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24 April 2014 11:45 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Major climate data sets have underestimated the rate of global warming in the last 15 years owing largely to poor data...
The tsetse fly is best known as the vector for the trypanosome parasites that cause sleeping sickness and a disease in...
The National Institutes of Health is revising its "two strikes" rule, which allowed researchers only one chance to...
By stabilizing the components of retromers, molecular complexes that act like recycling bins in cells, a recently...
Fossil fuels power modern society by generating heat, but much of that heat is wasted. Semiconductor devices called...
Researchers are gaining insights into what made Supertyphoon Haiyan so powerful and devastating through post-storm...
Millions around the world got a first-hand look at what it was like to be in Tacloban while it was pummeled by...
- 24 April 2014 11:45 am , Vol. 344 , #6182
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ScienceShot: The Secret of the Black Dahlia
26 November 2012 3:30 pm
Gardeners can choose from more than 20,000 varieties of dahlias, including whites, yellows, deep reds, and magentas. But the rarer black dahlias are especially alluring. Now, a team of researchers in Austria has turned the eye of science on what makes a dahlia black. The team collected 14 varieties of black dahlia—with names such as "Black Barbara," "Arabian Night," "Karma Choc" (left), and "Tisa" (right)—and five varieties with tamer colors, then extensively analyzed their petals. They measured the activity of enzymes that make pigments, investigated gene expression, and measured the pigments themselves. Their conclusion: The black color comes from high levels of anthocyanins, the pigments that—at lower levels—also give orange and red dahlias their colors. The team reports in BMC Plant Biology that they think that most black dahlias raise their anthocyanin levels by blocking an enzyme in the pathway that makes flavones, another molecule that has the same precursor as anthocyanins. If scientists could figure out that trick, they might be able to engineer dahlias to make more black varieties.
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