From Glowing Plants to “Talking” Plants
As usual, the plant news of February 2016, ranged from the molecular level to ecosystem level, from single plant cells to whole plants.
And since I can’t discern any common themes, I’ll go with the stories that I “tweeted” during February of last year that were “re-tweeted+favorited” the most.
“Synthetically engineered biosensors, which can be designed to detect and signal the presence of specific small-molecule compounds, have already unlocked potential applications, such as fuel, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. Until now, however, scientists have been challenged to leverage biosensors for use in eukaryotic cells, which comprise yeast, plants, and animals.“
A team of researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute and Harvard Medical School (HMS) has engineered plants that can emit fluorescence when they detect a molecule of interest, such as the human hormone progesterone or the drug digoxin.
Plants with biosensors may light the way.
Last February, biologists at the University of Illinois reported the following: “The types of beneficial fungi that associate with tree roots can alter the fate of a patch of tropical forest, boosting plant diversity or, conversely, giving one tree species a distinct advantage over many others,…“
Fungi are at the root of tropical forest diversity – or lack thereof.
“Plant health and interaction with microbes is maintained by intricate antennas – plant immune receptors. A certain class of receptors is turning out to be highly informative about plant disease resistance.“
Researchers in the UK “…have surveyed immune genes across flowering plants to uncover the molecular ‘traps’ that plants use to detect pathogens.”
Immunity gene fusions uncovered in plants.
“It has been known for some time that plant roots can communicate with plant shoots. Now, a new paper from Oxford researchers (working in collaboration with researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing) tells us how.“
Shooting the breeze: how parts of a plant can ‘talk’ to one another for the benefit of the whole.
And for those looking for a bit longer read….
“Reconsidering plant memory: Intersections between stress recovery, RNA turnover, and epigenetics“
This is a review article published in the 19 February 2016 issue of Science magazine. In it, the authors “…have highlighted recent advances in plant priming, memory, and epigenetics. These findings serve to demonstrate the capacity to confer acclimation and adaptive benefits within the life of a plant or future generations.“
Next Up: We “March” on….
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