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

3735264840 d676bf6bb0From Sharing Carbs to Sharing Genes

From near the middle of the buffet table of the plant science news of 2012 come several selections.

A general theme emerges. It appears to be how plants may interact with other organisms – “friendly” microorganisms, “unfriendly” microorganisms, and parasitic plants.

Also, these samplings include new information about how plants can quickly “switch on ” or “switch off” the chemical signals called plant hormones and a proposed new way to do plant research.

  • In natural environments, many different plant species may be “inter-connected” via underground via mycorrhiza. An intriguing question has been what, if any, substances may travel from plant to plant via these networks. This report addresses this question, with some surprising findings, which may help explain the phenomenon called companion planting.
    Mycorrhizal Networks: Common goods of plants shared under unequal terms of trade.
  • As was reported by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, an enzyme critical to regulating the activity of some plant hormones was characterized.
    Key part of plants’ rapid response system revealed.
  • Perhaps the best approach to plant research is to bring together a variety of disciplines – not just plant scientists – to study how plants operate.
    Scientists urge new approaches to plant research.
  • How do plants defend themselves from disease-causing viruses, bacteria, and fungi? Dr. Peter Dodds proffers an answer.
    Do plants have an immune system?
  • Could genes flow laterally from a host plant to a parasitic plant? Looks like the answer, at least in one case, is yes.
    ‘Stealing’ life’s building blocks – Research shows that parasitic flowers take more genes from hosts than was believed.
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