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

Spying On Plant Zombies From Outer Space?

Some of the plant science news from April 2014 had kind of sci-fi theme to it.

From outer space to plant “zombies”:

  • During photosynthesis, the chlorophyll in healthy plants absorbs light to be converted into energy, but it also emits a little bit of light that’s not visible to the human eye. Scientists have now figured out how to use that fluorescent glow to measure the productivity of plants in a given region.
    See how at: Land-plant fluorescence, measured from outer space.
  • The precise origin of the domesticated chili pepper, the world’s most widely grown spice crop, has long been in question. New research, integrating archaeological and genetic data with linguistic and ecological evidence, offering an answer to this question was published in April, 2014.
    Find out where the domesticated chili pepper was likely “born” at: Birthplace of the domesticated chili pepper identified in Mexico.
  • How will elevated levels of carbon dioxide affect plants? Many, many, many studies have been published on this subject in the past several decades. One of the more interesting such studies was reported last April.
    See the summary at: Field study shows why food quality will suffer with rising CO2.
  • Do plants have an “immune system”? Sort of. (See more about this here.) In fact, one of the ways some plants defend themselves from microbial pathogens is by sacrificing cells at the initial site of infection.
    See a summary of new research regarding how this may work at: Til’ death do us part – in the plant world.
  • Forget popular video game Plants Vs. Zombies, some plants are zombies and scientists have uncovered how bacterial parasites turn them into the living dead.
    Read about this fascinating research at: How plants become zombies.
  • For the Fifth Course: From “magic mushrooms” to “metal-eating” plants.

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