Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The origin of cells

You probably already know that Earth is a "living entity." But Earth in earlier stages was not that much alive. For example, early in its 4.6 billion-year history, our planet had a very different atmosphere, no biomolecules, no cells, and no life. Then, this sterile and hot Earth started to brew a potion in its primitive oceans through millennials. First, biomolecules such as carbs, fats, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) are formed from simple chemical elements. Then, lifeless spheres developed from those biomolecules, but there was no life.

Life appeared in our plane way later than its creation by Earth 3.7 billionth anniversary, as a form of simple cells that evolved from those lifeless spheres I was talking about in the previous paragraph.

Through ages of evolution from biomolecules to micellar spheres, the prokaryotes were the first true living organism to appear on Earth. Prokaryotes are single-cell organisms (bacterias and cyanobacteria), and their cells lack membrane-bound organelles, so no nucleus is present to separate DNA material from the cytoplasm. On the other hand, plants are formed from a different kind of cell; this cell is called Eucaryotic. Eukaryotes evolved after the prokaryotes, and their DNA is more elaborately packaged to fit inside the nucleus.

But, speaking about cells, I also need to say that all living organisms are composed of cells, and cells are the smallest unit of life, which only arise from preexisting cells.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Salinization and the crop plants that can handle salt

Over the millennials, Earth has been taking good care of recycling matter and providing nutrients to its inhabitants. However, humans have been interfering with this recycling process by the overgrowth of the population and the exponential need to culture the land. 

Unavoidably, practices like irresponsible farming and numerous other practices are affecting the planet almost to an irreversible point, thus affecting the natural cycles. An example among many is that the salts dissolved in irrigation water or fertilizers can accumulate over time on land and cause the soil to be sterile due to salinization. Watch the video to know more about salinization.

The salinization of the land is an irreversible consequence and affects the USA and many other countries. Further, a plant that doesn't have adaptations for living in salty soils cannot live in salinized sites. Due to osmotic relations, a plant can't absorb water if dissolved solute is higher in the soil water than inside the cell. Researchers have been improving crops genetically in the hope of coping with the salinization issues. Please watch the video for more information.

The genetically modified crops that show halophyte (salt-tolerant) habit are a solution that will allow the growth of crops in salinized soils. But it is essential to know that remediation will not change the damages already in place. Any alteration in the Earth cycles has consequences on humans and organisms in general. The change in the ecosystems can cause alteration in plant and animal populations and even extinction of species.

Monday, December 13, 2021

What is a flower?

Nature always surprises with its beauty in every detail, from sepal to petal, and a multitude of other appendices a flower is built. You may not know, but actually, a flower in botanical terms is a modified shoot specialized in reproduction.

A close look at the architecture of a magnolia, a relatively ancient flower, may give you a glimpse that a flower is a modified shoot. Conrad, J (n.d.) [1] share the magnolia flower basic morphology in this image.
Besides being a modified shoot, the beauty of a flower is centered on only one task, attracting pollinators. Pollination is essential for the flower, as this process fulfills the flower's deepest desire; have their egg cells fertilized by a minuscule sperm cell to give rise to seed and prospect the species. Then, depending on the species, either being pollinated by the wind, insects, mammals, or another way, the plant's main task is to reproduce and spread.

Thanks to a modified trait that arose about 125 million years ago in the Middle Cretaceous that later Charles Darwin named in a letter to his closest friend, a botanist, and explorer Dr. Joseph Hooker (2009) [2], as being an "abominable mystery," today flowers beautify the Earth.


1. Conrad, J (n.d.). Magnolia blossoms. Backyard Nature. Magnolia Flowers (backyardnature.net)

2. Friedman, W. E. (2009). The meaning of Darwin's "Abominable mystery." American Journal of Botany, 96(1), 5–21. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.0800150