No Blue Colour in Bluest Berries

The fruits of a shrub named Lantana strigocamara have a distinct blue colour with a metallic sheen.  Scientists at University of Colorado, Boulder, have studied these to find out where the blue colour comes from and found it is not from any blue pigment.  The berry-like fruits have a complex structure of lipid droplets in […]

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Giant Water Liliy

Giant Leaf Mechanics

A group of scientists from UK, USA and France have studied the structure of the leaves of the giant Amazonian water lily to see how the leaves can grow so large without becoming too massive for the plant to maintain.  The leaves are the largest floating leaves in the world and can grow up to […]

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Mushrooms on Forest Floor

Slugs Ferry Fungal Spores.

Fungi are important for breaking down leaf litter and wood debris in forests, and some form symbiotic relationships with trees and shrubs, which helps nourish both the trees and the fungi.  Mushrooms and other visible fungi are the fruiting bodies, or reproductive structures, of fungi that live in the ground.  They release spores into the […]

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Deschampsia

Antarctic Flowering Plants “a Climate Warning”

Scientists from Italy and UK have been studying the plants on Signy Island, a small island near Antarctica. They found two native flowering plants named Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis have increased their growth rate and range of habitation over the past decade. They are low growing grasses that grow in clumps on an otherwise […]

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Aquilegia

Hopeful Monster Flowers 

Darwin proposed that evolutionary changes occur by a long series of small incremental changes over long periods of time.  Six decades later Richard Goldschmidt proposed that evolution happened by sudden large changes resulting in new organisms with new structures and functions, which he called “hopeful monsters”.  A group of evolutionary biologists at University of California […]

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Flowers and Buds

Darwin’s Abominable Mystery Solved Yet Again

Scientists have found a fossil plant with leaves, a fruit and a flower bud in rocks from Inner Mongolia. These are distinctive features of angiosperms, the scientific term for flowering plants. The fossil plant has been named Florigerminis jurassica and is one of the oldest dated flowering plants found so far. The fossil is dated […]

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Forest Floor

Birds Go Truffling

Truffles are underground fruiting bodies, i.e. reproductive structures, of fungi that live in a symbiotic relationship with trees. They have been described as underground mushrooms. They produce spores, but unlike mushrooms and toadstools they cannot release them into the air in order to be dispersed to a new location, where they can grow. Therefore, truffles […]

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Seagrass

Seagrass Symbiosis

Seagrasses are not seaweed. They are flowering plants, just like grasses that grow on land, but they grow on the sea beds in shallow coastal waters, and form an important food source and habitat for many sea creatures. Like land plants they need a good supply of nitrogen to grow well, and plants can usually […]

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Macadamia Nuts

Why Are Nuts Hard to Crack?

Why are nuts hard to crack? This question is answered in reports in Science (AAAS) News, 10 August 2021, Royal Society Open Science 11 August 2021, doi: 10.1098/rsos.210399 and Advanced Materials 20 October 2020, 10.1002/adma.202004519. Over the last few years Notburga Gierlinger, a biophysicist at University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, and colleagues […]

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Hitchhiking Microbes Protect Plants and People

Hitchhiking microbes protect plants and people, according to articles in Science (AAAS) News 22 March 2021, and The ISME Journal, 15 March 2021. Doi 10.1038/s41396-021-00952-8.  Soil dwelling bacteria known Streptomyces are known to colonise plant roots and protect plants from damage by other microbes by producing antibiotics.  Many of these antibiotics are also used in […]

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