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Category Archive for 'Secondary Compounds'

When No Really Means No (In Plants) When it comes to sexual reproduction, nearly half of all flowering plant species are self-incompatible. That is, the pollen (male parts of flowers) produced by an individual plant is somehow recognized by the plant and rendered ineffectual in self-fertilizing the ovules (female parts of flowers). This prevention of […]

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From Plant Secrets To Plant Antibiotics What were the five most re-tweeted and favorited plant news stories that I shared in September of last year? Well, here they are, in order of popularity, lowest to highest. “Scientists from the John Innes Centre have pioneered innovative new cell imaging techniques to shed light on cells hidden […]

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From Cancer-Fighting Plants To Cadmium-Sniffing Moss Sadly, those who teach classes about plant physiology often feel the need to justify why plants are important. That’s how I usually began the first lecture in my Botany and Plant Physiology courses back in the day when I was boring undergraduate students. Most of these students could appreciate […]

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Potatoes And Tomatoes And Deadly Nightshade Two recent reports (1) that potato plants boost the chemical defenses in their leaves when their tubers are under attack (see Ref. 1 below) and (2) Why Tomato Leaves Smell “Grassy”? (see Ref. 2 below) reminded me of how fascinating the biochemistry is in solanaceous plants and, also, of […]

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Why Do Flowers Smell? A couple of the most common questions that people have about flowers are: (1) Why do flowers have scents? and (2) Why do many flowers smell good to us? The first question is fairly easy to answer, but the second one is a bit trickier to try to answer. The short […]

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Signature Scents of Death & Decay In a previous post, we explored the discovery that plants emit a wide array of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and that, because of this, sometimes plants stink. But I think few would argue that the prize for the “stinkiest” plants would have to go to the “Voodoo Lilies” and […]

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Plants “Stink” One of the really cool things about plants, which I think most people don’t realize, is that they emit many kinds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of these VOCs we can smell, such as flower fragrances and pine scents. But many, such as the plant hormone ethylene, may either have no odor […]

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It’s strawberry season here at the upper left-hand corner of the USA. This, and a recent report regarding the biosynthesis of the chemical that is chiefly responsible for the strawberry flavor (see Ref. 1 below), got me thinking about why they taste so good. Strawberries emit several hundred volatile organic chemicals, of which only about […]

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Why decaf coffee? Have you ever had a cup of really good decaf coffee? Me neither. (Probably because the decaf coffee results from chemical processing of normal coffee beans.) But why would anyone want coffee without caffeine? As illustrated by the old Gary Larson cartoon on the left, sometimes you can get too much caffeine. […]

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How a parasitic plant may “sniff out” its victims. As on the internet, once information is broadcast, even if only among ‘friends’, it becomes available for other unintended and unexpected uses. Dodder (genus Cuscuta) is a parasitic plant on other plants. But how does this plant find its host? Apparently, dodder seedlings locate potential hosts […]

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