As you add condiments to your burgers, hot dogs, etc. at a summer barbecue, take a minute to reflect on where they come from. Most are plant products. And a recent study published in PNAS tells the story about how humans wound up with mustard. As life got going, it started to fill new niches … More Cutting the Evolutionary Mustard.
Being multi-cellular has advantages. Specialization of cells for different jobs is one advantage– akin to humans adopting agriculture, freeing up some of us to do other things. Multi-cellularity is also quite challenging as those cells have to communicate well together and there are more cells to feed/keep healthy. Different cells have to be able to … More Guardians of Gas Exchange.
Flowering Flowering is a killer application of the natural world. There are 300,000 extant species of flowering plants, dwarfing any other type of plant. There are only several thousand species of other types of plants (about 15,000 mosses exist today– the next most abundant group of plants). To say flowers are an evolutionary success story … More Flowering time and genetic memory.
Do you ever wonder about how a plant goes from seed to whole plant? The flip answer is ‘it grows’. But how? How is a plant organized to generate shoots, leaves, roots, flowers, etc.? A scientist that studied that question passed away recently. His name: Ian Sussex. One of his former postdocs and a great … More Ian Sussex and Plant Meristems
One of my favorite podcasts is Good Job, Brain, a weekly trivia podcast out of the San Francisco bay area. They’re a pub trivia team and they’re dedicated to trivia. On the podcast, they mix quizzes and stories about our world and they do it in a fun, engaging way. In the most recent episode, “Cheers!”, … More Grapes, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Good coffee has arrived on the International Space Station (ISS). An Italian designed espresso machine designed to fill a pouch with espresso will be installed on the ISS. They do have coffee in space currently, but it is apparently the instant stuff that tastes terrible, but works. I’m by no means a coffee snob and … More ISSpresso.
Say you write something and submit it for editing. Your editor sends it back with comments. And you create a new version and re-submit and so on. it’s a feedback loop. With editor/writer, it’s a loop of iterative improvement resulting in something publishable (ideally). Feedback loops in biology are also quite common. A recent paper … More Small surprises and a new feedback loop.