Monday, April 26, 2010

Kingdom Plantae!

"It's not easy being green."
- Kermit, the Frog

Until about 500 million years ago, the life on this planet was almost purely aquatic. Photosynthetic organisms covered the world's oceans while the land remained a desolate, barren wasteland. In those early days of life's history on Earth, it was hard to imagine that one day the land would be covered in living organisms. The first multicellular plants most likely came from green algae which teamed up with a fungus, similarly to how lichen survives today. This symbiotic relationship continues to be a popular way to move energy through the ecosystem, as four-fifths of modern plants have fungal partners (called mycorrhizae), on their roots.

Plants provide nearly all of the food that supports terrestrial life. They are now the dominant feature of land life. The angiosperms, or flowering plants, are the most diverse with more than 275,000 species.


Go to the following website: The Plant Kingdom

Go through the slide show about the plant kingdom.

Answer the following questions:

1. What does mycorrhizal fungi do for plants?

2. What are the main characteristics of plants?

3. What is xylem and phloem?

4. What is fruit?

5. Why is an angiosperm more complex than other plants?

6. What is your favorite plant and why?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Slime Molds!

Slime Mold is an organism that straddles two kingdoms. They share qualities with both the protist kingdom and the fungi kingdom. There are more than 500 species of slime mold and can be found ingesting bacteria and decaying wood. There is still a tremendous amount that we do not understand about the slime molds. It seems evident that they might have an intelligence beyond what we would expect from such a simple life form. In one experiment, slime mold was able to navigate its way through a maze in order to find the food source.


Read the article about the experiment: BBC News.

Watch the video about slime molds.

What are five interesting things you found in the article and the video?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kingdom Protista!

The protists are a kingdom of organisms that consist mostly of single-celled organisms but also contains some related multicellular species. If you were to look at a drop of pond water under a microscope (as we shall do) you will find it teeming with tiny, wriggling creatures. Protists flourish wherever there is moisture. In many marine ecosystems, protists are the key organisms driving all of the others within the food chain.

There is a wide range of types of protists. No other kingdom includes so many different kinds of cells. Some photosynthesize, while others are heterotrophs (organisms that feed off of other organisms).


Go to the website about protists.

Scroll through the page, pick one protist and write a description of it. Describe it in detail in your own words.

Extra credit: Go to this website, print out a protist mask and wear it to school!

(I'm just kidding... maybe.)