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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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ScienceShot: Every (Plant) Sperm Is Sacred
17 May 2012 12:00 pm
For plants, lots of pollen can be too much of a good thing. Once deposited on their flowers (perhaps after hitchhiking on bees), these sperm-containing packets dig down, tunneling in search of waiting eggs. If more than one pollen grain heads for the same reproductive cell, however, it could mean that others will go unfertilized. To figure out how plants avoid such wastefulness, researchers marked pollen belonging to rockcress, or Arabidopsis, with fluorescent dyes, giving the team the chance to observe the sperm's intrepid descent. As it turns out, once the sperm cells within one of those grains fertilizes an egg, other pollen grains stay away, perhaps because the plants turn off the signal attracting the packets to that cell. This rebuff, reported today in Current Biology, helps ensure that plants make the best use of the pollen that's been plopped onto their flowers. After all, bees don't grow on trees.
See more ScienceShots.