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Trick or treat: plants that beat up bees

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The orchid family, Orchidaceae, contains over 750 genera, yet it is the Catasetum genus that has earned a description from non other than Darwin himself as ‘the most remarkable of all Orchids’. Probably because, while other pollinated plants like to offer their pollinators a treat, Catasetum orchids also bring the trick.… Read more

Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me, Plant Edition

Reading Time: 5 minutes

They’ve been described to “…capture the imagination as such behaviors are unexpected in otherwise often quiescent creatures” and to “…turn plants into aggressors against animals, trapping and devouring them”.

Today, we’re talking about the touch response of plants.… Read more

Muriel Howorth and the Atomic Garden

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In a move that seems almost prescient in understanding the role of mutagenesis in crop improvement and basic biology, a group of ‘Atomic Gardeners’ triumphed the potential for atomic energy to be a force for good, just a few years after the devastation of WWII….… Read more

How the Cucumber got its Curve

Reading Time: 4 minutes

One of the stupidest arguments of the past years (and oh, there have been some strong contenders!), was the debate about the EU trying to regulate how bendy bananas were. Today we discuss a much more rational question: how the cucumber got its curve.

Trust us guys, there’s barely any politics in there!… Read more

Penguin Poop is Pink

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Penguin poop, as it turns out is pink.

And I need you all to know that – despite what several sources might say- the reason it’s pink, isn’t because of the krill (little sea crustaceans) that they eat.… Read more

Faking Sick

Reading Time: 4 minutes

You may have stared lovingly at a variegated Monstera, asking yourself if there will ever be a day when you can afford such beauty… but have you ever wondered why that beauty even exists? In a study that involves – of all things – white-out (Tipp-Ex), scientists find a link between patterns of white cells of plant leaves, and a desire to avoid herbivores. … Read more

When Chloroplasts go GIANT

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In 2007, Chiou-Rong Sheue and colleagues published the discovery of a new type of chloroplast, called the bizonoplast. The bizonoplasts found deep within the cells of the spikemoss Selaginella erythropus was unique among its chloroplast kind in several ways. … Read more

Twice As Bright as Sunlight

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In 2013, a new species of algae emerged from the sand crusts of Israel’s Negev desert (or, that is to say, the existence of the species was published).  In an environment where the sunlight beats down with fierce intensity, where temperatures reach 60 degrees on a hot summer’s day yet plunge to subfreezing on winter’s night, and where water comes and goes in quick succession, few species can survive. Yet a mix of desert extremophiles make their home where others would perish. … Read more

How to deal with stress

Reading Time: 6 minutes

When plants get stressed it tends to slow them down. Drought stress – one of the most common causes of losses in crop productivity – can result in wilting, reduce growth, and ultimately, death. And the Climate Crisis means that drought risk is already increasing.

A study by Min May Wong and colleagues, published last year, reveals new key elements that help plants respond to drought, which may have implications for the productivity of plants, in both the good times and the bad.Read more

Behold, my brilliant blue fat globules!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Despite this planet we live on being largely blue, when it comes to plants, we don’t see a lot of the colour. Violets are blue, sure, as are blueberries (it’s right there in the name). But roses are red, and daisies are yellow, and the leafy bits of plants, for the most part – tend to be green. Blue, as it happens, is just not the easiest colour for plants to make. So most of them simply don’t bother.… Read more