Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Exobotany

alien plant life on earthI looking around for biology-related science fiction sites on the web, I came across a few that focus on plant life.

- Damon's Fascination with Plants in Science Fiction. He describes his favorites, including Day of the Triffids (John Wyndham), Midworld and Mid-flinx (Alan Dean Foster), the Word for World is Forest (Ursula LeGuin) and several others.

- There are the beginnings of a Botany in Science Fiction Page, which appears to be a project for an English class on Science Fiction at Clemson taught by Elisa Sparks.

- An article by a team of scientists from the Carnegie Institution, Princeton and UC Berkeley have proposed that extraterrestrial plants might be detected by the wavelength of light they reflect. Earth's vegetation gives Earthshine a "red edge". Even if extraterrestrial plants don't reflect the same color as those on earth, the methods they describe could be used for detection. (see Seager et al. Astrobiology 5:372-390 (2005))

- NASA has an interesting article about engineering Arabadopsis (thale cress) for planting on Mars. Such plants carrying a fluorescent jellyfish protein can be used to understand the effect of different atmospheric and light conditions.

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