Tree-D modelling: Scanning the savanna with 3D imaging

How do you measure the quantity of carbon in strangely shaped trees? With a little bit of Tree-D modelling! For National Science Week, we are celebrating a pioneering researcher who is employing a clever remote-sensing technology to help us learn more about tree carbon capture. Linda Luck, a PhD candidate at Charles Darwin University, is … Continue reading Tree-D modelling: Scanning the savanna with 3D imaging

Early plants evolved from algae, fossils show

A fresh look at spore-like microfossils has challenged conventional understanding of how plants evolved. In a study, published in Science, researchers analysed a 480-million-year-old microfossil, retrieved from Western Australia, that connects plant origins to freshwater green algae. This suggested that plant evolution was gradual and nuanced as it evolved from using simple cell-division to complex … Continue reading Early plants evolved from algae, fossils show

Seeing red – do tomatoes feel pain?

Tomatoes might seem like the strong silent types, but they cry out when they get hurt. A team of researchers, led by Gabriela Niemeyer Reissig of the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil, found that the fruit of tomatoes send electrical warning signals to the rest of the plant to warn of damaging events such as … Continue reading Seeing red – do tomatoes feel pain?

What you may have missed…

Baby pterosaurs fly the nest Infant pterosaurs may have taken to the air as soon as they cracked out of the egg, according to UK scientists. These reptiles dominated the skies during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods (228 to 66 million years ago), but it’s rare to find fossils of hatchlings or embryos, so … Continue reading What you may have missed…

How epigenetics encodes plant sperm

When we think of changing plant traits, we often think it involves genetic code, but a team of researchers from the John Innes Centre, UK, has found how inherited traits can also be altered without changing any genes. Typically, traits are inherited by passing genes on to offspring, but through a process called epigenetics a … Continue reading How epigenetics encodes plant sperm

Cheers to hot barley

Aussies love barley – after all, it makes beer – and an international team of researchers has good news for its production in Australia. Barley typically struggles to grow in a hot country like ours, but the team has identified a new mechanism that allows the grass to grow more flowers, and therefore grains, despite … Continue reading Cheers to hot barley

Introducing a new plant organ – the cantil

We already know quite a bit about plant architecture, so it’s somewhat surprising that a new natural organ was discovered in the most well-researched plant in the world. Timothy Gookin and Sarah Assmann of Pennsylvania State University, US, discovered the new organ in Arabidopsis thaliana (the thale, or mouse-ear, cress) – the ‘mouse’ of plant … Continue reading Introducing a new plant organ – the cantil

Putting a price on undiscovered Australian species

What’s the monetary value of our wildlife? Pretty high, according to Deloitte Access Economics, which has just released the first cost-benefit analysis of discovering new Australian species. For every $1 invested in mapping Australia’s undiscovered biodiversity, the nation will reap up to $35 of economic benefits, the report says. Scientists are already onboard – a … Continue reading Putting a price on undiscovered Australian species

Alliance between plants and fungi led to living on land

Plants may have colonised land because of an alliance with fungi, according to a study published in Science. Plants began life as aquatic species and started to move onto land around 450 million years ago. In the 1980s, a fossil study led to a hypothesis that they were able to adapt to the arid, above-water … Continue reading Alliance between plants and fungi led to living on land

Spotted gum, complete

A second complete eucalypt genome has been assembled and publicly released following a decade-long project involving 22 scientists from Australia, the US and Brazil. The genome of the spotted gum Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata will be the reference genome for the genus Corymbia, known as the bloodwoods. The first complete eucalypt reference genome – published … Continue reading Spotted gum, complete

Pretty flowers get more attention

Scientists aren’t immune to the lure of beauty, it seems, tending to shun plants that are rare and have ecological significance if they’re not attractive or readily accessible. “Bright colours, easy to reach plants were selected more often than those that were dingy, brown or inconspicuous,” says Kingsley Dixon from Curtin University, Western Australia, co-author … Continue reading Pretty flowers get more attention

Genome of resurrected plant is sequenced for the first time ever

For the first time ever, scientists have sequenced the genome of a resurrected plant that went extinct 2000 years ago. Last seen in biblical times, the date palm has risen indeed. Previously, a specimen called Methuselah was grown from germinated seeds of the once extinct Judean date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L). The ancient seeds were … Continue reading Genome of resurrected plant is sequenced for the first time ever