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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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. ...
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Pollen grains find safety in numbers

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 221:2, January 2019 You might think that the image on the latest cover of New Phytologist looks a bit like falling snow, appropriate for this time of year in the northern hemisphere. But what you're actually looking at are pollen grains. The photo shows fragments of pollen tetrads connected by clear, sticky threads of v...
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Turning over a leaf

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 221:1, January 2019 What do leaf surface cells look like? A recent study by Vofeley, Gallagher et al. aimed to uncover the diversity of cell shapes seen on leaf surfaces across land plants. The survey of 278 plant species revealed a wide diversity of cell shapes, a sample of which can be seen in the cover image for New Phytologist 221:1. U...
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The puzzling puzzle

Sometimes we humans tend to prefer style over substance, as you might observe in any clothes shop. On the other hand, plants are down-to-earth living beings that do not appreciate fashion and aesthetics. Their whole structure has been molded through time by evolution so that the shape of their components mirrors their specific functions (something that is less likely in the clo...
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Revealing fungal function

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 220:4, December 2018 If you went down to the woods this autumn, did you take a moment to have a closer look at the fungi at your feet, to ponder how they could be affected by changes in the way that woodlands are managed? If you didn't, don't worry - that's exactly what New Phytologist Interaction Section Editor, Prof. Francis Martin, has bee...
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How to trick a hornet

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 220:3, November 2018 Plants use a variety of ingenious mechanisms to arrange for the onward transport of their seeds by unsuspecting creatures. Stemona tuberosa might employ one of the strangest seed dispersal methods of all. The photograph on the cover of New Phytologist 220:3 shows a hornet (Vespa velutina) biting off a diaspore (seed plus ...
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