Life in the litterbox

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. And when life gives you kitty litter, you make… a new affordable growth system that could make it easier to broaden our understanding of plant-microbe interactions!… Read more

Fungal Juice- Keeping Science Simple

In order to help our favourite lab plants and microorganisms grow fast and strong, we aim to provide them with the conditions and nutrients they need. To do so, we often rely on media mixes that are both complex and expensive to make. Now, researchers show that an important fungus species, that acts as a model for plant-fungal symbiosis, can be grown better than before on a very simple diet that contains just two ingredients. And one of them can be found at your local store.Read more

Moss of the desert

aka- ‘Making the moss’t of the rain’

Syntrichia caninervis is a moss. Personally, when I think of mosses, I mostly tend to picture them clinging to the moist side of a tree, or snuggling in amongst the undergrowth. You know, kind of damp and earthy places.

But unlike whatever-that-moss-that-is-growing-all-over-my-back-patio-is, Syntrichia caninervis is not found primarily in a overwatered and underloved boggy English garden. Instead, it’s found across the North – including the the Mojave desert in the US, and the Gurbantünggüt Desert of Northwestern China.… Read more

Appreciating the Sun

According to the ever-wise wikipedia, today- the second Friday of March- is ‘Solar Appreciation Day’.

There doesn’t seems to be much information about this one around, beyond the fact that the day is suppose to highlight the possibility of using Solar energy, and other renewable energy sources, to power this planet. Which generally seems like a pretty good idea.

Of course, we tend to be a little obsessive with our own planty narrative, so when we think of appreciating the sun, we tend to go straight back to our green friends.… Read more

Welcome to my mucilage-filled cavities

The other day, while reading about the newly-published genome for the hornwort species Anthoceros angustus, I came across the most delightful of all descriptions: ‘mucilage-filled cavities’.

I had to find out more.… Read more

Rhinoceros and Anthoceros are two very different things

If you had asked me two weeks ago how to pronounce Anthoceros, I would have confidently (or, as confident as I ever am with these naming things) replied: AnthoCERos. Hard push on the ‘cer’.

But if Anthoceros means ‘flower horn’, and has the same etymological roots as the ‘nose horned’ Rhinoceros, well then, shouldn’t I be pronouncing it AnTHOceros?

While the recently published Anthoceros genome didn’t manage to answer this question for me, it did touch on some other cool facts about this long-neglected group of plant.… Read more

Faced with fire- how some plants beat the burn

We’ve been thinking a lot about the Australian bushfires recently.

In case you’ve missed it, the 2019-2020 fire season in Australia has been absolutely catastrophic, with nearly 18 million hectares burned. Hand-in-hand with this horror, is the loss of houses and infrastructure, native animals and plant biodiversity, and even human lives.

But recently, good-news articles have started to appear, celebrating the return of signs of life in Australia’s char-burned bushlands. So today, we wanted to take a break from discussing the fires themselves- which are still ongoing-, and instead look at some of the amazing mechanisms that Australian plants use to beat the burn.… Read more