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Tag Archive 'plants'

Why Are Plants Important?

No Respect? A recent online news item entitled Why We Need Plant Scientists attracted my attention a few days ago. It’s mostly about a paper published in the scientific journal New Phytologist (see ref. 1 below) that prioritizes research questions currently facing “the few, the proud and the chronically underfunded” (my quote) scientists that work […]

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Stress Causes Genes To Jump When plants experience environmental stress, such as very hot temperatures, interesting things may happen inside plant cells at the genetic level. For instance, heat stress (typically, leaf temperatures above 95o F for several hours) may increase the activity of “jumping genes” within the plant genomes. The scientific name for such […]

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“Springing the Trap” In the previous post I suggested that the Venus flytrap works something like a mousetrap. And I described how the “trap” is hydraulically set. (For a more thorough explanation of how the Venus flytrap snaps, please see PDF file here). But how do the trigger-hairs on the surface of the flytrap’s leaves […]

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Nervous Plants

Do Plants Have a Nervous System? Back in the heady (hazy?) days of the early 1970’s, a book was making the rounds on college campuses that suggested plants possessed a sort of sentience. This book was The Secret Life of Plants. The professor teaching my Introductory Botany class at the time loathed this book. He […]

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Death And Pollination

Some Pollinators Attracted By The Scent Of Death Floral odors, produced by the vast majority of flowering plants, play important roles in plant–pollinator interactions. A recent report of an orchid that attracts pollinators with the smell of carrion (see reference 1 below) reminded me of the infamous Voodoo lily, which was the subject of one […]

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m4s0n501 Escape of the Transgenes? Last week, I was a bit startled as I listened to a podcast of NPR’s Science Friday program. In this episode (2/18/2011), host Ira Flatow was interviewing the new president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dr. Nina Fedoroff (a distinguished plant molecular biologist, by the […]

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Whither Plant Genetic Engineering? The first generation of transgenic plants was in its infancy in the 1980’s, came of age in the 1990’s and seems to have settled into staid middle age in the past ten years. So, what’s next? A succinct answer is provided here thanks to the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA): […]

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“Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie….” After the initial reports in 1983 of successful genetic transformation of tobacco, petunia and sunflower plants using Agrobacterium to mediate gene transfer, this technique was tried on many other crop plants. By 1989, a colleague at the time summarized a “Plant Gene Transfer” meeting he’d attended by singing the line “Apples, […]

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Where Do New Plants Come From? Well, new plant species arose (and still arise) through plant evolution, that is, as a consequence of hundreds of millions of years of natural selection. About 12,000 years ago, however, humans got involved. Early examples of humans trying to manage plants for their benefit likely included burning of forests […]

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DIY Plant Genetic Engineering?

Biotech in Your Garage. Is it possible that the kids across the street could someday soon be creating genetically engineered plants in their garage or greenhouse? (Now there’s a scary thought.) This may be more feasible than you think. An article called Garage Biology in a recent issue of Nature magazine (see ref. 1 below) […]

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