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Little Coffee Heroes

03 April 2020
Coffee leaf rust has been a significant challenge for coffee producers since 1980s. Recently, a field research in the lush central mountains of Puerto Rico found that the Asian tramps snails (Bradybaena similaris) prey on the rust. Ironically, these snails are labelled as notorious pests of many crops such as citrus, grapes, legumes and vegetables. However, the presence of the fungal parasite - Lecanicullium lecanii on the affected leaves creates competition, shifting the snails’ focus towards the rust. This preliminary finding is essential to develop a long term solution that manages the snail’s population while suppressing the rust damage on coffee.

How do mangroves get their nitrogen?

04 March 2020
Life is tough for mangroves. They are faced with muddy anaerobic soil and daily tidal inundation, resulting in very nutrient poor soil, especially nitrogen – one of the key element for growth. Scientists were curious how mangroves cope with this environmental challenge, and solved the mystery when they found diazotrophs living with the trees. Diazotrophs are soil-dwelling micro-organisms that convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, which are deposited in the soil, for the tree to absorb. The researchers documented the mutualistic relationship that mangroves share with diazotrops, and how the roots influenced the development of the microbial community. Click the title above to read more.

The largest ever Rafflesia found in West Sumatra

03 February 2020
A recently bloomed specimen of Rafflesia tuan-mudae in a West Sumatran forest is the largest blooming flower ever recorded with the diameter of 111 cm! Curiously, it was found in the same location as the host plant that produced the previous largest Rafflesia with diameter of 107cm, in 2017. The Rafflesia plant is a parasitic plant without roots or leaves; it feeds on water and nutrients from its host plant to live. This is why the plant is often referred to as a "monster flower" for its parasitic properties and foul odour similar to rotting meat. Click the title above to read more.

Flora of Singapore

16 January 2020
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is spearheading an important and botanically meaningful project; Flora of Singapore, a catalogued description of all the plant species that can be found locally. Featuring more than 3000 species, three volumes have been published and the full project will take botanists the next 10 years to complete. Flora of Singapore is the first comprehensive effort, following in the footsteps of the great works of Henry Ridley’s Flora of the Malay Peninsula (1922-1925). With collaboration from experts worldwide, the first three volume were published in 2019, and is a great resource for formulating conservation policy and future reintroductions. Click to read the ongoing efforts on the Flora of Singapore.

World’s First Plant Selfie

06 November 2019
Say hello to Pete – the Maidenhair Fern in London Zoo. Pete has taken a photo of itself – the world’s first for a plant! This groundbreaking work is part of ongoing research by scientists to develop technology to monitor remote rainforests. This is done by harnessing and storing electrical energy produced by soil bacteria associated with the plant’s photosynthesis. Click here to learn more.