Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bryophytes: Link of Protists and True Plants

Bryophytes:  Link of Protists and True Plants
Dr Abe V Rotor
Moss (Musci)
Liverwort (Marchantia) 
 Hornwort (Anthoceros)

Bryophytes are the intermediate forms of life between the Algae (Kingdom Protista) and the Tracheophytes (Vascular) or true plants. Bryophytes bridge the evolution of life in the Plant Kingdom.

Anyone who has seen “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," or the second travel of Gulliver in Brodningnag, could easily place himself into imagery where small things are very big.

A blade of grass becomes a perfect slide, an ant becomes a pony for going places, a raindrop can knock one down hard.

Now imagine the lowly moss to be as large as a tree. A liverwort becomes a large green carpet shaped like a liver. A hornwort has pinnacles in Gothic style. When you are microscopic in size, everything you see around you becomes large.

Bryophytes are the link between the two kingdoms of the protists, and the true (or vascular) plants. They are early forms of plants, which botanists believe to have stopped evolving. Thus, they are today what they were millions of years ago. They are, indeed, living fossils.

Observe a piece of rock covered with bryophytes. It appears like a miniature forest under the magnifying glass. It is dense and every space is occupied by structures that look like trunks and leaves. On closer look, however, these structures are not true organs, because they lack vascular tissues, which are found in higher plants. The tissues are needed for water and food to flow to keep the plant alive.

Alternation of Generations

The moss has a unique two-in-one life cycle. Botanists describe the gametophyte as either male or female plant, while the sporophyte is one containing the total number of chromosomes. The former carries only half the number of chromosomes (haploid). When the sporophyte plant matures, it produces spores, which will germinate and develop into gametophytes. When the gametophytes mature, they form both eggs and sperms that fuse together to form a zygote. The zygote grows into another sporophyte that will carry the next generation. This alternation of generation is the key to the survival of bryophytes even under harsh conditions.

Bryophytes are Nature’s Soil Builder

When the plants are uprooted, one will find soil underneath. This means that bryophytes grow on rock by digesting it first with acid. The softened rock yields to the roots and releases elements needed for growth and development. As the plants die, their organic debris is mixed in with the rock particles and form into soil.

Since bryophytes are short-lived and seasonal, the soil deposit becomes thicker by each generation, with the plant borders extending to form new frontiers. Soon entire walls and rocks become covered like a green carpet. As the bryophyte community expands to reach its peak and climax, more and more organisms become dependent on it. Millipedes find it an ideal place for a home, while providing their nutrition. Insects frequent the place as a hunting ground for their prey. Frogs, however, stay near the byrophytes to stalk the insects.

Bryophytes Create a Microclimate

A carpet of mosses on the wall or rock feels soft to the touch. It is thick and spongy. When it rains, the carpet absorbs and stores the water. At night and early in the morning, dew precipitates and is absorbed by the moss, creating a microclimate in the surrounding area that is favorable to other plants.

With the passage of time, new plants grow out from the middle of the carpet. This is the beginning of the second part of plant invasion, courtesy of the ferns. The plants are large and diverse, the forerunners of vascular plants which once dominated the Carboniferous forest, even before the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Ferns actually form a canopy above the moss carpet, and as they do, they block the sun, wrest for space and compete for water. Fern roots wedge the open cracks in the rock, sending boulders down together with their tenants. While it is catastrophe to the pioneering plants, it is advantage to others. Nature works its way following a formula aimed at dynamic balance or homeostasis.

Soon the bryophytes do not only lose their dominance to the ferns, they have lost the place. Their job is over because the rock is gone.

“What good is rock when it loses the essence from which life rises?”

So thus the fern continue to change the landscape. When nature writes “finis” to the lowly moss, larger plants, like trees, come around, and soon the place becomes a forest. And life goes on.
Phylogeny of the Bryophytes 
Land plants





"Protracheophytes", such as Horneophyton or Aglaophyton

Tracheophytes or Vascular plants

Acknowledgement: Photos Wikipedia

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Evolution of Faith

Dr Abe V Rotor

                                         Neo-Gothic church, ParaƱaque

Move over Baroque, once bastion of the ancient
world, evolved from the underground and grassy hut,
into mighty fort for war and worship - a kingdom,
until Gothic took its place - ah, freedom!

