HPW Retrospectacle 2018 – December

5 minutes to midnight (CC BY 2.0) by Markus Grossalber

From How Plants Sense Temperature To A Plant-Robot Hybrid.

The December 2018 plant science news certainly covered a mixed bag of topics…from how a plant senses how hot it is to a robo-plant that can drive toward the light.

  • How Hot Is It?: “When it gets hot outside, humans and animals have the luxury of seeking shelter in the shade or cool, air-conditioned buildings. But plants are stuck. While not immune to changing climate, plants respond to the rising mercury in different ways. Temperature affects the distribution of plants around the planet. It also affects the flowering time, crop yield, and even resistance to disease.
    Scientists identify how plants sense temperature
  • Plants That Smell Bad To Insects?: “Michigan State University scholar Andrea Glassmire and her colleagues have revealed how the mixture of chemical weapons deployed by plants keeps marauding insects off base better than a one-note defense. This insight goes beyond the ecological convention of studying a single chemical compound a plant is packing and offers new ways to approach agricultural pest management.
    Plants’ defense against insects is a bouquet
  • Can Plants Repair Damaged DNA?: “When a building is damaged, a general contractor often oversees various subcontractors—framers, electricians, plumbers and drywall hangers—to ensure repairs are done in the correct order and on time. Similarly, when DNA is damaged, a molecular general contractor oversees a network of genetic subcontractors to ensure that the diverse cellular tasks needed to protect and repair the genome are carried out correctly and on time.
    To repair damaged DNA, plants need good contractors
  • Plants As Air Purifiers?: “We like to keep the air in our homes as clean as possible, and sometimes we use HEPA air filters to keep offending allergens and dust particles at bay. But some hazardous compounds are too small to be trapped in these filters. Small molecules like chloroform, which is present in small amounts in chlorinated water, or benzene, which is a component of gasoline, build up in our homes when we shower or boil water, or when we store cars or lawn mowers in attached garages. Both benzene and chloroform exposure have been linked to cancer. Now researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified a common houseplant — pothos ivy — to remove chloroform and benzene from the air around it.”
    Researchers develop a new houseplant that can clean your home’s air
  • Robo-Plant?: “Elowan [a plant-robot hybrid] is a cybernetic lifeform, a plant in direct dialogue with a machine. Using its own internal electrical signals, the plant is interfaced with a robotic extension that drives it toward light.
    Elowan: A Plant-robot hybrid

And that’s it for the 2018 HowPlantsWork Retrospectacles – Happy New Year!

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