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Your search has returned 314 articles:
  • The Science Life

    How researchers flinging salmon inadvertently spurred tree growth

    How much salmon would scientists sling if scientists could sling salmon? For one research team, the question isn’t hypothetical, and the answer is … tons.

    During 20 years of monitoring salmon populations in one southwest Alaskan stream, ecologists have found and flung a total 267,620 kilograms of dead fish into the forest. Those rotting carcasses leached enough nutrients to speed up tree...

    10/30/2018 - 13:54 Ecology, Animals, Plants
  • News

    Ancient South Americans tasted chocolate 1,500 years before anyone else

    Ancient South Americans domesticated and consumed cacao, the plant from which chocolate is made, long before other people did, a new study finds.

    Artifacts with traces of cacao suggest that an Amazonian culture located in what’s now Ecuador developed a wide-ranging taste for cacao products between 5,450 and 5,300 years ago, researchers report online October 29 in Nature Ecology &...

    10/29/2018 - 12:00 Archaeology, Plants
  • News

    Liverwort plants contain a painkiller similar to the one in marijuana

    A chemical compound found in liverworts may provide the pain and inflammation relief of pot’s THC but without the same kind of high.

    Both the molecule, called perrottetinene, and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — the mind-altering substance found in marijuana — have similar molecular structures. Lab tests with human brain cells and in mice have revealed that, like THC, perrottetinene easily...

    10/24/2018 - 17:34 Plants, Chemistry
  • News

    Plants engineered to always be on alert don’t grow well

    A tiny weed that slithers up through sidewalk cracks is helping scientists understand the sacrifices that plants make to protect themselves from pests.

    Most plants combat insects and other herbivores by sending out bitter chemicals through their leaves. Now by studying thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a commonly found member of the mustard family, researchers found that energy spent...

    10/22/2018 - 16:09 Agriculture, Plants, Molecular Evolution
  • Science Visualized

    Dandelion seeds create a bizarre whirlpool in the air to fly

    When you’re essentially a little ball of floof, flying is hard.

    To ride the wind, dandelion seeds stir up a weird type of whirlpool in the air directly above them. The newly discovered way of moving through the air, described October 17 in Nature, resolves a long-standing question about how the seeds stay aloft.

    Dandelion seed flight is not unlike the flight of Mary Poppins:...

    10/17/2018 - 13:00 Biophysics, Plants
  • 50 years ago, a 550-year-old seed sprouted

    550-year-old seed sprouts — 

    A seed of the South America herb achira (Canna sp.), taken from an ancient Indian necklace, has germinated, and the young plant is growing well.… Carbon-14 dating of bones at the site sets the seeds’ age at about 550 years.… The plant from the old seed appeared to have a disturbed gravity orientation, but is still growing fairly normally. — Science News...

    10/10/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Archaeology
  • News

    Lemur study suggests why some fruits smell so fruity

    It’s a lovely notion, but tricky to prove. Still, lemurs sniffing around wild fruits in Madagascar are bolstering the idea that animal noses contributed to the evolution of aromas of fruity ripeness.

    The idea sounds simple, says evolutionary ecologist Omer Nevo of the University of Ulm in Germany. Plants can use mouth-watering scents to lure animals to eat fruits, and thus spread around...

    10/03/2018 - 14:12 Evolution, Plants, Animals
  • News

    Gene editing can speed up plant domestication

    Gene editing can speed up plant domestication, taming wild vines, bushes and grasses and turning them into new crops.

    Editing just two genes in ground cherries (Physalis pruinosa) produced plants that yielded more and bigger fruit, researchers report October 1 in Nature Plants. Those edits mimic changes that occurred in tomato plants during domestication, bringing the sweet tomato...

    10/01/2018 - 11:00 Plants, Genetics, Molecular Evolution
  • Reviews & Previews

    Smart plants can teach us a thing or two

    The Revolutionary Genius of PlantsStefano MancusoAtria Books, $30

    More than 200 years ago, French botanist René Desfontaines instructed a student to monitor the behavior of Mimosa pudica plants as he drove them around Paris in a carriage. Mimosa pudica quickly closes its leaves when touched — presumably as a defense mechanism. Desfontaines was interested in the plants’ response to...

    09/18/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Evolution, Biophysics
  • Feature

    How plant microbes could feed the world and save endangered species

    One fine Hawaiian day in 2015, Geoff Zahn and Anthony Amend set off on an eight-hour hike. They climbed a jungle mountain on the island of Oahu, swatting mosquitoes and skirting wallows of wild pigs. The two headed to the site where a patch of critically endangered Phyllostegia kaalaensis had been planted a few months earlier. What they found was dispiriting.

    “All the plants were gone,”...

    09/06/2018 - 11:00 Agriculture, Plants, Microbes