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”


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