Plant Genome Biology Botany Genetics 

Genome Revelations: How Green Plants Evolved

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) 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…

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Anthropology Biology Botany Chemistry 

Leaf Age Matters for Plant Survival

By Radhika Desikan Does age really matter? For us humans, age seems to be a very sensitive issue relevant to how we live our lives. And while it also matters to plants, it does so at a different level. Some of our tissues, like skin, have cells that are constantly dividing (to replace dead cells) and therefore differ in age, but what defines our age as an organism is not the life span of individual cells in our body, but rather the length of time that has passed since our…

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Biology Botany Physics 

How Do Plants Know Which Way to Grow?

By Shayna Keyles (@shaynakeyles) How do plants know which way is up and which way is down? No matter which way you put a seed in the soil, it will always send its roots down and its shoots up. (Unless you’re in space–we’ll get back to that later.) [tweetthis]Plants can sense light, gravity, and water. So no matter where they are, they can figure out up and down.[/tweetthis] The answer lies in tropism: motion in response to external stimulus. This is pretty amazing, considering that in the traditional sense, plants can’t…

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Biology Citizen Science Environment 

Strengthening the Endangered Species Act

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Have you ever heard of the Ōlulu plant? What about the vernal pool tadpole shrimp or Fender’s blue butterfly? These are the lesser known species among the almost 1,600 currently listed in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that require long-term intervention strategies to ensure their survival. Despite numerous success stories, it is becoming more difficult to recover species. The ESA is beset by persistent and pervasive threats to species, pressures from climate change, uneven distribution of funding among species, and a rapidly growing list of species…

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autumn leaves Biology Nature Photography 

Autumn Leaves: Last, Loveliest Smile

By Steven Spence Going Out in a Blaze of Glory Autumn … the year’s last, loveliest smile. (William Cullen Bryant) Fall is my favorite season for many reasons, but foremost among them is the joy I feel when surrounded by thousands of patches of light in a cacophony of colors all rustling in the wind. There are only a few special weeks each year to enjoy this transition from the searing heat of summer to winter’s icy grip. Whenever something captivates my imagination (or optic nerves) I want to learn…

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