What’s New About How Plants Work? – Some “Tasty Tidbits” from 2012 (Fourth Course)

Fernan 560x315Back to April 2012….

Among the plant-related news items published in April 2012 were stories ranging from the proposed “next generation” of genetically-engineered (a.k.a., GMO) crops to the control of plant flowering to plant defensive mechanisms to new techniques for studying plants at the cellular level.

  • In response to growing numbers of so-called super weeds, resistant to the herbicide Roundup®, some chemical companies are now developing GMO crops resistant to the old herbicide 2,4-D, which some consider a really bad idea.
    Dow’s new GMO “Agent Orange corn”, nearing approval, runs into opposition.
  • What triggers the transition from a vegetative state to a flowering state in angiosperms has been one of the most active and fascinating fields of research in biology. Recently, the identity of the so-called “flowering hormone” Florigen was discovered, and, since then, new pieces of the puzzle have been added.
    A blossoming field of research: how Florigen is transported to create flowers.
  • In April 2012, a new study by Rice University scientists revealed that plants can use mechanical stimulation to fight off fungal infections and insects.
    A bit touchy: Plants’ insect defenses activated by touch.
  • As a backyard gardener, I found the following news item especially interesting.
    Not just for fruit trees – grafting vegetables to fight fungal diseases.
  • And for today’s “dessert”, shining a bit of light on plant cell biology (see image above left)
    Lighting up plant cells to engineer biology.

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