Archive for January, 2012

Plant Diversity

Be nice to your plants, they might be sensing you

 Complex social behavior was considered to be unique in animals, especially humans.  Now with recent findings, we may need to extend this ability to plants.  The old wives tale, “if you talk to your plants, they will grow better” may actually have a string of truth to it.  Except they don’t have ears to hear, they have chemical sensors in their roots, like “tongues in the earth.” 

Recent studies have shown that plants seem to respond to other neighboring plants, and will alter their growth patterns accordingly.  At McMaster University, Ontario Canada, Susan Dudley and Amanda File have demonstrated that plants More >

Photograph courtesy of the USDA Forest Service via Wikimedia Commons.

How a Virus Creates Zombie Insects


Photograph courtesy of the USDA Forest Service via Wikimedia Commons.

Kelli Hoover and her research team from the Penn State have found out how a virus can change the behavior of a host organism. The result is destructive for the gypsy moth but excellent for the virus.

Gypsy moths are an invasive species. In its larval stage caterpillars damage roughly a million acres of forest in the U.S. each year by feeding on tree leaves. But the damage would be greater if it weren’t for a pathogen called baculovirus that infects these caterpillars and causes them effectively to engage in suicidal More >

travel genome_2

Traveling Genomes

Many individuals are concerned with the dietary components of foods they consume. However, scientists from Nanjing University in China have given us a different perspective as to what we eat, they have discovered fragments of genetic material known as microRNAs making their way from vegetables into the human bloodstream.” (Stanley 2011)

MicroRNAs are found abundantly in humans and regulate gene activity through repression mechanisms. But to find microRNAs from plants still thriving post digestion was quite surprising. Even more shocking it was identified that fragments of these plant genomes come with consequences. Scientists revealed one such microRNA molecule, called MIR168a—which is More >