Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pollen & Forensics

I think on Tuesday, John mentioned that the pollen of different plant species have a vast array of different structures. This TED talk (Every Pollen Grain Has a Story) by Jonathan Drori highlights some of the stranger forms of pollen and their various uses, and as Drori points out:

"Perhaps you didn't realize that plants have sex. They have rampant, promiscuous and really quite interesting and curious sex. Really, a lot."

Then the talk takes a twist. Drori illuminates the use of pollen in the field of forensics (I know, I was like "What?!?"). Just as Jennifer mentioned at CCBER today, plants have a huge variety of uses in forensics. Apparently, experts in the field of pollen physiology and ecology are being called to identify species of pollen from different crime scenes and the implications of those species to the location of the committed crime. Proportions of pollen species found on articles of clothing can identify a geographic location to within 1 kilometer. This means that:

"Plant forensics are being used now to track where counterfeit drugs have been made, and where banknotes have come from."

Pretty cool stuff, so check out the video.

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