Story Highlights

This year, nine plant scientists have been elected to the National Academy of  Science. We asked the newly elected plant scientists about how the news of their election to the NAS reached them, what inspires their research, and for their advice for early career researchers. Loren Rieseberg is the University Killam Professor of Botany and Director of the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia.
National Academy of Sciences 2020 member highlight – Loren Rieseberg

By Yun-Ting Kao (Plantae Fellow)

This year, nine plant scientists have been elected to the National Academy of  Science. We asked the newly elected plant scientists about how the news of their election to the NAS reached them, what inspires their research, and for their advice for early career researchers.

Loren Rieseberg is the…

Sunflower
Supergenes play a larger role in evolution than previously thought

Massive blocks of genes—inherited together ‘plug and play’ style—may play a larger role in evolutionary adaption than previously thought, according to new research in Nature.

Biologists identified 37 of these so-called ‘supergenes’ in wild sunflower populations, and found they govern the modular transfer of a large range of traits…

Curtis Suttle
Viruses have helped to sculpture life and the world we live on

By 2019 Wall Scholar Curtis Suttle, a Professor and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada at the University of British Columbia, where he shares an office with billions of viruses.

The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is just the latest in what seems to be a never-ending war against the spread of viral diseases; Measles, Influenza, HIV,…

Stalked Glandular Trichome
The frostier the flower, the more potent the cannabis

Cannabis flowers with the most mushroom-shaped hairs pack the biggest cannabinoid and fragrance punch, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

While the cannabis leaf is iconic, it’s the chemicals produced by the tiny, frostlike hairs on cannabis flowers that give the plant its psychoactive and medicinal…

Takakia Lepidozioides
Collecting the Impossible moss: BC species key to charting 1 billion years of plant evolution

An international team of researchers have completed a massive effort to sequence genes from more than 1,100 plant species—an undertaking that saw UBC botanists collect rare mosses from remote corners of BC, and travel to the South Pacific to collect parasitic plants.

"One of the crucial samples we wanted to include was a parasitic…

Protists
Spawn of the triffid? Tiny organisms give us glimpse into complex evolutionary tale

Two newly discovered organisms point to the existence of an ancient organism that resembled a tiny version of the lumbering, human-eating science fiction plants known as ‘triffids,’ according to research in Nature.

The microscopic protists Rhodelphis limneticus and Rhodelphis marinus are genetically ‘sisters’ to red algae, but couldn’t…

Cell Proliferation
UBC researchers unlock secrets of plant development

University of British Columbia researchers have discovered an internal messaging system that plants use to manage the growth and division of their cells. These growth-management processes are critical for all organisms, because without them, cells can proliferate out of control—as they do in cancers and bacterial infections.

Plants use…

Coral Reefs
Dive into the mysterious connection between malaria and coral reefs - Patrick Keeling

For most of us, microbes mean only one thing: disease. Disease-causing microbes are actually the extreme minority of the most abundant form of life on Earth. But because of their immediate and direct importance to our health, they are much better studied than the rest of the microbial world. Still, new discoveries about the basic biology and…

Sahara
Viruses-lots of them-are falling from the sky

Viruses and bacteria fall back to Earth via dust storms and precipitation. 2011 dust storm in the Sahara.

An astonishing number of viruses are circulating around the Earth’s atmosphere – and falling from it – according to new research from scientists in Canada, Spain and the U.S.

The study marks the first time scientists have…

Microbes Rush
Long-haired microbes named after Canadian band Rush

Three new species of microbe found in the guts of termites have been named after members of the Canadian prog-rock band Rush, owing to the microbes’ long hair and rhythmic wriggling under the microscope.

“A Spanish postdoc, Javier del Campo, asked me to recommend some good Canadian music, and I suggested he listen to Rush,”…