Cauliflower’s ability to imitate anything from ‘rice’ to ‘wings’, has seen the previously humble veggie rise in power in recent years. Yet while its transformative powers are celebrated by foodies across the world, until now it has remained unclear how the vegetable itself (and its fancy Romanesco variant) evolved from its plainer predecessor – cabbage… Read more
Plants perceive the chemical signals that waft off worms like bad B-O as a sign to hunker down and start preparing their defences.
The fact that nematodes -a type of small slender worm- are the most abundant animals on earth is almost definitely one of my least favourite facts.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an anti-wormer. But you might say I’m a bit of a worm snob – I simply prefer the fancy segmented ‘earthworm’ variety (aka annelids). While earthworms exist in my mind as friendly soil-living earth munchers that are ‘just the right size for a small child to put in its pockets’, I know that nematodes can range from microscopic to over a metre long.… Read more
Plants and herbivorous insects have long struggled in an evolutionary arms race. Now, in the first example of animals thieving plant genes, research shows that sweet potato whiteflies have overcome plant defences by looting the plants’ own genetic arsenal. … Read more
Using the chemicals we bleach our hair with and a little sun we can create a new type of wood that’s (nearly) as clear as glass.
Wood is a rather remarkable material that humans have been using for over a million of years, both for fuel and for the creation of structures. Wood is cheap yet versatile, with low density and light weight, yet high strength, and the ability to be highly insulating. Relevant to modern times, it’s also a renewable resource, and a carbon sink. … Read more