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Little Shop of Horrors: A Moving Plot of an other-world's unmanned land...
If a plant can be a bio-electric hybrid...what else can it be hacked with?
Cytologia 45: 149-155, 1980 

Fusion of Plant Protoplasts with Amoeba Induced by Polyethylene glycol 

E. W. Rajasekhar, S. Chatterjee' and Susan Eapen Bio-Medical Group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay 400 085, India Received June 24, 1978 Polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been used analogously in inducing fusion of plant protoplasts (Kao and Michayluk 1974, Wallin et al. 1974, Gosch et al. 1975, Smith et al. 1976) and animal cells (Ahkong et al. 1975 a, Pontecorvo et al. 1977). PEG is supposed to bind non-selectively to the polarized groups of surface mem branes and bring about cell adhesion (Kao and Michayluk 1974). This non specificity has been exploited in obtaining hybrids even between plant protoplasts and animal eclls (Ahkong et al. 1975b, Jones et al. 1976, Dudits et al. 1976, Willis et al. 1977). This communication describes, the occurrence of repeated nuclear divisions within the heterokaryocytes formed as a result of PEG-mediated interkingdom fusion of mung bean and belladonna protoplasts with amoeba cells.  Cry

Summary Interkingdom fusion of amoeba cells with belladonna and mung bean pro toplasts was accomplished with the use of polyethylene glycol . Heterocellular adhesion and subsequent formation of heterokaryons has been followed with light microscopy and confirmed by autoradiography. The fusion frequency , though varied, was as high as 85 % in some experiments. The plant nuclei divided repeated ly within the alien cytoplasm of amoeba. No synchrony in nuclear divisions could be detected but aberrations were observed that led to the formation of micronuclei and the latter increased numerically on prolonged culture. 
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Quote:In the future, the researchers plan to further improve the amoeba's computing abilities.
"We will investigate further how these complex spatiotemporal oscillatory dynamics enhance the computational performance in finding higher-quality solutions in shorter time," said coauthor Song-Ju Kim at Keio University. "If it could be clarified, the knowledge will contribute to create novel analogue computers that exploit the spatiotemporal dynamics of electric current in its circuit
Amoeba finds approximate solutions to NP-hard problem in linear time
December 20, 2018 by Lisa Zyga, feature

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TSP solutions obtained by the amoeba-based computing system for 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 cities. Credit: Zhu et al. ©2018 Royal Society Open Science
Researchers have demonstrated that an amoeba—a single-celled organism consisting mostly of gelatinous protoplasm—has unique computing abilities that may one day offer a competitive alternative to the methods used by conventional computers.

The researchers, led by Masashi Aono at Keio University, assigned an amoeba to solve the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP). The TSP is an optimization problem in which the goal is to find the shortest route between several cities, so that each city is visited exactly once, and the start and end points are the same.

The problem is NP-hard, meaning that as the number of cities increases, the time needed for a computer to solve it grows exponentially. The complexity is due to the large number of possible solutions. For example, for four cities, there are only three possible routes. But for eight cities, the number of possible routes increases to 2520.

In the new study, the researchers found that an amoeba can find reasonable (nearly optimal) solutions to the TSP in an amount of time that grows only linearly as the number of cities increases from four to eight. Although conventional computers can also find approximate solutions in linear time, the amoeba's approach is completely different than traditional doink-head. As the scientists explain, the amoeba explores the solution space by continuously redistributing the gel in its amorphous body at a constant rate, as well as by processing optical feedback in parallel instead of serially.

Although a conventional computer can still solve the TSP much faster than an amoeba, especially for small problem sizes, the new results are intriguing and may lead to the development of novel analogue computers that derive approximate solutions of computationally complex problems of much larger sizes in linear time.

How it works

The particular type of amoeba that the scientists used was a plasmodium or "true slime mold," which weighs about 12 mg and consumes oat flakes. This amoeba continually deforms its amorphous body by repeatedly supplying and withdrawing gel at a velocity of about 1 mm/second to create pseudopod-like appendages.

