Articles in Category: DID YOU EVER WONDER

Rafflesia arnoldii, the biggest flower on earth

RARE PLANTS

Rafflesia arnoldii, commonly known as the corpse flower, is the biggest flower on earth. It received its nickname "corpse flower" as a result of its characteristic odour.

There are approximately 17 different species of Rafflesia. Most of these Rafflesia species tend to grow in south-east Asia, mostly in Borneo, and most of them bloom in different shades of red, although some flowers appear pink or brown.

This parasitic plant shows no roots or leaves and radiates the smell of a decaying corpse. This attracts pollinators which in return pollinate the flower. The Rafflesia is the largest flower known on earth, measuring up to 90 cm across and having a weight up to 11 kg. Image: Rafflesia 3 by MaewNam under Creative Common license (CC BY-SA 2.0).


RAFFLESIA ARNOLDII

Family: Rafflesiaceae

Genus: Rafflesia

Common name: Corpse flower


 

Is ripe fruit healthier?

RIPEN FRUIT

If you ever asked yourself the question “Is ripe fruit healthier?” Almost everyone would agree that in some sense we all think it is. The ripe fruit is attractive, delightful, refreshing, it's full of sweet juices and has an incredible flavour that lets your senses come alive showering them with the sensation of flavour perceived by your mouth.

Yes, ripe fruit invites you to see, smell, touch and taste, it awakens your senses, but is it really healthier? Let's have a look. Image: See credits under ref. [12] below.

Health benefits of raw garlic vs cooked garlic

CRUSHED GARLIC

Most of the health benefits of garlic are exerted by a bio-active compound called allicin, an active constituent that is curiously not directly present in garlic but produced as a result of activation of alliinase enzyme, this one present in garlic, after crushing, chewing or chopping of raw garlic [1]. 

Allinase enzyme, released after crushing, chewing or chopping garlic, acts on alliin (S-allyl cysteine sulfoxide) and converts this one into the bio-active compound allicin [3,5].

Allicin is active against many groups of bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Fusobacterium nucleatum and Actinomyces oris among many others [12].

Allicin as well as other dipropenyl thiosulfinates present in garlic (1-propenyl allyl, and allyl 1-propenyl) are completely formed in about 18 seconds at 37 degrees C [10] after crushing, chewing or chopping raw garlic [10].

As we already mentioned the enzyme alliinase is responsible for converting alliin (S-allyl cysteine sulfoxide) to allicin, however, we need to take into account that allicin is very unstable and decomposes quickly, being inactivated by heat [3,5] and gastric acids ph. Image: See credits under ref. [11] below. 


ALLIUM SATIVUM

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Genus: Allium

Common name: Garlic


 

How plants defend against herbivory

Plants respond to leaf vibrations caused by insects

CATERPILLAR LEAVE

As we know, plants evolved and adapted to improve their survival and reproduction mechanisms in different ways, trying to escape from their biggest threat, herbivores.

Plants have avoided herbivores in many ways, from growing in remote locations, areas where herbivores had difficulties to reach, to letting herbivores eat non-essential parts of the plant, recovering later on from that loss.

The way plants defend from herbivores can be divided into two main types, constitutive (always present in the plant) or induced (produced as a reaction to damage or stress caused by herbivores) [1].

Within the second type of line defense, the University of Missouri has now found how plants can chemically defend against herbivores. 


ARABIDOPSIS THALIANA

Family: Brassicaceae

Genus: Arabidopsis

Common name: Rockcress.


 

How plants communicate

TOMATO PLANT

Did you ever wonder how plants communicate? Not so long ago we discussed how bacteria used a mechanism called Quorum sensing to communicate between them.

Quorum sensing also known as bacterial intracellular communication is the mechanism by which cells are able to control basic cellular activities and coordinate their actions [1], including the coordinated bacterial attacks in they, infect their hosts.

In spite, the mechanism in bacteria is quite well known the mechanism in plants wasn't, at least until now. Jim Westwood, a Virginia Tech scientist and professor of plant pathology, physiology and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has discovered how some plants manage to transmit messages and give instructions between them [2]. Image: See credits under ref. [4] below. 


SOLANUM LYCOPERSICUM

Family: Solanaceae

Genus: Solanum

Common name: Tomato