How Plants Work – “Greatest Hits” of 2017 – May

number 5 (CC BY 2.0) by jon jordon

From Spinach to Tea.

Plant molecular biology in general, and whole genome analysis in particular, made great progress in 2017, all around the world. This was evident in some of the favorite plant stories published last May.

  • “I’m strong to the finich, ‘cause I eats me spinach!” said Popeye the Sailor Man.
    While you may not gulp spinach by the can-fuls, if you love spanakopita or your go-to appetizer is spinach artichoke dip, then you’ll be excited to know that new research out of Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) will make it even easier to improve this nutritious and delicious, leafy green.
    Newly-published spinach genome will make more than Popeye stronger.
  • The hormone jasmonic acid plays a major role in the plant immune system and in regulating growth. Scientists have already learned much about how jasmonic acid works, but one important link was missing: what makes the plant’s jasmonic acid level go down once the attack by a fungus or insect has been warded off?
    Biologists find missing link for the ‘safe’ signal in plants.
  • Growing plants and then storing the CO2 they have taken up from the atmosphere is no viable option to counteract unmitigated emissions from fossil fuel burning, a new study shows.
    Climate stabilization: Planting trees cannot replace cutting CO2 emissions.
  • “Farmers are constantly spraying pesticides on their crops to combat an array of viral, bacterial, and fungal invaders. Scientists have been trying to get around these chemicals for years by genetically engineering hardy plants resilient to the array of diseases caused by microbial beasties. Most attempts so far confer protection against a single disease, but now researchers have developed a rice plant that fights multiple pathogens at once—without loss to the crop yield—by hooking up a tunable amplifier to the plant’s immune system.”
    Rice plant engineered with a ‘tunable’ immune system could fight multiple diseases at once.
  • “A team in China has decoded the genetic building blocks of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, whose leaves are used for all types of tea, including black, green and oolong.
    The research gives an insight into the chemicals that give tea its flavour.”

    Secrets of tea plant revealed by science.

    Next Up: The most popular plant-related news stories from my HPW Twitter feed for June 2017.

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