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Raindrops keep falling on my flowerhead - AoB Blog

Raindrops keep falling on my flowerhead - AoB Blog | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
Imagine you're pollen. You have a hot date with an ovule, but first you have to get to her. How do you travel? Scientists have found a rainy day could help.
Eve Emshwiller's insight:

More diversity to kinds of pollnation.  Also, I like the opening lines about the eager pollen ready for a hot date.

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Botany teaching & cetera
Mostly links I want to save for teaching introductory botany, but other things of interest as well.
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Studying Seemingly Immortal Lichens, in a Place for the Dead

Studying Seemingly Immortal Lichens, in a Place for the Dead | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
Anne Pringle, a Harvard mycologist, believes that lichens growing on a grave marker may help determine if immortality is biologically possible.
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Communicate Science: Why the Irish Potato Famine was not caused by a fungus

Communicate Science: Why the Irish Potato Famine was not caused by a fungus | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

"Despite the argument that political and economic issues had a great role to play in the Irish potato famine, there is no doubt that the loss of the potato crop due to late blight was the trigger that started it all.

Late blight was, and is, caused by the plant-pathogenic organism Phytophthora infestans which, unfortunately, many people describe as a 'fungus'."

Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Oomycetes are heterokonts, but are still being confused with fungi.

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Direct and reverse pollen-mediated gene flow between GM rice and red rice weed

Direct and reverse pollen-mediated gene flow between GM rice and red rice weed | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

Potential risks of genetically modified (GM) crops must be identified before their commercialization, as happens with all new technologies. One of the major concerns is the proper risk assessment of adventitious presence of transgenic material in rice fields due to cross-pollination. Several studies have been conducted in order to quantify pollen-mediated gene flow from transgenic rice (Oryza sativa) to both conventional rice and red rice weed (O. sativa f. spontanea) under field conditions. Some of these studies reported GM pollen-donor rice transferring GM traits to red rice. However, gene flow also occurs in the opposite direction, in a phenomenon that we have called reverse gene flow, resulting in transgenic seeds that have incorporated the traits of wild red rice. We quantified reverse gene flow using material from two field trials. A molecular analysis based on amplified fragment length polymorphisms was carried out, being complemented with a phenotypic identification of red rice traits. In both field trials, the reverse gene flow detected was greater than the direct gene flow. The rate of direct gene flow varied according to the relative proportions of the donor (GM rice) and receptor (red rice) plants and was influenced by wind direction. The ecological impact of reverse gene flow is limited in comparison with that of direct gene flow because non-shattered and non-dormant seeds would be obtained in the first generation. Hybrid seed would remain in the spike and therefore most of it would be removed during harvesting. Nevertheless, this phenomenon must be considered in fields used for elite seed production and in developing countries where farmers often keep some seed for planting the following year. In these cases, there is a higher risk of GM red rice weed infestation increasing from year to year and therefore a proper monitoring plan needs to be established.


Via Jean-Pierre Zryd
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New York Botanical Garden Digitizes Biodiversity History

New York Botanical Garden Digitizes Biodiversity History | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
More than 2 million plants are now online.
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Amber fossil reveals ancient reproduction in flowering plants

Amber fossil reveals ancient reproduction in flowering plants | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

A 100-million-year old piece of amber has been discovered which reveals the oldest evidence of sexual reproduction in a flowering plant – a cluster of 18 tiny flowers from the Cretaceous Period – with one of them in the process of making some new seeds for the next generation.

The perfectly-preserved scene, in a plant now extinct, is part of a portrait created in the mid-Cretaceous when flowering plants were changing the face of the Earth forever, adding beauty, biodiversity and food. It appears identical to the reproduction process that “angiosperms,” or flowering plants still use today.


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Christian Allié's curator insight, January 3, 12:11 PM

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....  The evolution of flowering plants caused an enormous change in the biodiversity of life on Earth, especially in the tropics and subtropics,” Poinar said.

“New associations between these small flowering plants and various types of insects and other animal life resulted in the successful distribution and evolution of these plants through most of the world today,” he said. “It’s interesting that the mechanisms for reproduction that are still with us today had already been established some 100 million years ago.”

The fossils were discovered from amber mines in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar, previously known as Burma. The newly-described genus and species of flower was named Micropetasos burmensis.

Source:

Oregon State University

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Column: Plants are at the heart of many crucial global issues facing us today

Column: Plants are at the heart of many crucial global issues facing us today | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

The economic and societal importance of plants is hard to underestimate; in order to meet the global challenges facing us today, we need to invest time and money into this sector, writes Eoin Lettice.

