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

Menu #5 = “Magic Mushrooms” To Heavy Metals

The plant news topics from May 2014 were remarkably varied.

Since the working definition of “plants” in this blog includes protists and fungi, scientific reports involving mushrooms are certainly fair game.

So, let’s start this course with some “magic” mushrooms and finish with plants that may actually “eat” heavy metals.

  • When emotions are processed in a negatively biased manner in the brain, an individual is at risk to develop depression. Psilocybin, the bioactive component of the Mexican magic mushroom, seems to intervene positively in the emotion-processing mechanism.” See why these “magic” mushrooms perhaps should instead be called “happy” mushrooms at: Psilocybin inhibits the processing of negative emotions in the brain.
  • “…how much gene flow is there between plant populations? How important is gene flow for maintaining a species’ identity and diversity, and what are the implications of these processes for evolution, conservation of endangered species, invasiveness, or unintentional gene flow from domesticated crops to wild relatives?
    Find out answers to these questions at: What can plants reveal about gene flow? That it’s an important evolutionary force.
  • If you think the 1930s drought that caused The Dust Bowl was rough, new research looking at tree rings in the Rocky Mountains has news for you: Things can get much worse….
    Find out how much worse at: Tree rings reveal nightmare droughts in the West.
  • Tomato plants not only take heed of their neighbours chemical ‘warnings’ but actually convert the signals into substances to defend themselves against imminent insect attack….” Some scientists think that these substances may actually be used as effective insecticides.
    Read more about this at: Tomatoes’ cry for help turned into chemical weapon to battle insects.
  • Scientists in the Philippines have recently discovered a plant species that can accumulate large amounts of the heavy metal nickel.
    Find out how this plant may be useful in efforts to clean toxic soils at: New species of metal-eating plant discovered in the Philippines.
  • Next-Time: From a new look at old forests to a celebration of plant sex.

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