Plant & zo

The science of plants and more

Natural variation in the wild

Natural variation in the wild In general, researchers want to have as much control over their experiments as possible. This helps to say with certainty that the effect they see is due to the treatment they gave. The more variation during experiments, the less certain they are they can point to the cause of theContinue reading “Natural variation in the wild”

Germinating with FLOE1

Germinating with FLOE1 Cool, that is what you can call the latest research in seed germination. Researchers found that when water is taken up by a seed, a prion-like protein is separating itself, in a kind of gel, from the rest of the cell. Seeds have the remarkable property that they can survive long periods,Continue reading “Germinating with FLOE1”

Searching for light

Searching for light After germinating, the plant searches its way to the light. There it can start photosynthesis to obtain sugars, energy. To find light the plant stretches its hypocotyl, the part of the stem between the root and the embryogenic leaves, as far as it can. This is enabled by energy that is storedContinue reading “Searching for light”

Natural insecticide

Natural insecticide Plants have an arsenal of weapons to deal with insects. Think, releasing for the insect unpalatable smells, or maybe smells that attract predator insects that eat the plant eating ones. But also think, releasing a, for insects, deadly toxin. This all makes sure that a plant will survive a plague of hungry insects.Continue reading “Natural insecticide”

Light lets plants breathe

Light lets plants breathe Researchers from Singapore discovered how light lets plants breathe. Plants breathe using stomata, these are special cells located on the underside of the leaf. In contrast to normal plant cells, these cells are not connected to each other with a cell wall. This is creating a pore through which air canContinue reading “Light lets plants breathe”

Evening and morning plants

Evening and morning plants Just like people, plants have a biological clock. This helps plants to recognise when it is morning and when the evening starts. The biological clock consists, just like our analogue timepiece, through an ingenious radar work of interconnecting feedback loops. These are self-correcting so that not every passing cloud is signallingContinue reading “Evening and morning plants”

Clean slate

Clean slate Every year again, a plant makes sure it flowers under ideal circumstances. Is the plant mature, is the temperature right, are there enough nutrients, all points to consider. Including, the question, is there enough time to set seed and develop fruits after pollination. To figure out the ideal moment, a plant makes useContinue reading “Clean slate”

Under pressure

Under pressure Not only do roots anker the plant to the ground, they also actively search for water and nutrients. In their search they come across a range of obstacles. Think about stones and other roots, but also more densely packed patches of soil. They grow gently around or through these. During growth the tipContinue reading “Under pressure”

Quick plants

Quick plants One, two, gotcha, that one is not going anywhere. Who wants to catch flies needs to be super quick, like Venus flytrap. A real hunter, this plant. Where most plants are preyed by hungry insects, is this meat-eater eating them. This makes Venus flytrap already an exception within plants. Another difference, most plantsContinue reading “Quick plants”

Regulating enzymes

Regulating enzymes Regulation can happen in many ways. For metabolic pathways three main regulatory mechanisms can be distinguished. A) The production of its enzymes, B) the degradation of these enzymes and C) regulating the activity of these enzymes. Where the regulation through the production and degradation of enzymes is crude and imprecise, regulation through regulatingContinue reading “Regulating enzymes”

The art of bending

The art of bending How to bend, or more precisely, how do plants bend? This was the question Baral and his colleagues set to answer. The bending of plants occurs as a result of many stimuli, such as wind, the search of nutrients, or obstacles. These can all occur at various stages of plant development.Continue reading “The art of bending”

Pollinated by roaches

Pollinated by roaches Thinking about the pollination of flowers most of us generally assume bees do all the hard work. While bees are busy as bees pollinating flowers, they are hardly the only ones recruited for the job. Loads of other insects are helping out, with bats and hummingbirds also part of the pollination workforce. AContinue reading “Pollinated by roaches”

PLC sandwich

PLC sandwich Another genius bit of biological design comes from the enzyme PLC. PLC is a phospholipase whose job it is to cleave of the headgroup of PI(4,5)P2, a membrane lipid. Like tethering proteins, PLCs are made up out of a couple of domains. At its core there are three domains. There is the catalyticContinue reading “PLC sandwich”

