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Scientists crack the code to improve stress tolerance in plants

This novel epigenetic regulation mechanism underlies improved stress response in plants, which can be exploited for global food security


More Farmers, More Problems: How Smallholder Agriculture is Threatening the Western Amazon

A verdant, nearly roadless place, the Western Amazon in South America may be the most biologically diverse place in the world. There, many people live in near isolation, with goods coming in either by river or air. Turning to crops for profit or sustenance, farmers operate small family plots to make a living.


Early arrival of spring disrupts the mutualism between plants and pollinators

Early snowmelt increases the risk of phenological mismatch, in which the flowering of periodic plants and pollinators fall out of sync, compromising seed production.


Yield-boosting stay-green gene identified from 118-year-old experiment in corn

A corn gene identified from a 118-year-old experiment at the University of Illinois could boost yields of today’s elite hybrids with no added inputs. The gene, identified in a recent Plant Biotechnology Journal study, controls a critical piece of senescence, or seasonal die-back, in corn. When the gene is turned off, field-grown elite hybrids yielded 4.6 bushels more per acre on average than standard plants.


Gene identified that will help develop plants to fight climate change

Hidden underground networks of plant roots snake through the earth foraging for nutrients and water, similar to a worm searching for food. Yet, the genetic and molecular mechanisms that govern which parts of the soil roots explore remain largely unknown. Now, Salk Institute researchers have discovered a gene that determines whether roots grow deep or shallow in the soil.


Study: Global farming trends threaten food security

Citrus fruits, coffee and avocados: The food on our tables has become more diverse in recent decades. However, global agriculture does not reflect this trend. Monocultures are increasing worldwide, taking up more land than ever. At the same time, many of the crops being grown rely on pollination by insects and other animals. This puts food security at increased risk, as a team of researchers writes in the journal "Global Change Biology". For the study, the scientists examined global developments in agriculture over the past 50 years.


Genetic breakthrough in cereal crops could help improve yields worldwide

A team of Clemson University scientists has achieved a breakthrough in the genetics of senescence in cereal crops with the potential to dramatically impact the future of food security in the era of climate change.


Tracing the roots: Mapping a vegetable family tree for better food

Genetic testing developed by University of Missouri-Columbia scientists could aid in developing new and healthier diets.


Some green ash trees show some resistance to emerald ash borers

Genes in green ash trees that may confer some resistance to attacks by the emerald ash borer express themselves only once the tree detects the invasive beetle's feeding, according to Penn State researchers.


Old-growth forests may provide valuable biodiversity refuge in areas at risk of severe fire

New findings show that old-growth forests, a critical nesting habitat for threatened northern spotted owls, are less likely to experience high-severity fire than young-growth forests during wildfires. This suggests that old-growth forest could be leveraged to provide valuable fire refuges that support forest biodiversity and buffer the extreme effects of climate change on fire regimes in the Pacific Northwest.


Scientists Discover the Biggest Seaweed Bloom in the World

Scientists led by the University of South Florida College of Marine Science used NASA satellite observations to discover the largest bloom of macroalgae in the world called the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt (GASB), as reported in Science.


Plant nutrient detector breakthrough

Findings from La Trobe University-led research could lead to less fertiliser wastage, saving millions of dollars for Australian farmers.


Researchers can finally modify plant mitochondrial DNA

Researchers in Japan have edited plant mitochondrial DNA for the first time, which could lead to a more secure food supply.


Even in jagged volcanic ice spires, life (i.e. snow algae) finds a way

High in the Andes Mountains, dagger-shaped ice spires house thriving microbial communities, offering an oasis for life in one of Earth’s harshest environments as well as a possible analogue for life on other planets.


These algae can live inside fungi. It could be how land plants first evolved.

Picture a typical documentary scene on the evolution of life. It probably starts with little bugs in a murky, primordial soup. Eons of time zip by as bugs turn into fish, fish swim to land as their fins morph into limbs for crawling animals, which then stand up on two legs, to finally end up with walking humans.


