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

Old Forests, New Synthetic Plants, & More…

Like in May 2014, the news about plants reported in June was pretty wide-ranging.

So, this sixth trip to the 2014 HowPlantsWork “buffet” yields quite a variety of plant news ‘morsels”.


  • How does an old forest evolve over time? “The traditional theory had posited that when a forest gets old, it would respire more and use more energy.” New findings, published last June, do not support this theory.
    Find out what’s new with old forests at: Study Revises Theory on Growth and Carbon Storage in Mature Trees.
  • …in the 21st century, we face both ever-increasing demand and the need to shift towards more sustainable production systems. Can we build new plants that make better materials, act as miniature ‘factories’ for food and fuel, and minimise the human impact on the environment?” To address these questions, a new initiative in the UK called OpenPlant, taking inspiration from engineering and the software industry, is under way that will fast-forward the design of new plants.
    Learn more about this experimental project at: From foundry to factory: building synthetic plants.
  • Can air pollution actually reduce the amount of insect pollination of flowering plants? According to a report in June 2014, the answer is yes.
    Find out more at: Odours can keep insects from finding flowers.
  • During the Great Famine in Ireland from 1845 to 1852 over 1 million people died and over a million people emigrated. The cause of this human disaster was a fungal pathogen on potatoes called Phytophthora infestans.
    See how scientists tracked down the origin of this disease and why this information is important in 2014 at: Irish potato famine pathogen originated in Mexico.
  • In 2006, the U.S. Senate created a National Pollinator Week to “recognize the importance of pollinators to ecosystem health and agriculture in the United States.” Each year since then, recognition of National Pollinator Week has grown, with many states and local groups planning educational events.
    Learn more about this (and get ready for 2015) at: Charismatic Minifauna: Pollinator week is coming!
  • Next-Time: From vibrating plants to how plants “clean” the environment.

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