Plant biology

Grasses at Yellowstone National Park are able to grow temperatures (65°; C) that would toast most living things. Step right up! Watch original research, as it happens, on the web! I'm going to use bioinformatics to see if I can find that answer to the puzzle of heat-tolerant plants. Previous parts:
Yesterday, both Joshua and I wrote about grasses that grow in the unusually hot soil at Yellowstone National Park. Now, I knew that hot springs bacteria can tolerate high temperatures, but I was really surprised to learn that plants could. It was even more surprising to learn that this amazing ability was conferred on the plants by an infected fungus. I presented the data ... Read more
Are viral and fungal infections always a bad thing? Maybe not if you're a plant. In fact, if you're a plant trying to grow in the hot (65°; C) soils of Yellowstone National Park, you're going to need all the help you can get. A new study by Márquez, (1) found that a type of grass (Dichanthelium lanuginosum) is able to grow in the hot soils of Yellowstone National Park because it gets help from some friends. A fungal friend. And that fungal friend is infected with a virus. If you're not used to thinking in degrees centigrade, it's hard to grasp immediately ... Read more
In last week's episode, your assignment was to think of an interesting plant trait and find a description about a gene, related to that trait, by searching PubMed. Since coming up with an interesting trait might be a challenge for some people, let's think about how to approach this step. Picking your trait. ... Read more
Awhile back Chemical & Engineering News published a fascinating article called "The Secret Life of Plant Crystals" with some wonderful photos of calcium oxalate crystals. Special cells (called "idioblasts") produce these crystals, with shapes that are unique to each type of plant. Even though 75% of flowering plants make these crystals, no one knows why they make them and in fact, their functions may be as diverse as their ... Read more
Reposted and slightly modified from Classic DigitalBio. Some people say that science takes the magic out of everyday life. Not me! I've learned some things by reading Science (1) that might give some people nightmares, especially young children. Remember that scene in "The Wizard of Oz" when the trees get ticked off and start hurling apples at poor Dorothy? Real plants do defend themselves. Those "Wizard of Oz" trees would really defend themselves by giving poor Dorothy a tummy ache Pardon me a moment while I apologize to enforcers of precise ... Read more
The Ask a Science Blogger question of the week asks if organic foods are really worth the hype. I'm afraid my answer can't fit into one blog post. Let me start by telling you about my garden. i-3008345f8680c3660165cbe38bfbe739-cat.jpgThis year my garden has been a home to local wildlife, but during the years that I do garden, I have a semi-organic garden. I don't use any pesticides but I do occasionally break down and ... Read more
i-1b1eed7059f467a3112cb1b7920b3402-flower.gifA long time ago, I saw a Star Trek episode where the crew encountered aliens who lived at a different frequency. I may have this backwards, but I think the aliens moved so quickly that no one knew they were there. And until problems struck, our heroes were happily oblivious to the existence of the others. The Plants In ... Read more

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