The Gunnera trick

Lofty peaks and a very high rate of succession grace the cover of New Phytologist 223:2, courtesy of Alberto Benavent-González. Below he explains the story behind his research. We are looking at the very front of the Pia Glacier, located at the southern side of the Darwin Range in Tierra del Fuego (Chile). This glacier, as many others in the region, is retreating rapidly an...
Read More

Pathways to ploidy

I caught up with Andrea Genre to talk about the research behind the latest image to appear on the cover of New Phytologist (volume 223, issue 1). Medicago truncatula root colonisation by the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Gigaspora margarita (outlined by the white dashes) induces a local increase in the host tissue ploidy. Coloured dots tag nuclei with putative ploidy levels...
Read More

From wild crocus to fields of gold

Mystery solved – biologists in Dresden explain the genetic origins of the saffron crocus. Saffron, the world's most expensive spice, comes from the stigmas of saffron crocus flowers, Crocus sativus. For many farmers in Mediterranean countries, Kashmir, India, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, saffron production is the main source of income, since the saffron crocus thrives in...
Read More

Snow is not always white

In some coastal areas in Antarctica, the snow can look red, orange, green, or a blend of all three. This colour is natural and is actually made up of tiny microscopic living cells called snow-algae. Red snow‐algae bloom on Léonie Island, Ryder Bay, Antarctic Peninsula. Courtesy of Matthew Davey. Snow algae are tiny plants that can survive and bloom in the slushy snow du...
Read More

How to pick your pollinator

This story about the birds and the bees might be different to the one you've heard before. Colour is the main tool that plants use to communicate with pollinators. The often bright, showy displays, sometimes including instructions invisible to the human eye, have evolved to attract creatures that will end up transferring pollen from one plant to another. But what if ther...
Read More

Into the loop

Mobile phones. Almost ubiquitous, it's easy to take them for granted, but our pocket computers are marvels of miniaturisation, promising unbridled connectivity. Their potential seems without limits. That is, until you take your new phone out of the box and realise that the charging port doesn't match the ends of any of the cables you already have. xkcd How annoying. U...
Read More

Seeing the wood to save the trees

The clouds part to reveal a sea of trees, wisps of mist snagging the canopy following the afternoon's tropical rain. The trees extend as far as the eye can see: a vast bowl of varied and verdant greens, dotted here and there with red – the flowering trees of the Dipterocarp family. Some stand high over the canopy, reaching heights of 90 metres. View of the tree canopy in th...
Read More

How does the Amazon rainforest cope with drought?

The Amazon rainforest has been feeling the heat – and now it's drying out. Droughts are expected to become more prevalent and severe because of climate change. How these droughts affect the rainforest will have a big influence on future warming and global climate. A study led by Dr Marielle Smith and Dr Scott Stark, published in New Phytologist, investigates the Amazon rain...
Read More

Stowaway fungi hitch a ride with birds to be with their plant partners

For the first time, scientists have shown that fungal hitchhikers use birds to travel to and colonise new territories with their plant partners. In a study published in New Phytologist, the researchers provide the first evidence that birds don't just carry birds to new places, but their fungal partners too. They found what they were looking for in bird poo. Rubus ulmifol...
Read More

Don’t go changing…

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 221:3, February 2019 Myrcia is one of the most species-rich lineages of flowering plants in the tropical Americas. We might expect this diversity to be reflected in the genus' flowers. When researchers analysed the flowers of Myrcia, however, they found very little change during c. 25 million years of evolution. ...
Read More