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Researchers find ferns communicate with one another to decide gender

October 27, 2014

( —A combined team of researchers from Nagoya University and the University of Tokyo has discovered that a certain type of fern plant communicates with others of its kind using pheromones as a means of choosing the gender of maturing plants. In their paper published in the journal Science, the researchers describe how their study of the Japanese climbing fern, led to a better understanding of the role that the pheromone gibberellin plays in its reproduction process. Tai-ping Sun, with Duke University offers a perspective piece in the same journal edition, providing a more in-depth analysis of the work the team has done.

As farmers know, most are both male and female—the Japanese climbing fern is an exception—individual plants are either male or female. Until now, it wasn’t clear how it was that some of the plants grew to become male, however, while others grew to be female. In this new effort, the researchers have found that it’s due to a form of intergenerational communication between the plants.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2014 10:08:55 pm

    Humanity could do with learning a few things from plants. Hit your teenage years running as an androgynous little scamp and then BAM! Sex determined 😉

    • October 28, 2014 10:08:07 pm

      Yes, if only… To highlight the dire/desperate state of modern humanity I’ll post a recent article I came across about the emerging field of phytomining, which is essentially mining metals from plants… growing plants containing nickel, zinc and cobalt and then harvesting the metals from the plants. Somehow this doesn’t strike me as a step in the right direction.

      • October 29, 2014 10:08:09 am

        I am inclined to agree with you…it would only take 5 seconds to put 2 and 2 together to make “PROFIT” and goodbye rain forests completely in the name of “conservation” oh what an irony that would be!

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