Power to the Plants

Researchers have discovered a method of integrating electric circuits into living plants.

The Rosa floribunda, also known as garden rose, is one of the most popular flowers in the world. Its delicate beauty not only enhances every place it is planted in, it is also a guarantee to bring a smile to any face when gifted. A rose never needed some kind of usability because it is just fine as it is. “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”, as it was said by Gertrude Stein.

Nevertheless, scientists from the Linköping University in Sweden have experimented with this particular flower and found a technique that may change the way we look at and use plants in the future. For the first time ever, the biologists have successfully merged the inner structures of flowers with electronics. This could open up new ways of interacting with and utilizing plants.

Just like any other organic life form, plants use chemical signals to regulate their body functions and their growth. Their structures of transmitting energy and information can be compared to the workings of electronic circuits. Mechanical wires that are used to let electricity flow from one point to another work analogous to the vascular system of a plant’s roots, stem and leaves.

The scientists were able to integrate an artificial structure into plants that makes it possible to transmit electric signals. They did this by feeding their garden rose a soluble polymer, a chain of molecules that is able to conduct electricity. The rose took up this polymer just like it would take up the colour in dyed water. With help of its own ions, the plant then created a sort of wire system within its body.

The discovery of this method makes it possible to work with plants like they were electronic devices. Sensors could be built into them, giving us information about its physiology in great detail. It would also be possible to optimize plants other than with genetics and to harvest the energy created by photosynthesis. Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is an electric generator?

Further information: advances.sciencemag.org

Plants Defend Their Territories With Toxic Substances

For the first time a molecular mechanism for the “warfare” among plants has been revealed.

Plants that are in in competition with each other produce chemicals in order to defend themselves and to reach a good position to the sun. An international team of researchers, among them scientists from the Max-Planck-Institute for developmental biology in Tübingen, Germany, have now shown that some substances used in the fight against plant competitors specifically target the genetic material of neighbouring plants in order to stop their growth.

Limited resources dictate the plant’s daily struggle for light, water and nutrients. It is not enough to just gain those, the plant also has to defend its territory against others. This is done with the help of allelochemicals. The process where plants inhibit growth and development of rivals is called allelopathy and has been known for a while.

These substances are discharged through liquids in the roots into the soil, where they are being decomposed by microbes. Neighbouring plants take up the metabolic products and are thus being hindered in growth. A number of these allelochemicals have already been identified. The new research however, shows exactly how they work in the cells of the targeted plant. The work of Sascha Venturelli, Claude Becker and their colleagues shows for the first time a molecular mechanism for this chemical territorial behavior of plants.

The study deals with a specific class of allelochemicals, the cyclic hydroxamic acids DIBOA and DIMBOA, emitted for example by certain grasses via the roots. Their metabolites are known for being very toxic for neighbouring plants. The research team showed with biochemical and structural analyses and physiological experiments that these substances work within the cells by changing the activity of targeted genes. The toxins inhibit the activity of so called histone deacetylases. These enzymes bind to histones, a group of proteins that form the genetic material together with DNA. Acetyl side chains are then being removed, which leads to a compaction of the DNA and reduced genetic activity.

The examined allelochemicals are not only a key factor when it comes to colonisations through invasive plants, they also promise help with human illnesses. They have been shown to be effective against cancer. Histone deacetylases are already being used in some cancer medications and this class of active ingredients is further being researched with clinical trials. This is a great example for the advantages of plant research for medical progress.

Further information: mpg.de/en

Healthy Plants, Healthy You

The eFIG is an independant, non-profit making organisation, funded by its members (both contractors and suppliers to the industry). Promoting interior landscaping  in the UK.  In this function eFIG is dedicated to promoting the benefits of indoor plants also on international scale.

January 14th, 2015 eFIG starts its new campaign “Healthy Plants, Healthy You” offering an infusion of plants for a healthy work life. This is what eFIG  prescribes to start the year off in the right spirit.

Plants really help with that healthy New Year’s resolution and they go on helping throughout the year. They’ll help prevent the winter blues and keep the germs in the office to a minimum.

Plants help reduce anxiety and stress as well as keeping everyone happier. They answer our need for biophilia – that connection with nature – by bringing the outdoors in. In fact plants should be an essential ingredient for a happy, healthy and productive office.

What to do?

Join efig.co.uk on social media to help get everyone else to realise why plants are so important to our health and wellbeing at work.

Use the hashtag #plantswork to tell what you’re doing to promote plants in the workplace to create a healthy space.

Get involved; invite your clients and your colleagues to get behind plants on this day in particular. Of course remember that the effect will last much longer than a day.

Landgard Autumn Ordering Days at spoga+gafa 2014

spoga+gafa 2014 is flourishing, after the integration of the autumn ordering days of Germany’s leading horticulture marketing organisation, Landgard, the trade visitors can namely look forward to a comprehensive and attractive assortment of nursery articles, potted plants and seasonal items from 31 August to 2 September.

“The cooperation with Landgard will provide spoga+gafa with totally new impulses again,” explained Katharina C. Hamma, Chief Operating Officer of Koelnmesse GmbH. “Furthermore, it significantly enhances the appeal of the garden trade fair, especially with regards to addressing new target groups.”

Franz-Willi Honnen, CEO Landgard was also pleased with the new location of the autumn ordering days: “spoga+gafa is the right platform for our members to present their novelties to a broad, international audience and where we can interest new target groups for our products and services. Furthermore, we can profit from the synergy effects that will arise as a result of this integration into the garden trade fair.”

Over 100 horticultural businesses and service providers are expected to exhibit their collections and novelties at the exhibition grounds in Cologne on an overall exhibition surface area spanning 12,000 square metres. In 2013, the customers of the ordering days were able to put together a collection tailor-made to the needs of their individual target group from the more than 4,500 items offered.

spoga+gafa 2014 is open to trade visitors from 09:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. on 31 August and 1 September and from 09:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. on 2 September.

Koelnmesse has been uniting people and markets for 90 years. The success story of the Cologne trade fairs dates back to 1924, when the first event was staged at the grounds in Cologne-Deutz. During the post-war economic miracle period, the “Rhine Fair” advanced into becoming a World Marketplace. Today, the Koelnmesse is the fifth largest exhibition ground in the world and organizes approx. 75 trade fairs in Cologne and worldwide. In the jubilee year 2014, the Koelnmesse is attracting the attention of the public eye with numerous campaigns, publications and exhibitions.

Further information: spogagafa.com and landgard.de