How Plants Work Greatest Hits – “Top Tweets” of 2021 (Part 2)

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Two (CC BY 2.0) by K. Kendall

From the Extinction of Indigenous Languages to the Perseverance of New York City’s Wildflowers. 

What were the top 25 tweets of 2021 from HowPlantsWork?

Here’s Part 2 – #20 to #16:

#20 – Extinction of Indigenous languages leads to loss of exclusive knowledge about medicinal plants

Many of today’s mass-market medications are derived from medicinal plants. They range from acetylsalicylic acid—commonly known as aspirin, whose active ingredient is extracted from white willow (Salix alba L.)—to morphine, which is extracted from poppies (Papaver somniferum).”

“In a recent study, Bascompte and biodiversity specialist Rodrigo Cámara-Leret warn that the extinction of Indigenous languages equates to a loss of traditional knowledge about medicinal plants, which could reduce chances for the discovery of future medicines.”

#19 – UvA biologists find gene that creates extra vacuoles in plant cells

If you open a random book on biology and look up a picture of a plant cell, you will see that there is always a large cavity in the middle of these cells. This is the vacuole. It is an important cellular storage place in which plants can store all kinds of substances. The vacuole contains both reserve nutrients and waste products, vacuoles in the cells on the surface of flowers contain pigments that determine the flower colour, in fruits they contain the acids and sugars that give the fruits their taste, plants growing in salty conditions can store excess salt in vacuoles, and so on.

Sometimes plant cells don’t have just one large central cavity, or vacuole, but several. These can even have different functions. How is that possible? A team led by UvA biologists Ronald Koes and Francesca Quattrocchio took another step towards solving this fundamental biological riddle.

#18 – How plants stabilize their water pipes

Plants take up water from the soil via the roots and transport it through a vascular system, the so-called xylem, into the canopy. The xylem is a network of tubular cell wall containers that are formed by living xylem cells during plant growth. Before their death, the cells actively organize the deposition of an exceptionally strong wall – the so-called secondary wall – into band and spiral patterns. After that, the cells dissolve and vacate their interior, and lignify the walls to further provide strength, resilience, and waterproof to these structures. Due to this, xylem cells provide both, an efficient water transportation system and plant stability.

The so-called xylem, also known as wood, is a network of hollow cells with extremely strong cell walls that reinforce the cells against the mechanical conflicts arising from growing tall. These walls wrap around the cells in filigree band and spiral patterns. So far, it is only partly known, how these patterns are created. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology in Golm/Potsdam and from Wageningen University and their colleagues study the formation of such reinforced and patterned cell walls.

#17 – Exploit plants’ ability to tell the time to make food production more sustainable, say scientists

Like humans, plants have an ‘internal clock’ that monitors the rhythms of their environment. The authors of a study published today say that now the genetic basis of this circadian system is well understood and there are improved genetic tools to modify it, the clock should be exploited in agriculture – a process they describe as ‘chronoculture’ – to contribute to global food security.

#16 – The Perseverance of New York City’s Wildflowers

“A wildflower can refer to any flowering plant that was not cultivated, intentionally planted or given human aid, yet it still managed to grow and bloom. This is one of several definitions offered by the plant ecologist Donald J. Leopold in Andrew Garn’s new photo book “Wildflowers of New York City,” and one that feels particularly suited to the city and its many transplants.”

Next-Time: We continue counting down the top 25 tweets of 2021 from HowPlantsWork in Part 3….

Tom Petty – Wildflowers (Home Recording) [Official Music Video]

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