HPW Retrospectacle 2018 – October

From Taller Arctic Plants To GMO Organic Farming. A recurring topic in the plant science news of last October seemed to be “big”, as in Arctic plants may be getting bigger due to a warming climate, or making bigger fruit using genetic engineering. Speaking of GMO’s, the idea of organic…

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HPW Retrospectacle 2018 – September

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…

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HPW Retrospectacles 2018 – July

From Crowdfunded Plant Science to Bad Fertilizer. Citizen-funded scientific research is an interesting concept, made real by the internet. An example of how crowdfunded research paid off was reported last July. Also in the plant science news in July 2018 were articles regarding plant evolution, progress in engineering nitrogen-fixing bacteria…

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2016 “How Plants Work” News Highlights – October

From Flowers That Smell Like Stressed Bees To Corn That Smells Like “Help Me!” October 2016 seemed to feature an unusual number of quirky plant news stories. For example, we previously saw an orchid that smelled like body odor, presumably to attract mosquitos. Now here’s another weird flower smell… “A…

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Do Leaf Bacteria Fertilize Plants?

The “Inside” Story? An article in Science magazine (see Ref. 1 below) reports evidence supporting the hypothesis that leaf-dwelling, nitrogen-fixing bacteria may provide host plants with significant amounts of nitrogen. In the past, we briefly explored the microbial phyllosphere, that is, the microbes – including nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria – that dwell…

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Eau de Zombie? – The Malodorous “Voodoo Lilies” and “Corpse Flowers” – Why Do They Smell So Bad?

Signature Scents of Death & Decay In a previous post, we explored the discovery that plants emit a wide array of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and that, because of this, sometimes plants stink. But I think few would argue that the prize for the “stinkiest” plants would have to go…

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“Farmaceuticals” and “Plantibodies” – Using Genetically-Engineered Plants to Produce Drugs and Vaccines

New Meanings For “Medicinal Plants”? Plants have been used by humans for thousands of years as a source of medicines, some effective, many not so much (except perhaps as placebos). The first botanists were likely shaman herbalists who possessed the knowledge of which plants would kill and which plants would…

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Self-Digesting Plants = The Ultimate Solution to Biofuel Production from Plant Biomass?

I’m Melting!! Remember the melting witch in The Wizard of Oz? What if corn stalks, for instance, could be induced to “melt” – that is, to go from tough biomass into a sugary puddle? In biochemical terms, it would be the equivalent to the conversion of cellulosic biomass into a…

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