Soaring into Heaven, scaled not by walls or stairs
but by spires rising like swords piercing the blue sky -
until smog hid its view, and took away its purity,
no longer a rod to fear, pointing at eternity.

High rise buried Baroque and Gothic, with billboards
around; Gregorian chant turned to rock and pop,
in time passing, not by the clock but by the car,
and space a catacomb of concrete and steel bar.

Make way for the Messiah, make haste, we are told;
but who would he or she be? Of what race and tongue?
manger we no longer find, find the star by the Google chart;
does faith make any difference in science and art?

The world did not really change, but we - we did.
Creation, we're but a part - never the Creator, forbid.

Perspective - a crucial element of the art of painting

Paintings by Dr Abe V Rotor

Composite perspective shows collective grouping,
process, stages, and other forms of interrelationship.

Dichotomy and phylogeny perspectives are typical in
the living world and 
evolutionary patterns.

Lighting adds zest and freshness, tells time of the
day and good weather.

Concentric view has a spherical or tunnel effect such
as the setting sun, yolk of an egg, bonfire and the like.

V-perspective shows distance, infinity, fullness
and details of a scenery.

Vertical perspective shows height; it is heightened
by "foreshortening effects" - a technique found in
El Greco paintings.

Diagonal perspective gives a feeling of ascending

movement and flow; it also shows movement in
the opposite direction, nonetheless equally active
and forceful.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

UST GS: Earthworm, the Secret of Green Thumb

Dr Abe V Rotor
 Amynthas sp., a common Asian earthworm often cosmopolitan and introduced around the world.  UST Botanical Garden,  Manila 

Piles of earthworm casting, fresh in early morning, dries up and often gathered for garden soil.  UST Manila 

A lazy farmer I’m, lazy is the word,
When every one is busy in this world.

Among them a degenerate annelid,
That does nothing all day but dig.

In the night gleans the lawn of waste
And grinds it into organic paste.

That nourishes all that lives around
And me always on the run.

With no time to farm, yet a farmer;
I’m Rip Van Winkle’s brother.

For I rely on the lightning and rain
That make the field green and golden.

Seasons to fallow the fields in summer
Then wake them up from slumber.

The bees that make flowers into fruits,
The Rhizobium feeding the roots.

The yeast that makes the finest brew
The rainbow’s promise in its view.

The sun the source of light and life
That unburdens a farmer’s strife.

And the earthworm, my farmhand
Takes over below the ground.

A lazy farmer I’m, lazy is the word,
When every one is busy in this world.

And if my freinds call me a Green Thumb
It’s the earthworm, true and dumb. ~

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Research Triangle: Hydrangea, Caterpillar and Me

Research Triangle: Hydrangea, Caterpillar and Me   
Dr Abe V Rotor 

Mophead or Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) produces blue and pink flowers, and various combinations and hues, that many people think these are varieties or cultivars.  The fact is, the same plant may produce these varying flowers.  

What determines the color of the Hydrangea flower  is aluminum in the soil. Most soils have aluminum but if the soil is alkaline or basic - 6.0 to 6.5 pH (power of Hydrogen) - the plant cannot absorb the aluminum and therefore its flower becomes pink. If the soil is acidic - 5 to 5.5 pH - the plant can absorb the aluminum and its flower becomes blue. A mix of colors is obtained when the pH is between these ranges. This is the secret of gardeners producing Hydrangea of different hues and shades, other that deep blue or old rose pink.  There are other horticultural variations like density of the flower head, height of the plant, branching, variegation, and the like, that make Hydrangea an interesting garden plant. And this leads to another phenomenon of nature - dimorphism which is another challenging research. As the name implies a plant or any organism may exhibit  dual characteristics, like two patterns of leaves, or distinct variations termed as chimaera. In Greek Mythology the Chimaera had three heads - lion, goat, and snake. Its body was also mixed having the front part of a lion, middle of a goat, and snake for a tail. 

