Tag Archives | Plants

Plants Blamed for Human Deaths in Heat Waves

800px-JungleBrain Clark Howard writes at National Geographic:

A study published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics found that during heat waves, plants tend to absorb less pollution from the air. That puts more people at risk of developing respiratory complications, which can lead to death.

The research was conducted in the United Kingdom by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York. It was financed by the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

National Geographic reached out to the study’s lead author, Lisa Emberson, but has not heard back.

The study describes the role plants play in mitigating air pollution by absorbing ozone. Ozone is well known for protecting Earth from harmful cosmic rays in the atmosphere, but when it’s produced at the Earth’s surface, it is the primary component of smog and can irritate human respiratory systems.

Ozone is produced at the surface by photochemical oxidation of carbon dioxide, methane, and various volatile organic compounds when in the presence of nitrous oxides (which are typically produced by vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions).

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A Jaguar In The Peruvian Jungle Tripping On Hallucinogenic Plants

Did humans discover the components of ayahuasca by observing animals? And when large cats go on a psychedelic trip in the jungle, what do they see? The Daily Grail reveals:
A jaguar in the Peruvian rain forest eating the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, one of the major constituents of the shamanic brew ayahuasca. (The jaguar seems to be affected somewhat by the vine.) To make things doubly interesting, one of the most commonly reported elements in ayahuasca visions are...jaguars! And these visions even seem to transcend cultural and geographical boundaries. Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo administered harmaline to 35 white, urban volunteers, without telling them the substance they were taking nor the expected effects. He was surprised to note that "strangely enough, tigers, leopards or jaguars were seen by seven subjects even though big cats are not seen in Chile."
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Plants Do Math

Grand-Reng JPG05Who knew that plants could perform calculations that many humans might struggle with. From Reuters:
Plants do complex arithmetic calculations to make sure they have enough food to get them through the night, new research published in journal eLife shows. Scientists at Britain's John Innes Centre said plants adjust their rate of starch consumption to prevent starvation during the night when they are unable to feed themselves with energy from the sun. They can even compensate for an unexpected early night. "This is the first concrete example in a fundamental biological process of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation," mathematical modeler Martin Howard of John Innes Centre (JIC) said. During the night, mechanisms inside the leaf measure the size of the starch store and estimate the length of time until dawn...
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Sheep Eating Plant Growing In England

Puya chilensis 02If I had a garden I think I might want to plant of few of these around the perimeter. BBC News reports on the rare Chilean sheep killer, Puya chilensis:

A South American plant with a 10ft (3m) tall flower spike is about to bloom in a Surrey glasshouse for the first time since it was planted 15 years ago.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at Wisley said the Puya chilensis, a native of Chile, would bloom in the next few days and last about a week.

In the Andes it uses its sharp spines to snare and trap sheep and other animals, which slowly starve to death.

The animals then decay at the base of the plant, acting as a fertiliser.

The RHS feeds its specimen on liquid fertiliser.

The gardening charity said very few specimens of Puya chilensis were known to have flowered in the UK.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales waited 11 years for its plant to bloom, though clumps bloom every April in the open on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly.

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Sequenced Genome Of Sacred Lotus May Yield Anti-Aging Secrets

sacred lotusContemporary science meets ancient wisdom via redOrbit:

A team of international scientists report today that they have sequenced and annotated the genome of the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). The research was co-led by Ray Ming, a plant biology professor at University of Illinois’ Institute for Genomic Biology; Jane Shen-Miller, a plant biology professor at UCLA; and Shaohua Li, director of the Wuhan Botanical Garden at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The team have sequenced nearly 90 percent of the plant’s 27,000 genes.

The sacred lotus has the ability to repair genetic defects, and may hold a key to the secrets of aging; the seeds of the lotus can survive up to 1,300 years. The sacred lotus is known from the geologic record as early as 135 million years ago. The plant has been grown in China for at least the last 4,000 years, and has long been used there for food and medicine.

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How Plants Help Each Other Grow By Near-Telepathic Communication

6a0148c76e8722970c0167621abbea970b-800wi“Plants substitute biosynthesis for behavior”, employing biochemical messaging as a means of interacting with their environment on a level we don’t even fully understand, yet we are constantly immersed in this sea of molecular communication.. Its been hypothesized that plant psychedelics are messenger molecules to mammals that naturally raise awareness at critical junctures in order to impart information vital to maintaining the continuity of the all life in biosphere…But how do plants communicate with each other besides the thick matrix of pheromonal activity?

Via Waking Times:

Plants have scientifically been show to draw alternative sources of energy from other plants. Plants influence each other in many ways and they communicate through “nanomechanical oscillations” vibrations on the tiniest atomic or molecular scale or as close as you can get to telepathic communication.

Members of Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse’s biological research team have previously shown that green algae not only engages in photosynthesis, but also has an alternative source of energy: it can draw it from other plants.

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DIY Synthetic Biologists Creating Glowing Trees (via Kickstarter)

This is so sci-fi it’s positively scary! The home brewing school of science has turned to crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to fund the creation of genetically engineered glow-in-the-dark trees, reports Andrew Pollack for the New York Times:

Hoping to give new meaning to the term “natural light,” a small group of biotechnology hobbyists and entrepreneurs has started a project to develop plants that glow, potentially leading the way for trees that can replace electric streetlamps and potted flowers luminous enough to read by.

The project, which will use a sophisticated form of genetic engineering called synthetic biology, is attracting attention not only for its audacious goal, but for how it is being carried out.

glowing plants

Rather than being the work of a corporation or an academic laboratory, it will be done by a small group of hobbyist scientists in one of the growing number of communal laboratories springing up around the nation as biotechnology becomes cheap enough to give rise to a do-it-yourself movement.

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Scientists Create Marijuana Strain That Doesn’t Make Users High

Photo: A7nubis (CC)

Photo: A7nubis (CC)

“Why?”, you might well ask. The answer via AFP/Yahoo News:

Israeli scientists have cultivated a cannabis plant that doesn’t get people stoned in a development that may help those smoking marijuana for medical purposes, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

According to the Maariv daily, the new cannabis looks, smells and even tastes the same, but does not induce any of the feelings normally associated with smoking marijuana that are brought on by the substance THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.

According to Maariv, Tikkun Olam sought to neutralise the effect of the THC and to increase the effect of another substance called CBD, or cannabidiol, which has been shown to help diabetics and to ease various psychiatric disorders.

Not only does it leave users stone-cold sober, it also doesn’t induce the munchies, the hunger pangs that the drug’s smokers generally suffer. Despite the innovation, it is unlikely to have any impact on Israeli law, which outlaws the use of marijuana as illegal except for medical purposes….

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Can Plants Sense Human Intentions?

Can plants, bacteria, and even yogurt identify with your pain? How wide is the gulf between man and plant, if there is a gulf at all? If you're going to have an argument with your significant other, consider avoiding doing so in front of your potted fern:
“As the races of man speak in different languages so do the varieties of plants manifest their voices in different ways. They seem to be able to hear and understand us. For the time being, however, we must listen to them through our machines. One day, those machines may be unnecessary.”
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