Saturday, June 3, 2017

New and Old

More science on cresting in plants came to my attention not long ago, and then I read the book I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong, which blew me away. Well written, accessible, entertaining, and filled with wonder. New science on how life (all life, not just plants) works. Truly awesome!

In short, phytoplasmids are one of the causes of cresting in many plant species. From the Plant Pathology site at the USDA:

Phytoplasmas are very small bacteria that are enveloped only by a single membrane and do not possess a cell wall like typical bacteria. According to results from phylogenetic studies of various genes, phytoplasmas descended from ancestors that did possess walls. In their descent from walled bacteria in the Bacillus/Clostridium group, the genomes of phytoplasmas became greatly reduced in size. Phytoplasmas thus lack some biosynthetic pathways for the synthesis of compounds necessary for their survival, and they must obtain those substances from plants and insects in which they are parasites. Many bacteria can be isolated and grown in artificial media in the laboratory, but so far, no one has been able to accomplish such a feat with any phytoplasma.

(In the book above, you'll read that this type of interaction is part of many, many, many different species. And species within species.)

The article about cresting (fasciation) in cactus is here, if you'd like to get into those weeds.

And now for the barrel cactus re-runs:

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