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Your search has returned 267 articles:
  • News

    Genetic switch offers clue to why grasses are survival masters

    Grasses have top-notch border control to conserve water in their leaves. Now, scientists have identified the genetic switch that makes them such masters at taking in carbon dioxide without losing water. The find might eventually help scientists create more drought-resistant crop plants, the researchers report in the March 17 Science.  

    Adjustable pores called stomata on the undersides of...

    03/20/2017 - 15:35 Plants, Cells, Physiology
  • It's Alive

    How one enslaving wasp eats through another

    Parasites can drive their hosts to do weird, dumb things. But in certain oak trees, the parasites themselves get played.

    “Creepy and awesome,” says Kelly Weinersmith of Rice University in Houston, who has helped reveal a Russian doll of nested parasitisms.

    The saga begins when two majestic live oak species in the southeastern United States send out new shoots, and female crypt gall...

    03/16/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Ecology, Plants
  • News

    Enzymes aid rice plants’ arsenic defenses

    BOSTON — Rooted in place, plants can’t run away from arsenic-tainted soil — but they’re far from helpless. Scientists have identified enzymes that help rice plant roots tame arsenic, converting it into a form that can be pushed back into the soil. That leaves less of the toxic element to spread into the plants’ grains, where it can pose a health risk to humans, researchers reported February 17...

    02/19/2017 - 12:08 Plants
  • News

    Big genetics study blazes path for bringing back tomato flavor

    An analysis of nearly 400 kinds of tomatoes suggests which flavor compounds could bring heirloom deliciousness back to varieties that were bred for toughness over taste.

    About 30 compounds are important in creating a full-bodied tomato flavor, says study coauthor Harry Klee of the University of Florida in Gainesville. He and colleagues have identified 13 important molecules that have...

    01/26/2017 - 14:09 Plants, Genetics, Agriculture
  • News

    In debate over origin of fairy circles, both sides might be right

    Ecologists still don’t believe in fairies. But it may take magic to resolve a long-running debate over what causes the oddly regular spots of bare soil called fairy circles. A new approach now suggests combining the two main hypotheses.

    Fairy circles, each among about six close neighbors, sprinkle arid grasslands in southern Africa and Australia “like a polka dot dress,” says ecologist...

    01/19/2017 - 07:00 Ecology, Plants, Animals
  • Wild Things

    A message to rock climbers: Be kind to nature

    For the millions of people who have taken up the sport of rock climbing, a cliff face is a challenge, a vertical puzzle solved only with the proper placement of hands and feet. Look closely, though, and those crevices and cracks that provide hand- and footholds also provide homes for a variety of plants, invertebrates and other easily overlooked species.

    People who participate in outdoor...

    01/18/2017 - 07:00 Conservation, Plants
  • It's Alive

    Meat-eating pitcher plants raise deathtraps to an art

    Tricking some bug into drowning takes finesse, especially for a hungry meat eater with no brain, eyes or moving parts. Yet California pitcher plants are very good at it.

    Growing where deposits of the mineral serpentine would kill most other plants, Darlingtonia californica survives in low-nutrient soil by being “very meat dependent,” says David Armitage of the University of Notre Dame in...

    01/06/2017 - 07:00 Plants, Ecology, Evolution
  • The –est

    Tomatillo fossil is oldest nightshade plant

    Two tiny tomatillo fossils have kicked the origin of nightshade plants back to the age of dinosaurs.

    The fossils, pressed into 52-million-year-old rock, suggest that the nightshade family originated millions of years earlier than scientists had suspected, researchers report in the Jan. 6 Science.

    Nightshades include roughly 2,500 species of plants, from tomatoes to eggplants to...

    01/05/2017 - 14:14 Paleontology, Plants
  • Feature

    Year in review: Sea ice loss will shake up ecosystems

    In a better world, it would be the big news of the year just to report that Arctic sea ice shrank to 4.14 million square kilometers this summer, well below the 1981–2010 average of 6.22 million square kilometers (SN Online: 9/19/16). But in this world of changing climate, extreme summer ice loss has become almost expected. More novel in 2016 were glimpses of the complex biological consequences...

    12/14/2016 - 07:37 Climate, Animals, Plants
  • News in Brief

    Bacteria help carnivorous plants drown their prey

    Bacteria may be a meat-eating plant’s best friends thanks to their power to reduce the surface tension of water.

    The carnivorous pitcher plant Darlingtonia californica releases water into the tall vases of its leaves, creating deathtraps where insect prey drown. Water in a pitcher leaf starts clear. But after about a week, thanks to bacteria, it turns “murky brown to a dark red and...

    11/22/2016 - 19:05 Plants, Microbes, Ecology