impact on protein function were chosen for further investigation. Using root-elongation assay and targeted transcriptomic analysis of cytokinin signaling reporter genes, we demonstrated that identified SNPs affect plant responsiveness to cytokinins. Further analysis of the root morphology upon exogenous cytokinin treatment showed a stronger reduction of root apical meristem size in the AHK variants revealing higher cytokinin sensitivity compared to wild-type. The size of the root apical meristem, previously shown to be cytokinin-controlled, correlated well with the reduced root length of particular accessions, supporting the observed altered cytokinin sensitivity. AHKs activity assay revealed higher responsiveness, while no significant changes in the cytokinin affinity were observed in the more sensitive AHKs variants using ligand binding assay. This suggests that the discovered SNPs may affect AHKs' ability to transduce the signal downstream of the pathway rather than the ability of the sensor to bind cytokinin. To study the role of altered cytokinin sensitivity in the drought stress responses, we used the automated plant phenotyping platform WIWAMxy. The data (including several growth-related parameters such as rosette area, leaf area, compactness, shoot convex hull area) analysis using a machine learning-based algorithm revealed a correlation between the decreased or enhanced cytokinin responsiveness and drought stress responses. Accessions with high cytokinin sensitivity grew bigger than Col-0 under well-watered conditions, however, they showed a higher reduction of growth under drought. Furthermore, accessions with high cytokinin sensitivity perceived drought much earlier than Col-0 when exogenous cytokinin is applied before the onset of drought. In contrast, accessions with low cytokinin sensitivity appear to be insensitive to drought in the presence of exogenous cytokinin. The information generated from this study can be used to improve important crop species belonging to the Brassicaceae family, such as Brassica sp., for improved yield and better resistance to various abiotic stresses.