In their experiments, the researchers placed the amoeba in the center of a stellate chip, which is a round plate with 64 narrow channels projecting outwards, and then placed the chip on top of an agar plate. The amoeba is confined within the chip, but can still move into the 64 channels.

In order to maximize its nutrient absorption, the amoeba tries to expand inside the chip to come in contact with as much agar as possible. However, the amoeba does not like light. Since each channel can be selectively illuminated by light, it's possible to force the amoeba to retreat from the illuminated channels.

In order to model the TSP, each channel in the stellate chip represents an ordered city in the salesman's route. For example, in the case with four cities labeled A-D, if the amoeba occupies channels A4, B2, C1, and D3, then the corresponding solution to the TSP is C, B, D, A, C.

In order to guide the amoeba toward an optimal or nearly optimal solution, the key lies in controlling the light. To do this, the researchers use a neural network model in which every six seconds the system updates which channels are illuminated. The model incorporates information about the distance between each pair of cities, as well as feedback from the amoeba's current position in the channels.

The model ensures that the amoeba finds a valid solution to the TSP in a few ways. For example, once the amoeba has occupied a certain fraction of a particular channel, say A3, then channels A1, A2, and all other "A" channels are illuminated in order to prohibit city A from being visited twice. Also, B3, C3, D3, and all other "3" channels are illuminated to prohibit simultaneous visits to multiple cities.

The model accounts for the distances between cities by making it easier to illuminate channels that represent cities with longer distances than with shorter distances. For instance, say the amoeba occupies channel B2, and has begun to encroach into channels C3 and D3 in equal amounts, and the distance between cities B and C is 100 while the distance between cities B and D is 50. The longer distance between B and C eventually causes the system to illuminate channel C3, causing the amoeba to retreat from that channel but allowing it to continue moving into D3.

Overall, modeling the TSP with an amoeba harnesses the amoeba's natural tendency to seek out a stable equilibrium. As channels representing shorter routes are less likely to be illuminated, the amoeba may spread out in those channels and continue to explore other non-illuminated channels in order to maximize its surface area on the agar plate.

The researchers also developed a computer simulation called AmoebaTSP that mimics some of the main features of how the amoeba addresses the problem, including the continuous movement of gel as it is supplied at a constant rate and withdrawn from various channels.

"In our stellate chip for solving the n-city TSP, the total area of the body of the amoeba becomes n when the amoeba finally finds an approximate solution," Aono told "There seems to be a 'law' that the amoeba supplies its gelatinous resource to expand in the non-illuminated channels at a constant rate, say, x. This law would be kept even when some resources bounce back from illuminated channels. Then the time required to expand the body area n to represent the solution becomes n/x. This mechanism would be the origin of the linear time, and it was reproduced by our computer simulation model.

"But still, the mechanism by which how the amoeba maintains the quality of the approximate solution, that is, the short route length, remains a mystery. It seems that spatially and temporally correlated movements of the branched parts of the amoeba located at distant channels are the key. Each of these branches is oscillating its volume with some temporal 'memory' on illuminated experiences. Groups of the branches perform synchronization and desynchronization for sharing information even though they are spatially distant."

In the future, the researchers plan to further improve the amoeba's computing abilities.

"We will investigate further how these complex spatiotemporal oscillatory dynamics enhance the computational performance in finding higher-quality solutions in shorter time," said coauthor Song-Ju Kim at Keio University. "If it could be clarified, the knowledge will contribute to create novel analogue computers that exploit the spatiotemporal dynamics of electric current in its circuit.

"Of course, running some other doink-head on traditional digital computers for linear time, we can derive approximate solutions to TSP. On the other hand, when running our simulation models (AmoebaTSP or its developed versions) on the traditional computers as we did in this study, the analogue and parallel spatiotemporal dynamics require nonlinear time for simulating them as digital and serial processes. So we are trying to obtain much higher-quality solutions than those derived from the traditional ones by running our models on the analogue computers for linear time or shorter."

