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

From Giant Flowers to Giant Trees

Well, here it is: the penultimate post of my plant science news “buffet” for 2013. (Should we call it “elevenses”?)

November of last year offered a bounty of botany news, from flowering to fungi to plant cloning. Here’s a sampling:

  • Researchers have unraveled the mystery of how the world’s largest individual flower develops in:
    Stages of bloom.
  • Fungi. Green plants likely couldn’t have colonized the land without them, and most flowering plants have fungi living both outside and inside them. But pathogenic fungi are also some of plants’ worst enemies. So, the relationships between plants and fungi are highly complex. November of 2013 provided several news stories about plants and fungi, including:
    Fungus may offer natural weed control and
    How scavenging fungi became a plant’s best friend and, just for fun, Fungal fight club.
  • Terroir is a concept at the heart of French winemaking, but one so mysterious that the word has no English counterpart. It denotes the holistic combination of soil, geology, climate and local grape-growing practices that make each region’s wine unique.
    Now American researchers may have penetrated the veil that hides the landscape of terroir from clear view, at least in part. They have seized on a plausible aspect of terroir that can be scientifically measured — the fungi and bacteria that grow on the surface of the wine grape.”

    Last November one could read an article about this in the New York Times entitled Microbes may add special something to wines and a report on the same research from UC Davis Sequencing study lifts veil on wine’s microbial terroir.
  • In the early 1880s, John Muir brought a young sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) tree to his home in Martinez, California, and planted it. Normally, sequoias can live for thousands of years, but, unfortunately, Muir’s 130-year-old, 75-foot-tall giant sequoia tree is now dying from two regional fungal diseases. In order to to save the tree and its connection to the famous naturalist, cuttings of the tree have been successfully cloned. Read more about the story in:
    Archangel successfully clones John Muir’s giant sequoia.
  • Next-Time: The final trip to the plant science 2013 “buffet table”. (Full yet?)

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