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

From Atomic Plants to Radioactive Trees

It may have been the lazy, hazy dog days of August 2013, but plant news didn’t take a holiday.

Here are some nuggets for you to nibble on.

  • If we want to truly understand how plants grow, we must analyse the chemistry of life at the molecular level. In August of last year, researchers reported that they had precisely resolved how a plant steroid hormone binds to its receptor, thus triggering a series of reactions leading to plant growth: Atomic insights into plant growth.
  • Transposons are DNA elements that can multiply and change their location within an organism’s genome. Discovered in the 1940s, for years they were thought to be unimportant and were called “junk DNA.” Also referred to as transposable elements and jumping genes, they are snippets of “selfish DNA” that spread in their host genomes serving no other biological purpose but their own existence.” Geneticists at the University of California, Riverside, challenged that understanding last year: Researchers discover beneficial jumping gene.

  • Want to feed more people? Then get rid of cattle feedlots and stop growing crops for cars. Existing cropland could feed 4 billion more.
  • Exposure to radiation from the 1986 Chernobyl accident had a lasting negative legacy on the area’s trees, a study has suggested“: Chernobyl’s legacy recorded in trees.
  • Next Time: More plant news tidbits from September 2013

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