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FLOWER POWER: The insignificant little plant, Arabidopsis thaliana or thale cress, is a boon to biological research. And even the most ordinary flower looks beautiful through the eyes of a microscope, does it not?

• Those of us focused on understanding human disease don't pay much attention to research in plants. But plant biologists have taught us about micro RNAs, transposons, active demethylation, 'decoy' RNAs, and more. The wonderful world of genetics was first revealed through the patterns of inheritance of sweet peas, by one Austrian friar named Gregor Mendel.

• That's why I go to a plant conference once every few years. I never know what I may pick up and plant biologists are gracious enough to listen to our animal work.

#floralfriday +FloralFriday

Image: Mendel's Dream Arabidopsis flower captured with confocal microscopy by Heiti Paves, Centre of Excellence ENVIRON, Estonia.
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I had to google up what the heck a confocal microscope was ^_^
 
+Wesley Yeoh , basically a confocal microscope focuses laser beams on a very thin section of the specimen. This way, the image is super sharp. The optical planes slice their way through the thickness of the specimen and can be stacked back together digitally, to recreate a 3D object. It's a great tool for our research!
 
+Gnotic Pasta Great info, thanks! You see how insignificant the flower is? Yet it looks beautiful under the microscope :) That's why science is so amazing!
Arabidopsis was the first plant genome to be sequenced.
 
Excellent tie-in +Gnotic Pasta ! Challenge +Mahesh Sreekandath to bring Metallica into this!
Plant genomes are usually unmanageably large..but Arabidopsis was chosen because it has one of the smallest genomes. It also has a short life cycle (~a month or so, I think), another convenience to the researcher.
 
+Chad Haney , The resveratrol connection to aging tends to yo-yo with each study, but hey...to be on the safe side, drink more red wine ;)
 
Hey Rajini..!! y dont u add me so that we can chat???
 
+Rajini Rao that's why resveratrol gets/got so much press. How can you go wrong with wine, I mean grape seed extract.
 
Yeah, it's just like that purple Juicy Juice stuff that comes in little boxes with a straw..but for big people ;)
 
When my oldest nephew was still in pre-school when he asked my dad if he could taste his beer, except he called it juice. So we affectionately call it grandpa juice now. Grandpa likes his juice during football games, with popcorn of course.
 
+Rajini Rao Tunisia? If they ever need help visualizing their results, just send me an invite :~).
 
I see the Tunisia connection in that paper..the first author must have gone back home. The senior author is at UC Davis, not exactly exotic. BTW, this is basically derivative stuff from what we published back in 1997/98 ;)
 
UC Davis isn't too far from where my dad lives but Sacramento Valley is not my cup of tea.
 
isn't there a lot of vineyards in Tunisia ?
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You're right, +Gnotic Pasta ! I had not realized that. There are even publications in PubMed on the origin and genetics of Tunisian grapes. I've not had wine from Africa. South American Malbec on the other hand....mmm :)
 
+Mike Clancy , what a cool connection..thank you :) I'm going to insert the hashtag into the post (not sure if hashtags in the comment stream are searchable?)
 
It was something that popped into my head. I've had wines from bekka valley in Lebanon, but never from africa, just recalled reading north africa climate was good for grape growing! I'm not much of a wine connoisseur so don't know what Malbec? is?
disregard, my google-fu is strong and i just educated myself on Malbec. :-)

oh, and was wanting to post this in regards to the microscope for the techy types out there that are interested in the inner workings.

http://www.physics.emory.edu/~weeks/confocal/
 
Thanks, +Feisal Kamil , just did. How geeky to tag this microscopic image for floralfriday! :)
 
+Gnotic Pasta , that's a great link for anyone curious about microscopy (+Wesley Yeoh ). Thanks!
I'd send you a bottle of Malbec via the intertubes if I could. Delicious stuff :)
 
I only meant the lowly Arabidopsis flower (or the cheeky scientists) as interlopers, +Feisal Kamil . Never you.
I see that you are mellow indeed this Fri night :)
 
THATS A REALLY PRETTY AND INTERESTING FLOWER
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Allyn E
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Whats good to the outside is also good in the inside. :)
 
it's in the first sentence at the top!
 
+Rajini Rao For life cycle, you can get 1 generation in about 6 weeks if you "rob the cradle" by clipping off the first mature silique (seed pod).

Also, for those not familiar with floral organs, the image is showing the tip of the carpel, which is the female reproductive part of the plant. I am going to guess that the two areas of dense green dots represent the anthers (male reproductive part). The arrangement of these organs would suggest that this is a young flower, with the petals still folded up at this stage.
 
+Billy Hung , many thanks for adding all that neat information! 6 weeks generation beats the mouse model (10 weeks).
 
+Rajini Rao You're welcome! Glad I can add something useful to your excellent stream.

And yes, Arabidopsis is great for fast genetics not just for the the generation time, but because the flowers default to self-fertilization but can also be manually out-crossed. Each flower typically yields 12 to 20 seeds, too, so it makes geneticists happy.

For those interested in science education, check out www.fastplant.org . It features a cousin to Arabidopsis, which does finish a complete life cycle in 1 month (despite the speed, it is less attractive as a research model organism because its genome is bigger and messier). There's a large amount of teaching material suited for middle and high school science classes as well as college classes. It can teach not just botany, but genetics and evolution, as well, because you can actually test Mendel's hypothesis in 1 semester using these plants.
 
+Billy Hung , I see that you're not on +Science on Google+: A Public Database . When you have a moment, could you fill out the simple form on their About page, so we can add you to shared circles? It would be great to include you as a biology/genetics resource, thanks!
 
+Rajini Rao +Chad Haney Thanks for the info. I have been following the Biology Circle but I had not realized that there's a form to fill out. I've now submitted the profile info to add to the database. Thanks!
 
looks like a screenshot from my fav (windows based) screensaver: electric sheep
 
+Billy Hung , +Chris Robinson and I co-curate the science shared circles. The form and databases are our attempts to do this in a "scientific", transparent and organized way :) If you have science colleagues or friends on G+ (or if you can successfully induce them to join), please spread the word re. the database. It's all part of our science outreach efforts. Thanks!
 
This is really cool, where did you find it?
 
That truly is FLOWER POWER...
 
Looks like some florocent flower that illuminates in night like those present in deep sea which are self luminous...
 
Beautiful...I agree...looks like a sea anemone
 
In the interest of experimentation, +Kevin Clift , I ought to check them out. They ship to Maryland too :)
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