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Plant & zo

The science of plants and more


Gene editing via grafting

Gene editing via grafting Something we cannot ignore is our need for better plants. Plants that can deal better with extremes, like drought, heat, or salt. Plants that are better protected against pests. That have a higher yield. That are more nutritious. A whole shopping list. And rather yesterday than today. Techniques like gene editing…

Arrested development

Arrested development Plants procreate through a double fertilization. They don’t get twins, only one of the two sperm cells fertilizes an egg cell. The second sperm cell is needed for the fertilization of the central cell. To form the endosperm, tissue that supports the developing embryo in its growth and germination. Giving the endosperm an…

Keeping the balance when submerged

Keeping the balance when submerged Plants, just like animals and humans need oxygen to survive. Normally this is no problem. As a by-product of photosynthesis, oxygen is freely available. But by flooding a plant is under water, no photosynthesis can take place resulting in a lack of oxygen. To survive such a submergence, plants switch…

Working together

Working together The first thing a seedling does, after its germination, is growing upwards. To get above the ground into the sunlight. A seedling gets there not so much through cell division, but through stretching itself. Researchers know that this is regulated by the plant hormones auxin and brassinosteroid. But how these two growth-managers work…

Resistance to witchweed

Resistance to witchweed Weeds are unwanted. Often, easy removed by hoeing. But it is a different story when weeds are parasitising a plant. Striga is one of these parasitising weeds. It is a real pest in sub-Sahara Africa. It parasitises crops like maize, rice, and sorghum. And it gets its nickname ‘witchweed’ from the ability…

Ghost plants

Ghost plants Plants and the colour green are inseparable connected. Plants are green due to their chlorophyl, the small organelles where photosynthesis takes place. Still there are plants that, irrespective of the advantages of making your own energy, chose to chuck their chlorophyl out. Without chlorophyl these plants have a ghostly appearance and get their…

New plants

New plants Plants reproduce through pollination. But they can do it also without. For example, can you multiply plants via cuttings. The cuttings are a clone of the mother plant. You can also do this on a much smaller scale. Take mature cells, from for example a leaf, and grow them on culture media and…

Only supple cells may stretch

Only supple cells may stretch Growth, through making more cells. Or through stretching the cells. Or maybe through something that is a bit in between, what makes it possible for the cells to get even bigger. Endoreplication: the multiplication of the DNA without a cell division following.  You would expect that the more DNA copies…

Birth of a gene

Birth of a gene A gene, one that does something new, that has a different expression, often emerges from an old, already existing gene. Through duplication, through the shuffling of domains, through mutations. But not out of nothing. That what is often the believed. May be a mystery how genes emerged in the first place,…

Getting it just right

Getting it just right Plants can’t change place when their environment changes. Whether it is warm or cold, wet or dry, all a plant can do is adapt. One of the things it adapts is the size of its flowers. German researchers found out that under warm conditions the flowers are smaller than under cold…

Old leaves first

Old leaves first Sometimes it rains a lot, or there is a flooding, and before you know it a plant is submerged. Not the end of the world, as long as it doesn’t last long. But when it does, then one by one the leaves of the plant will die. Starting with the oldest. Dutch…

Don’t touch me

Don’t touch me Plants are most often not recognised for their speed. Their reaction is often hardly visible with the naked eye, to see them moving you really need some patience. But as always there are some exceptions. Those that react quickly. To catch insects. Or to scare them away. They do that without a…

New leads

New leads Sometimes you will need new leads. Like for the question how the signal from mechanosensitive channels is transferred to the rest of the plant. A research group from the US went searching for those new leads to answer this question. Mechanosensitive channels are membrane proteins which let through a signal after the membrane…

Only welcome during shortage

Only welcome during shortage One of the plants challenges is to find enough nutrients for growth. Especially finding enough nitrogen and phosphate can be challenging. A plant needs a lot of these building blocks. But working together with fungi and bacteria can help to acquire more nitrogen or phosphate. But this partnership comes with a…

Juvenile roots

Juvenile roots Plants, just like humans, go through different life stages. After germination they start off as a seedling, and subsequently grow into a mature plant which, when the circumstances are right, flowers and forms seeds. These phases are good to distinguish for the above ground part of the plant. And we know how a…

Shape shifting RNA

Shape shifting RNA For lots of plants it is important to know when it is winter, and when winter is gone. They adjust their growth accordingly. Plants, for example, often flower only after they have gone through a period of cold. We know lost about how plants are regulating this. But how plants perceive cold…

Manipulative intruders

Manipulative intruders Pathogens are shrewd operators while entering a plant and stealing its nutrients. They use proteins that manipulate the plant, preventing it from noticing the intruders. Most of them work hard to repress the plant’s immune response. So that it cannot raise the alarm. But this turned out not to be true for the…

Selecting fungi

Selecting fungi We all carry our own micro-organisms with us, plants also. The communities that these micro-organisms form contribute to keeping the plant healthy. For example, micro-organisms can collaborate with a plant, exchanging nutrients for sugars, helping the plant grow. Or micro-organisms can produce substances that make the plant less attractive for herbivores. And they…

How to do both

How to do both Sometimes there are things by which you think; how? So are there for example gen-on switches in plants that turns on a gene when there are only few of them but turn off the same gene when they are with many. Contradictory you would say. The logical expectation would be that…

Fast Breeding

Fast Breeding Crops that can survive the heat, and drought. That are nutritious, but also resistant against pests and diseases. A whole list of wishes. Preferably ready by today, and if that is not possible then by tomorrow, but no later. Hooked as we are to the quick fulfilment of our desires and wishes. Forgetting…

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