This is the first plant grown on the moon

A cotton seed has germinated on the moon. The sprout is inside a canister on China's Chang’e 4 lander that touched down on the far side of the moon earlier this month. From The Guardian:

Plants have been grown previously on the International Space Station, but this is the first time a seed has sprouted on the moon. The ability to grow plants in space is seen as crucial for long-term space missions and establishing human outposts elsewhere in the solar system, such as Mars.

Harvesting food in space, ideally using locally extracted water, would mean astronauts could survive for far longer without returning to Earth for supplies...

Scientists from Chongqing University, who designed the “mini lunar biosphere” experiment, sent an 18cm bucket-like container holding air, water and soil.

Inside are cotton, arabidopsis – a small, flowering plant of the mustard family – and potato seeds, as well as fruit-fly eggs and yeast.

Images sent back by the probe show a cotton plant has grown well, but so far none of the other plants had sprouted, the university said.

Imaging the marketing opportunity for a cannabis company to sell space weed!

Previously:

China launching lunar spacecraft to test growing plants on the dark side of the Moon

• First images from China's probe that just landed on the dark side of the moon

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This plant drives its own robot

Elowan is a "plant-robot hybrid" that uses its own bio-electromechanical signaling to drive itself around toward light sources. From an explanation by researcher Harpreet Sareen and his colleagues at the MIT Media Lab:

In this experimental setup, electrodes are inserted into the regions of interest (stems and ground, leaf and ground). The weak signals are then amplified and sent to the robot to trigger movements to respective directions.

Such symbiotic interplay with the artificial could be extended further with exogenous extensions that provide nutrition, growth frameworks, and new defense mechanisms.

Elowan: A plant-robot hybrid Read the rest

Fantastic time-lapse of house plants "falling asleep"

Darryl Cheng posted this fantastic video below on his Instagram account @houseplantjournal. The entrancing time-lapse video shows the light- and temperature-induced Nyctinastic movement ("sleep" movement) of his oxalis and maranta plants.

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I'm pleased to bring you this collab between HPJ and @angusandceleste - showing two of my favourite daily movers: oxalis and maranta. - The oxalis is wearing the latest from @angusandceleste - a Hand-thrown Boulder Pot, complete with matching wire stand. - I've teamed with Angus & Celeste to give you $10 off when you use the code: HOUSEPLANTJOURNAL at checkout ($50 minimum purchase) ~ ~ #angusandceleste #styleathome #oxalis #oxalistriangularis #plantdaddy #containerplants #plantsarefriends #plantdaddy #timelapse #livingwithplants #plantaddict #plantobsession #plantsathome #instaplant #planttherapy #houseplants #indoorplants #oddlysatisfying

A post shared by Darryl Cheng (@houseplantjournal) on Oct 27, 2018 at 7:57am PDT

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Trippy timelapse of two plants over a 24-hour period

Watch as two houseplants, and Oxalis and a Maranta, move throughout a 24-hour period in this cool timelapse video by Instagrammers houseplantjournal.

Watch it in its entirety here.

If you liked that one, watch this from a few years ago. It shows a plant come back to life after watering it:

(Geekologie) Read the rest

Liverworts contain psychoactive cannabinoid

A new molecular study shows that a compound called perrotetinene in certain species of liverworts is actually a psychoactive cannabanoid. From Science News:

A group of Japanese scientists in 1994 discovered perrotetinene in liverworts, but the new study is the strongest evidence yet that the compound is a psychoactive cannabinoid. Previously, cannabis was the only plant known to produce such cannabinoids....

After mapping perrotetinene’s molecular structure, the researchers created a synthetic version and tested it on mice. The team tracked the animals’ pain response, body temperature and movement — measures of the compound’s psychoactivity. The results suggested that perrotetinene may be slightly less psychoactive than THC, says study coauthor Jürg Gertsch, a biochemist at the University of Bern in Switzerland. The liverwort compound may also have fewer negative side effects such as memory loss and loss of coordination, he says.

"Uncovering the psychoactivity of a cannabinoid from liverworts associated with a legal high" (Science Advances)

illustration: "Hepaticae" from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur, 1904 Read the rest

Hypnotic video of 3D-printed plant forms undulating underwater

Hydrophytes are 3D-printed multimaterial forms that explore the possibilities for engineered plants of the future. Read the rest

Watch indoor plants sway from a breeze half a world away

Artist David Bowen (previously) has produced a new video of his expanded tele-present wind project, where indoor plants in Spain are moved by an outdoor plant buffeted by winds in Minnesota. Read the rest

Beautiful gardens in the back of Japanese mini pickup trucks

The Japan Federation of Landscape Contractors' Kei Truck Garden Contest challenges people to transform the beds of their miniature pickup trucks into lovely mobile gardens. From Spoon & Tamago:

Other than using the kei truck there are very few limitations and landscapers have incorporated everything from benches and aquariums to elements of lighting into their designs. Judges then rank the entries based on planning, expression, design, execution and environment.

