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Researchers Detect Communication Inside Plant Cells

Using advanced imaging techniques, researchers at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., have detected an "information superhighway" inside plant cells that allows chloroplasts the minuscule green bodies that carry out photosynthesis to communicate with each other. "We were surprised to find chloroplasts that were attached to each other by long slender tubules," says Maureen R. Hanson, professor of plant molecular biology. The discovery was made after the researchers genetically engineered plants that contained a fluorescent protein gene in the nucleus, from jellyfish. The observations were made by Cornell-patented technology, a two-photon laser microscope developed by Watt W. Webb, professor of applied and engineering physics. The advanced microscopes can reveal fundamental biological processes in living cells plant biology, metabolism, wound healing, behavior of malignant cells, and nerve communication. The technology is available for licensing.

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