More stories

  • A giant tobacco plant, and normal-sized scientists for scale

    Scientists find elixir of youth – giant plants ensue

    Here’s a story that you should be hearing more about. It’s got monster-sized plants, eternal youth and a plant most people have heard of. The Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME have put out a press release titled: “Giant tobacco plants that stay young forever“. The secret of eternal youth isn’t found […] More

  • Image: Tennessee Valley Authority, 1942/ Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

    Potential new fertiliser

    This month’s winner in the ‘so simple it’s positively brilliant (but why did nobody think of it before?)’ category is Damar López-Arredondo and Luis Herrera-Estrella’s paper entitled, ‘Engineering phosphorous [sic.] metabolism in plants to produce a dual fertilization and weed control system’. Apart from the unusual spelling of phosphorus in the title (it is correct […] More

  • Image: from Shokoku meisho hyakkei by Hiroshige II (Chinpei Suzuki), 1860.

    Lichens, thale cress, tobacco, the great survivors…

    It is often said that cockroaches are one of the hardiest of animals, allegedly able to withstand a nuclear holocaust. Well, serious contenders amongst the plant-like critters are lichens, thale cress and tobacco. Rhizocarpon geographicum and Xanthoria elegans have both survived a 1.5-year extraterrestrial sojourn aboard the International Space Station according to work by Silvano Onofri et […] More

  • Development of the midrib xylem during leaf expansion

    Development of the midrib xylem during leaf expansion

    The water-transport capacity of leaf venation is positively related to the leaf-lamina area, because the number and diameter of vein-xylem conduits are properly controlled to match the lamina area. Taneda and Terashima investigate how these co-ordinated relationships are achieved by studying the midrib xylem of leaves of tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum, and find that the developmental rates […] More

  • Image: Wolfgang Sauber/Wikimedia Commons.

    Nicotine: an ancient addiction?

    It must be terribly depressing if you don’t have plants in your life to give you purpose and a reason to get up in the morning, put digit to keyboard, or whatever. Still, for those who are intellectually botanically bereft, there is always one plant-derived stimulant or another to fill the void. And most of […] More

  • Image: Luigi Chiesa/Wikimedia Commons.

    Making plants work harder [or, Vorsprung durch Botanik]

    Not content with just being grateful for all of the marvellous things that plants do and provide, we humans always seem to want them to do even more. Well, in that vein there has been a veritable avalanche of stories that exploit the impressive chemical synthetic abilities of plants. Moran Farhi et al. have managed to […] More

  • PHAN and compound leaf morphology

    PHAN and compound leaf morphology

    For both simple and compound leaves, a MYB domain transcription factor PHANTASTICA (PHAN) plays an important role in establishing the adaxial domain in the leaf. Zoulias et al. generate and analyse transgenic tomato plants expressing tomato PHAN (SlPHAN) and tobacco plants that over-express tomato SlPHAN. Modulations in SlPHAN resulted in a variety of leaf morphologies, and […] More

  • Hybrid proline-rich proteins and cell elongation

    Hybrid proline-rich proteins and cell elongation

    The growth of plant cells is generally related to loosening of the cell wall, which allows cell expansion driven by osmotic water uptake. Dvorakova et al. demonstrate a correlation between over-expression of genes encoding members of the family of hybrid proline-rich proteins (HyPRPs) and enhanced elongation of tobacco BY-2 cells. The results suggest that HyPRPs, […] More

  • Nicotiana

    Factors leading to hybrid lethality in Nicotiana

    Hybrid lethality is a type of postzygotic isolation and is observed in some species of Nicotiana in association with genes encoded on the Q chromosome. Tezuka et al. (pp. 267–276) make interspecific crosses of eight wild species with cultivated tobacco, N. tabacum, and find only one, N. fragrans, that produces 100 % viable hybrids. They […] More