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

DNA sequencing – The Methods that Made us

Every living thing depends on the information stored in its genetic material. DNA, the code passed down through generations and geological time, defines an organism. Within individual cells, DNA is transcribed into RNA, that is then translated to busy proteins: DNA is the starting block for cellular development and activity!

Furthermore, the genetic information of every being also tells the story of its evolution, its relatives and its adaptation to the environment.

It’s no wonder that scientists longed to decode the secrets of the DNA sequence ever since its discovery. … 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

When this tree is stressed, it becomes female

We all have different strategies to deal with stress. Some resort to excessive day-sleeping, others, like me, empty their sweets cupboard. For the striped maple, the response is even more extreme: when stress becomes too high, it changes its sex to female. … Read more