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

Zehn (CC BY 2.0) by Thomas Kohler

From “Monster” Plants to Pumpkin DNA.

Looking back at the most popular plant news items of October 2017, I detect a bit of a Halloween theme in many of the stories.

See for yourself…

  • “Cat Whitney’s thread of her favorite spooky plants includes some of the plant kingdom’s most horrifying denizens:”
    Plants are monsters.
  • “Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these “overcompensators,” as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry – think plant venom – when they are clipped.”
    Some plants grow bigger – and meaner – when clipped, study finds.
  • “When a multicellular organism develops, each cell needs to know its place in relation to all other cells. This means cells need to communicate amongst themselves to create the patterns from which different tissue and cell types arise. In the case of animals, we know about the signals and mechanisms which drive these patterning processes.”
    How plants decide on a pattern for a new leaf.
  • The first trees to have ever grown on Earth were also the most complex, new research has revealed. Fossils from a 374-million-year-old tree found in north-west China have revealed an interconnected web of woody strands within the trunk of the tree that is much more intricate than that of the trees we see around us today.”
    Fossils from the world’s oldest trees reveal complex anatomy never seen before.
  • For some, pumpkins conjure carved Halloween decorations, but for many people around the world, these gourds provide nutrition. Scientists at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) and the National Engineering Research Center for Vegetables in Beijing have sequenced the genomes of two important pumpkin species, Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita moschata.“
    Pumpkin genomes sequenced revealing uncommon evolutionary history.
  • As the year 2017 transitioned from October into November, the most retweeted plant-related news item of each month went from pumpkins to bananas. See what I mean here, next time.

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