Came a banded caterpillar heretofore unknown,
shielded by the plant like its own shell,
and when the flower cluster one morning opened 
raced this hairy convict from its cell.

It fed on the leaves, not on the beautiful crown, 
for whatever reason beauty it spared,
and my inquisitive mind found another enigma, 
why the flower, neither black nor red.

and whoever this emissary of doom its name,
family and evolution, deserves study,
what these two creatures mean to each other, 
to me, and the whole of humanity. ~  

Armageddon Ticking: Defaced Earth from the Air

Dr Abe V Rotor
School project: Write the appropriate caption of each of these 13 photos. Make a Pictorial Essay from these photos. Next time you travel on air, take the seat by the window and photograph Mother Nature from the air. These photos were taken with a palm-size ordinary digital camera set on its maximum ISO.

Here is a series of aerial photographs taken on my travel to Roxas City from Manila and back on August 3 to 5, 2011, showing the different ways and stages on how the Earth is being defaced by man's activities.
  1. Expanding settlements 
  2. Rise of urban centers 
  3. Coastal runoff and siltation 
  4. Water pollution 
  5. Marginal communities 
  6. Vanishing shorelines 
  7. Pirated rivers 
  8. Clogged waterways 
  9. Super infrastructures 
  10. Deforestation 
  11. Desertification 
  12. Siltation 
  13. Illegal constructions 
  14. Heavy industrialization 
  15. Eroded hills and mountains 
  16. Submerged islands 
  17. Reclaimed coastlines and coral reefs 
  18. Garbage dump and incineration 
  19. Inversion layer and smog 
  20. Changing geography 

Armageddon Ticking

Armageddon in human hands released,
piece by piece ticking with the clock;
innocence denied, sanity defied
to the final shock.

Time capsules all into infinity:
pleasure and pain, evil and goodness -
all that is on planet earth,
into emptiness.

It's Sodom revived, so with the Flood
and Vesuvius a thousand times;
and in war none but the innocent
is the price.

And the god in man and man in God
in futile struggle comes to end
the earth shall be no longer,
so with a heaven.

Fabled paradise shall be no more,
lost and regained, and finally gone;
then a new world shall rise - perhaps
without man. ~


Photos were taken by the author on an airplane, Manila-Iloilo, with Sony Cybershot, and edited with Adobe Photoshop program.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Grow Philippine spinach (talinum) year round in pots

Dr Abe V Rotor

Talinum (Talinum fruticosum = T. tiangulare). Other names: Ceylon spinach, Fame flower, Surinam Purslane.  While it is cultivated as a leafy vegetable in Africa and South and Southeast Asia, it generally grows as an annual weed in fields and gardens during the monsoon season.  .   

Potted talinum at home, QC

Talinum is propagated by cutting. Plant in pots if you have no space in the garden. Use the lower half of one-gallon PET bottles. (Or any convenient improvised pot.)  Punch 3 or 4 holes on the side, an inch above the bottom to drain excess water, but to store water as well. 

You may buy ready made garden pots (photos). Be sure they fit into the place like window sill, fence, patio, and other locations where the plant receives adequate sunlight, and is safe from animals, sudden changes of weather, and pollution. 

On reaching 4 to 6 inches, harvest the succulent shoots, wait for new shoots to develop for the next harvest, at two weeks interval.  Replace spent soil with new garden soil, preferably with compost, after 4 or 5 harvests. Staggered planting schedule in different pots will assure a continuous supply of fresh talinum year round.  

Author with talinum harvest. Pick only the leaves and let the shoots to grow new leaves. If you wish to have more shoots, harvest the succulent tops, like kamote tops.

Talinum is rich in vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, and dietary fiber. There are many ways to prepare talinum. The most common is blanching to be served as salad, with tomato and onions, or seasoning.  Talinum is the choice vegetable for beef stew.  And sinigang.  It goes well with fish, and other vegetables, when cooking bulanglang or diningding. Why don't you try adobong talinum,, like adobong kangkong? ~

NOTE: The true spinach is an Amaranth.   Amaranthus dubious, is also called Chinese spinach, and most likely, Popeye spinach. A spinosus is a spiny amaranth and is edible only as seedling, before the spines develop.  

