Plants and Pipettes

we talk about plants and (used to) use pipettes

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  • The Algae Expert who helped Crack Code in WWII

    The Algae Expert who helped Crack Code in WWII

    Reading Time: 2 minutes While some say that hiring Geoffrey Tandy at the top-secret centre for Allied Codebreaking was a result of mistaken terminology, the marine biologist nonetheless used his transferable skills to help win the war.

  • Dracula, Robin Hood and Zombie plants…

    Dracula, Robin Hood and Zombie plants…

    Reading Time: 3 minutes When the long-term plant-host relationship becomes too close… it might be a sign of a parasitic relationship.

  • I saw the Kew Garden’s giant Corpse Flower

    I saw the Kew Garden’s giant Corpse Flower

    Reading Time: 3 minutes By enormous luck, a spur-or-the-moment decision to escape to London’s Kew Gardens on a sunny Friday had me running into the blooming event of the season: the opening of the Corpse flower’s massive bloom.

  • My bees bring all the sugar to the flower

    My bees bring all the sugar to the flower

    Reading Time: 4 minutes The sound of insects flying next to my ear has never excited me in a good way. The sound usually triggers an intense reaction defined by hand waving, jumping and squealing like a grown man. This is one of the many ways you can tell that I’m not a flower, because if I were, I’d […]

  • Turning Cabbage into Cauliflower

    Turning Cabbage into Cauliflower

    Reading Time: 3 minutes Cauliflower’s ability to imitate anything from ‘rice’ to ‘wings’, has seen the previously humble veggie rise in power in recent years. Yet while its transformative powers are celebrated by foodies across the world, until now it has remained unclear how the vegetable itself (and its fancy Romanesco variant) evolved from its plainer predecessor – cabbage

  • Plants ‘smell’ pheromones of parasitic worms

    Plants ‘smell’ pheromones of parasitic worms

    Reading Time: 4 minutes Plants perceive the chemical signals that waft off worms like bad B-O as a sign to hunker down and start preparing their defences. The fact that nematodes -a type of small slender worm- are the most abundant animals on earth is almost definitely one of my least favourite facts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not […]

  • May The Fourth Be With You

    May The Fourth Be With You

    Reading Time: 5 minutes The answer to the question, ‘what has a light sabre got to do with how plants express themselves’

  • Bug Pest Steals Plant Genes to Neutralize Plant Defences

    Bug Pest Steals Plant Genes to Neutralize Plant Defences

    Reading Time: 4 minutes Plants and herbivorous insects have long struggled in an evolutionary arms race. Now, in the first example of animals thieving plant genes, research shows that sweet potato whiteflies have overcome plant defences by looting the plants’ own genetic arsenal. 

  • This superhero protein will fight anaemia

    This superhero protein will fight anaemia

    Reading Time: 5 minutes I like plants a lot – especially when I can eat them. A purely plant based diet, however, might not include enough iron to stay healthy (although not necessarily). New research could change that. 

  • It’s time we talked about see-through wood

    It’s time we talked about see-through wood

    Reading Time: 5 minutes Using the chemicals we bleach our hair with and a little sun we can create a new type of wood that’s (nearly) as clear as glass. Wood is a rather remarkable material that humans have been using for over a million of years, both for fuel and for the creation of structures. Wood is cheap […]

  • Why the length of your DNA matters

    Why the length of your DNA matters

    Reading Time: 5 minutes A recent publication describes the extraction of ultra-long DNA. We discuss why the length of a DNA strand is important for science.

  • Blast in the Past makes Lettuce Less Limp

    Blast in the Past makes Lettuce Less Limp

    Reading Time: 3 minutes After harvest, products like lettuce can quickly lose their looks and crunch. Now, research shows that a short spell of high light before the harvest can help greens stay fresher and more nutritious.

  • You make my heart skip a beat

    You make my heart skip a beat

    Reading Time: 3 minutes Roses are Red Delphinium is Blue It might look quite lovely But it’s poisonous too! In honour of the recent Valentine’s day, and the recording of our soon-to-be-released Plant Book Club episode on Plants that Kill*.

  • Just like humans, these monkeys use plants to self-medicate

    Just like humans, these monkeys use plants to self-medicate

    Reading Time: 2 minutes Observations of Brazilian monkeys shows once again that humans aren’t the only ones to use plants as medicine.

  • A mysterious molecular sunscreen protects photosynthesis

    A mysterious molecular sunscreen protects photosynthesis

    Reading Time: 6 minutes Change is a good thing but it can lead to problems. Like when you change your greenhouse to a nicer one – what if your plants don’t like it? Or worse, what if they like it so much that they don’t behave like you’re used to? Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, made that […]

  • Rat chews tree for added poison damage

    Rat chews tree for added poison damage

    Reading Time: 5 minutes The crested rat chews the poison arrow plant, extracting a deadly plant poison that is then smeared on its fur for defence.

  • The hard truth about soft fruit

    The hard truth about soft fruit

    Reading Time: 5 minutes During these cold winter months I long for the sensation of biting into a ripe peach or a deliciously soft strawberry. It is possible to get my hands on some fruit now, however, they are certainly not as mouth-watering as in summer. They are hard, and sour and make me miserable. 

  • This AI looks at plants all day, so you don’t have to

    This AI looks at plants all day, so you don’t have to

    Reading Time: 5 minutes A new machine-learning based pipeline that could help phenotype plants en masse, might just break a major bottleneck in the process of understanding what plant genes really do.

  • Every family has an oddball cousin, here’s Arabidopsis’

    Every family has an oddball cousin, here’s Arabidopsis’

    Reading Time: 3 minutes While the rest of us were distracted by the events of 2020, a desert plant quietly announced itself as a new cousin to the plant lab rat, Arabidopsis.

  • This plant survived the dinosaur end days, but so did its insect pests

    This plant survived the dinosaur end days, but so did its insect pests

    Reading Time: 4 minutes Agathis trees have survived since dinosaurs roamed the earth, but throughout the ages, tiny burrowing insects have made their life hard.