How Plants Worked….A Look Back at 2015 – May

From “Silver Bullets” to Bamboo Math

There was a lot of plant news involving plant-microbe interactions in May of 2015.

Fungi are an important group of plant pathogens. Indeed, most plant diseases are caused by fungi. So, much research over the years has been devoted to combatting fungal pathogens and to understanding how plants defend themselves against microbial pathogens.

In May of last year couple of papers were published regarding novel ways humans and plants are battling fungal pathogens.

But wait, not all microbes are pathogens.

Many fungi and bacteria have developed mutually beneficial relationships with plants. Two new ones were revealed in the May 2015 plant news.

And, finally, probably one of the most fascinating stories of 2015 had to do with the unusual flowering of bamboo.

  • Deep in the soil, underneath your pretty trees, shrubs, plants and vegetables, lurks a fungus lethal to all of them. But University of Florida plant pathologist G. Shad Ali has a tiny silver bullet to kill it.Researchers Find a “Silver Bullet” to Kill a Fungus That Affects More Than 400 Plants and Trees.
  • Receptors carrying built-in decoys are the latest discovery in the evolutionary battle between plants and pathogens. Decoy domains within the receptor detect pathogens and raise the cell’s alarm when there is an infection.Plant receptors with built-in decoys make pathogens betray themselves.
  • Ancient relationship” between fungi and plant roots creates genetic expression that leads to more root growth. Common fungus could one day be used as ‘bio-fertiliser’, replacing mined phosphate which is now depleted to the point of impending fertiliser crisis.Fungus enhances crop roots and could be a future ‘bio-fertiliser’.
  • One of the fastest growing trees, poplars, may rely on tiny microbes in their leaves to fuel their growth.Leaf bacteria fertilize trees, researchers claim
  • Numerous bamboo species collectively flower and seed at dramatically extended, regular intervals – some as long as 120 years. These collective seed releases, termed ‘masts’, are thought to be a strategy to overwhelm seed predators or to maximise pollination rates. But why are the intervals so long, and how did they evolve?Bamboo Mathematicians – On the ecology of flowering.
  • To be continued…

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