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  • Reviews & Previews

    Invasive species are a growing global threat

    The Aliens Among UsLeslie AnthonyYale Univ. Press, $30

    Remote Bouvet Island, a tiny, glacier-smothered landmass in the South Atlantic rimmed by 500-meter-tall cliffs, has a notable distinction: It’s the only known spot on Earth, scientists say, that has zero invasive species. Every other place, and every person, on the planet is at least indirectly affected by one or more...

    11/05/2017 - 07:00 Ecology, Animals, Plants
  • News

    As ice retreats, frozen mosses emerge to tell climate change tale

    SEATTLE — Some mosses in the eastern Canadian Arctic, long entombed in ice, are now emerging into the sunlight. And the radiocarbon ages of those plants suggest that summertime temperatures in the region are the warmest they’ve been in tens of thousands of years.

    As the planet warms and the ice retreats on Canada’s Baffin Island, the change is revealing plants long buried beneath the ice...

    10/26/2017 - 07:00 Climate, Earth, Plants
  • News

    Nanoscale glitches let flowers make a blue blur that bees can see

    A bit of imperfection could be perfect for flowers creating a “blue halo” effect that bees can see.

    At least a dozen families of flowering plants, from hibiscuses to daisy relatives, have a species or more that can create a bluish-ultraviolet tinge using arrays of nanoscale ridges on petals, an international research team reports online October 18 in Nature. These arrays could be the...

    10/25/2017 - 10:00 Biophysics, Plants, Animals
  • News in Brief

    During El Niño, the tropics emit more carbon dioxide

    The tropics of Asia, Africa and South America all puffed out more carbon dioxide during the strong 2015–2016 El Niño than during the 2011 La Niña, new satellite data show. Because El Niño’s warmer, drier conditions in tropical regions mimic the effects of climate change expected by the end of the century, those observations may be a sobering harbinger of the tropics’ diminishing role as a...

    10/12/2017 - 14:09 Climate, Earth, Plants
  • Feature

    José Dinneny rethinks how plants hunt for water

    José Dinneny, 39Plant stress biologistCarnegie Institution for Science 

    José Dinneny wants us to see plants as stranger things.

    “They’re able to integrate information and make coherent decisions without a nervous system, without a brain,” he points out. Plus, plants find water without sight or touch. For too many of us, however, lawns, salads and pots on a sunny windowsill make...

    10/04/2017 - 13:52 Plants, Genetics, Agriculture
  • Science Visualized

    Pollen hitches a ride on bees in all the right spots

    Bee bodies may be built just right to help pollen hitch a ride between flowers.

    For the first time, scientists have identified where and how much pollen is left behind on bees’ bodies after the insects groom themselves. These residual patches of pollen align with spots on bees’ bodies that touch flowers’ pollen-collecting reproductive parts, researchers report online September 6 in PLOS...

    09/06/2017 - 14:00 Animals, Plants
  • Wild Things

    Invasive earthworms may be taking a toll on sugar maples

    Earthworms are great for soil, right? Well, not always. In places where there have been no earthworms for thousands of years, foreign worms can wreak havoc on soils. And that can cause a cascade of problems throughout an area’s food web. Now comes evidence that invader worms in the Upper Great Lakes may be stressing the region’s sugar maples.

    There are native earthworms in North America...

    08/30/2017 - 15:00 Animals, Plants, Ecology
  • News

    Light pollution can foil plant-insect hookups, and not just at night

    For flowers, too much light at night could lead to a pollination hangover by day.

    Far from any urban street, researchers erected street lights in remote Swiss meadows to mimic the effects of artificial light pollution. In fields lit during the night, flowers had 62 percent fewer nocturnal visitors than flowers in dark meadows, researchers report August 2 in Nature.

    For one of the...

    08/02/2017 - 16:45 Conservation, Plants, Animals
  • News in Brief

    A new portrait of the world’s first flower is unveiled

    Our view of the earliest flowers just bloomed. A new reconstruction, the most detailed to date, suggests the flowers were bisexual, with more than five female reproductive organs, or carpels, and more than 10 male reproductive organs, or stamen. Petallike structures, grouped in sets of three, surrounded the sex organs, researchers report August 1 in Nature Communications.

    Flowering...

    08/01/2017 - 12:44 Plants, Evolution
  • News

    Borrowed genes give mums the blues

    Mums are now a flower of a different color. Japanese researchers have added a hint of clear sky to the humble plant’s palette, genetically engineering the first-ever “true blue” chrysanthemum.

    “Obtaining blue-colored flowers is the Holy Grail for plant breeders,” says Mark Bridgen, a plant breeder at Cornell University. The results are “very exciting.”

    Compounds called delphinidin-...

    07/26/2017 - 15:45 Plants, Genetics, Chemistry