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Demoralized by pandas

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Have you ever done an experiment for longer than 2 years? How about 12 years? Today, we’re talking about an extermely longterm experiment that might shed light on the origin of eukaryotes. Plus: a ton more…… Read more

You have to be quick to do science on cell defence – really quick

Plants form relationships with bacteria all the time, but these relationships vary a lot. Sometimes, the two are best friends who share nutrients, while at other times they are their worst of enemies. Bacterial infection of plants can cause galls, growths, wilts, spots, speck, scabs, blights and rots. Which not only sounds gross, but can also seriously damage the health of the plant, and the quality of the plant product we humans want to consume (food, fuel, furniture?).

In order to help plants fight the good fight against bacterial invaders, our job as humans is to first understand the current state of the war – how it is that plants use the weapons at hand to defend themselves.… 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

Tangent on a tangent on a tangent

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This is a long episode because we have so much to tell you. Luckily for you, technology has your back. This episode is best consumed through the use of chapter marks, smart playback and 2x playback speed. Unless you really like us, then there is so much more for you to enjoy. … Read more

Algal biofuels have a gassy problem

Following on from Monday’s post, where we delved into the nitrogen cycle, today we’re again talking about gaseous nitrogen. But this time, the story is about nitrous oxide.

You may have heard nitrous oxide called ‘nitrous’ or even ‘laughing gas’ before – the stuff has been used as an anaesthetic since the mid 1800s, and is known from the euphoria it brings to those who inhale it.

But more recently, this simple little gas has gained infamy for something not quite so funny: following carbon dioxide and methane, nitrous oxide is the third most damaging of the greenhouse gases that drive the climate crisis.… Read more

Can Scientists Hack Nitrogen Fixation?

We are surrounded by nitrogen.

The important life processes of photosynthesis and respiration revolve heavily around oxygen and carbon dioxide, but it’s nitrogen gas (N2) that makes up 78% of the air. This actually could be great, both plants and animals also need nitrogen to survive. It’s used in the amino acids that make our proteins, in the nucleic acids DNA and RNA. There’s even a little bit found in chlorophyll.

But that 78% hanging around us in the air just happens to be fixed in an inaccessible form.… Read more


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What are you doing with your life? Are you having a good time? You’re about to because this here is another episode of the best podcast about plants and pipettes you’ll hear all day. This, is plants and pipettes – the podcast.… Read more

The salty structural changes of mRNA

When you think of RNA, you might tend to think of a text-book perfect straight lines of As, Us, Cs and Gs. But the reality is, that within a living cell, RNA dances as a complex structure, full of twirls and loops. And when plants (and presumably other organisms – but this blog is about plants) are challenged with changing conditions, those structures begin to twist and change…… Read more

Stress + Stress = … Stress²

As researchers, stressing plants is one of our favourite tasks. We withhold water, raise and drop the temperature, bring in some bugs, or spray our plants with chemicals. All just to see how they react. Most of the time, we pick a particular type of stress and investigate how plants cope with the situation. But outside of the lab, of course, stresses rarely come alone.

It’s time to investigate combined stresses.… Read more

Tegan is a rubber tree

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Have you heard about division planes in growing leaves? Well, you should have, because we literally talked about this yesterday on the blog. If you’re not doing your homework, I don’t see why we should put in an effort to educate you. Just kidding, we repeat everything that was written yesterday (and more!)… Read more