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  • Science Ticker

    Why a parasitic vine can’t take a bite out of tomatoes

    Like botanical vampires, dodder plants (Cuscuta sp.) suck the life out of crops around the world.  But tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are mysteriously immune to the parasitic vine’s attacks.

    To figure out how they do it, a research team from England and Germany hit tomatoes and three other plant species with...

    07/28/2016 - 14:00 Plants, Genetics
  • Feature

    Organisms age in myriad ways — and some might not even bother

    The scene was stranger than it looked, even by Las Vegas standards: Two young men pull up in a U-Haul truck to a motel outside the city. They check in and move a cooler into their room. They appear to be handling something of importance, and look to see if the ice needs replenishing. Inside the cooler is not the makings of epic hangovers but instead an experiment in eternal youth.


    07/13/2016 - 11:09 Animals, Evolution, Plants
  • News

    Warming alters mountain plant’s sex ratios

    In Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, male and female valerian plants have responded differently to hotter, drier conditions, a new study shows. Rapidly changing ratios of the sexes could be a quick sign of climate change, the researchers say.

    Valerian (Valeriana edulis) plants range from hot, scrubby lowlands to cold alpine slopes. In each patch of plants, some are male and some are...

    06/30/2016 - 18:04 Climate, Plants
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Lab Girl’ invites readers into hidden world of plants


    06/26/2016 - 08:00 Plants, Science & Society
  • News

    Cities create accidental experiments in plant, animal evolution

    AUSTIN, TEXAS — Cities have become great unintentional experiments in evolution. Urban life can alter the basic biological traits of its plant and animal residents, down to the taste of leaves or the stickiness of toes, researchers reported at the 2016 Evolution conference.

    For white clover (Trifolium repens), leaf taste matters as a defense against grasshoppers...

    06/24/2016 - 17:03 Evolution, Plants, Animals
  • Introducing

    Scary tomato appears to bleed

    A newly discovered species of tomato belongs in a haunted house, not on a sandwich.

    Fruit from the bush tomato plant Solanum ossicruentum bears little resemblance to its cultivated cousins. The Australian tomato, about a couple centimeters wide, grows enclosed in a shell of spikes. These burrs probably help the...

    06/10/2016 - 10:00 Plants, Ecology
  • Science Ticker

    Venus flytraps use defensive genes for predation

    Venus flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) make carnivory look cool. But the genes that make it possible have roots in herbivory.  

    Though modern flytraps eat insects, their ancestors probably didn’t. In search of clues to this transition, Rainer Hedrich of the University of Wurzburg in Germany and his colleagues looked at protein production patterns in in different parts of the plant...

    05/05/2016 - 16:21 Plants, Genetics
  • Science Visualized

    Here’s what a leaf looks like during a fatal attack of bubbles

    A decent office scanner has beaten X-ray blasts from multimillion-dollar synchrotron setups in revealing how air bubbles kill plant leaves during drought.

    Intricate fans and meshes of plant veins carrying water are “among the most important networks in biology,” says Timothy Brodribb of the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia. When drought weakens the water tension in veins, air...

    05/05/2016 - 13:00 Plants, Biophysics, Agriculture
  • Science Ticker

    Nightshade plants bleed sugar as a call to ants for backup

    Herbivores beware: Take a bite out of bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), and you might have an ant problem on your hands. The plants produce a sugary goo that serves as an indirect defense, attracting ants that eat herbivores, Tobias Lortzing of Berlin’s Free University and colleagues write April 25 in ...

    04/28/2016 - 16:08 Plants
  • Science Ticker

    Plants might remember with prions

    There’s no known mad plant disease. But prions — which show their dark side in mad cow disease — may occur in plants as a form of memory.

    Prions are proteins that change shape and shift tasks, and then trigger other proteins to make the same change. Inheriting prions lets cells “remember” and replicate that shift in form and function. Now a protein called luminidependens, which is...

    04/25/2016 - 15:00 Plants, Epigenetics, Cells