BioLine PMB Authors

Breaking the Ice by Plunging Into a Puddle

How I learned to embrace embarrassment in science

Flies buzzed around my sweaty face as I pushed a patch of especially tall grassy sedges out of my way. It was a hot summer day and I stood in the middle of a wetland on Leech Lake in a long-sleeved shirt and chest-high waders. Thick clumps of roots and deceptively deep puddles added extra effort to every step. After an hour in the meadow, I was tired like I’d run miles.

I was having a great time. Sort of.

Complicated relationships within your salad

Plants inhabit many environments across the globe, and some groups can survive extreme conditions. One of these groups is the amaranth family. Members of this family, including several important crops such as amaranth, quinoa, spinach, and sugar beet, are well known for evolving adaptations to survive extreme environments, such as C4 photosynthesis in hot and often dry places and tolerance to highly elevated levels of salt or heavy metals.

300 days without water - how tropical trees can survive drought

trees without leaves in background and trees with leaves in foreground
Photo credit: Dr. Jennifer S. Powers

Imagine that you are walking in a tropical forest in Costa Rica where most trees look like the ones in Minnesota during the winter -- leafless. You might be wondering how this can be possible. What can be causing these trees to lose their leaves?