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IF WE WERE to close our eyes and imagine a world without animals, what would it look like? It’s not that difficult to imagine a planet devoid of humans or other animals.

Now try and imagine a world without plants. It’s almost impossible to conceive. Although we sometimes take them for granted, plants have made possible and shaped life on Earth while making this a truly green planet.

Eve Emshwiller's insight:

amen

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The Secret Language of Plants | Simons Foundation

The Secret Language of Plants | Simons Foundation | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

Striking evidence that plants warn each other of environmental dangers is reviving a once ridiculed field.
...The evidence for plant communication is only a few decades old, but in that short time it has leapfrogged from electrifying discovery to decisive debunking to resurrection. "

Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Plant indiced defenses.

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Christian Allié's curator insight, December 24, 2013 12:01 PM

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Secret Lives

Karban started off as a cicada researcher, studying how trees cope with the plague of sap-sucking bugs that descends upon them every 17 years. Back then, the assumption was that plants survived by being tenacious, adapting their physiology to hunker down and suffer through droughts, infestations and other abuse. But in the early 1980s, the University of Washington zoologist David Rhoades was finding evidence that plants actively defend themselves against insects. Masters of synthetic biochemistry, they manufacture and deploy chemical and other weapons that make their foliage less palatable or nutritious, so that hungry bugs go elsewhere. For Karban, this idea was a thrilling surprise — a clue that plants were capable of much more than passive endurance.

 

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.......   Plants can communicate with insects as well, sending airborne messages that act as distress signals to predatory insects that kill herbivores. Maize attacked by beet armyworms releases a cloud of volatile chemicals that attracts wasps to lay eggs in the caterpillars’ bodies. The emerging picture is that plant-eating bugs, and the insects that feed on them, live in a world we can barely imagine, perfumed by clouds of chemicals rich in information. Ants, microbes, moths, even hummingbirds and tortoises (Farmer checked) all detect and react to these blasts.......

 

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Subhabrata Panda's curator insight, December 27, 2013 5:47 AM

it's a very much interesting investigation.

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Points of significance: Power and sample size : Nature Methods : Nature Publishing Group

Points of significance: Power and sample size : Nature Methods : Nature Publishing Group | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
The ability to detect experimental effects is undermined in studies that lack power.

 

Statistical testing provides a paradigm for deciding whether the data are or are not typical of the values expected when the hypothesis is true. Because our objective is usually to detect a departure from the null hypothesis, it is useful to define an alternative hypothesis that expresses the distribution of observations when the null is false. The difference between the distributions captures the experimental effect, and the probability of detecting the effect is the statistical power.


Via Niklaus Grunwald
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Which came first? The Soltis Lab probes lineage of angiosperms

Which came first? The Soltis Lab probes lineage of angiosperms | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
The question of which extant angiosperm (flowering plant) lineage “came first” has puzzled biologists for centuries. This question is fascinating and important in its own right, but the answer also...

Via Annals of Botany: Plant Science Research
Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Spoiler alert...

 

 

it's...

 

 

 

 

still...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amborella.

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Annals of Botany: Plant Science Research's curator insight, November 19, 2013 12:44 PM

Demonstration, based on 78 genes and 236 taxa, that Amborella is sister to all other Angiosperms, while the Nymphaeales form the next branch and are sister to the remaining species.

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Fast-Paced Evolution in the Andes

Fast-Paced Evolution in the Andes | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
The remarkable ecosystems known as Páramos are home to the fastest evolution on Earth, a new study suggests.

Via Meristemi
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Richard Feynman - Ode To A Flower

From the BBC Interview for Horizon 'The Pleasure of Finding Things Out. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/broadband/archive/feynman/) Animated…
Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Richard Feynman on why science doesn't diminish beauty. Hat tip to Don Waller, Caitilyn Allen, and the anonymous student who shared it with Caitilyn.

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Randy W. Schekman - Nobel Lecture: Genetic and Biochemical Dissection of the Secretory Pathway

Randy W. Schekman - Nobel Lecture: Genetic and Biochemical Dissection of the Secretory Pathway | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

My favorite slide from the Phys/Med nobel lectures was Randy Schekman showing off his 9th grade science project. Remember this image when you are next asked to mentor a young person or volunteer your time at a science fair! Most won't become Nobel Laureates, but any of them might, with a little encouragement.

 


Via Mary Williams
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Mary Williams's curator insight, December 8, 2013 2:16 AM

See the lectures and even download the slides!

