Devil’s tongue in bloom

The Devil’s Tongue is in bloom at the Biology Greenhouse. Visiting Hours are Wednesday 9am – noon.

The devil’s tongue, Amorphophallus konjac is a mid-sized relative of the titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum. This perennial herb is found in the wild in forest edge and open habitats in Yunnanm China, but has been cultivated for two millenia in China, Japan and southeast Asia for medicine and food. Its starchy corm is processed into a gelatin substitute sometimes used in Asian fruit jelly candy, and provide glucomannan, a laxative used for hyperlipidemia and diabetes. Flour made from the corm is used in noodles, tofu and snacks.

Marie Elliot nominated for Women of Distinction Award

Dr. Marie Elliot, IIDR member and associate professor in the Department of Biology at McMaster, was recently nominated for a 2017 Hamilton Women of Distinction Award.

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2016 / 17 Graduate Research Day

Join us for the 4th annual Graduate Research Day
Ewart Angus Centre and HSC-1A6 – February 23, 2017


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IMPACT project brings together several disciplines

Interdisciplinary projects continue to be a strong component of Biology at McMaster.  The IMPACT project brings together several disciplines which not only enhance the student experience but also can enhance the lives of people in our community.


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A new mode of growth for Streptomyces bacteria enables exploration of environments

A new mode of growth for Streptomyces bacteria enables exploration of environments
Streptomyces are complex bacteria renowned for their ability to produce medicinally useful compounds, and it has always been thought that Streptomyces are stationary organisms, rooted in place like plants. Recent work by Dr. Marie Elliot and PhD student Stephanie Jones in the Department of Biology has found that when Streptomyces are co-cultured with yeast, these bacteria use a previously unobserved mode of growth to move and explore their environment. This exploratory growth is associated with alkaline conditions, and can be communicated to other nearby Streptomyces species through airborne compounds.

Third Titan Arum about to bloom

The titan arum flowering is one of the extremes of the natural world, with a massive bloom that lasts only a week. On the first day, it is wide open and smells of rotting meat to attract its fly and carrion beetle pollinators. In 2014, the Biology greenhouse bought 3 large titan arum corms. Two of them, Phoebe and Magnus,  bloomed in 2015, while the third produced a single massive leaf. This third titan arum is about to bloom for the first time.