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Scientists engineer shortcut for photosynthetic glitch, boost crop growth 40%

Plants convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis; however, most crops on the planet are plagued by a photosynthetic glitch, and to deal with it, evolved an energy-expensive process called photorespiration that drastically suppresses their yield potential. Researchers from the University of Illinois and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service report in the journal Science that crops engineered with a photorespiratory shortcut are 40 percent more productive in real-world agronomic conditions.


Should researchers engineer a spicy tomato?

The chili pepper, from an evolutionary perspective, is the tomato's long-lost spitfire cousin. They split off from a common ancestor 19 million years ago but still share some of the same DNA. While the tomato plant went on to have a fleshy, nutrient-rich fruit yielding bountiful harvests, the more agriculturally difficult chili plant went defensive, developing capsaicinoids, the molecules that give peppers their spiciness, to ward off predators.


European wheat lacks climate resilience

The climate is not only warming, it is also becoming more variable and extreme. Such unpredictable weather can weaken global food security if major crops such as wheat are not sufficiently resilient – and if we are not properly prepared.


Scientists: ‘Time is ripe’ to use big data for planet-sized plant questions

A group of Florida Museum of Natural History scientists has issued a “call to action” to use big data to tackle longstanding questions about plant diversity and evolution and forecast how plant life will fare on an increasingly human-dominated planet.


Plants have a plan for all seasons

Many plants need to avoid flowering in the autumn – even if conditions are favourable – otherwise they would perish in winter.


Divining Roots: revealing how plants branch out to access water

New research has discovered how plant roots sense the availability of moisture in soil and then adapt their shape to optimise acquisition of water.


Trees' enemies help tropical forests maintain their biodiversity

Scientists have long struggled to explain how tropical forests can maintain their staggering diversity of trees without having a handful of species take over - or having many other species die out.


Structure and function of photosynthesis protein explained in detail

Photosynthetic complex I is a key element in photosynthetic electron transport, but little has been known about it so far.


Forget-me-not: Scientists pinpoint memory mechanism in plants

The research, published in the Journal Nature Communications, reveals potential new targets that could support the development of new plant varieties, including cereals and vegetables, that can adapt to different environmental conditions.


Pollutants from wild fires affect crop and vegetation growth hundreds of kilometres from impact zone, research shows

The startling extent to which violent wild fires, similar to those that ravaged large swathes of California recently, affect forests and crops way beyond the boundaries of the blaze has been revealed.


Researchers develop a new houseplant that can clean your home’s air

We like to keep the air in our homes as clean as possible, and sometimes we use HEPA air filters to keep offending allergens and dust particles at bay.


Longer growing seasons complicate outlook for coniferous forests

For decades, ecologists have differed over a longstanding mystery: Will a longer, climate-induced growing season ultimately help coniferous forests to grow or hurt them? A new CU Boulder study may help researchers find a more definitive answer.


Gene identified with a key role in plant adaptation to fluctuating soil salinity levels

Soil and irrigation water salinity is one of the most important problems limiting crop yields and particularly in Mediterranean climates. In these semi-arid climates salinity can be a stressful factor which fluctuates during the year, especially within the current context of climate volatility.


Research Unlocks Secrets of Iron Storage in Algae

New research shows that phytoplankton iron storage strategies may determine which species thrive in changing oceans and impact marine food webs, according to a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research examined two primary methods of iron storage and found that one makes species more resilient against shortages of the rare and essential element.


Rice Plants That Reproduce as Clones From Seed

Plant biologists at the University of California, Davis, have discovered a way to make crop plants replicate through seeds as clones. The discovery, long sought by plant breeders and geneticists, could make it easier to propagate high-yielding, disease-resistant or climate-tolerant crops and make them available to the world’s farmers.


Research team discovers oldest known plant virus at ancient settlement

Researchers studying ancient corncobs found at a Native American archeological site have recovered a 1,000-year-old virus, the oldest plant virus ever reported.


Experts identify ‘tipping point’ in tree disease outbreaks

New models which can predict the critical point at which plant pests and diseases shift from being a localised problem to a major outbreak could help us in our fight to save the world’s woodlands.


To repair DNA damage, plants need good contractors

When a building is damaged, a general contractor often oversees various subcontractors—framers, electricians, plumbers and drywall hangers—to ensure repairs are done in the correct order and on time.


Plants’ defense against insects is a bouquet

A study led by post-doctoral scholar Andrea Glassmire sheds light on how a blend of chemicals strengthens plants’ defense against insect pests.


The gene helping submerged plants

Climate change threatens plants as the risks of flooding increase. A new study from Stockholm University shows that special genes are key to keeping plants from withering, remaining healthy and resistant to a lack of oxygen when they are underwater for a period of long time.


Mysteries of the primrose unravelled

Plant scientists at the University of East Anglia have succeeded in unravelling the complete genome sequence of the common primrose — the plant whose reproductive biology captivated the Victorian naturalist Charles Darwin.


Research finds ethical sourcing of seeds required for global restoration

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wild seeds are needed to restore plant ecosystems globally but overharvesting risks their depletion unless ethical seed-sourcing regulations are developed, Curtin University research has found.


Flowers originated 50 million years earlier than previously thought

Analysis of fossil specimens of a flower called Nanjinganthus from the Early Jurassic (more than 174 million years ago) suggests that flowers originated 50 million years earlier than previously thought, a study published in eLife reports.


Plants don't like touch: Green thumb myth dispelled

The findings, just published in The Plant Journal, could lead to new approaches to optimising plant growth and productivity – from field-based farming to intensive horticulture production.


Plant biologists identify mechanism behind transition from insect to wind pollination

Phloem diseases, including the economically devastating citrus greening, are particularly difficult to study because phloem cells -- essential for plant nutrient transport -- are difficult to access and isolate. Researchers have developed a technique to identify phloem cells using fluorescent microscopy and organelle-specific dyes that is applicable in a variety of phloem diseases across a range of species.


Analysis Estimates Mortality from Fungal Infections of Ash Trees

The ash dieback epidemic, caused by the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, has swept across Europe over the past 20 years and caused widespread damage and death in ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) populations. A recent analysis of surveys of ash dieback across Europe, published in Plants, People, Planet, reveals mortality rates as high as 85 percent in plantations and 70 percent in woodlands.


Cereals use chemical defenses in a multifunctional manner against different herbivores

A team of scientists from the University of Bern (Switzerland) and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and their partners have characterized multiple functions of benzoxazinoids in wheat: The toxic form of the substances makes the plant directly resistant to lepidopteran larvae, whereas a less toxic form regulates indirect defense mechanisms against aphids. Scientists have identified the “switch” between these different functions as a methyltransferase enzyme, which is activated by caterpillar feeding. This switch enables wheat plants to adapt their defense response to different herbivores. A comparison with maize shows that a methyltransferase also regulates defense processes in maize against different pest insects. However, the two enzymes in wheat and maize have evolved independently from each other (Science Advances).


Transformed: the plant whose sex life fascinated Charles Darwin

Researchers have genetically transformed the Common Primrose (Primula vulgaris) for the first time in a development that could shed light on one of the plant world’s most renowned reproductive systems.


New insights in rust resistance in wheat

Researchers from Aarhus University have contributed to creating new knowledge about resistance to yellow rust, which is a serious fungal disease in wheat. The results can have global importance.