Gardeners and Nature lovers already appreciate the botanical wonders around us, but plants are more than floral beauties. We owe the air we breathe to them, all of our food, and most of our medicine, chemicals and housing. Animals from elephants to ants depend on plant-life. And the world's flora has an equally intimate relationship with the birds, insects, mammals and humans around them. Explore these relationships and find the latest botany discoveries through the links below. Check out the categories in the menu or try the search using the magnifying glass above.
0213001849

Migrating Birds May Save Plants From Climate Change

This mechanism of long-distance dispersion had not been confirmed until now, mainly due to the difficulty involved in sampling propagules transported by birds during their migratory flight. We were able to analyse it thanks to the hunting behaviour of Eleonora’s falcons. (Click on title for full story.)

0213001849

As Climate Changes, A New Threat To Forests: Our Coffee Lust

The future demand for coffee and the impacts of climate change have the potential to make coffee production a future driver of deforestation, which could threaten the last remaining intact tropical forests and the services they provide: carbon storage, provision of fresh water, and biodiversity that aids in food provision. (Click on title for full story.)

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How Does A Fungus Evade A Plant’s Defenses? Trickery!

Like other pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, fungus manipulates its host not to be attacked by their immune system. To do this, invading microorganisms have developed a special type of molecules called effectors that attach directly on the body attacked, making it believe that is part of its plant. In an experimental work in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), the researchers found that the plant does not recognize the fungus as foreign, employing similar effector RALF whose genetic sequence shares with the plant genetics (Click on title for full story.)

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How Potatoes Held Civilizations Back

It’s not that grains crops were much easier to grow than tubers, or that they provided more food, the economists say. Instead, the economists believe that grains crops transformed the politics of the societies that grew them, while tubers held them back. (Click on title for full story.)

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Slugs And Snails Avoid Plants They Consider Stinky

Slugs and snails are two of the key pests threatening crop production, and they can be particularly damaging to seedlings, since they cannot regrow in ways that older plants can. But common prevention methods – such as slug pellets – can have a major environmental impact, and finding ways to protect young crops without causing lasting pollution is a major challenge. But with our research demonstrating the olfactory preferences of molluscs, harnessing these naturally produced chemicals could provide a potential solution without the environmental problems. (Click on title for full story.)

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What Can Still Be Learned From Classical Muslim Botany?

Levey also rightly points out that because of its accumulation of thousands of years of experience, Muslim pharmacology may still contain something of value for modern science. The medicinal properties, particularly of botanicals known to Muslim physicians and apothecaries, deserve great attention. Some important medicinal plants prescribed today have been explored with success, and more remains to be done. He believes that clues to valuable drugs can be found in the early Arabic texts (Click on title for full story.)

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Plant That Bleeds Nectar Unlocks Evolution Of Extrafloral Nectaries

Six years ago, Anke Steppuhn noticed that the bittersweet nightshade, when attacked by slugs and insects in a greenhouse, would bleed. Small droplets would exude from the wounds of its part-eaten leaves. At the same time, Steppuhn and her colleagues saw that the wild plants were often covered in ants. These facts are connected. Steppuhn’s team from the Free University of Berlin, including student Tobias Lortzing, have since discovered that the droplets are a kind of sugary nectar, which the beleagured nightshade uses to summon ants. (Click on title for full story.)

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Trying To Smell Like Caesar: Schoolroom Chemistry And Sleuthing

As part of a larger interdisciplinary chemistry project , my students (aged 14-15) and I decided to do just this: recreate the favourite perfume of Julius Caesar. But how did we even know what it was? Thanks to a fragment of poetry attributed to Caesar (‘Corpusque suavi telino unguimus’, ‘We anoint the body with fragrant telinine ointment’), it is thought to be the unguent telinum. However, finding the recipe is no easy task. (Click on title for full story.)

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Bears May Save Some Plants From Climate Change

Mountain climbing by bears following spring-to-summer plant phenology is likely the cause of this biased seed dispersal. These results suggest that spring- and summer-fruiting plants dispersed by animals may have high potential to escape global warming. Our results also indicate that the direction of vertical seed dispersal can be unexpectedly biased, and highlight the importance of considering seed dispersal direction to understand plant responses to past and future climate change. (Click on title for full story.)

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Plants That Collect Sand Are Less Likely To Get Eaten

Sand entrapment on plant surfaces, termed psammophory or sand armor, is a phylogenetically and geographically widespread trait. The functional significance of this phenomenon has been poorly investigated. Sand and soil are nonnutritive and difficult for herbivores to process, as well as visually identical to the background. We experimentally investigated whether this sand coating physically protected the plant from herbivores or increased crypsis (e.g., decreased apparency to herbivores). (Click on title for full story.)