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
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
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
Usually, we aim for scientific accuracy and rather neutral representation of current research. Sometimes, however, we like to give you our honest opinion on new trends or technologies. This week, Joram shares his view on vertical farming.… Read more
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
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
You’ll often hear that proteins are the ‘doers’ of the cell: DNA stores and passes information across generations, RNA is a messenger middle-man, but protein is where the action’s at.
Well, let me tell you that this is overly-simplified pro-protein propaganda (although maybe because my heart belongs to RNA). Because while proteins can do things, they often need a bit of help. Just because a protein is ‘there’, doesn’t mean that it’s active. Many proteins need to be literally chaperoned into the right 3-D structure, require other co-factors to do their job (like minerals and pigments), or only work when they’re part of a multi-protein complex.… Read more
Recent reports have revealed the alarming ability of microplastics to accumulate in fish and other sea creatures, with the ultimate fear being that these plastics might end up on human plates. They may also accumulate within the tissue of some plants, as further shown by two recent studies.… Read more
Think about any crop plant and what of it is important to you. You might say taste, fruit size, yield per acre – but would you consider plant height? Maybe you should! Researchers have discovered two new genes that react to flooding and control the height of rice plants – so that they don’t drown.… Read more
Alternative Title: You’re not a real hipster unless you drink Coffea stenophylla (but you can still be in our club if you choose C. affinis.)
Coffee. It’s a hot beverage on a cold day, a quick wake-me-up drug to help you through that morning meeting, and a multibillion dollar industry which involves over 100 million people at the farming stage alone.
Today, we tell the story of two missing coffee species – how they were lost, how they were found again, and what the future might hold for their survival, and that of one of world’s favourite hot beverages.… Read more