2016 “How Plants Work” News Highlights – March

From Blocking Pollen To Blocking Disease

If there was a recurring theme in the March 2016 plant news it may have been plant defense.

Defense against foreign genes, defense against herbivores, and defense against disease all made an appearance.

  • “Contamination of organic corn by genetically modified pollen is a major concern for growers, who stand to lose a large price premium paid for organic corn if their grain is found to be contaminated.”

    “Research at North Carolina State University has identified “pollen blockers” in corn that can prevent organic corn from being pollinated by genetically modified (GM) plants.”

    Block that pollen.

  • Thorns, poisons, and partnerships with biting insects are just a few of the ways that plants avoid getting eaten. Now, researchers have added one more to the list: armor made of sand.

    Plants defend themselves with armor made of sand.

  • “C4 crops, such as maize and sugarcane, are the most photosynthetically efficient crops in the world.” One of the major reasons for this is something called “Kranz Anatomy”.

    And “…dissecting the networks responsible for the development of Kranz Anatomy in C4 species could potentially be translated into C3 crops that are less efficient in hot and dry environments in an effort to increase yield in a sustainable way.

    Understanding Kranz Anatomy to help boost photosynthetic efficiency in plants.

  • Do plants have an immune system? As explored in a previous post, it depends on how you define “immune system”. A new finding, reported last March, supports the idea that plant and animal immune systems may share an important common feature.

    “A protein that signals tissue damage to the human immune system has a counterpart that plays a similar role in plants, report researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI).”

    Discovery shows parallels between plant and human immune systems.

    More “Greatest Hits” of 2016 Plant News to Come….

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