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How the Leaf got its Shape

Leaves begin their lives as a tiny rounded ‘peg’- an outgrowth of a cluster of just a few cells. Yet as they grow, they develop not only in size, but also in shape. The result: a huge and beautiful diversity of foliage structures, with differences seen from species to species, within a single plant as it ages, or in response to the surrounding environment.

So why exactly do leaves look like they do?

It all comes down to light, water, wind warmth..… Read more

Werewolf roots

This werewolf didn’t come into being like the werewolves of other stories do. There wasn’t a bite, a fever, or rapidly sprouting knuckle-hairs. There wasn’t a dark night or a full moon or the howling call of the wild.

But there were scientists. And there may have been some mutagenic substances.… Read more

Promoting defence from all sides

These promoters are pretty much the genetic version of Darth Maul’s double sided light saber.

Today we’re talking about bidirectional promoters, another amazing feature invented by nature, and now ready to be used by scientists in the quest to understand and manipulate plants!… Read more

There’s no such thing as Mar-Can’t-ia

If you were as much of a plant-loving biology nerd as I was, you might still have some vague memories of plant classification systems rattling around from high school times. You known, the kind stuff that clusters with ‘useful’ memories of songs you learnt in grade three about environmentalism, the school motto, and your locker combination.… Read more

Boy hormones make Plants Pink

Today, bucking the bizarre cultural trend of colour coding our children in blue for boys and pink for girls, we bring you a story about boy hormones that make plants blush pink. … Read more

See-through Soil

Observing plant growth relies in many ways on actually being able to see the plant parts you’re interested in. The aerial tissue, the bits growing above ground, are easy enough to view. It’s no issue to count leaves or fruit, describe the colour of a flower, or studiously note the branching architecture of the stems. But when it comes to the roots- those underground organs that have such an important role in defining the water and nutrients available to the organism, it gets a bit trickier.… Read more

GMOnstera? Would you keep a GMO houseplant?*

*If it actually helped reduce air pollutants?

There’s a lot of talk on the internet about the ability of certain houseplants to clean ‘toxins’ out of the air. Take a deep dive into Pinterest, and you’ll see hundreds of pictures suggesting the best ‘pollutant purifier plants’. Unfortunately, so far, the scientific evidence for our chlorophyllous friends actually cleaning is pretty scant. But what if plants could be genetically modified to improve them in this manner?… Read more

Plants v. lasers: remarkable root regeneration

Plants are better than you.

They’re better at fixing carbon (hello photosynthesis). They’re better at attracting bees. They’re generally just a whole lot prettier than you, even this guy And, relevant for today’s post, they’re better than you at surviving laser attacks… providing that the lasers only damage a few cells at a time, and the plants get given a somewhat long time to recover between each shot.… Read more