Improved model could help scientists better predict crop yield, climate change effects

A new computer model incorporates how microscopic pores on leaves may open in response to light—an advance that could help scientists create virtual plants to predict how higher temperatures and rising levels of carbon dioxide will affect food crops, according to a study published in a special issue of the journal Photosynthesis Research.


How much do climate fluctuations matter for global crop yields?

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has been responsible for widespread, simultaneous crop failures in recent history, according to a new study from researchers at Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and other partners. This finding runs counter to a central pillar of the global agriculture system, which assumes that crop failures in geographically distant breadbasket regions such as the United States, China and Argentina are unrelated. The results also underscore the potential opportunity to manage such climate risks, which can be predicted using seasonal climate forecasts.


Scientists find high mutation rates generating genetic diversity within huge, old-growth trees

Study provides clues on how trees evolve to survive


Scientists transform tobacco info factory for high-value proteins

For thousands of years, plants have produced food for humans, but with genetic tweaks, they can also manufacture proteins like Ebola vaccines, antibodies to combat a range of conditions, and now, cellulase that is used in food processing and to break down crop waste to create biofuel. In Nature Plants, a team from Cornell University and the University of Illinois announced that crops can cheaply manufacture proteins inside their cellular power plants called chloroplasts—allowing the crops to be grown widely in fields rather than restrictive greenhouses—with no cost to yield.


Climate change could affect symbiotic relationships between microorganisms and trees

Some fungi and bacteria live in close association, or symbiosis, with tree roots in forest soil to obtain mutual benefits. The microorganisms help trees access water and nutrients from the atmosphere or soil, sequester carbon, and withstand the effects of climate change. In exchange, they receive carbohydrates, which are essential to their development and are produced by the trees during photosynthesis.


Aggressive, non-native wetland plants squelch species richness more than dominant natives do

Dominant, non-native plants reduce wetland biodiversity and abundance more than native plants do, researchers report in the journal Ecology Letters. Even native plants that dominate wetland landscapes play better with others, the team found.


South African forests show pathways to a sustainable future

Native forests make up 1% of the landscape in South Africa but could play a key role in reducing atmospheric carbon and identifying sustainable development practices that can be used globally to counter climate change, according to a Penn State researcher.


Unearthing the sweet potato proteome

The sweet, starchy orange sweet potatoes are tasty and nutritious ingredients for fries, casseroles and pies. Although humans have been cultivating sweet potatoes for thousands of years, scientists still don’t know much about the protein makeup of these tubers. In ACS’Journal of Proteome Research, researchers have analyzed the proteome of sweet potato leaves and roots, and in the process, have revealed new insights into the plant’s genome.


Directed evolution comes to plants

Accelerating plant evolution with CRISPR paves the way for breeders to engineer new crop varieties.


Unexpected culprit – wetlands as source of methane

Wetlands are an important part of the Earth’s natural water management system. The complex system of plants, soil, and aquatic life serves as a reservoir that captures and cleans water. However, as cities have expanded, many wetlands were drained for construction. In addition, many areas of land in the Midwest were drained to increase uses for agriculture to feed a growing world.


Cell structure linked to longevity of slow-growing ponderosa pines

Slow-growing ponderosa pines may have a better chance of surviving longer than fast-growing ones, especially as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of drought, according to new research from the University of Montana.


Assessing the greenhouse gas impact of forest management activities in EU countries

On 18 June 2019, the Commission published its assessment of Member States' draft plans to implement the EU's Energy Union objectives, in particular the agreed EU 2030 energy and climate targets, as well as technical recommendations on Member States' National Forestry Accounting Plans.


Wheat myth comes a cropper

The myth that modern wheat varieties are more heavily reliant on pesticides and fertilisers than older varieties has been debunked by new research.


Ancient DNA from Roman and medieval grape seeds reveal ancestry of wine making

A grape variety, still used in wine production in France today, can be traced back 900 years to just one ancestral plant, scientists have discovered.


Superweed resists another class of herbicides

We’ve all heard about bacteria that are becoming resistant to multiple types of antibiotics. These are the so-called superbugs perplexing and panicking medical science. The plant analogue may just be waterhemp, a broadleaf weed common to corn and soybean fields across the Midwest. With resistance to multiple common herbicides, waterhemp is getting much harder to kill.