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Picture of the Day

Putting arsenic in its place

The fern Pteris vittata tolerates and accumulates very high levels of the deadly toxin arsenic. After sucking arsenic out of the soil and into its fronds, the plant encodes a protein that moves the poison into its equivalent of a trashcan, so that it can't have an effect on the plant. Through experiments, researchers discovered the gene needed for the plant to tolerate arsenic -- 100 to 1000 times more arsenic than other plants. The gene could be used to create plants that can clean up water and soils contaminated with arsenic. The finding could also help protect rice plants from accumulating harmful levels of the toxin. Rice currently is a diet staple for more than half the world's population.

Visit Website | Image credit: Jo Ann Banks/Purdue University