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Understanding the human microbiome will lead to breakthroughs in health care, including treatments for ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome. Shutterstock

The human microbiome is a treasure trove waiting to be unlocked

The microbiome is one of the largest organs in the body. Understanding its constituents and their functions will lead to breakthroughs in health care and well-being practices.
The short answer is that leaves fall off trees when they aren’t doing their job any more. Emily Nunell/The Conversation CC-NY-BD

Curious Kids: why do leaves fall off trees?

Leaves fall off trees when they aren’t doing their job any more. If there isn’t enough water, the leaf can be damaged and stop working.
These strawberries are almost ripe! fs999/flickr

Curious Kids: what happens when fruit gets ripe?

Fruit ripening is all about plants getting animals to eat the seeds that are inside their fruits. This helps the plants get their seeds to somewhere new where they can grow into a new plant.
Even the slightest touch of a D. moroides leaf can cause excruciating pain. An intense stinging, burning pain is felt immediately, then intensifies, reaching a peak after 20 – 30 minutes. Marina Hurley, Author provided

‘The worst kind of pain you can imagine’ – what it’s like to be stung by a stinging tree

Depending on the species, touching a stinging tree can be like 30 wasp stings at once or being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time.
Berzelia stokoei, one of the 3% of plants in South Africa that are found nowhere else in the world. Marinda Koekemoer

Why plants need an identity

There is good news for plant conservation in South Africa and internationally.
Once the coat around the seed is moistened, the embryo cells expand and burst out in a process called germination. shutterstock/NUM LPPHOTO

Curious Kids: how can a tiny seed actually grow into a huge tree?

A seed contains nearly everything a tree needs to get growing. Just add a dash of water, a bit of warmth and the right location, and you'll be seeing green in no time.
Research done in South Africa can guide Australian conservation managers on where to focus effort. Brian van Wilgen

Spending to save: what’s the best use of our conservation dollar?

It’s true: many species will go extinct due to the direct and indirect impacts of climate change. We will have to make some hard decisions about where to invest conservation dollars for the best effect…

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