August 2016

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  • Plants
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    369,400…and counting(!)

    Being an avid supporter of the importance of plants (I do hope that’s come over quite strongly in my various blog items..?), I’m always keen to share with my students [well, any- and everybody really…] how many plant species there are. For several years the best – i.e. biggest! – number I’d found was 352,000 […] More

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    Impact of an invasive nitrogen-fixing tree on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and development of native species

    The presence of invasive plants has been identified as a soil disturbance factor, often conditioning the structure and function of soil microorganisms. Despite the investigation of many aspects related to invasion by the nitrogen-fixing tree Acacia dealbata, its effect on the structure of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) has never been assessed until now. A new […] More

  • Pedicularis rex
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    Conflicting selection on floral traits

    Floral traits attracting pollinators may also attract seed predators; however, evidence for conflicting selection on such traits remains scarce. One could expect that such selection generated by pollinators and seed predators varies geographically. Examining multiple populations across a geographic mosaic of environments and floral variation, Sun et al. investigate female reproductive success in a bumblebee-pollinated […] More

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    No difference in the competitive ability of introduced and native Trifolium provenances when grown with soil biota from their introduced and native ranges

    A new biogeographic study published in AoB PLANTS by Shelby et al. tested the evolution of increased competitive ability (EICA) hypothesis—a compelling explanation for why plants become invasive. The authors measured the growth rates and competitive ability of three Trifolium species sourced from their native (Spain and the UK) and New Zealand-naturalised ranges when grown […] More

  • Fusarium oxysporum
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    Silicon enhances cellular defences in root tissues of cotton after pathogen inoculation

    Silicon has been shown to enhance the resistance of plants to fungal and bacterial pathogens, however the underlying mechanisms have not been studied in detail in most plants. Whan et al. compare cellular and biochemical modifications in root tissue of two cotton cultivars grown in media amended with soluble potassium silicate, and inoculated with a […] More

  • Frankenstein's Monster
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    The 21st century Prometheus

    The full title of Mary Shelley’s acclaimed 1818 novel “Frankenstein” is “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus”. Well, fictional frightening-fellow fabricator Dr Frankenstein may have been the modern Prometheus of his day, but I’ve just chanced upon the 21st century version. Nothing to do with hard-copy science fiction of the late Georgian period, this truly modern Prometheus is science fact-based and exists virtually as an on-line Wiki More

  • Drawings of Equisetum stomata.
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    The remarkable stomata of horsetails (Equisetum)

    Horsetails are an ancient group of land plants that possess many unusual features, including the structure and development of the apertures (stomatal pores) in the epidermis. In addition to a symmetric pair of guard cells, stomata in Equisetum are delimited by an overlying pair of neighbour cells with characteristic vault-like radiating thickenings. Stomatal development involves […] More

  • Scanning electron microscope photographs of the investigated moss spores.
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    Spore settling velocity to assess moss dispersal rates

    The settling velocity of diaspores is a key parameter influencing dispersal ability in wind-dispersed plants but remains largely undocumented in bryophytes. Zanatta et al. measured this parameter for nine species using a fall tower design combined with a high-speed camera and determine that, while settling velocity can be estimated by spore diameter in most of […] More

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    NQFF: Moss, moving and Madagascar

    The second week of the trial run for NQFF. Are the lists of followers helpful, or are you just interested in the stories? I ask as the lists of twitter accounts take far longer to format than the stories. The reason I’m including them is that I thought it might be handy if you wanted […] More

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    Attract them anyway – Benefits of large, showy flowers in a highly autogamous, carnivorous plant species

    Despite being a highly autogamous or self-pollinating species, the carnivorous plant Drosophyllum lusitanicum (Drosophyllaceae) produces large, bright-yellow flowers. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Salces-Castellano et al. used a flower removal and a pollination experiment to assess, respectively, whether large flowers in this species may serve as an attracting device to prey insects […] More

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