Playing with Nature

In the 1970s Dena Dietrich was in a series of 30-second commercials for Chiffon Margarine, playing the part of Mother Nature. Dressed in a gown of white and adorned with a crown of daisies, she would announce "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!" after being fooled into thinking Chiffon Margarine was in fact butter. And lightning and thunder soon ensued.

Why do I bring this up? Well, it's a bit of a stretch but it might apply to some scientists at VIB in Flanders, Belgium who recently figured out how to fool some annual plants into becoming perennials. Neat trick, huh? (but will Ma Nature be amused?)

Researchers have been fascinated for a long time by the evolution of herbaceous to woody structures, which is one of the traits separating annuals from perennials. The research at VIB clearly shows that only two genes are necessary in this process.

If you deactivate those two genes, the VIB researchers found that mutant plants can no longer induce flowering, but they can continue to grow vegetatively or come into flower much later.

In any case, even if Mother Nature doesn't like this sort of thing, the journal Nature does. This report is being published in Nature Genetics in the near future.


GA Girl said…
I remember those commercials - a friend thought they mis-represented Mother Nature, but as it turns out, MN has a mean temper!

Anything that helps me avoid yearly plantings gets my support unless it turns into Audrey II.

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