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DIG IT Collecting a sample of Barbacenia macrantha (shown) is tough work, requiring chisels and hammers to unearth the plant and the rock it grows in. The plant’s specialized roots help it live in environments deficient in phosphorus and other nutrients. A. Abrahão. No soil? No problem. Some herbaceous shrubs living on rocky mountains in Brazil use roots equipped with fine hairs and acids to dissolve rocks and extract the key nutrient phosphorus. The discovery, published in the May Functional Ecology , helps explain how a variety of plants can survive in impoverished environments. “While most people tend to view nutrient-poor environments as less diverse, they are actually very diverse b... Full story

23 May