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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
News in Brief
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...
Enhancing just three genes helps plants harvest more light, raising new hopes for developing crops that can keep up with food demands from a crowded planet.
Genetically engineered tobacco plants, chosen to test the concept, managed the unusual feat of growing 14 to 20 percent more mass — meaning more crop yield — than untweaked plants, says Krishna Niyogi of the University of California...
Plants temporarily halted the acceleration of rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, new research suggests.
From 2002 through 2014, CO2 levels measured over the oceans climbed from around 372 parts per million to 397 parts per million. But the average rate of that rise remained steady despite increasing carbon emissions from human activities, researchers report online...
A South African flower catches flies with honey, or in this case, the smell of honeybees.
Several plant species lure potential pollinators with false promises of sweet nectar, sex or even rotting flesh. But Ceropegia sandersonii attracts its primary pollinator, Desmometopa flies, with the scent of fear. The flower mimics the chemical signals, or pheromones, released by alarmed western...