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

354596ebb0e329a14a097f49ea26ba3cFrom “Vampire” Plants To Exploding Plants

Half-way through 2015 there was lots of plant news – from reports about parasitic plants to “exploding-plant” videos.

A couple of papers published in June 2015 revealed some surprising findings regarding the nature and ecological significance of parasitic plants.

It’s interesting to see what plant news items get re-tweeted and favorited the most. And one particularly popular tweet at the HPW Twitter feed from last June had to do with “shiny” leaves. “Shiny”, in this case, as a result of using fluorescent probes to detect calcium signaling.

Plant genomic analyses have impacted virtually every aspect of the botanical sciences. And two reports published in June of last year illustrate the strength and diversity of such studies.

One of the more interesting long pieces published in June 2015 was a news feature in the journal Nature about the resurgence of indigenous crops in Africa. (Also, please see here.)

  • New research has revealed that parasitic ‘vampire’ plants that attach onto and derive nutrients from another living plant could benefit the abundance and diversity of surrounding vegetation and animal life.‘Vampire’ plants can have positive impact up the food chain.
  • Indiana University scientists have discovered the first known instance of a plant or animal lacking several key genes involved in energy production in cells.Biologists find mistletoe species lacks genes found in all other complex organisms.
  • Scientists visualize calcium signals in plants which are elicited by wounding and ultimately regulate defense responses against herbivores.” Feeding caterpillars make leaves shine.
  • A genome-wide analysis has elucidated a drought-tolerance system in the model plant Arabidopsis. Scientists reveal underpinnings of drought tolerance in plants.
  • Last June, a study was published that “…highlights the importance and utility of coupling natural history collections and next-generation sequencing to obtain large molecular data sets for species-rich groups.” Next-generation sampling: Pairing genomics with large-scale herbarium sampling.
  • Long overlooked in parts of Africa, indigenous greens are now capturing attention for their nutritional and environmental benefits.The rise of Africa’s super vegetables.
  • And, finally, just for fun: Time-Lapse Videos of Exploding Plants
  • Be seeing you….

    (Next-time: a backwards glance at the July 2015 plant news.)

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