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Stories by John Platt


New record size for a genome goes to rare plant

A rare plant called Paris japonica has a genome 50 times longer than that of humans, making it the longest genome ever recorded. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, announced the discovery last week, and details appear in the September 2010 issue of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society .The Paris japonica genome weighs in at 152.23 picograms (trillionths of a gram), 15 percent larger than the previously biggest known genome, that of related herb, a hybrid trillium known as Trillium × hagae ...

October 11, 2010 — John Platt

Population crash in Kenya: Rare bird gets much, much rarer--but why?

One of the world's most critically endangered birds, Kenya's taita apalis ( Apalis fuscigularis ), has suddenly and inexplicably become much, much rarer, according to BirdLife International.The organization, which has funded research into the species through its Preventing Extinctions Program, says that field work conducted in 2009 and 2010 found almost no taita apalis remaining in Kenya's forests...

October 5, 2010 — John Platt

British bumblebees are inbreeding themselves into extinction

Populations of a bumblebee species living on remote Scottish islands have a lack of genetic diversity because of many generations of inbreeding, a situation that could put the region's bumblebees at risk of extinction, according to a new study by scientists from the University of Stirling in Scotland.Penelope Whitehorn, a PhD student, presented the research at last week's annual meeting of the British Ecological Society.The study found that moss carder bumblebees ( Bombus muscorum ) living on nine Hebridean islands off the west coast of Scotland are more susceptible to diseases carried by parasites than healthier populations on the mainland...

September 13, 2010 — John Platt
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