First Things First: Moths Evolved Receptors For Plant Fragrance Before And Then Learned To Use Them Find Mates

The researchers studied the leaf miner moth, Eriocrania semipurpurella, and found that this primitive species was likely able to find its host plant, birch, with the help of plant odourant receptors located on its antennae. Subsequently, the receptors of this species evolved a novel function to sense the sex pheromones of a moth of the opposite sex. (Click on title for full story.)

Removing Invasive Plant Species Alone May Not Restore Native Plant Communities

Native plants need a helping hand if they are to recover from invasive rhododendron, Scottish ecologists have discovered. A new study in the Journal of Applied Ecology reveals that – even at sites cleared of rhododendron 30 years ago – much native flora has still not returned. As a result, rhododendron eradication programmes may need to be supplemented by reseeding for the original plant community to re-establish. (Click on title for full story.)

Botany Prevents Dangerous Bird Strikes At Airports

Pigeons are potentially the most dangerous bird when it comes to plane strikes, so staff knew they needed a plan. A botanist was brought in to take a closer look at the airport’s vegetation. The team matched certain plants and seeds with what they found in dead birds. Using certain herbicides and other treatments, they were soon able to drastically reduce the tasty vegetation. (Click on title for full story.)

Your Next Car May Be Made Out Of Trees

Using plants and trees to make products such as paper or ethanol leaves behind a residue called lignin, a component of plant cell walls. That leftover lignin isn’t good for much and often gets burned or tossed into landfills. Now, researchers report transforming lignin into carbon fiber to produce a lower-cost material strong enough to build car or aircraft parts. (Click on title for full story.)

Plants Outrun Pests In Defenses Competition

The results call into question some of the patterns suggested by the current paradigm for plant-herbivore coevolution. The authors propose an alternative hypothesis; while plant defenses may evolve rapidly due to selection by herbivores, herbivores may evolve more slowly. Herbivores tend to maintain the same adaptations for the species of plants that they can consume. Rather than evolve new traits, herbivores may “chase,” track, or switch hosts based on host defenses. (Click on title for full story.)

Dense Tree Plantings Along Roads Increase Levels Of Harmful Pollutants

More trees mean cleaner air, right? Not necessarily, suggests a new study looking at the wooded areas next to roadways. Instead, lines of trees known as “greenbelts” might actually trap a common pollutant from vehicle exhaust—nitrogen dioxide (NO2)—boosting on-the-ground levels of the gas up to 21%. That could make breathing hard for bikers and pedestrians with asthma or other respiratory diseases. (Click on title for full story.)

How 1,000 Truckloads Of Orange Peels Turned Barren Land Into A Rich Carbon-Sequestering Forest

This story, which involves a contentious lawsuit, showcases the unique power of agricultural waste to not only regenerate a forest but also to sequester a significant amount of carbon at no cost. (Click on title for full story.)

Flowers Distract Herbivores With Nectar To Protect Reproductive Parts

Nectar, the high-energy ‘honey’ produced by flowers, might be a brilliant distraction technique to help protect a flower’s reproductive parts, according to new research. Rather than merely providing a ‘come-on’ to bees and other insects to attract them to pollinate the flower, nectar could be playing a much more subtle and entrancing role. (Click on title for full story.)

The Long Storied History Of Citrus Arriving In The West

Lemons were the acai bowls of the ancient Romans — prized by the privileged because they were rare, and treasured for their healing powers. In fact, this coveted fruit, as well as the citron, were the only citrus fruits known in the ancient Mediterranean — it took centuries for other fruits, such as oranges, limes and pomelos to spread westward from their native Southeast Asia, a new study finds. (Click on title for full story.)

New Drug Promise: Common Desert Shrub Produces Powerful Anti-Parasite Chemicals

Compounds produced by the creosote bush, a desert plant common to the Southwestern United States, exhibit potent anti-parasitic activity against the protozoa responsible for giardia infections and an amoeba that causes an often-lethal form of encephalitis. (Click on title for full story.)