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Discovery of new ginger species spices up African wildlife surveys

Scientists from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have discovered a new species of wild ginger, spicing up a wave of recent wildlife discoveries in the Kabobo Massif - a rugged, mountainous region in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Strong interaction between herbivores and plants

In the past decades, we have seen a dramatic decline in biodiversity around the world. Every day, species are irrecoverably lost on an unprecedented scale. This also has an impact on the stability and productivity of ecosystems. Hence it is indispensable to understand the mechanisms that impact biodiversity, particularly in the case of primary producers such as algae and plants that form the basis of nearly all natural food webs and ecosystems.

New EASAC report on genome editing

New EASAC report on genome editing advises European policy-makers on how to approach groundbreaking research on plants, animals, microbes and humans

Scientists follow seeds to solve ecological puzzle

What bothers a plant? Why are some plants rare while others are common? Are the rare plants simply adapted to rare habitat or are they losing the competition for habitat? Are their populations small but stable, or are they dwindling?

New dataset: Mapping forest resources of the EU

The Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission's science and knowledge service, has recently released a high-resolution tree occurrence dataset for Europe. The EU-Forest dataset is the most comprehensive database ever of forest resources at the EU level, comprising over half a million tree occurrences and over 200 different tree species. It improves our understanding of the rapidly changing forested areas of Europe and changes over time of the kinds of trees that make them up.

In Nature Plants: 'Tree-on-a-chip' passively pumps water for days

Trees and other plants, from towering redwoods to diminutive daisies, are nature's hydraulic pumps. They are constantly pulling water up from their roots to the topmost leaves, and pumping sugars produced by their leaves back down to the roots. This constant stream of nutrients is shuttled through a system of tissues called xylem and phloem, which are packed together in woody, parallel conduits.

In Nature Plants: How plants can tell friend from foe

The plant's immune system can recognize whether a piece of RNA is an invader or not based on whether the RNA has a threaded bead-like structure at the end, say University of Tokyo researchers. Their finding provides an answer to the quarter-century-old question of why RNAs belonging to the plant escape its self-defense mechanism, paving the way for future biotechnological techniques to modify crops.

Pollination mystery unlocked by Stirling bee researchers

Bees latch on to similarly-sized nectarless flowers to unpick pollen – like keys fitting into locks, University of Stirling scientists have discovered.

Study IDs link between sugar signaling and regulation of oil production in plants

Even plants have to live on an energy budget. While they're known for converting solar energy into chemical energy in the form of sugars, plants have sophisticated biochemical mechanisms for regulating how they spend that energy. Making oils costs a lot.

Ethnobotanical convergence, a new junction of tradition and modernity to promote research on plant biodiversity

Tradition, traditional knowledge, and applied research on plant biodiversity are the references for the progress of knowledge on ethnobotany, a science that studies the relation between human populations and their plant environment. Grouping similar uses of plants of a same taxon and easing the identification of new applications of natural products are the focuses of ethnobotanical convergence, a concept presented in an article published on the cover of Trends in Plant Science.

How improved valves let grasses 'breathe,' cope with climate change

New work from a joint team of plant biologists and ecologists from Carnegie and Stanford University has uncovered the factor behind an important innovation that makes grasses -- both the kind that make up native prairies and the kind we've domesticated for crops -- among the most-common and widespread plants on the planet. Their findings may enable the production of plants that perform better in warmer and dryer climate conditions, and are published in Science.

Outwitting climate change with a plant 'dimmer'?

Plants possess molecular mechanisms that prevent them from blooming in winter. Once the cold of winter has passed, they are deactivated. However, if it is still too cold in spring, plants adapt their blooming behavior accordingly. Scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have discovered genetic changes for this adaptive behavior. In light of the temperature changes resulting from climate change, this may come in useful for securing the production of food in the future.

New plant research solves a colorful mystery

Research led by scientists at the John Innes Centre has solved a long-standing mystery by deducing how and why strange yet colourful structures called 'anthocyanic vacuolar inclusions' occur in some plants.

Better barcoding: New library of DNA sequences improves plant identification

The ability to identify individual plant species from tiny amounts of material has a surprising range of uses, from monitoring bee populations to assessing the contents of food and nutritional supplements, as well as working out what a herbivore had for breakfast. Classifying fragments of plants can be tricky, so researchers at Emory University have developed a new database of genetic information that can be used with the latest DNA sequencing technologies to improve the accuracy of plant identification.

