The Wood-Wide-Web: Are Plants Inter-Connected by a Subterranean Fungal Network?

Mushrooms are the visible manifestations (sexual organs, actually) of microscopic, soil-dwelling fungi that form mutually-beneficial partnerships with plants. Since these filamentous fungi interact with the roots of plants, such symbiotic relationships are called mycorrhizae, literally “fungus root”. Fossil evidence supports the idea that these plant-fungal partnerships are as old as…

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Into The Wild: Do Genetically-Engineered Plants “Leak” Into The Environment?

Escape of the Transgenes? Last week, I was a bit startled as I listened to a podcast of NPR’s Science Friday program. In this episode (2/18/2011), host Ira Flatow was interviewing the new president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Dr. Nina Fedoroff (a distinguished plant…

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Life in the Phyllosphere: What Microbes Commonly Dwell on the Surface of Leaves?

Leaf Surfaces = Microbial Habitats Imagine all the leaves of all the plants currently living on planet Earth. Now, add up all the surface areas of all of those leaves. And your answer is?… No idea?…. Luckily, some microbiologists have made an estimate, and it’s an astounding number. According to…

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Plant “Gibberish” – Hormone (Gibberellin) May Play Critical Roles in Plant Response to Climate Change

What do a fungal disease of rice, dwarf plants, flowering, and beer have in common? Answer: They all may involve the action of the plant hormone gibberellin, a.k.a. gibberellic acid (GA). Let me explain….. This plant hormone was first discovered by Japanese scientists working on a rice disease called bakanae…

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