What’s New About How Plants Work? – Some “Tasty Tidbits” from 2012 (Fifth Course)
On Today’s Menu: Tomatoes, Plant Architecture, and Plant Diversity
May of 2012 was a good month for tomato science.
Researchers primarily at the University of Florida, Gainesville, discovered that a large chemical diversity exists among heirloom varieties of tomato. They saw this, however, as an opportunity to discover which chemicals in a ripe tomato are most important for the “best tasting” tomatoes. Their results are discussed and put into a commercial perspective here:
The scientific search for the essence of a tasty tomato.
In a report published in the 31 May 2012 issue of Nature, a consortium of plant geneticists from 14 countries presented the results of a nine year effort to decode the tomato genome, in the hope of breeding better ones.
More Genes Than Humans: The Tomato Decoded
May of 2012 was also a good month for plant developmental biology, not only with regard to how form affects function, but also about how some plant structures are actually constructed.
Plants may elongate their stems when growing at high temperature in order to facilitate the cooling of their leaves.
How plants chill out.
New research revealed that velcro-like cells on some plant flower petals may play a crucial role in helping bees grip the flowers.
For the first time, scientists have identified how a plant’s skin (known as the plant cuticle) is assembled. The waxy plant cuticle is essential to prevent leaves, stems, flowers and fruits from drying out, provide a barrier against pathogens, protect against ultraviolet radiation and prevent organs from fusing together during development.
Blowing in the wind: how hidden flower features are crucial for bees.
Researchers identify how plant “skins” are stitched together.
Finally, the fifth month of last year also provided further insights into the significance of plant diversity, specifically, what affects it and how it affects ecosystem productivity.
How species diversity is maintained is a fundamental question in biology. In a study reported in the May 18 2012 issue of Science, a team of Indiana University biologists has shown for the first time that diversity is influenced on a spatial scale of unparalleled scope, in part, by how well tree seedlings survive under their own parents.
Forest diversity from Canada to the sub-tropics influenced by family proximity.
In a paper published in the 4 May 2012 issue of Science magazine, Peter B. Reich and collaborators provide evidence that vegetation, such as a patch of prairie or a forest stand, is more productive in the long run when more plant species are present.
Long-term study shows that plant diversity is key to maintaining productive vegetation.
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