Did You Know That Certain Plants Do Division?

Plants Do Division

Plants Do Division http://news.jic.ac.uk/

 

I thought that only humans can do arithmetic, but plants do division as well. I guess a brain with a neocortex is not required. New research shows that arabidopsis plants perform an arithmetic feat to know how to distribute stored energy during the night when there is no light, preventing starvation.

Plants get their energy from light through a process called photosynthesis. This involves breaking down carbon dioxide compounds into sugars. And we all know what awesome byproduct that gives us; oxygen! So during the day they store sugars, and during the night plants do division in order to distribute the sugars at a steady rate. This insight comes from new research done by the scientists at the John Innes Centre and found through the open access journal eLife.

It is vital that plants do division in order to be able to grow properly. Learning more about this process has some implications, such as possible plant hacking in order to achieve higher crop yields. This is already being done with GMOs.

Plants do division during night time. There are certain “mechanisms” in the leaves that measure how much of the starch is stored and how much time will pass until the sun rises. Plants also have a sort of an internal “biological clock” which allows them to guess when dawn will come. There are three clock genes that work together like a seesaw. When dawn comes, these genes instruct the plant to make two proteins, CCA1 and LHY. These proteins tell the plant that it is daytime. During the day these are destroyed, which allows for the third protein, TOC1, to be made. This tells the plant that it is night time. That last protein also tells the plant that it’s time to make the first two, so the whole process cycles again.

According to Professor Alison Smith,

the calculations are so precise so that plants prevent starvation but also make most efficient use of their food.

Using up the starch too fast will induce starvation, while using it up too slow will waste the unused starch. Scientists predict that there are two molecules that encode the information about how much starch is stored at a given time and time until dawn breaks. Let’s call these molecules S and T for the time being. The rate at which starch is consumed is set by the ratio of S molecules to T molecules. Because a ratio is actually a fancy way to say division, scientists are confident in the claim that plants are division experts.

Sources:

http://elife.elifesciences.org/content/2/e00669

http://news.jic.ac.uk/2013/06/plants-do-sums-to-get-through-the-night/

http://arabidopsis.info/InfoPages?template=arabidopsis;web_section=arabidopsis

http://www.plantsci.cam.ac.uk/research/webb/plantTime/clock.html

Why Don’t We Eat Insects?

The world population is huge! Not as big as it could be as I’ve recently been told… but it’s still pretty big. How are we feeding all these people? Well, we have the usual assortments of unhealthy meat, nutritious plants and other foods, but what about things like noisy grasshoppers? The effects of agriculture on our planet are immense and largely overlooked. Insects could be a viable answer. 

Here’s a great TED talk with Marcel Dicke talking about eating insects.

And why not? Scientific American has the low down on entomophagist David Gracer who says that

…a bowl of grasshoppers has more vitamins than beef and is lower in fat.

He also goes on to say that

Our disgust for insects is just cultural… Afterall we eat lobsters, which are arthropods, as are insects.

So now that I’ve tempted you, I’m sure you’re ready to try pick up some sour cream and onion flavored crickets from your local ethnic food store. Or maybe you’re ready to try some recipes. I’ve taken the liberty to find a few good recipes for you.

Here’s a site for all things bug recipe related based in Florida, USA.

And here’s a site dedicated to all insect recipes all the time… There is also a huge list of other places to find insect recipes at the bottom of this site’s page.

So dig in! and try to enjoy!

 

Sources:

TED Talks- Marcel Dicke

David Gracer  via Scientific America

Florida Pest Control

Georgia College’s Insect Recipes

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/13/the-ugly-face-of-overpopulation/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/09/26/them-cows-is-sweet/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/15/edible-landscapes/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/11/a-new-tune-for-grasshoppers/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/17/the-effect-of-agriculture-on-the-planet/

http://www.amazon.com/Crick-ettes-Cream-Flavored-Cricket-Snacks/dp/B00BD9E1U2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1360857857&sr=8-3&keywords=sour+cream+and+onion+crickets

http://www.flapest.com/recipes.aspx

 

Introducing Transparent Soil

 

Biologists have developed a new transparent soil to be able to study roots and root bacteria without disrupting their environment. The new soil is a composite of a material called nafion. Although it is not identical to real soil, the physical and chemical properties are extremely similar.

Plant biologist Laurent Laplaze stated that:

“This is a completely new way to look at roots in a more realistic setup than usually used. It is a major technical breakthrough that opens new avenues for plant physiology, plant breeding and the study of plant-microbe interactions.”

Scientists are confident this new creation will lead to improved crops and the identification of new ways of preventing outbreaks of food poisoning.

 

 

The Effect Of Agriculture On The Planet

This is such an important TED talk! So many people, including myself, do not realize the effect that something as vital as agriculture has on the planet. We need to practice more efficient agriculture, and we need to act quickly. Some examples of potential solutions are vertical farming, buying more locally grown foods, dramatically altering our diets, and growing food ourselves. Even in urban settings, more and more people are realizing that not only is growing their own food fun, it is healthier for themselves and for the Earth.

 

You can also refer to one of my earlier posts, Edible Landscapes, for more information regarding solutions.