Pennycress – a small plant with a hidden power
Well we are pleased to introduce you in today’s post to Thlaspi! Also known as pennycress, Thlaspi is a member of the Brassica family. Members of this family include the edible vegetables cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and many other edible cruciferous plants. And you may have heard of Arabidopsis from the same family, a commonly used model species for studying plant genetics. ⠀
One of the most amazing things about Thlaspi species is that they are hyper-accumulators of heavy metals. They thrive in soils that have high levels of metal contamination, but they can actually extract (accumulate) the heavy metals into their roots, thus removing the metals from the soil. This pictures shows Thlaspi growing in a “no-man’s land” of contaminated soil, where no other plants could survive. Aren’t plants amazing?⠀
Looking inside the stem
We took a look into the pennycress stem, right at the place where the above-ground part of the plant meets the root to be specific. The microscope image below shows that, at this position, there is a large central cylinder of vascular tissues. The cells in the vascular cylinder look similar to each other at first sight. But if you look closely you can see that some cells are a little bit thicker walled and are stained slightly lighter blue. It is these small differences that capture the curiosity and attention of the scientist. We hope you find them interesting too. Of course we were curious to see what kind of pattern that would make!
Going microscopic with our pattern design
We went super duper small-scale with this pattern for a change. Yes, cells are small, you usually can’t see them with your eye. And that’s what we wanted to express with this dense cellular pattern. The cells are so tiny it looks like an intricate pointillist artwork. Slight variations in the darkness and thickness of the cells from the original image give an overall pattern that becomes more and more complex the closer you look at it. Nature is such a fascinating source of arts!