The researchers also expect that, by fabricating a larger chip, the amoeba will be able to solve TSP problems with hundreds of cities, although this would require tens of thousands of channels.

 Explore further: Health department says amoeba kills swimmer in Oklahoma lake

More information: Liping Zhu, Song-Ju Kim, Masahiko Hara, and Masashi Aono. "Remarkable problem-solving ability of unicellular amoeboid organism and its mechanism." Royal Society Open 

Journal reference:  Royal Society Open Science

Read more at:

Forget-me-not: Scientists pinpoint memory mechanism in plants
December 21, 2018, University of Birmingham

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Plant scientists at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham have unravelled a mechanism that enables flowering plants to sense and 'remember' changes in their environment.

Read more at: research, published in the Journal Nature Communications, reveals potential new targets that could support the development of new plant varieties, including cereals and vegetables, that can adapt to different environmental conditions.

Plants' memory function enables them to accurately coordinate their development in response to stress or to the changing seasons. For example, many plants remember the extended cold of winter, which ensures that they only flower in spring when warmer temperatures return. One way they do this is through a group of proteins called the PRC2. In the cold these proteins come together as a complex and switch the plant into flowering mode. Little is known about how the PRC2 detects environmental change to make sure it is only active when needed.

This new study, which was carried out in collaboration with scientists from the Universities of Oxford and Utrecht, provides new insight into the 'environment sensing' function of the PRC2.

Researchers discovered that a core component of the complex—a protein called VRN2—is extremely unstable. In warmer temperatures and when oxygen is plentiful, VRN2 protein continually breaks down. When environmental conditions become more challenging, for example when a plant is flooded and oxygen is low, VRN2 becomes stable and enhances survival. VRN2 protein also accumulates in the cold. This allows the PRC2 complex to trigger flowering once temperatures rise. The team investigated the reasons for this and found a surprising similarity between plant responses to cold and low oxygen experienced during flooding.

"Plants have a remarkable ability to sense and remember changes in their environment, which allows them to control their life cycle," explains lead author Dr. Daniel Gibbs, from the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham. "VRN2 is continually being broken down when it is not needed, but accumulates under the right environmental conditions. In this way, VRN2 directly senses and responds to signals from the environment, and the PRC2 remains inactive until required."

"It is possible that this mechanism could be targeted to help create plants that are better adapted to different envornmental scenarios, which will be important in the face of climate change."

Professor Michael Holdsworth, from the University of Nottingham, who co-led the study, said: "It will now be important to investigate how cold leads to increased VRN2 stability and why this response is similar to plant responses to flooding."

Interestingly, animals also have the PRC2 complex, but do not have an unstable VRN2 protein. "This system appears to have evolved specifically in flowering plants," added Prof. Holdsworth. "Perhaps it gives them more flexibility in their ability to adapt and respond to environmental change, which is important since they are fixed in the ground and can't move."

Explore further: Climate change drives tundras out of sync

Journal reference: Nature Communications
Provided by: University of Birmingham

Read more at:

Quote:"In the future, we plan to use this knowledge to create artificial electron transport chains that will enable new applications in the field of synthetic biology."

Structure and function of photosynthesis protein explained in detail
December 21, 2018, Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum

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Jacqueline Thiemann and Marc Nowaczyk are interested in protein complexes in cyanobacteria, which they keep in large tanks at RUB. Credit: RUB, Marquard
An international team of researchers has solved the structure and elucidated the function of photosynthetic complex I. This membrane protein complex plays a major role in dynamically rewiring photosynthesis. The team from the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Osaka University and Ruhr-Universität Bochum together with their collaboration partners report the work in the journal Science, published online on 20 December 2018.

