Newsy Notes features quick explanations of research related to the growing of plants. I come across this research during my daily sweep of plant-related information. I found the items noted below of particular interest. Follow the links for more in depth reading on each topic. The following were all published by ScienceDaily.
Washing fruits and vegetables may not remove E. coli or Salmonella, report Purdue University researchers. After developing a method to look at pathogens in nutrient-transporting plant tissue they found E. coli in mung bean sprouts and Salmonella in peanut seedlings after the seeds of each had been contaminated with the pathogens prior to planting. Proper washing removes dangerous pathogens from the outside of food, but heating to a specific temperature is needed to remove them from inside tissues. This, of course, does not occur with fruits and vegetables consumed raw such as salad greens and bean sprouts. The next research step is to try and determine how the pathogens survive inside plant tissues, which may lead to methods of eradication.
Cucumber mosaic virus causes disease by directly matching a host plant gene associated with chlorophyll formation, found plant scientists with The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s national science agency. Like a zipper, one side of the gene – the virus side – directly matches the host plant gene. When scientists altered the host plant’s genetic make up so it carried both copies, rather than one copy, of the chlorophyll forming gene the virus could not attack. With this knowledge, scientists can now search for genes in plant viruses that match plants’ known genetic sequences in an effort to find ways to stop disease spread.
Butterflies are truly amazing creatures. They migrate thousands of miles as part of their life-cycle and delight humans with their flittering and colors. Here’s another amazing butterfly fact … they can change wing patterns to fool birds, report researchers who studied wing color patterns of an Amazon butterfly species. Gene analyses in these butterflies showed they carry three versions of the chromosome that controls wing patterns. Butterflies, and apparently moths, alter wing patterns to make them less attractive to their specific predators. Fascinating!
When you think about this it’s a no-brainer, but how many have actually considered that maintenance of a road bed in rural areas, such as grading work, can spread roadside invasive plants? Apparently it can, shows a computer simulation model developed by researchers at Penn State. They input field experiment data from spring road re-grading into their computer model to determine how this work might spread Japanese stilt grass. Though most of the sterile seeds used in their model remained within about 164 feet (50 meters) of their original location, a small percentage of seed moved more than 820 feet (250 meters). Of course, this is not the only way invasive plants spread, but it may help explain some spread.
NOTE: Click this link for more information on Japanese stilt grass in Connecticut. This invasive has quickly … and I mean quickly … invaded disturbed soils, lawns, roadside edges, and woodland edges in my neighborhood. It is currently the invasive weed I spend most of my time trying to control.