Etaerio: an aggregate fruit. Etaerio: an aggregation of news stories about plants.
Once an estimated 4 billion trees strong, the American chestnut was almost wiped out by chestnut blight. Efforts are underway to help partially restore the species, by interbreeding the American chestnut with its disease-resistant Chinese relative. The end result of a hybridization program yielded a "new" American chestnut that contains approximately 94% genetic similarity to the original American parent, but confers resistance to the blight. Tens of thousands of the trees have been planted, with (so far) an 80-90% survival rate.
- The mighty American chestnut tree, poised for a comeback via the Washington Post
- The American Chestnut Foundation
- Natural Range of the American chestnut via the ACF
Posted by Daniel Mosquin at 3:39 PM on October 18, 2010
Scientists from the US Army and entomologists from across the United States have identified a possible cause of honeybee colony collapse: two pathogens working in concert, one a fungus of the genus Nosema and the other a virus, seem to cause the problem.
Abstract from the Public Library of Science article:
"In 2010 Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), again devastated honey bee colonies in the USA, indicating that the problem is neither diminishing nor has it been resolved. Many CCD investigations, using sensitive genome-based methods, have found small RNA bee viruses and the microsporidia, Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae in healthy and collapsing colonies alike with no single pathogen firmly linked to honey bee losses."
New York Times article: Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery
Public Library of Science article: Iridovirus and Microsporidian Linked to Honey Bee Colony Decline
Posted by Daniel Mosquin at 3:01 PM on October 12, 2010
In this photo essay, renowned ecologist E.O. Wilson writes about the importance and magnificence of the smaller organisms on the planet. Photography by David Liittschwager highlights 5 different ecosystems, including a coral reef and deciduous forest, representing the many different creatures that inhabit 1 cubic foot of the earth.
- Within One Cubic Foot via National Geographic
And another thank you to Claire Thompson for again contributing a weblog entry.
Posted by Daniel Mosquin at 12:00 PM on March 19, 2010
Category(-ies): Plant Discoveries
Researchers from Oklahoma State University recently published a study that reveals touching the soft furry leaves of the African violet can actually cause damage to the plant. The scientists found that plants had more damage, fewer leaf numbers and smaller size when brushed with bare hands that had been applied with lotion than those brushed with gloved hands. Their results may encourage African violet enthusiasts to keep their hands off the attractive plants.
Links and resources:
- For African violets, "hands off" means healthier via Science Daily
- Brotton, J.C. and J.C. Cole. 2009. Brushing using a hand coated with body lotion or in a latex glove decreases African violet plant quality and size. Horticultural Technology 19: 613-616.
Thank you (once again) to Claire Thompson, UBC Work Study student, for writing this entry.
Posted by Daniel Mosquin at 12:00 PM on March 17, 2010
Category(-ies): Climate Change
Scientists from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service are finding that rising carbon dioxide levels can have a wide range of impacts on plant communities. Their findings suggest that some weedy invasives may benefit from higher CO2 levels. Forest species such as the longleaf pine may have increased drought tolerance and higher survival rates from rising CO2 levels. The scientists also found that greater CO2 levels cause chemical changes in pine needles that may translate to a lower nutritional content for smaller organisms. These findings suggest altered carbon and nutrient cycling in forests.
- Long-term effects of carbon dioxide on plants studied by ARS via the USDA
- Changing CO2 promises surprising changes in plant communities via the USDA
Thanks again to Claire Thompson for researching and writing this entry.
Posted by Daniel Mosquin at 12:00 PM on March 16, 2010
Category(-ies): Plant Discoveries
Researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew have recently discovered that some varieties of tomato and potato plants are carnivorous predators that capture and kill insects for nutrients. Their discovery has added 325 new species to all known carnivorous plants, and revealed that the number of carnivorous plants may have been underestimated by up to 50%. Unlike the venus flytrap, these carnivourous plants do not directly ingest their prey, but trap and kill insects with sticky hairs on their stems, and later absorb the nutrients through their roots once insects decay and fall to ground. This ability is thought to be an adaption to living in wild areas with poor soil.
- Tomatoes can "eat" insects via the Telegraph
- Beware the killer veg: How tomatoes are carnivorous and can trap insects for food via The Daily Mail
Thank you again to Claire Thompson for providing this write-up.
Posted by Daniel Mosquin at 12:00 PM on March 15, 2010
Category(-ies): Botanical Art
This pictorial features the work of Macoto Murayama, whose colorful computer generated illustrations reveal the geometric, almost mechanical features of some common flowers.
- Botanical Drawings for the Digital Age via Wired Magazine
- More of Murayama's work via PSFK: Macoto Murayama's Flower Illustrations
This weblog entry is also courtesy of work-study student, Claire Thompson.
Posted by Daniel Mosquin at 12:00 PM on March 12, 2010