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May 8 2014

In Darkened Forests, Ferns Stole Gene From an Unlikely Source ó and Then From Each Other

Scientists knew neochrome was odd before they started rooting around in its family tree. A union of independent proteins ó red-sensing phytochrome and blue-sensing phototropin ó the super-protein combines two already-great pieces into one fantastic whole that helps plants grow toward dim, filtered light. Itís a slick little adaptation for living on the murky forest floor, a way of acknowledging: yeah, I know Iím not the tallest tree in the forest.

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