How Plants Work Greatest Hits – “Top Tweets” of 2021 (Part 1)

Number One (CC BY 2.0) by Ruth Hartnup

Welcome Back!

After over more than a year-long hiatus from scribbling blog posts, we’re back.

Let’s resume by counting down the “top 25 tweets” of 2021 from the HowPlantsWork twitter feed.

“What the heck is a top tweet”?, you may ask.

As defined by Twitter, it’s a ranking of tweets based on the relative number of “impressions” by Twitter users.

Simply put, “top tweets” are the most popular tweets, that is, the ones that have garnered the most attention.

OK, with that out of the way, let’s count down the top 25 tweets of 2021 from HowPlantsWork:

#25 – GM grass cleanses soil of toxic pollutants left by military explosives, new research shows.

Sort of picking up where I left off way back in January 2021 (namely, the post Plant Detectorists: Part 3 – Using Plants to Detect/Degrade Explosives), here’s a report that features:

A grass commonly used to fight soil erosion has been genetically modified to successfully remove toxic chemicals left in the ground from munitions that are dangerous to human health, new research shows.

#24 – The wonders of mixing and matching pigments and colourful flowers.

Colourful plants have long fascinated and inspired people, from Monet’s and Van Gogh’s paintings to Mendel’s pea petal colours. Pigments are not only aesthetically pleasing but have numerous roles, from attracting the right pollinator to help plants deal with environmental stresses.

This review, published in The Biochemist focuses on the importance of flower pigments in helping plants cope with environmental stresses.

#23 – Discovery of mobile disease detectors in plants could boost crop resilience.

Many important crop plants can be devastated by pathogens including bacteria, fungi and viruses. Knowing exactly how some plants respond could give researchers the information to breed crops with the best disease-fighting power or even design new and improved immune sensors in genetically modified plants.

#22 – RNA breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes, rice.

For decades, scientists have been working to boost crop production in the face of an increasingly unstable climate and a growing global population. But such processes are usually complicated, and often result only in incremental changes.

Manipulating RNA can allow plants to yield dramatically more crops, as well as increasing drought tolerance, announced a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University.”

“In initial tests, adding a gene encoding for a protein called FTO to both rice and potato plants increased their yield by 50% in field tests. The plants grew significantly larger, produced longer root systems and were better able to tolerate drought stress. Analysis also showed that the plants had increased their rate of photosynthesis.”

#21 – Scientists develop an unprecedented three-dimensional X-ray microscope methodology to image plants at cellular resolution.

Using three-dimensional (3D) imaging is a recent innovation in the plant biology sector to capture phenotypes on the “whole-plant” scale: from miniscule cells and organelles in the roots, up to the leaves and flowers. However, current 3D imaging processes are limited by time-consuming sample preparation and by imaging depth, usually reaching only a few layers of cells within a plant tissue.

Researchers at the Danforth Plant Science Center have pioneered X-ray microscope technology to image plant cells, whole tissues, and even organs at unprecedented levels.

Next-Time: The countdown of the most popular tweets of 2021 at HowPlantsWork continues….

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