HPW Retrospectacle 2018 – September

9 (CC BY 2.0) by Stephanie Kroos

From Trees That “Bleed” Metals To Visualizing Danger Signals In Plants.

There was lots of unusual plant science news last September, from trees that apparently accumulate certain heavy metals, such as nickel, to plants that glow in the dark when wounded.

Added to these September 2018 stories are reports ranging from “sexy” strawberries to “kamikaze” plant cells.

Tanoshinde! (楽しんで)

  • Heavy Metal Trees?: ”Heavy metals like nickel and zinc are usually the last thing that plants want to grow next to in high concentrations. But a specialised group, known as hyperaccumulators, have evolved to take up the normally toxic metals into their stems, leaves and even seeds.”
    The tree that bleeds… metal?
  • Strawberry Sex?: ”Woman and man, hen and rooster, cow and bull—separate sexes may seem fundamental to nature, but they’re an oddity for most plants. Now, scientists have figured out how strawberries, which have the youngest known sex chromosomes of any plant or animal, made their recent transition to male and female. The unusual “jumping” genes responsible could mean sex differences can change faster in plants than anyone realized.”
    The secret sex life of strawberries
  • “Kamakaze” Plant Cells?: ”Just like humans, plants have an immune system that helps them fight off infections. Plant immunity has some important differences: they don’t make antibodies and can’t fight off the same bug more quickly months or years later. However, plant cells can identify pathogens and react to them, often by producing a burst of reactive oxygen which is toxic to bacteria or fungi. Cells around an infected site will go into programmed cell death to seal off the disease.”
    Newly Discovered Enzyme is “Firing Pin” for Plant Immunity
  • Nervous Plants?: ”In one video, you can see a hungry caterpillar, first working around a leaf’s edges, approaching the base of the leaf and, with one last bite, severing it from the rest of the plant. Within seconds, a blaze of fluorescent light washes over the other leaves, a signal that they should prepare for future attacks by the caterpillar or its kin.”
    Blazes of light reveal how plants signal danger long distances

Tomorrow: From taller Arctic plants to GMO organic farming….

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