Biology News & Research
News - Killer Alien Weed May Threaten Biggest Animal Migration
From The National Geographic
"An alien weed creeping through southern Kenya may threaten the largest wildlife migration on the planet, scientists say. The toxic plant, called Santa Maria feverfew, can also sicken people and kill animals."
News - Plant biology: growth industry
"Rooted and unable to flee, plants have evolved many ingenious ways of repulsing their enemies, from generating noxious chemicals in their leaves to emitting complex, volatile bouquets to attract predators that will pick off the plant's attackers1. It is a highly sophisticated chemical language undetectable by the human nose and largely undeciphered by science. But if and when it can be understood, it might open the way to modifying plants' signals to give them stronger protection, or to developing environmentally friendly mimics of natural signals as alternatives to herbicides.
In his efforts to understand this language, Baldwin has embarked on a project unique in its ambition and scale, carried out along what he calls "the longest lab corridor in the world". Working in Jena, Germany, where he is a director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, he and his team develop powerful genetic tools to systematically knock out, or knock down, genes involved in making the chemical signals. Then they observe the effects by growing the modified plants in the wild — 8,844 kilometres away, next to the Utah ranch."
News - Herbariums, the final frontier of flowering plants
Half of the world's yet-to-be-discovered flowering plant species may already have been collected, and now languish in herbarium cabinets.
While reclassifying varieties of Strobilanthes, a genus of purple-flowered plants from Asia, Robert Scotland of the University of Oxford, UK, and his colleagues noticed that many of the 60 species they described had been collected many years before. This lag ranged from 1 to 210 years and averaged more than 30 years for more than 3,000 species in 6 plant genera, including Strobilanthes. Just 16% of these plants were classified within 5 years of discovery.
News - Mummified Forest Found on Treeless Arctic Island
From the National Geographic
Pines, spruces buried in landslide millions of years ago, when area was warmer.
An ancient mummified forest, complete with well-preserved logs, leaves, and seedpods, has been discovered deep in the Canadian Arctic, scientists say.
The dry, frigid site is now surrounded by glaciers and is completely treeless, except for a few bonsai-size dwarf trees.
Read more in the National Geographic - http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/12/101217-mummified-forest-canada-science-environment/
News - Invasive species have a 'delayed legacy', says report
"The full impact of an alien species on an area's habitat may not come to light until decades after its intentional introduction, a report has warned.
Researchers suggest that the seeds of future invasions have already been sown, making them difficult to control.
The team of European scientists called on governments to tighten controls on international trade that involved potentially invasive species."
Read the full story at the BBC:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12041943