Botany Ecology Environment 

An Evolutionary Approach to Conserving Plant Habitats

By Mackenzie Myers (@thetiniestnail) To conserve plant habitats, a traditional approach to biodiversity—species richness, or saving as many species as possible—might not be the most effective route. Instead, vulnerable landscapes might be better served by a quality-over-quantity mindset, a recent paper from a team of UC Berkeley scientists suggests. Think of going into a grocery store. On a budget and with limited cooking time, shoppers probably don’t buy the first dozen random ingredients they see on the shelf. Rather, they find it more practical to shop deliberately, perhaps by looking…

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Biology Botany 

Plants Communicate with Neighbors in Response to Touch

By Radhika Desikan How well do you and your neighbour know each other? Chances are, very little these days. But some living things, including plants, know their neighbours well. According to new research, it appears that what one plant “feels” can also be sensed by its neighbouring plant. Isn’t that remarkable? It is a fact of life that plants do not move from one place to another. Therefore plants, unlike humans, cannot move away from any impending danger, be it a herbivore, a disease-causing microbe, or even the cold and…

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Biology Botany Chemistry 

To Grow or Not to Grow? Bacteria Make Seeds Think!

By Radhika Desikan A seed is the beginning of new life for most flowering plants. It has all the potential to develop into a new plant, with its own stored food used for germination (the sprouting of a seed). However, if you have done any gardening, you might know that not all seeds always germinate. Whether or not a seed grows into a plant is determined by a number of factors, such as the presence of oxygen, water, and the right temperature. Seeds have a remarkable ability to detect whether…

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Maize Biology Botany 

Do We Really Need Fertilizers To Grow Crops?

Plants need nitrogen, and many plants depend on fertilizers to get enough. But scientists have been growing plants without fertilizers. By Radhika Desikan We all learn that plants can make their own food via a complex process called photosynthesis. However, to make their food, and to grow properly, plants need nutrients (chemicals) such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium from the soil. Although these chemicals are naturally present in most soils, years of intensive farming have depleted soils of these nutrients. As a result, humans have resorted to using artificial…

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Citizen Scientists Invited to Identify Plants Botany Citizen Science 

Citizen Scientists Invited to Identify Plants

By Kate Stone @GotScienceOrg [email protected] is a citizen science project and an app that helps you identify plants, thanks to the camera of your smartphone. The app recognizes more than 13,000 species around the world. We recently spoke with Rémi Knaff, community manager for the project, about plant identification and citizen science. GotScience: Who can use this plant identification tool? Knaff: The app can be used by anyone who is interested in plants or wants to be part of a citizen science project. The app uses crowdsourced data to give…

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ivy Biology 

Ivy League Climber

By Mark Lasbury, MS, MSEd, PhD @Biologuy1 Wrigley Field is the venerable 1914 baseball stadium on Chicago’s north side. One of its most characteristic features is the ivy-covered outfield wall that occasionally swallows a hit ball, never to be seen again—a ground rule double. [tweetthis twitter_handles=”@Biologuy1″]Does ivy stick to a wall or grab it, and will it destroy the wall?[/tweetthis] The vines on the outfield wall at Wrigley Field are actually Boston ivy and Japanese bittersweet. English Ivy would have a tough time with Chicago winters, just like everyone else.…

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