This terrarium hasn’t been opened in 40 years! It is completely self-sufficient—the bacteria in the compost breaks down dead leaves to give the plants the carbon dioxide they need, and the moisture in the air condenses on the glass and returns to the soil to feed the plants’ roots.
A New Phytopia - Visualising the structures of life.
That title may have read as a rather grand statement but put simply without plants, life as we know it would not exist. From food, to fibre, to the air we breathe we are quite dependent on plants. The unique photos above are the babies of many different plants AKA seeds. This work has been created by academic/artist Rob Kesseler in partnership with the Kew Gardens Millenium Seed Bank.
Phytopia reveals a hidden world lying beyond the scope of the human eye. Working in the liminal territory between Art and Science. Rob K
There are many ways this work is special. First is the location, these seeds are live specimens forming a genetic bank of sorts within the Kew Millennium Seed Bank it’s quite a similar initiative to the Svalbard seed bank. Here these seeds remain protected, stocked in numbers to potentially restore plant populations if required.
Second is due to the way they are photographed by using a scanning electron microscope. Which basically uses a beam of electrons instead of light, giving the extremely fine details we can see above. These images then have layers of colour, specific to their mother plant, added to them. Rob describes this artistic process akin to how plants attract insects to attracting an audience.
Finally is the individual characteristics the photos highlight. Each seed has been honed through hundreds of years of evolution, adapting each one to succeed in a particular strategy of dispersal and growth. This brings home the fact that these plant babies are alive and individual as you or me.
Plants babies under microscope = eye & brain candy.
Geometric Diatom, a microscopic alga, has a silica-coated wall comprised of two overlapping halves, like a box with a lid. Normally golden-brown, it has rainbow hues in this photograph because of the refraction of light.
Parasitic bacterium turns plants into zombies
BBSRC-funded scientists have discovered how a bacterial parasite turns plants into the living dead.
The bacteria called phytoplasma is able to manipulate the way plants grow, causing infected plants to transform their flowers into leaf tissue. In doing so, the plants are sacrificing their reproductive success and becoming sterile – dead to the future and destined to only benefit the survival of the bacteria parasite (healthy plant seen in the top image and an infected plant can be seen in the middle image).
For the first time scientists can reveal how this remarkable manipulation takes place. The parasitic bacterium produces a protein called SAP54 that tricks the plant into transforming its flowers into leaf-like material. This transformation makes the plant more attractive to leafhoppers for settlement - the bacterium’s next victim and host to be (see leafhopper in image three).
Once an enticed leafhopper eats the infected zombie plant, the bacteria then catches a ride in their saliva on to the next plant they hop on to – starting the cycle all over again.
This research comes from the labs of Professor Hogenhout at John Innes Centre, and Professors Angenent and Immink at Wageningen University.
Images: John Innes Centre
Read more at: http://bit.ly/RNWZn5
For more research on plant infection go to: http://tmblr.co/ZtJ7bq1BM2QXb
(submitted by tanzellanator)
a redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California
Cross section of Liana stem (climbing tropical plant) (40x) (via Cross section of Liana stem (climbing tropical plant) | Brightfield | Nikon Small World)
Daisy—unwrapped petals (5x) (via Daisy-unwrapped petals | Brightfield | Nikon Small World)
A liana is a woody climber that starts at ground level, and uses trees to climb up to the canopy where it spreads from tree to tree to get as much light as possible. Lianas are especially characteristic of tropical moist deciduous forests and rainforests. These climbers often form bridges between the forest canopy, connect the entire forest and provide arboreal animals with paths across the forest. This is a Monkey Ladder vine.
Cosmarium sp. (desmid) near a Sphagnum sp. leaf (100x)
Desmids are an order of green algae that are single-celled but divided into two compartments by an isthmus.
(via Cosmarium sp. desmid near a Sphagnum sp. leaf | 2012 Photomicrography Competition | Nikon Small World)
A stunning corn variety selected by Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee farmer and breeder, from several traditional corn varieties. Gifted to NS/S by one of his students, Greg Schoen. Produces a diversity of gorgeous translucent, jewel-colored ears, each one unique. A popcorn, the kernels may be ground into cornmeal or popped. This corn became an Internet sensation in 2012 and continues to delight gardeners around the planet. Approx. 6.5g/50 seeds per packet.
To read the story behind this magnificent corn, check out this Native Seeds Blog post.
All photos shown here are copyrighted by Greg Schoen and used with permission.
There’s an official Guinness World Record for “World’s Most Dangerous Tree,” and it’s held by the manchineel tree from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The manchineel’s bark is covered in sap that causes skin to blister and can blind a person if it gets in their eyes. Even standing under the tree in the rain can cause blisters because the sap will drip onto skin.The tree’s fruit, known as the “beach apple” or “death apple,” is slightly sweet but very painful to eat. Ulceration of the mouth and esophagus will occur from just a small bite and consumption can be lethal. Smoke from burning manchineel wood can cause blindness, and the sap has historically been used to coat arrows for hunting. Today it’s an endangered species in Florida. (via Listverse)