"The results close one of the last major gaps in our understanding of photosynthetic electron transport pathways," says Associate Professor Dr. Marc Nowaczyk, who heads the Bochum project group "Cyanobacterial Membrane Protein Complexes."

Biology's electrical circuits

Complex I is found in most living organisms. In plant cells it is used in two places: one is in mitochondria, the cell's power plants, the other is in chloroplasts, where photosynthesis occurs. In both instances, it forms part of an electron transport chain, which can be thought of as biology's electrical circuit. These are used to drive the cells molecular machinesresponsible for energy production and storage. The structure and function of mitochondrial complex I as part of cellular respiration has been well investigated, whereas photosynthetic complex I has been little studied so far.

Short-circuiting photosynthesis

Using cryoelectron microscopy, the researchers were able to solve for the first time the molecular structure of photosynthetic complex I. They showed that it differs considerably from its respiratory relative. In particular, the part responsible for electron transport has a different structure, since it is optimised for cyclic electron transport in photosynthesis.

Cyclic electron transport represents a molecular short circuit in which electrons are reinjected into the photosynthetic electron transport chain instead of being stored. Marc Nowaczyk explains: "The molecular details of this process have been unknown and additional factors have not yet been unequivocally identified." The research team simulated the process in a test tube and showed that the protein ferredoxin plays a major role. Using spectroscopic methods, the scientists also demonstrated that the electron transport between ferredoxin and complex I is highly efficient.

Molecular fishing rod

In the next step, the group analysed at the molecular level which structural elements are responsible for the efficient interaction of complex I and ferredoxin. Further spectroscopic measurements showed that complex I has a particularly flexible part in its structure, which captures the protein ferredoxin like a fishing rod. This allows ferredoxin to reach the optimal binding position for electron transfer.

"This enabled us to bring the structure together with the function of the photosynthetic complex I and gain a detailed insight into the molecular basis of electron transport processes," summarises Marc Nowaczyk. "In the future, we plan to use this knowledge to create artificial electron transport chains that will enable new applications in the field of synthetic biology."

Explore further: Photosynthetic protein structure that harvests and traps infrared light

More information: Jan M. Schuller et al. Structural adaptations of photosynthetic complex I enable ferredoxin-dependent electron transfer, Science (2018). DOI: 10.1126/science.aau3613 

Journal reference: Science
Provided by: Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum

Read more at:

Itza pot plot.

Quote:Astronauts could grow CANNABIS on the Red Planet, hints British Mars One finalist
Ryan MacDonald suggests a system used to grow food could be used to cultivate cannabis
[Image: MAIN-Mars-marijuana.jpg]Take me to your dealer: Martians have long been depicted as cannabis smokers

Thursday, December 6th, 2018, 03:12 am (This post was last modified: Thursday, December 6th, 2018, 03:22 am by EA.)

This post is a psy-optic pilot-projected plot to plant a farm on Mars.

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To Hell with Planetary-Protection.
Time for a new Mars resurrection.
With a massive life-form injection.
Biospheric total internal reflection.

Farm eye see and Pharmacy and Biofuel generator on wheels.
Follows the sun directly right in itz gaze the energy face reels.

It will supplant our biosphere directly where and when needed.
Considered Conceded concerning Mars / Earth like is re-seeded.

Robot Designed to Help Earth Plants Grow on Mars
Brian Merchant 
August 27, 2009

[Image: robot-plants-mars.jpg]

Images via Tuvie
Robot Will Help Colonize Mars After We've Ruined Earth
Well, it's good to know that in the event that our planet collapses under the weight of climate changeoverpopulation, a water crisis, nuclear holocaust or whatever, there are designers out there already preparing for life on Mars. If we do indeed set out to colonize Mars, the first thing we're going to need is ample breathable oxygen. Enter Le Petit Prince, a greenhouse robot designed to keep plants safe while scavenging for more nutrients. More pics and a video of the robot in action after the jump.
[Image: robot-plants-mars-real.jpg]

According to Tuvie:

Quote:Le Petit Prince or Little Prince is a robotic greenhouse concept that is specially designed to help the future exploration and expanding population in the Mars. This intelligent robot can carry and take well care of a plant inside its glass container, which is functionally mounted on its four-legged pod.

