It came as a surprise to me recently to realize how much is known about the immune responses of plants and, moreover, how much there is to know. There is, I found, detailed molecular information about how our botanical cousins defend themselves against the onslaught of infectious agents. Perhaps most surprising is that plants and animals share basic mechanisms of immunity. Here I am referring to innate immunity, being that plants — like the invertebrates — do not have the adaptive immunity of vertebrates. Did these arise before the two realms diverged about one billion years ago? Or, alternatively, are they the result of convergent evolution? Continue reading
This cold spring brought a late season for the trees but this does not have any impact on what is going to happen in August and the fall for outdoor pollen and mold spores. There are many weeds that cause seasonal allergies. Some of them include plantain, nettles, ragweed and others. But only weeds that are mostly or partially air pollinated are included in outdoor air samples. The weeds do not include ones that have a strong smell, colourful flowers or do not get airborne (Dandelion). These other weeds can cause allergic reactions but only on contact with the skin. Continue reading
Celiac disease is a condition that affects the digestive systems of many individuals all over the world, and in this article, the goal is to explain it in a way that anyone can understand what’s really happening. We might even include some intense action (like in the movies).
The digestive system is a beautiful thing. We start breaking down that tasty food in our mouths by chewing it, and enzymes in our saliva even starts to break down the carbohydrates that are present in our food. It then takes the journey down your pharynx to your esophagus and ends up in the stomach. Continue reading
I am going to do a follow up of my last post regarding the pollen season of 2014 and the cold spring that occurred. First I would like to refer to this term that has been used this season called the pollen vortex. A vortex refers to weather, like the wind, and not to pollen. Our research has proven that pollen release is affected by temperature, sunshine, rain etc but the wind is just a vector by which the tree pollen are carried in the atmosphere. Continue reading
We hear it all the time. When will winter be over? Well not only are people saying it but so are the trees.
This winter the March weather has been very cold with lots of snow. April has begun with very cold temperatures as well and the temperatures are warming up very slowly. The sampler at our site in Ottawa on April 6th is still surrounded by snow. The winter snow cover is good for the trees since it provides protection for them during the cold winter months. What they don’t like is a stretch of warm weather in the spring followed by a cold snap for several days or even weeks. This can fool the trees into budding and it can have a profound effect on the pollen season to the point of almost eliminating it if the trees have started budding. We don’t have that problem this year so far. Continue reading
My work as a marine biologist has drawn me to the Coral Triangle, an area of our oceans consisting of the highest levels of marine biodiversity. You can imagine that the abundance of marine life led to a high reliance of local populations on seafood. It is a cruel irony that some of the methods used to harvest this seafood destroy the very foundations of seafood supply. So when I decided to hop on the Conservation bandwagon, the Coral Triangle was an obvious choice. Continue reading
As I mentioned in my last blog, the study of aeroallergens depends highly on having data. In order to have data, we need to obtain samples of outdoor air, and analyze them to identify and quantify each type of pollen and fungal spore particle collected. We need to do this on a continuous basis, at set intervals, at multiple locations, for many years, to obtain a data set large enough to be able to study aeroallergen seasonal behaviour. Continue reading
Biology Online would like to provide an update regarding our interaction with Dr. Danielle Lee, otherwise known as The Urban Scientist or DNLee.
A few weeks ago, a recently hired employee (not the site’s editor) representing Biology Online was responsible for a very offensive email sent to Dr.Lee. You can view our original apology written immediately after the incident here: http://www.biology-online.org/biology-forum/about34647.html Continue reading
Pollen is a microscopic grain discharged from the male part of a flower or from a male cone that can fertilize the female ovule.
Plants have evolved to have their pollen be transported either by the wind, or by insects or other animals. Insect and animal pollinated plants are not considered to be aeroallergens, not because people aren’t allergic to them, but because the pollen from those plants are not designed to be distributed in the air Continue reading
Welcome to guest blogger, USF Botany Professor Fred Essig
Estimates vary, but there are about 300,000 named species of plants, with more being discovered daily. There may ultimately be as many as 500,000, if and when all are catalogued. Some botanists include some 10,000 species of red and green algae in such estimates, but others include only the land plants. Either way, it’s a lot. Continue reading