On the center plant, poking out from the stem is a bent side stalk, which holds up the arm of the plant with a flower. The thale cress may be a humble weed, but to science, it’s an important model organism. Researchers use the plant as a proxy in experiments to represent other plants, animals and even humans —thanks to its relatively short lifecycle and simple genome. Scientists have even sent the thale cress to the International Space Station and the moon . “It’s the fruit fly of the plant world,” says Tim Gookin, a molecular biologist who formerly worked at the Pennsylvania State University. But despite the fact that scientists have scrutinized the plant, Aribidopsis thalania , since the 16th century , the thale cress still manages to surprise. Gookin and his team have found that the thale cress produces a previously unreported plant organ, as described today in Development . This wonky-looking plant part is similar to the cantilever beams that buttress the underside of bridges, and is called the “cantil.” The newly discovered part juts out from the stem and connects to the flower-bearing arm of the plant, which is known as the pedicel. Thale cress […]

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