July 10th: Tree Farts, Cyanobacteria Airborne Poison, the Eusocial lifestyle, and Almost One Year of Handwavium

Tree farts, pond scum and cooperative ferns.

After I write my Rabbit Hole of Research episodes I keep my eye on the science, and will update if I see some interesting new research popping up. Last year I had an episode on Killer Plants (read it here), and here are some new botanical findings:

1) So, one article explores the idea that Ferns create eusocial colonies (what is an eusocial colonies you ask?) According to Britannica: An eusocial species, is any colonial animal species that lives in multigenerational family groups in which the vast majority of individuals cooperate to aid relatively few (or even a single) reproductive group members—simply put: think insects like ants or mole rats living in a colony. I can hear Spock’s voice in my head, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” —and now we can add ferns to the list of eusocial species—read more here.

2) So, it has been long known that Cyanobacteria over growing in ponds, “blooms,” can produce toxins, but a new report shows evidence for airborne toxins

3) And one last botanical laugh—Tree Farts! So, it seems “ghost forests”—“Ghosts forests” are drowned forests/marshlands with the remains of dead and decaying trees under water (read more here). These marshlands have been found to generate one-fifth of greenhouse gases, but when compared to other sources of greenhouse gases, this is a minor contribution. 

I hear you out their asking, “Jotham, If the trees are dead then what is causing these farts. Microbes are what causes farts! And Just like you reading this newsletter, the microbes in your own intestines, digesting your food causes your farts. (I apologize to all the ferns for assuming a human-centric viewpoint that only humans can read).

Hopefully, this holds you over until the next edition of Rabbit Hole of Research—What, you checked the calendar and the next edition is the one year edition! That’s right we made it one year! So, to celebrate I’m going to revisit that first edition and return with more Sexy Space! To get ready for more Handwavium and Sex in Space you can reread that episode here.

Author: jomega22

Jotham Austin, II lives in Chicagoland with his wife and two sons. He has his PhD in Botany, and can be found taking electron micrographs of cells at The University of Chicago. His Rom-Com novella, “Tomorrow May Be Too Late” will be published as part of the romance anthology, “Askew Ever After,” January 2021. His debut novel, a sci-fi psychological thriller, ‘Will You Still Love Me, If I Become Someone Else?” will be released February 2021. Jotham recently started a newsletter that explores the science in science fiction (signup at jothamaustin.com). Preorder books and Follow Jotham on social media at https://linktr.ee/Jothamaustin

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