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Study provides whole-system view of plant cold stress

When temperatures drop, plants can’t bundle up. Stuck outside, exposed, plants instead undergo a series of biochemical changes that protect cells from damage. Scientists have described these changes and identified some of the genes controlling them, but it’s not clear how all the processes work together. Lacking this global view, plant breeders have struggled to engineer cold-tolerant crops.


Hot temperatures can trigger an RNA response in plants

The stress of hotter temperatures may trigger a response in a plant's RNA, or ribonucleic acid — part of a cell's genetic messaging system — to help manage this change in its environment, according to a team of Penn State researchers.


Photosynthesis Like a Moss

Moss evolved after algae but before vascular land plants, such as ferns and trees, making them an interesting target for scientists studying photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight to fuel. Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have made a discovery that could shed light on how plants evolved to move from the ocean to land.


How plants cope with stress

Plants respond to environmental stress by “tagging” RNA molecules they need to withstand the difficult conditions, according to a new study by biologists. This process may be targeted to engineer more climate-change-resistant crops.


Scientists identify mechanism that controls leaf growth and shape

In autumn, it is not only the colours that catch the eye, but also the different sizes and shapes of leaves. But what makes leaves of different plants differ so much in their shapes? Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne have now discovered how a protein called LMI1 can control leaf growth and shape.


Scientists find great diversity, novel molecules in microbiome of tree roots

Researchers with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered that communities of microbes living in and around poplar tree roots are ten times more diverse than the human microbiome and produce a cornucopia of novel molecules that could be useful as antibiotics, anti-cancer drugs, or for agricultural applications.


In New Phytologist: Plants find ways to survive no matter the terrain

Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, together with the University of Osnabrück in Germany, have discovered that a fascinating plant employs two mechanisms to survive, no matter where it grows.


Cacao analysis dates the dawn of domesticated chocolate trees to 3,600 years ago

Researchers analyzing the genomes of cultivated cacao trees have traced their origin to a “single domestication event” some 3,600 years ago. The discovery opens a new front in a long-running argument regarding when and where humans started growing the source of chocolate.


Gene Network Lets Plant Roots Handle Nitrogen

Enabling Tools for Breeding Plants for High Yield With Less Fertilizer


New regulators of nitrogen use in plants identified

Nitrogen is vital for all plants: it is an essential building block for all of their proteins, and required for the metabolic processes they need to survive. Fertilizers that contain nitrogen are used to support plant growth and boost crop yields, but excess nitrogen that is not taken up by plants damages the environment when it reaches streams, lakes, and coastal waters or enters the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.


Predicting how native plants return to abandoned farm fields

Movement is one of the most common processes in all biology—mice forage for food and geese migrate with the seasons. While plants may be rooted in one spot for most of their lives, movement also plays a key role in their ecology—especially when it comes to seeds.


Nitrogen study casts doubt on ability of plants to continue absorbing same amounts of carbon dioxide

A new study casts doubt as to whether plants will continue to absorb as much carbon dioxide in the future as they have in the past due to declining availability of nitrogen in certain parts of the world.


Changes in snow cov­er­age threatens biod­iversity of Arc­tic nature

Many of the plants inhabiting northern mountains depend on the snow cover lingering until late spring or summer. Snow provides shelter for plants from winter-time extreme events but at the same time it shortens the length of growing season, which prevents the establishment of more southern plants. This is why the reduced snow cover may be an even larger threat to the Arctic plants than rising temperatures.


Study finds availability of nitrogen to plants is declining as climate warms

Researchers have found that global changes, including warming temperatures and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, are causing a decrease in the availability of a key nutrient for terrestrial plants. This could affect the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reduce the amount of nutrients available for the creatures that eat them.


