Jul 2, 2009 | 6
The arid Negev Desert in southern Israel is no match for the desert rhubarb, which plant researchers say has found a unique way to water itself.
The plant (Rumex hymenosepalus) has mastered collecting moisture in a region that receives just two to six inches [50.8 to 152.4 millimeters] of rainfall a year. According to Simcha Lev-Yadun, an author of the study published in Naturwissenschaften, the plant captures water from rains so light they don’t even wet the soil.
The plant does it with large round leaves and a long vertical root, odd adaptations for desert plants. More often desert flora has small leaves--think cactus--to minimize water loss, and two types of roots to maximize water capture.
Sep 22, 2008 | 5
Researchers say that they have pinpointed chemical signals that cause leaves, flowers, and fruit to fall from plants – and that, if blocked, might allow them to hang on forever.
Scientists already knew there were cells in the tissue linking stems and branches that release chemicals that break down plant cells, causing leaves, et al, to fall off. But they in the dark about what triggered the release of these chemicals.
Now University of Missouri plant biologist John Walker says he and colleagues have identified a group of compounds in Arabidopsis thaliana that prompt production of the proteins that cause plants to shed their petals. By blocking these chemicals, they succeeded in keeping petals intact, according to their paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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