Researchers discover gene that significantly increases seed yield in maize

Researchers from VIB-UGent have discovered a gene that significantly increases plant growth and seed yield in maize. Research into crop yield is crucial because of the increasing incidence of extreme weather conditions affecting agriculture. The results from laboratory research were confirmed during two-year field trials conducted in Belgium and the United States showing that this gene can increase seed yield in maize hybrids by 10 to 15%. The results of the greenhouse and field trials are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Researchers make discovery that could increase plant yield in wake of looming phosphate shortage

Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have pinpointed a key genetic switch that helps soil bacteria living on and inside a plant's roots harvest a vital nutrient with limited global supply. The nutrient, phosphate, makes it to the plant's roots, helping the plant increase its yield.

Flies and bees act like plant cultivators

Pollinator insects accelerate plant evolution, but a plant changes in different ways depending on the pollinator. After only nine generations, the same plant is larger and more fragrant if pollinated by bumblebees rather than flies, as a study conducted by evolutionary biologists from the University of Zurich reveals.

World's oldest plant-like fossils show multicellular life appeared earlier than thought

Scientists at the Swedish Museum of Natural History have found fossils of 1.6 billion-year-old probable red algae. The spectacular finds, publishing in the open access journal PLOS Biology, indicate that advanced multicellular life evolved much earlier than previously thought.

Flowering times shift with loss of species from a grassland ecosystem

Scientists have documented many cases in which the timing of seasonal events, such as the flowering of plants or the emergence of insects, is changing as a result of climate change. Now researchers studying a grassland ecosystem in California have discovered that reducing the number of species in the system can also cause a significant shift in when the remaining species flower.

Thirsty mangroves cause unprecedented dieback

A James Cook University scientist has discovered why there was an unprecedented dieback of mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria in early 2016 - the plants died of thirst.

Vicious circle of drought and forest loss in the Amazon

Logging that happens today and potential future rainfall reductions in the Amazon could push the region into a vicious dieback circle. If dry seasons intensify with human-caused climate change, the risk for self-amplified forest loss would increase even more, an international team of scientists finds. If however there is a great variety of tree species in a forest patch, according to the study this can significantly strengthen the chance of survival.

This small molecule could have a big future in global food security

Researchers at the University of Arizona have found a promising way to prevent the loss of millions of tons of crops to a fungus each year, offering the potential to dramatically improve food security, especially in developing countries. The team's approach uses transgenic corn plants that produce small RNA molecules that prevent fungi from producing aflatoxin, highly toxic substances that can render an entire harvest unsafe for human consumption even in small amounts.

Novel mechanism that detains mobile genes in plant genome

A team of Hokkaido University researchers has discovered a hitherto-unknown mechanism that detains transposable elements or "mobile genes" -- which can move and insert into new positions in plant genomes.

Organic is only one ingredient in recipe for sustainable food future

Many people choose organic thinking it's better for humans and the planet, but a new University of British Columbia study published in Science Advances finds that might not always be the case.

In New Phytologist: FRED database gathers root traits to advance understanding of below-ground plant ecology

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) scientists have released a new global, centralized database of plant root traits, or identifying characteristics, that can advance our understanding of how the hidden structure of plants belowground may interact with and relate to life aboveground.

The protective layer of prehistoric land plants

An international research team has discovered a biochemical pathway that is responsible for the development of moss cuticles. These waxy coverings of epidermal cells are the outer layer of plants and protect them from water loss. The biologists discovered this mechanism that facilitated the evolutionary transition of plants from fresh water to land in the moss Physcomitrella patens. The team was led by Professor Ralf Reski from the University of Freiburg/Germany and Doctor Danièle Werck-Reichhart from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) Institute of Plant Molecular Biology (IBMP) in Strasbourg/France and published their results in the journal Nature Communications.

Future climate change will affect plants and soil differently

A new European study has found that soil carbon loss is more sensitive to climate change compared to carbon taken up by plants. In drier regions, soil carbon loss decreased but in wetter regions soil carbon loss increased. This could result in a positive feedback to the atmosphere leading to an additional increase of atmospheric CO2 levels.

Indicators show potatoes can grow on Mars

The International Potato Center (CIP) launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars atmospheric conditions and thereby prove they are also able to grow in extreme climates on Earth. This Phase Two effort of CIP's proof of concept experiment to grow potatoes in simulated Martian conditions began on February 14, 2016 when a tuber was planted in a specially constructed CubeSat contained environment built by engineers from University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima based upon designs and advice provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Ames Research Center (NASA ARC), California. Preliminary results are positive.

Paleontologists find fossil relative of Ginkgo biloba

A discovery of well-preserved fossil plants by paleontologists from the United States, China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia has allowed researchers to identify a distant relative of the living plant Ginkgo biloba.