Ray Gun Biology!
What happens when science fiction technology becomes reality? A team of researchers are using a device resembling a futuristic ray gun to record how different plant leaves on Alaskan mountains reflect light. The research will help scientist assess the impact of climate change, by studying how different plants respond to the environment. Learn more at NSF's "The Discovery Files."
Credit: National Science Foundation
Ray Gun Biology!
Hi! I'm Mo Barrow with The Discovery Files, from NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.
What happens when science fiction technology becomes reality?
A team of researchers from ASCEND, an NSF-funded Biology Integration Institute, are using a device resembling a futuristic ray gun -- but with real functions -- like the high-tech tricorder of Star Trek fame.
It is used to record how different plant leaves on Alaskan mountains reflect light.
All living things contain DNA and the more common the genetic structure two organisms share the closer they are related, though there are variations.
In plants, those DNA variations can occur on a very minute scale of closely related individuals, which is not easy to see, without a complex, long and costly, DNA sampling process.
The much faster ray gun helped researchers discover that the same species of plants on mountaintops just a few miles apart can have slightly different DNA.
Such distinctions are important as they help to assess the impact of climate change, by closely studying how different plants respond to the environment.
Discover how the U.S. National Science Foundation is advancing research at nsf.gov.
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