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The Academic Decline: How to Train the Next Generation of Botanists

The Academic Decline: How to Train the Next Generation of Botanists | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

The number of undergraduate degrees earned in botany has decreased by 50 percent since the late 1980s But more and more, colleges and universities are getting rid of their botany programs, either by consolidating them with zoology and biology departments, or eliminating them altogether because of a lack of faculty, funds or sometimes interest. And at the same time, many trained botanists in federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management, are nearing retirement age, and those agencies are clamoring for new talent..


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How do plants remember winter cold?Weeding the Gems

How do plants remember winter cold?Weeding the Gems | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
How do plants remember winter cold? Prof Martin Howard explains how he uses mathematical and experimental methods to answer this question.
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When Edible Plants Turn Their Defenses On Us

When Edible Plants Turn Their Defenses On Us | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

Some everyday foods contain toxins that could wreak bodily havoc under the wrong circumstances.

Fruits and vegetables are unquestionably essential to a healthful diet.

But there's another side to some of these plants that, thankfully, most people never see: the tiny amounts of toxins within them. The minute amounts of poison found in many seeds, leaves and roots are the result of the protracted arms race between plants and the animals that try to eat them. It's the reason why you've never a cashew (the shells might make you break out in a poison ivy-style rash) or eaten green potato fries (read on for details).

Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Useful for topic on plant defense, biochemical evolution and human uses (or avoidance).   H/T @iramjohn

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Christian Allié's curator insight, January 9, 1:41 PM

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Cook-Well-For-Survival Cassava: Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a major root crop for millions of subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the FAO, after rice and maize, it's the most important source of calories for people living in the tropics. But wild species can contain levels of toxins.

Cassava leaves make a chemical called linamarin, which meanders down to the roots, where it produces toxic hydrocyanic acid, or cyanide, when the root cells rupture. In the human body, linamarin can come in one end and go out the other intact, but if it gets broken down during digestion and runs into the enzyme linamarase, it will produce cyanide in the gut.

Counterintuitively, the key to cassava safely is to encourage the cyanide to form, often by grating it into little bits, and then soaking, fermenting and evaporating the bad stuff out before cooking thoroughly.

Sweet cassava roots usually contain less cyanogen than bitter ones, so they require less preparation — just peeling and thorough cooking tends to be enough. For the more toxic breeds of cassava, can take days. If it's done wrong, things can go badly, as it did with three people in Nigeria in 1992 after eating a cassava tapioca. More commonly, repeatedly eating poorly processed cassava can cause a neuron disorder called .

 

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Let’s get it started with some black-eyed peas (and rice)

Let’s get it started with some black-eyed peas (and rice) | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
You don’t have to be superstitious to believe in the power of hoppin’ john on New Year’s Day.  Katherine’s recipe is below, but first, she takes this good excuse to talk about the structure of beans, the magical fruit (really seeds).
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Can Plants Think?

Can Plants Think? | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
Plants can hear, taste and feel, as Michael Pollan writes in his latest piece for The New Yorker. But is any of that evidence of intelligence? (Can Plants Think? 'll be on Science Friday tomorrow, last segment, talking about plant intelligence.
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Your Wild Life – A Hundred Eager Kids: The Fred A. Olds Soap Biodiversity Project

Your Wild Life – A Hundred Eager Kids: The Fred A. Olds Soap Biodiversity Project | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

"We started simple. We sampled leaves and considered when they turn green. We reflected on the way a tree is similar to and different from a human body. We sampled the classroom. And then we swabbed the classroom for bacteria. The students chose where to swab. The teacher, Mrs. B., was swabbed (belly button, shoe, etc…), the floor too, as were a backpack, the soil outside, a flagpole outside, a flagpole inside (flagpoles seem to be a conspicuous feature of the elementary school day), the computer table, a lunch box and a trashcan. I was also swabbed. The students then generated hypotheses about where we might find the most kinds of bacteria. This bacterial work was not yet science; it was outreach—showing the students’ results that exemplify what we already know—but in this context we could still walk through the steps of science. We could generate hypotheses and consider them in light of what we found."

Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Very cool project in elementary school that has the kids doing real science!

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The irrational nature of pie

The irrational nature of pie | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
What is a nut, and why is the answer so convoluted? For Thanksgiving, Katherine explores pecans and the very best vegetarian turkey substitute ever: pecan pie.Traditions Thanksgiving is all about t...
Eve Emshwiller's insight:
Great fun for teaching crazy fruit classifications.
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Eve Emshwiller's curator insight, December 28, 2013 12:02 AM

"Fruit types should be fun, and yet people definitely have entrenched ideas about the right way to classify the fruit of a given species. We botanists seem to get particularly worked up over the definition of a nut ."
 
