What’s New About How Plants Work? – “Tasty Tidbits” From 2014 (Second Course)

More Hors D’oeuvres:

As we work our way through the 2014 plant news “buffet”, let’s continue with more “appetizers”. This time, from the month of February.

February 2014 was notable because it seemed to feature stories that made us think about plants – flowers and the scents from flowers, for example – in whole new ways.

From Plants And The Human Brain To Flowers As Agents Of Contagion?

  • Why are humans often affected by plant-derived chemicals, such as the scent of a rose, or caffeine? Is it because our brains possess aspects of the “insect brain”?
    Find out more about this fascinating theory at: Plants and the human brain.
  • What makes an insect choose to eat one plant over another? Could the variety of other plants growing around it be a factor?
    See why some scientists think so at: ‘Neighbour-plants’ determine insects’ feeding choices.
  • Each plant has a typical leaf shape that can differ even within the same family. The information about what shape leaves will be is stored in the DNA.
    Read about how plant scientists have discovered: A gene that shapes leaves.
  • Pine forests are especially magical places for atmospheric chemists. Coniferous trees give off pine-scented vapors that form particles, very quickly and seemingly out of nowhere.
    New research by German, Finnish and U.S. scientists elucidates the process by which gas wafting from coniferous trees creates particles that can reflect sunlight or promote cloud formation, both important climate feedbacks.

    Read more about this research at: Pine forest particles appear out of thin air, influence climate.
  • As major hubs of plant-animal interactions throughout the world, flowers are ideal venues for the transmission of microbes among plants and animals.
    Find out why some scientists are asking the question: Are flowers agents of contagion?

    Next-Time: From bionic plants to plants on ice.

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