See more here.

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How to make Worm Tea

Over at Popular Science, Jim Shaw, proprietor of Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, posted his recipe for Worm Tea, an organic liquid fertilizer and insecticide. The key ingredient is three pounds of castings, also known as worm shit. Shaw writes:

Collect 2 to 3 pounds of castings (or buy them from us). Next, pack them in a porous cloth, such as a burlap bag or even a pillowcase, to make a jumbo tea bag. Then dunk the bag in 2 to 3 gallons of lukewarm water, and soak it overnight. Finally, squeeze the bag; you just brewed your own worm tea.

Spray the Worm Tea on the plants or pour it at the stem. For best results, don't drink it.

"How to brew worm tea" (Popular Science) Read the rest

Why tumbleweeds tumble

Recently, Carla posted about tumbleweeds invading Victorville, California leading to numerous 911 calls. Why do tumbleweeds tumble though? To make more tumbleweeds of course. From KQED's Deep Look:

Starting in late fall, (tumblweeds) dry out and die, their seeds nestled between prickly dried leaves. Gusts of wind easily break dead tumbleweeds from their roots. A microscopic layer of cells at the base of the plant — called the abscission layer — makes a clean break possible and the plants roll away, spreading their seeds. When the rains come, an embryo coiled up inside each seed sprouts.

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Tomato plants can detect an imminent animal attack

Tomato plants can detect the telltale sign of nearby snails -- slime -- and release an enzyme that deters those and other pests before they even touch the leaves, according to new research. The defense mechanism also keeps caterpillars from munching on the plants. From Scientific American:

“None of the plants were ever actually attacked,” says University of Wisconsin-Madison ecologist John Orrock. “We just gave them cues that suggested an attack was coming, and that was enough to trigger big changes in their chemistry...”

The research was comprehensive, (adds UC Davis plant communications expert Richard Karban who was not involved in the study), but he wonders how the tomato plants detected chemicals in snail slime that never actually touched them.

“That's the million-dollar question,” Orrock says. He hopes future research will tease out the mechanisms that enable plants to perceive these relatively distant cues.

“That's the million-dollar question,” Orrock says. He hopes future research will tease out the mechanisms that enable plants to perceive these relatively distant cues.

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Analysis of North America's weeds reveal the crops, trade, and cuisine of early indigenous people

Cornell archaeobotanist Natalie Mueller harvests "weeds" from across North America, seeking the remnants of "lost crops," the plants cultivated by the people who lived here 2,000 years ago.

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Researchers infuse plants with chemicals to glow for hours

MIT researchers have figured out how to infuse common plants like watercress and arugula with luciferase, the chemical that makes fireflies glow. The process make the plants emit a dim glow for up to four hours.

Via MIT:

Previous efforts to create light-emitting plants have relied on genetically engineering plants to express the gene for luciferase, but this is a laborious process that yields extremely dim light. Those studies were performed on tobacco plants and Arabidopsis thaliana, which are commonly used for plant genetic studies. However, the method developed by Strano’s lab could be used on any type of plant. So far, they have demonstrated it with arugula, kale, and spinach, in addition to watercress.

For future versions of this technology, the researchers hope to develop a way to paint or spray the nanoparticles onto plant leaves, which could make it possible to transform trees and other large plants into light sources.

“Our target is to perform one treatment when the plant is a seedling or a mature plant, and have it last for the lifetime of the plant,” Strano says. “Our work very seriously opens up the doorway to streetlamps that are nothing but treated trees, and to indirect lighting around homes.”

Engineers create plants that glow (MIT) Read the rest

Watch these hypnotic transplanting machines

This nifty little device is used in a lot of larger greenhouses. Transplanting delicate seedlings used to be done by hand on long conveyor belts. One facility said it took 35 workers to do as much as the machine. Read the rest

Charming animated primer on plant communication

Illustrator Yukai Du created this lovely animation of Richard Karban's TED talk on plant communication. Read the rest

This garden can kill you

The delightful grounds of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England contain such alluring settings as the Poison Garden, home to more than 100 species of plants that are deadly to humans. Please meet the head gardener, Trevor Jones, who must wear protective gear when he's digging in the dirt.

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Michael Pollan discusses how time-lapse photography reveals the hidden life of plants

Writer Michael Pollan provides play-by-play commentary on these time-lapse videos of plants striving to reach a pole. It really does seem like the plants have a conscious intention to meet a goal. I missed this video when the New Yorker first ran it in 2014. Read the rest

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