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Treasure trove of new plant discoveries revealed

Almost 2,000 new species of plant have been discovered in the past year, according to a report by The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
Many have potential as food crops, medicines or sources of timber.
However, scientists say some of the newly-discovered plants are already at risk of extinction.
They are developing new ways to speed up the discovery and classification of plants to help safeguard them for future generations.
The second annual assessment of the State of the World's Plants by scientists at Kew found that 1,730 plants were recorded as being new to science in 2016.

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Rare flowers destroyed in Australia after paperwork error

Australian biosecurity officers have destroyed historic plant specimens on loan from France after a paperwork mix-up.
A box of rare daisies from the 1850s had been sent to Brisbane from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
But the pressed plant samples were incinerated because accompanying documents were filled out incorrectly.
Australian quarantine authorities have ordered a review into the incident.

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Plant-like fossils, believed to be red algae, found in 1.6 billion-year-old rocks

Writing in PLOS Biology, Swedish researchers have reported the discovery of multicellular fossils of what they believe is red algae in 1.6 billion-year-old rocks from India.
They said the find pushed back the date of the oldest-known identifiable complex plant-like fossil - also red algae - by 400 million years.

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Oldest plants
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'Oldest plants on Earth' discovered

The origins of plants may go back hundreds of millions of years earlier than previously thought, according to fossil evidence.
Ancient rocks from India suggest plants resembling red algae lived 1.6 billion years ago in what was then shallow sea.
The discovery may overturn ideas of when relatively advanced life evolved, say scientists in Sweden.
They identified parts of chloroplasts, structures within plant cells involved in photosynthesis.

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DNA reveals how pitcher plants evolved to become flesh-eaters

Carnivorous plants around the world all developed their killer habit in surprisingly similar fashion, according to a genetic study of distantly related pitcher plants from Australia, Asia and America.
The plants became flesh-eaters as a means of making their own "fertiliser".

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Kew reorders collection of seven million plants

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the world's first DNA Bank for plants.
Based at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, it was the start of efforts around the world to use DNA sequencing to probe the genetic secrets of the world of flora.
Two decades on, and new technology has transformed botany - turning what we thought we knew about plants on its head, as well as paving the way for new technologies such as GM and genomics.

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 Red tomatoes thanks to meteorite

The meteorite which crashed into the Earth 60 to 70 million years ago, wiping out dinosaurs, had probably given us nice red tomatoes as well. This can be deduced from a tomato genome analysis, published on 30 May in Nature.
The researchers who mapped the tomato genome have established that the genome of the original tomato plant suddenly tripled in size about 60 to 70 million years ago. 'Such a big genome expansion points to extremely stressful conditions,' says René Klein Lankhorst, the Wageningen UR coordinator of the tomato genome research project. 'We suspect that the meteorite crash and the resulting solar darkness had created conditions difficult for plants to survive. A distant ancestor of the tomato plant then reacted by expanding its genome considerably in order to increase its chances of survival.'
When conditions subsequently improved again, this ancestor of the tomato got rid of a lot of genetic ballast, but the genetic base for fruit formation had already been developed by then, the tomato fruit acquired its red colour and certain genes which produced toxins disappeared, says Klein Lankhorst. In this way, the tomato differentiates itself from a family member, the potato, which has no edible fruits.

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Silene stenophylla
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Ancient plants back to life after 30,000 frozen years

Scientists in Russia have grown plants from fruit stored away in permafrost by squirrels over 30,000 years ago.
The fruit was found in the banks of the Kolmya River in Siberia, a top site for people looking for mammoth bones.

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Mycorrhizal symbiosis
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Ancient Amber Preserves 52-Million-Year-Old Biological Partnership

A rare fossil discovered by an international team of scientists that includes Museum researchers documents a biological partnership that makes the survival of most terrestrial plants possible. For 52 million years in a piece of Indian amber the size of a walnut, the fossil preserved a symbiotic relationship between soil fungi and plant roots called mycorrhizae.
In this longstanding relationship, the fine thread-like cells of the fungus increase the root surface for the plant, enabling the host plant to access more nutrients. In return, the fungus receives energy from the plant in the form of sugars. This symbiosis also has been shown to enhance a plants resistance to pathogens and the effects of drought. This mycorrhizal relationship is believed to have arisen more than 400 million years ago, as plants began to colonize terrestrial habitats.

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Blue rose
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Rare blue roses to be up for sale

Not naturally available, the mythical blue rose will be on sale in the US and Canada in November.
Named 'Applause,' the rose is the product of a genetic modification to synthesise a pigment found in blue flowers know as delphinidin.
And while it seems like purple, it is the nearest to a blue flower scientists have come so far.

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