Store-bought milkweed plants can expose monarch caterpillars to harmful pesticides

Milkweed plants purchased at retail nurseries across the United States were contaminated with pesticides harmful to monarch caterpillars that rely on milkweed. A monarch caterpillar feeds on orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) in Illinois. Credit: Photo by Deborah Seiler, courtesy of University of Nevada, Reno Milkweed plants purchased at retail nurseries across the United States were … Read more

Researchers quantify the amount of energy that plants use to lift water on a global scale

A stand of quaking aspens pump water up to their canopies in southwestern Colorado. Credit: Leander Anderegg Every day, about one quadrillion gallons of water are silently pumped from the ground to the treetops. Earth’s plant life accomplishes this staggering feat using only sunlight. It takes energy to lift all this liquid, but just how … Read more

How the Ice Ages spurred the evolution of New Zealand’s weird and wiry native plants

Credit: Shutterstock/Sebastian Schuster Recent genetic research has shed new light on the long-running debate about the evolutionary origins of some of New Zealand’s quirkiest plants. More than one in ten native trees and shrubs have small leaves spaced far apart on wiry interlaced branches, often growing in a zig-zag pattern. Once the preserved of botanists, … Read more

Plants can measure the intensity of salt stress

yellow > green > blue. Credit: AG Kudla” width=”800″ height=”315″/> As an immediate reaction to elevated concentrations of salt (NaCl), the concentration of calcium in the cytosol of a specific group of cells increases within one minute. Shown in false colours: red (highest concentration) > yellow > green > blue. Credit: AG Kudla Unfavorable environmental … Read more

Plants that pull nitrogen from thin air thrive in arid environments

Mesquite plants, such as this specimen of Prosopis velutina, are common components of desert flora, due in part to their symbiotic relationship with bacteria that enable them to access atmospheric nitrogen. Credit: Florida Museum of Natural History After a comprehensive study of plants across the United States, researchers have arrived at the unexpected conclusion that … Read more

Viruses thrive in aquatic plants in Florida’s springs

Aquatic macrophytes in Ichetucknee Springs. Credit: Makenzie Kerr Viruses are a hot topic. We hear about them daily. While the viruses that dominate the news cause disease, this is not always the case. Some viruses survive in living things without doing any harm. Some can even help the host organism. There are so many different … Read more

New clues to how plants retain healthy genomes, avoid mitochondrial disease

MSH1 repairs organelle DNA. The MSH1 protein slides along a DNA strand until it detects mutations. Then MSH1 cuts both strands of DNA. The DNA repair machinery in the cell uses homologous DNA (DNA of the same sequence) as a template to fix the mutation. B) MSH1 increases sorting of organelle DNA. A population of … Read more

Synthetic genetic circuits could help plants adapt to climate change

Synthetic genetic circuits designed to rewire gene expression in plant roots may be used to change the way they grow. Credit: Jennifer Brophy Increasingly, global food production is being threatened by the effects of climate change. As floods, droughts, and extreme heat waves become more common, crops need to be able to adapt faster than … Read more

How calcium ions get into the cellular power stations of plants

Microscopic image of the mitochondria in a root tip of Arabidopsis thaliana. The interior of the mitochondria (matrix) is marked by a fluorescent protein. Credit: University of Munster Calcium is a very special nutrient. In the cells of most living beings calcium ions function as so-called second messengers to transmit important signals. The same applies … Read more

Rare plants attract rare bees and birds in urban gardens

Bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus). Credit: Azucena Lucatero Urban gardens can be hotspots for biodiversity in cities, but little is known about what drives the biodiversity of species existing at the smallest frequencies, or rare biodiversity. Rare plant species in urban gardens attract rare bee and bird species, according to a Dartmouth-led study examining urban garden … Read more