Plants

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Astronaut Cady Coleman harvests one of our plants on Space Shuttle Columbia. NASA

Taking plants off planet – how do they grow in zero gravity?

Plants on the International Space Station must figure out how to grow in a completely novel environment. Their adaptability hints at how they'll react to changes here on Earth – or in future space outposts.
A bumble bee foraging for nectar and pollen at a turtlehead plant that produces the compound catalpol, which reduced bee parasite load. Leif Richardson

Flower pharmacies help bees fight parasites

Search for information on ‘self-medication,’ and you’ll likely find descriptions of the myriad ways that we humans use drugs to solve problems. In fact, the consumption of biologically active molecules…
Understanding microbial activity in rhizosphere – the critical zone where plant roots, microbes and minerals interface – is critical to promoting plant health. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Tapping the ‘plant microbiome’ to improve farming and plant health

People are increasingly aware of the link between the trillions of microbes that live within our bodies and human health. Studies have found that a healthy population of bacteria, or a microbiome, in a…
Plants use photosynthesis to build molecules and energy they can use. By copying plants, humans can make cleaner fuels. Ranjit Bhatnagar/Flickr

To shift away from fossil fuels, we need to copy plants

Most of the energy that fuels our lives comes from plants. Whether it is a fossil fuel that was formed hundreds of millions of years ago or the food we eat, all carbon-borne energy has its ultimate origins…
Canary grass is an invasive plant, but new varieties are still being developed for pasture. Stuart Hay

Feed or weed? New pastures are sowing problems for the future

Weeds cost Australian farmers around A$4 billion every year — and they are likely to do a similar amount of damage to the environment. In a new global survey published this week in Proceedings of the National…
Enjoy the color while you can before climate change makes a mess of this too. chensiyuan

Fall foliage in the crosshairs of climate change

One of nature’s most spectacular events occurs every autumn, when the leaves of hardwood trees burst into brilliant color before falling to the ground. These autumnal displays in the eastern United States…
A new study shows plants may absorb more carbon than we thought. Jason Samfield/Flickr

Plants absorb more CO2 than we thought, but …

Through burning fossil fuels, humans are rapidly driving up levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which in turn is raising global temperatures. But not all the CO2 released from burning coal, oil…

Satellites used to measure photosynthesis

Satellite technology has been used to measure the light that plant leaves emit as a byproduct of photosynthesis. The satellite…

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