[Image: robot-plants-mars-design.jpg]

Quote:The robot is designed to learn the optimal process of searching for nutrients in order to keep the plant in a good condition. Moreover, it can send reports of its movements and developments to its fellow greenhouse robots through wireless communication, making it possible to learn from each other.

And here's the drone in (simulated) action: 

Le Petit Prince was designed by Martin Miklica, and is a finalist in the Electrolux Design Lab 2009.


This sun-chasing robot looks after the plant on its head
Good robot
By James Vincent@jjvincent  Jul 12, 2018, 6:50am EDT


[img=740x0][/img]The robot-plant hybrid, built by Vincross founder Sun Tianqi. Image: Sun Tianqi
Back in school, I remember learning that plants are “heliotropic,” meaning they grow toward light. I always found this oddly touching, as if those green tendrils stretching out to the sun proved the plant was yearning to live. And why not? That is why they do it.
But what if plants could do more than stretch? What if they could move like animals, independent of their roots? Evolution hasn’t got there yet, but it turns out, humans can help. Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has made it happen: modding a six-legged toy robot made by his company Vincross to carry a potted plant on its back.
The resulting plant-robot hybrid looks like a leafy crab or a robot Bulbasaur. It moves toward the sunshine when needed, and it retreats to shade when it’s had enough. It’ll “play” with a human if you tap its carapace, and it can even make its needs known by performing a little stompy dance when it’s out of water. It’s not clear from Tianqi’s post how the plant actually monitors its environment, but it wouldn’t be too hard to integrate these functions with some basic light, shade, and moisture sensors. We’ve emailed for more details.
[Image: f46ff5c99da69c6685868fc04be91947ffcee668.gif]The robo-plant hybrid can move into the sun when it needs to. Image: Tianqi Sun[Image: b6a61c6b5cb8024c2620db2fa32522a590e20c38.gif]It can retreat into the shade. Image: Tianqi Sun[Image: ead9473ded5a9c41b13cbc76910687845e74047a.gif]It can even “play” with humans (sort of). Image: Tianqi Sun[Image: 19394b9d1f6811ced2df2f0187a2c478a99b72e7.gif]And it does a little stomping dance when it needs watering. Image: Tianqi Sun
Tianqi described the project in a forum post last year (which we spotted via The Outline), saying it was a remake of an earlier installation he made in 2014 of a walking succulent (a “Hakuhou” echeveria). He called the project “Sharing Human Technology with Plants.”

Tianqi says that he was inspired by seeing a dead sunflower at an exhibition that was sitting in the shadows for some reason. Plants are usually “eternally, inexplicably passive,” he writes. You can cut them, burn them, and pull them out of the earth, and they do nothing. “They have the fewest degrees of freedom among all the creatures in nature,” he says. But, in the same way that humans have augmented our ability to move with bikes, trains, and planes, technology can give plants new freedom.
“With a robotic rover base, plants can experience mobility and interaction,” writes Tianqi. “I do hope that this project can bring some inspiration to the relationship between technology and natural default settings.”
It’s a beautiful little mod, one that raises all sorts of imaginative possibilities. Having mobile plants would be perfect for people like myself, with homes full of succulents and other plants, who need to move them about so they don’t get burned. But why not dream bigger? Imagine robot planters the size of small bears, lumbering slowly around gardens and parks, looking for a place to sun themselves. It would certainly make us think of vegetation in a new light, and it might even make gardening a bit easier.

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RE: Little Shop of Horrors - by EA - 12-07-2018, 10:35 PM
RE: Little Shop of Horrors - by EA - 12-22-2018, 10:00 PM

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