What’s New About How Plants Work? – Some “Tasty Tidbits” from 2013 (Fourth Course)

From Osmosis to Photosynthesis

A look back at April 2013 plant news reveals that we still have a lot to learn about even the most fundamental aspects of plants.

  • Plants don’t have water pumps. Water moves passively into the roots, from roots to leaves, and out of leaves based on osmosis. But have we misunderstood the physical bases for osmosis all these years? Everything you know about osmosis is (probably) wrong.
  • And speaking of plants and water, you can listen to the sounds of thirsty trees.
  • The most abundant polymer on Earth? It’s likely cellulose. News about cellulose in April 2013 concerned how it’s synthesized in plants (The 3-D structure of the enzyme that makes cellulose solved & Cellulose goes off the rails) and how it could be used as a food source (Could wood feed the world?).
  • Chemists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory believe they can now explain one of the remaining mysteries of photosynthesis, the chemical process by which plants convert sunlight into usable energy and generate the oxygen that we breathe. The finding suggests a new way of approaching the design of catalysts that drive the water-splitting reactions of artificial photosynthesis.Picking apart the remaining mysteries of photosynthesis.
  • Next Time: Some plant news from May 2013

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