This engaging post will be fun to share with students when teaching about plant fruit classification. 

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The Race to Save the World’s Rarest Plants

The Race to Save the World’s Rarest Plants | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

Not far from Hawaii's beaches are some of the world's most unique plants. Meet one botanist trying to save them from extinction. …


The time is a few minutes before noon on the Pacific island of Kauai and Steve Perlman is ready to throw himself off a cliff. In a blue t-shirt and cargo pants, Perlman, a botanist, is preparing to lower himself on a rope into Kalalau Valley Rim, a steep piece of land with neither hiking paths nor access roads. The rim sits inside Na Pali Coast State Park, where tourists come to see the rocky hillsides carved away by the Pacific. Where they don’t come is to the rocky hillsides inland that are covered by plants and, more frequently, hungry goats.

Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Nice short video about the efforts of Steve Perlman to save native endemic Hawaiian plants from extinction.

H/T Diane Ragone and NTBG.

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Christian Allié's curator insight, December 16, 2013 11:38 AM

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In a field of work that can be more depressing than full of rewards, there are still occasional moments of genuine surprise. A few years ago, Perlman was hiking near the top of Kauai’s Mt. Kapalaoa. At 2,600 feet above sea level, the peak is unforgiving, covered in places with steep volcanic rocks, many dating back to the early formation of the six-million-year-old island.

As he wandered, Perlman came across a plant he didn’t recognize. It was later named Cyanea kolekoleensis, or simply in Hawaiian, haha. Then he found another called Labordia tinifolia var wahiawaensis, a plant with leaves covered in shiny varnish. In all, the botanist who spends his days trying to convince people that plants are disappearing forever ended up discovering four new species no one had ever heard of before. Death, on occasion, has moments of rebirth.

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Phytoplasma Casts a Magic Spell that Turns the Fair Poinsettia into a Christmas Showpiece

Phytoplasma Casts a Magic Spell that Turns the Fair Poinsettia into a Christmas Showpiece | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

How did I get this old without knowing the story of the Poinestta and the Phytoplasma? A new holiday classic, or at least an interesting ancedote for the December plant lessons.

 

Here's a link to the 1997 Nature Biotechnology article if you want to add more data to your story: http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v15/n2/abs/nbt0297-178.html


Via Mary Williams
Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Cool story about endophytes, and how people figured out they were the cause of the branching morphotype.

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Perché studiare le piante? ¿Por qué estudiar las plantas? (Why study plants, in Italiano + Espanol)

Perché studiare le piante? ¿Por qué estudiar las plantas? (Why study plants, in Italiano + Espanol) | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

Find them here, along with many other languages

http://www.plantcell.org/site/teachingtools/TTPB1.xhtml


Via Mary Williams
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Planting a seed with songs: Botany students try out musical sides | College of Letters & Science

Planting a seed with songs: Botany students try out musical sides | College of Letters & Science | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it
Eve Emshwiller's insight:

Great job by Botany 130 students in writing and singing songs about plant life cycles!

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Christian Allié's curator insight, December 14, 2013 2:22 PM

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Baum, who estimates he’s offered the optional assignment for the past eight years or so, awards points based on the accuracy of the biological details in the songs’ lyrics, the completeness of the description of the life cycle, the use of proper terminology, the rhyming and scansion of the song, and the choice of tune. And he provides a suggested procedure for the songwriting process: choosing a tune, picking out its patterns, determining the key points and terms that need to be included, writing a chorus and then filling in the rest of the life cycle while maintaining the song’s rhythm.

“They need to work through the plant life cycles in a linear way, and when you write a song, you kind of do that,” Baum says. “Of course, it adds a bit of entertainment and fun. We want botany to be fun.”

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Understanding and Teaching Genetics Using Analogies

Understanding and Teaching Genetics Using Analogies | Botany teaching & cetera | Scoop.it

I really enjoyed this little article from the American Biology Teacher (http://www.nabt.org/websites/institution/index.php?p=30) that suggests a few simple analogies to explain possibly confusing genetic concepts.

The article and the nice drawings are available freely at the website of the "Fast Plants (self-compatible)" program, which develops hands-on activities for teaching genetics and plant science.

http://www.fpsc.wisc.edu/publications/analogies.shtm

Kudos to Scott Woody and Ed Himelblau for a useful set of resources!


Via Mary Williams
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