Tethered to science

Tethered to science For a long while I haven’t posted anything, being too tired and work got in the way. Then after combing back from a conference and a break late February, full of ideas but no energy to work them out, I turned to my GP.  There I was told I was overworked, warnedContinue reading “Tethered to science”

Plasticity in phloem development

Plasticity in phloem development Last week at a symposium, we were reminded by Antia Rodriguez-Villalon that in plants organogenesis does not stop after germination. In fact, plants keep producing new organs through their lives. While most of us think by organ formation in plants first about leaves or flowers, Antia Rodriguez-Villalon work actually focusses onContinue reading “Plasticity in phloem development”

Leaf shape development

Leaf shape development On of the things that intrigues me most in biology is the development of organisms. How does that single cell that is just fertilised knows what to do. To get its polarity established, initiate cell division at the right time, place and direction. What makes it go on developing into recognisable plantContinue reading “Leaf shape development”

Giving a talk

Giving a talk When preparing to give a talk about your work you always need to make lots of decisions. One is about the amount of background vs results. Ideally you would like to have lots of time to discuss your new results, but for the audience to place them into context, or to understandContinue reading “Giving a talk”

What makes a binding domain

What makes a binding domain One of the projects that I am busy with at the moment is writing a review about phosphoinositide binding domains. Preparing for that I have been reading old reviews on the same topic. One thing that I noticed was that some domains which have shown to bind phosphoinositides, like theContinue reading “What makes a binding domain”

Context is everything

Context is everything I have been reading a ton of articles lately, in order to get a better grip on phosphoinositide-binding proteins. Slowly, this made me realise that how we present our findings is important. Of course a well written article is easier to read than one that is not. But the order we presentContinue reading “Context is everything”

How plants avoid salt

How plants avoid salt Plants don’t like high salt levels in their cells. They do therefore everything they can to avoid this. As mentioned in earlier posts plants have a number of strategies for this. However, the best strategy is not taking up to much salt in the first place. Being sensitive to salts, plantsContinue reading “How plants avoid salt”

Work in progress

Work in progress This last week I have been busy with organising my results and preparing them for a presentation that I gave for some of our department. And although I have made some progress with my project since I started it, the presentation I gave highlighted the lack of useful progress during the lastContinue reading “Work in progress”

The sensing of salt

The sensing of salt How  plants sense salt has at last been deciphered by the group of Zhen-Ming Pei. For their last publication in Nature they went on the hunt for mutants that did not show salt induced Ca2+ spikes. This resulted in the identification of a mutant they named moca1 for monocation-induced [Ca2+]i increasesContinue reading “The sensing of salt”

Great talk about Cross-kingdom RNAi by Hailing Jin

Great talk about Cross-kingdom RNAi by Hailing Jin Last week we were treated by a fantastic seminar from Hailing Jin from the University of California. In the over-airconditioned seminar room we quickly forgot about the cold while she introduced us in the world of cross-kingdom RNAi and small RNA trafficking between plants and fungal pathogens.Continue reading “Great talk about Cross-kingdom RNAi by Hailing Jin”

A case of plant blindness

A case of plant blindness Most scientist working on plants would have noticed at some time that plants are ignored by a lot of other life science researchers. Sometimes it will be during a talk whereby the presenter say something along the line ‘in all eukaryotes we have gene family X’ while you know geneContinue reading “A case of plant blindness”

Plants and salt stress

Plants and salt stress The research project that I am doing at the moment is focussing on identifying lipid protein interactions under abiotic stress conditions like salt and heat stress. Hence I am reading about salt stress to get an idea about how my study fits in the bigger picture that we have about howContinue reading “Plants and salt stress”

Resurection number …

Resurection number … Another attempt to resurrect this blog. This time born out of a desire to get better in science writing as well as wanting to tell the wider world about the fascinating aspects of plant science. The realisation that I actually like reading and writing about science more than actually doing the experimentsContinue reading “Resurection number …”

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