Flora fights back

0suprww.jpgSure i like my strawberries to be clean of lice and i’m sorry for golfers who are bothered by birds but the new designer plants that are coming out of labs (and sometimes running away from their test site) these days are quite disturbing.

Over the past two decades, New Zealand scientists have been working on designer strains of grass that could one day be used to keep birds away from golf courses and airports. Apparently the right combinations of grass and endophytes fungi would produce turf with unique properties.

Insects can’t eat these grasses, which deprives some birds of their food source. They are also toxic and can give grass-eating birds an illness the researchers call “post-ingestion malaise”.

Planting grass in airports could help reduce dangerous birdstrikes where they collide with aircraft. The scientists are also applying the technology to golf courses, where fouling from birds like Canada geese can spoil a day on the greens.

Meanwhile, Scottish scientists have been spending 16 years to produce “super raspberries” which fight back against the insects that normally devour them before they are ripe.

Called Glen Doll, the berry will be on sale in shops next year. It has a built-in defence against aphids and carries the A10 gene that enables it to thrive in Scottish conditions.

Other varieties are expected to follow, including a breed that will be resistant to the fungal disease raspberry root rot virus, which is now rampant in Scotland.

Via Scotsman and ABC.net.

Image from Heath Bunting‘s SuperWeed Kit, a lowtech DIY kit capable of producing a genetically mutant superweed, designed to attack corporate monoculture.