There’s always something new to discover in the world, even in things you have seen a million times. For us, it might be an interesting tidbit in the background of a fave film or a sound in a popular song. For scientists, it is uncovering new information about an entity that they’ve researched for decades. This is the recent case with a common lab plant. According to Smithsonian Magazine, scientists have found a new plant organ in the Arabidopsis thaliana.
The weed, also known as the thale cress, has been used in countless experiments. It’s also on the International Space Station and the moon. The thale cress is a staple in science with experiments dating back to the 16th century. So it makes you wonder how they missed an entire organ.
It turns out that the cantil only appears in some thale cress and under specific conditions. A cantil only forms when the plant delays flowering during Spring if daylight is limited. The cantil sticks out from the stem and connects to the pedicel, the flower-bearing part of the plant. Cantils make thale cress look like they have bent elbows whereas plants without this organ look straight.
Tim Gookin, a molecular biologist and former Pennsylvania State University employee, and his team are behind this discovery. It took Gookin twelve years of investigation to finally come to this conclusion. And now, this new information can help understand a similar growth in other plants, if they exist.
So far, there isn’t evidence of cantils but surely they exist elsewhere, right? Understanding plant structures and organs help uncover more information about how to make them grow efficiently. This can help in terms of food production to create healthier and heartier plants to feed the masses. It will be interesting to see how this new information affects science in the coming years.