GPC Meeting: Enhancing global collaborations in crop science

The pressing challenges of increased food security in a changing climate cannot be met by researchers and policymakers working in silos. While there is excellent work being done on a national scale, we need to facilitate increased international collaboration in research. For many regions of the world – often where food and climate challenges are greatest – such collaborations and the funding models to support them are not well developed. The global community needs to coordinate research for impact, which necessitates new strategies for fostering international collaboration, as well as the improvement of mechanisms for funding and embedding policy and communication programs into such initiatives. While not without its challenges, there are examples across the globe of progress in this front in the fields of photosynthesis and crop improvement. What is special about the way that these collaborations have come together that has attracted generous international funding? Can we develop these models further in other research areas?


Plant Hormone Makes Space Farming a Possibility

With scarce nutrients and weak gravity, growing potatoes on the Moon or on other planets seems unimaginable. But the plant hormone strigolactone could make it possible, plant biologists from the University of Zurich have shown. The hormone supports the symbiosis between fungi and plant roots, thus encouraging plants’ growth – even under the challenging conditions found in space.


In New Phytologist: Plants Emit Greenhouse Gas Nitrous Oxide at Substantial Amounts

Current study shows: Impact on natural climate processes greater than previously thought


How plants bind their green pigment chlorophyll

Water-soluble protein helps to understand the photosynthetic apparatus


Bring the wild back into farmlands to protect diversity, researchers say

With a body the size of a fist and wings that span more than a foot, the big brown bat must gorge on 6,000 to 8,000 bugs a night to maintain its stature. This mighty appetite can be a boon to farmers battling crop-eating pests.


Understanding enzyme could help produce frost-resistant crops

Researchers from the University of Western Australia have found that an enzyme in plants, ATP Synthase, plays a critical role in how plants respond to the cold.


Genetic behavior reveals cause of death in poplars essential to ecosystems, industry

Scientists studying a valuable, but vulnerable, species of poplar have identified the genetic mechanism responsible for the species’ inability to resist a pervasive and deadly disease. Their finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to more successful hybrid poplar varieties for increased biofuels and forestry production and protect native trees against infection.


Forest carbon stocks have been overestimated for 50 years

A formula used to calculate basic wood density has recently been corrected. Basic density is widely used to compute carbon storage by trees. Researchers estimate that the error in the initial formula resulted in an overestimation of forest carbon stocks, to the tune of almost 5%. These results were published in the scientific journal American Journal of Botany.


Can forests save us from climate change?

A new study published in Nature has found that managing Europe’s forests to maximise carbon sequestration has a negligible effect on the global climate


Study reveals best use of wildflowers to benefit crops on farms

With bee pollinators in decline and pesky crop pests lowering yields, sustainable and organic farmers need environmentally friendly solutions.


New study answers old questions about why tropical forests are so ecologically diverse

Working with high-resolution satellite imaging technology, researchers from Brown University and the University of California, Los Angeles have uncovered new clues in an age-old question about why tropical forests are so ecologically diverse.


Researchers dig to get to the root of lavender's secrets

A team of researchers, including UBC’s Soheil Mahmoud, have recently sequenced the genome of lavender.


A major disease resistance gene in wheat identified and verified by international research group

Identification of the wheat Yr15 resistance gene promotes a durable solution for controlling yellow rust, a major threat to food security for millions of people, believes an international research group led by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki, and the University of Haifa.


Carbon emissions from Amazonian forest fires up to four times worse than feared

Carbon losses caused by El Niño forest fires of 2015 and 2016 could be up to four times greater than thought, according to a study of 6.5 million hectares of forest in Brazilian Amazonia.


Warmer springs can actually reduce overall plant growth, study finds

An extensive study on the effects of warmer springs on plant growth in northern regions shows substantially reduced plant productivity in later months.


Ecological impact of logging in the Białowieża Forest extends far beyond logged areas

A team of researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Siedlce University and the Mammal Research Institute Polish Academy of Sciences, has provided a first objective estimate of the extent of logging (since 2015) in the renowned Białowieża Forest. This forest is the last remaining area of lowland temperate forest with a primeval character in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage and Natura 2000 site.