Parasitic plant: Dodder (Cuscutta) Photo by BCGX via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0) Biology Botany 

Parasitic Plant Has Edge in Evolutionary Arms Race

By Cameron Duke (@DukeofCam) The relationship between a parasite and its host can be a contentious one. Their interests are in direct conflict with one another, so each is always trying to circumvent the other’s plan. This is often thought of as an evolutionary “arms race.” In this ongoing competition, a parasite evolves a more efficient way to prey on the host, and the host adapts in response. These successive adaptations can lead to complex life cycles and intimate species-specific relationships.  New research out of Penn State, conducted by Michael…

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Plant Genome Biology Botany Genetics and Heredity 

Genome Revelations: How Green Plants Evolved

By Jacqueline Mattos Plants are ancestral organisms that have evolved over millions of years, leading to the broad diversity we see today. Green plants evolved from a common ancestor into approximately 450,000–500,000 species today. There are many gaps in understanding of their diversification that scientists still struggle to fill. In a recent paper published in Nature, researchers from the One Thousand Plant Transcriptomes Initiative reviewed and analyzed genomic data from 1,124 plant species and provided the most complete evolutionary relationship tree for green plants to date. Genomes, transcriptomes, and phylogenetics…

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Biology Botany 

Bananas, Panama Disease, and You

By Radhika Desikan Bananas are a ubiquitous fruit that generally appeals to humans of all ages, from infants to older people. But did you know that our consumption of bananas might be reduced in the future, due to a devastating disease that is hitting the crop worldwide? Panama disease of bananas is a hugely devastating plant disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc). It was originally discovered in the late 19th century, but spread globally in the early 20th century, when the disease wiped out a…

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Biology Botany 

Steroid Hormones Protect Cotton from Drought

By Radhika Desikan As you are reading this, chances are that you are wearing something made of cotton, or have come in contact with some cotton fabric today. Cotton accounts for nearly half of all clothing material in the world. Cotton plants date back to prehistoric times; there is evidence of cotton farming from around 5000 BC in the Indian subcontinent. Cotton fabric is made of cotton fibres, which grow in the protective cases (bolls) around the seeds of the cotton plant (Gossypium hirsutum). However, it is not just the…

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