Homemade guava jelly and calamansi juice

Homemade guava jelly and calamansi juice
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM Band, 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday
Making jelly from native bayabas (guava) at home.  Use ripe native guava  newly picked from the tree.  Be sure all fruits are healthy.  Discard green, over ripe, and damaged fruits. You made need a kilo of fruits. 
  • Slice the fruits thinly, place in a saucepan, add water twice the volume and mash. 
  • Cover and cook slowly until the mash is soft, allow to cool.
  • Cover with muslim or linen, invert mash and collect the filtrate.
  • Take the four ends of the cloth, squeeze gently, and collect drippings into the bowl.
  • Discard pulp or use it as feed ingredient for poultry and livestock.  
  • For every cup of the  filtrate add one cup of white or washed sugar, plus 1 tbsp lemon juice. If you harvested 4 cups, add 4 cups of sugar, and 4 tbsp lemon or lime juice. 
  • Put the mixture back on low fire and bring to a slow boil, while continuously stirring, until the mixture starts to turn into jelly.  Let it stand for half an hour
  • Pour jelly into sterilized while still warm, cover and seal.  Label. 
Extracting the juice of calamans. Add sugar equal to the volume of the extract to make the mother stock.  Place in the ref, do not freeze.  It will remain fresh up to one month.  All that the children need is to add two to four tbsp to a glass of water, and pronto! Calamansi juice, more nutritious and economical than commercial softdrinks and juices. And there's one thing you are sure of - no preservatives, clean and safe.  ~

Saturday, March 8, 2014

UST GS: Little Gladiators - Game and Gamble

Dr Abe V Rotor
Gagambang Hari
Gladiator Rhinoceros Beetle

Do you still play native games and sports? At least you remember the games you played on the countryside when you were a child. Or occasionally watch old folks playing the games in their own time.

Here are traditional games, many of them endangered. There are contemporary games which have traditional roots, while others are simply versions on old ones.

1. June Beetle Gladiators – Raise the tough outer pair of wings of this seasonal insect (Leucopholis irrorata) in a perpendicular position and clip it together with the split end of a barbecue stick five inches long. Do the same thing on another beetle of the same size so that each one faces the opposite direction. Draw a line between the two gladiators equidistant to each other. The contest begins. The struggle goes on until the stronger beetle pulls its opponent across the line and wins. A second or third round may be necessary to resolve any doubt.

2. Rhinoceros Beetle Gladiators – Oryctes rhinoceros is coconut beetle known as u-uang (Tag) orbarra-irong (Ilk). The larva (grub) bores and feeds on the growing bud of the coconut. The males have horns which naturally makes fierce looking. The females on the other hand, have no horns and are relatively docile. During the mating season the males ferociously fight over their mates, a ritual that may last for hours, and this is what makes them favorite gladiators especially among the Thais who bet heavily on them like fighting cocks. The game is celebrated on a national scale during the emergence of the beetle usually from April to June. It is a traditional game for all ages and classes, lately the rearing of fighting beetles known as kwang has evolved into business in as much as the game has transformed into big time gambling.

Shielded by a tough armor made of chitin, the male is reminiscent of a medieval knight - clean, shiny, compact, and armed with horns. Normally the horn comes in a pair, vertically positioned, but in some species the horns form a trident with the lateral pair as long and as pointed as the central horn. Horns may reach a third of the body length of the insect, but these are more decorative than functional, except that in the insect world the horns are a deterrent to potential predators, and are used by the insect to bluff its own rival.

3. Spider Gladiators – Spiders are by nature ferocious and they attack even their own kind. Why, we do not find spiders living in group. It is because they will always try to defend their niche and will resort to kill any intruder. Even in mating the male which is smaller may end up instead as a meal. It is for this trait that this sport takes advantage of. Curious kid as we were, we would conceal our spider gladiator in empty individual match boxes. The matchmaker arranges the duel between two similar species of the same size.

