Speedy Plants for Improving Food Production Efficiency

By introducing a tool commonly used to study brain function into the leaves of plants, researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed a technique that shows promise in improving the efficiency of food production by controlling how quickly plants respond to changing conditions. Not only does this method produce a more desirable solution to improving efficiency than previous methods, it also highlights the importance of employing tools in non-conventional scenarios to produce clever solutions to complex problems. Continue reading Speedy Plants for Improving Food Production Efficiency


Plants grow in interesting ways. You may have noticed that your houseplants “lean” towards the window, seeking the sunlight. This movement towards light is called phototropism. Tropism is a general term referring to any instance of growth or movement of an organism in response to the environment. Vines display another kind of tropism known as thigmotropism, meaning they respond to touch. In this set of … Continue reading Vines

Oak Wood Cross Section

Cross section of oak wood, showing every reason that made an oak tall and strong. The large pores are vessels that are responsible for transporting (more accurately, pumping/pushing) water from the root system to the tip of the tree. The densely packed purple dots are stained lignin in the cells walls. During early wood development, once lignin is deposited in the cell wall, these cells … Continue reading Oak Wood Cross Section

Holly Wood Tangential Section

Tangential section of wood of Chinese holly. This is how it looks like when you do a cut that’s perpendicular to the radius of the stem. The vertical lines are vessels transporting water from roots to leaves, while the circles are clustered ray cells that function to transport fluids and nutrients radially and laterally (perpendicular to the long axis) within a woody stem. Contributed by … Continue reading Holly Wood Tangential Section

Monocot Leaf Epidermis

Microscope image of the epidermis of a spiderwort leaf with well-organized stomata in high density. Stomata (singular stoma) are like little mouths on the leaf surface, specialized in gas-exchange – CO2 enters a plant through them. The opening and closure of stomata are tightly controlled, because when stomata are open, water is escaping from the plant too. Therefore, each plant needs to find a delicate … Continue reading Monocot Leaf Epidermis

Dicot Leaf Epidermis

Lower leaf epidermis of the stonecrop plants showing puzzle shaped epidermal cells with scattered stomata. Stomata (singular: stoma) are like little mouths on the leaf surface, specialized in gas-exchange – CO2 enters a plant through them. The pairs of sausage-shaped cells, like the lips of these mouths, are “guard cells”, which guard the opening and closure of the stomata. In many flowering plants, the stomata … Continue reading Dicot Leaf Epidermis

The Birth of a Flower

Unlike animals, plants possess the ability to generate new tissues and organs throughout their entire lifespans due to the activity of stem cells located in specific sites termed meristems. During the reproductive phase, floral meristem (lower right dome-shaped structure) give rise to different floral organ primordia (the series of bulges), which will eventually grow into the sepals, petals, stamens, staminodia, and carpels of a beautiful … Continue reading The Birth of a Flower

Min Ya

My name is Min Ya, or Ya Min, but I go by Minya. I was born and raised in China. Heavily influenced by my botany-enthusiast father, I have been a plant lover since I was very little. Before grad school, I finished my undergrad in China and Japan, and obtained dual Master’s Degree in Sweden and France. Although the subfields of biology varied between my … Continue reading Min Ya

Diamonds in the Leaf

This cross section of an oleander (Nerium oleander) leaf reveals two beautiful mineral crystals inside. Leaf cells are stained red. Adapted to dry conditions, this leaf possess three epidermal layers to prevent water loss, below which there are tightly packed palisade mesophyll cells that are specialized for harvesting light and loosely packed spongy mesophyll cells allowing efficient gas exchange. These calcium oxalate crystals are deposited by specialized … Continue reading Diamonds in the Leaf