Nav: Home

Weeds that reinvented weediness

September 03, 2009

Flowering plants are all around us and are phenomenally successful--but how did they get to be so successful and where did they come from? This question bothered Darwin and others and a paper published in the September issue of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society indicates that their ability to adapt anatomically may be the answer.

Sherwin Carlquist, a research botanist at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and recipient of the Linnean Medal for Botany, has spent his career studying "non-tree" flowering plants to discover more about their origins and the reason behind their success. "Fossil evidence had provided some answers and DNA evidence had shown us how earlier flowering plants were related, but how they looked, and what their wood was like, were neglected topics" says Dr Carlquist.

In-depth studies of the growth form and anatomy of wood cells produced unexpected results, indicating that flowering plants originated not as trees (as thought throughout most of the 20th century), but as relatively non-woody "pre-trees" that could outcompete ancient plants like conifers. Rather than simulating conifers, flowering plants developed new mechanisms for survival which gave them a competitive advantage. "Flowering plants are the new weeds, able to keep reinventing new forms and wood patterns. They stayed non-woody at first, perfecting new conducting systems that have more design flexibility and can do what conifer woods can't. Flowering plants still do this today, inventing amazing new forms and wood formulas, using juvenile tendencies they retain. They are the "new kids on the block," the weedy newcomers that change and adapt rapidly" says Dr Carlquist.
-end-


Wiley

Related Flowering Plants Articles:

The mechanism that controls Chinese cabbage flowering
A research team led by Namiko Nishida from Kobe University have succeeded in comprehensively identifying the long noncoding ribonucleic acids (IncRNAs) that are expressed when Chinese cabbage is temporarily exposed to cold temperatures for four weeks.
The hunger gaps: How flowering times affect farmland bees
For the very first time, researchers from the University of Bristol have measured farmland nectar supplies throughout the whole year and revealed hungry gaps when food supply is not meeting pollinator demand.
Flowering plants, new teeth and no dinosaurs: New study sheds light on the rise of mammals
A new study has identified three factors critical in the rise of mammal communities since they first emerged during the Age of Dinosaurs: the rise of flowering plants; the evolution of tribosphenic molars in mammals; and the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, which reduced competition between mammals and other vertebrates in terrestrial ecosystems.
Research characterizes evolution of pathway for reproductive fitness in flowering plants
Small RNAs are key regulators involved in plant growth and development.
A protein prevents plants from premature flowering
The induction of flowering is of major importance from an ecological and agronomic point of view.
Combining on and off switches, one protein can control flowering in plants
New research has discovered a previously unknown mechanism for controlling cellular decisions, one which combines an on-and-off switch in a single protein, either promoting or preventing the transition to flowering in plants.
Sowing strips of flowering plants has limited effect on pollination
Many pollinating insects benefit from a small-scale agricultural landscape with pastures, meadows and other unploughed environments.
Researchers identify the cells that trigger flowering
How do plants 'know' it is time to flower? A new study uncovers exactly where a key protein forms before it triggers the flowering process in plants.
New approach to improve nitrogen use, enhance yield, and promote flowering in rice
Using nitrogen fertilizer increases crop yields, but excess runoff causes environmental pollution.
Evolution of China's flowering plants shows East-West divide between old, new lineages
An international team of scientists has mapped the evolutionary relationships between China's 30,000 flowering plant species, uncovering a distinct regional pattern in biodiversity.
More Flowering Plants News and Flowering Plants Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.