The contest starts. Actually it is a game of death. Some people even bet to the point of gambling, especially for large spiders like the gagambang hari which measures up 5 inches from tip of front leg to tip of the hind leg. Tarantulas, other than being rare, are docile and would rather try to scare off their enemies before considering any bloody confrontation.

Our folks used to warn us, “Beware of the black widow spider!” We kids would hesitate to capture any unusual kind of a spider. The skull and crossbones insignia embosomed on the back of the black widow is still fresh in my mind. By the way, whatever kind of spider you find, take precaution; there are cases of allergy from spider bite and from inhaling hair dust specially during molting.

4. Beetle “kite” – It’s a game we children on the farm played when the salagubang (L. irrorata) finally emerges at the onset of the rainy season, usually in May or as early as April, although the insect normally comes out of the ground in June, hence its name – June beetle. We would tie the end of a thread like a kite on the pair of hind legs, then make the insect fly into the air. The beetle that flew the highest and the longest won. But we had to repeat the game over and over until the insect is exhausted, and then we replace it with fresh ones – or until we ourselves got tired.

5. Kite dog fight – Gladiator kites fight it out in the sky, but it’s the string that is the target more than the kite itself. This is how we did it in our plaza in San Vicente where we used to play kite come harvest time, in the months of October and November. At that time there was no nylon or monofilament, so it was the good old cotton thread, “numero viente” we used, which is the standard for kite string then. We would pound glass finely and mix it with egg yolk, then coat it on the kite string. When it gets dry the string is like sandpaper (papel de liha).

Here we go. The opponent’s kite and our kite are flown simultaneously. And when both kites are sufficiently stable in the air, we bring the two kites at striking distance, until the strings get entangled. Now the fight is whose kite falls – or which string breaks. Most often it is the string that spells victory. You can imagine the loser running after his kite across the fields, over fences and making sure no one gets ahead to retrieve it. A loose kite is everybody’s, and ends up to somebody.

Angela said...
I usually do witness these games when I go to the province. Children would tie a string on the salagubang and let it the poor insect fly around while being bound. However, for me, it is not really a pleasing sight. Not because I hate to see the poor insect suffer but because I just don't like insects.

MANARANG, Angela Therese C.
darrel said...
When I pass by in our street I saw children holding a matchbox with different species of spider. Spiders are being played by the children and even the older one. They put the two spiders in battle and the one who falls down first is the loser.
darrel said...
I want to collect the different species of spiders. We should also take care of them because they are very important in our eco system.
darrel said...
Ever since I was a child I have been very grossed out by spider webs. I was afraid of spiders as a child and would scream and cry if a spider was in.
darrel said...
When I was a child I have been very grossed out by spider webs. I was afraid of spiders as a child and would scream and cry if a spider was in my room until one of my parents or sister would come and remove the invader.
annetukinn said...
I’m really missing these native games. I remember how my cousin, who’s in Batangas, would keep his spiders in a customized spider-box. He used matchboxes, and put divisions for each of his spider. It’s sad, howeve, that I don’t see kids nowadays collecting spiders or having fun with beettles.
Erick said...
In the first time, my friends used to catch spiders and beetles and make them fight. I thought it was bad, but later on I envious to their happiness, I also try to catch one and made a battle with them. I forgot the name of my spider but I used to put it in a matchbox or garapon and give him some flies or little worms for food. Is it bad? To play with the spiders or beetles? Well, I was a kid that time and all I know was to play. :)
-Erick I-BA-
darwin XD said...
sir, i caught one last night i think it is a rhinoceros beetle it had a horn-like on his head. i throw it on the sky to release it because it is very rare to one on this kind of day because of the pollution and industrialization and cutting down trees.
angelicapascual said...
When I was a kid, my busmates used to play spiders on a matchbox. They used to play it every dismissal time. My busmates playing these kind of game are not boys, they are girls and I think they enjoy playing it. :)
abelene marie said...
i really love seeing young boys in our street playing this kind of game but i am very sad when i see those little spider and beetles losing their head and even their feet after every fight. but it is a tradition for most young men today they are enjoying from what was happening to their so called "pamato sa laban".