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Into the wild for plant genetics

In a paper published in Scientific Reports, researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, detail for the first time the opportunities for plant sciences that are now available with portable, real-time DNA sequencing.


Scientists compare soil microbes in no-till, conventional tilling systems of Pacific Northwest farms

In recent decades, growers have increasingly been adopting no-till farming to reduce soil erosion and decrease fuel, labor, and inputs.


Gene that makes large, plump tomatoes identified

Farmers can grow big, juicy tomatoes thanks to a mutation in the Cell Size Regulator gene that occurred during the tomato domestication process. Esther van der Knaap of the University of Georgia, Athens and colleagues describe this gene variant in a study published in open-access journal PLOS Genetics.


Ray of hope for more abundant wheat crops

Crops such as wheat could be up to 21% more efficient at turning the sun's energy into food, according to new research by Lancaster University.


Mosses used to evaluate atmospheric conditions in urban areas

Researchers have developed a method to evaluate atmospheric conditions using mosses (bryophytes) in urban areas, a development that could facilitate broader evaluations of atmospheric environments.


A decade of monitoring shows the dynamics of a conserved Atlantic tropical forest

Characterised with its immense biodiversity and high levels of endemism, the Atlantic Tropical Forest has been facing serious anthropogenic threats over the last several decades, demanding for such activities and their effects to be closely studied and monitored as part of the forest dynamics.


Harnessing rich satellite data to estimate crop yield

Without advanced sensing technology, humans see only a small portion of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Satellites see the full range—from high-energy gamma rays, to visible, infrared, and low-energy microwaves. The images and data they collect can be used to solve complex problems. For example, satellite data is being harnessed by researchers at the University of Illinois for a more complete picture of cropland and to estimate crop yield in the U.S. Corn Belt.


Tropical trees maintain high carbon accumulation rates into old age

Tropical trees maintain high carbon accumulation rates into old age, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Michael Köhl from the Universität Hamburg, Germany, and colleagues.


Adding silicon to soil to strengthen plant defenses

To help plants better fend off insect pests, researchers are arming them with stones.


University of Stirling team discovers new plant in Shetland

Scientists at the University of Stirling have discovered a new type of plant growing in Shetland – with its evolution only having occurred in the last 200 years.


Seven complete specimens of new flower, all 100 million years old

A Triceratops or Tyrannosaurus rex bulling its way through a pine forest likely dislodged flowers that 100 million years later have been identified in their fossilized form as a new species of tree.


The key to drought-tolerant crops may be in the leaves

A solution to help farmers to grow crops in dry areas or during stretches of drought may depend on breeding and cultivating plants that protect themselves with a thicker layer of leaf wax, a new study shows.


New genomic insights reveal a surprising two-way journey for apple on the Silk Road

Centuries ago, the ancient networks of the Silk Road facilitated a political and economic openness between the nations of Eurasia. But this network also opened pathways for genetic exchange that shaped one of the world's most popular fruits: the apple. As travelers journeyed east and west along the Silk Road, trading their goods and ideas, they brought with them hitchhiking apple seeds, discarded from the choicest fruit they pulled from wild trees. This early selection would eventually lead to the 7,500 varieties of apple that exist today.


Plant-produced polio vaccines could help eradicate age old disease

Plants have been used to produce a new vaccine against poliovirus in what is hoped to be a major step towards global eradication of the disease.


The origin of the chloroplast

A new study, led by the University of Bristol, has shed new light on the origin, timing and habitat in which the chloroplast first evolved.


Probiotics help poplar trees clean up contaminated groundwater

Trees have the ability to capture and remove pollutants from the soil and degrade them through natural processes in the plant. It's a feat of nature companies have used to help clean up polluted sites, though only in small-scale projects. Now, a probiotic bacteria for trees can boost the speed and effectiveness of this natural cycle, providing a microbial partner to help protect trees from the toxic effects of the pollutants and break down the toxins plants bring in from contaminated groundwater.


Trees and shrubs offer new food crops to diversify the farm

What if we could design a landscape that would provide a variety of nutritious foods, high-quality habitat, and ecosystem services, while also delivering a healthy profit to the landowner? According to University of Illinois researchers, it is not only possible, it should be adopted more widely, now.


Digital tools help get the best out of forests

In order to maintain forests’ diversity while their resources are put to maximum use, forest owners and planners need to make informed decisions and weigh all possible options. Luke’s digital planning tools make this task a whole lot easier.


Scientists unlock planthoppers' role in rice stripe virus reproduction

Recently, researchers from the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have discovered how a severe rice virus reproduces inside the small brown planthopper, a major carrier of the virus, and have published this work in eLIFE.


Incomplete drought recovery may be the new normal

The amount of time it takes for an ecosystem to recover from a drought is an important measure of a drought's severity. During the 20th century, the total area of land affected by drought increased, and longer recovery times became more common, according to new research published by Nature by a group of scientists including Carnegie's Anna Michalak and Yuanyuan Fang.


Plants love microbes -- and so do farmers

The Australian Sunshine Coast's plant diversity has helped University of Queensland researchers confirm that nurture has the upper hand - at least when it comes to plant microbes.


Multi-nutrient rice against malnutrition

Nearly every second person eats primarily rice to meet the daily calorie needs. A meal of rice stops the hunger, but contains only very few or none of the essential micronutrients. As a consequence, large segments of the human population are malnourished, especially in Asia and Africa.


Payments to rural communities offer a new opportunity to restore China's native forests

Despite massive efforts at reforestation, China's native forests continue to be displaced by plantations. A new study by researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB), Princeton University, and Sun Yat-sen University argues that rural communities could help reverse this trend if they were given incentives to protect and restore native forests on their own land.


Dramatic changes needed in farming practices to keep pace with climate change

Major changes in agricultural practices will be required to offset increases in nutrient losses due to climate change, according to research published by a Lancaster University-led team.


Maize from El Gigante Rock Shelter shows early transition to staple crop

Mid-summer corn on the cob is everywhere, but where did it all come from and how did it get to be the big, sweet, yellow ears we eat today? Some of the answers come from carbon dating ancient maize and other organic material from the El Gigante rock shelter in Honduras, according to a team of anthropologists who show that 4,300 years ago maize was sufficiently domesticated to serve as a staple crop in the Honduran highlands.


Drought-affected trees die from hydraulic failure and carbon starvation

The report finds that hydraulic failure, which is the inability of a plant to move water from roots to leaves to be almost universally present when trees died, while carbon starvation was a contributing factor roughly half of the time.


Climate change may confuse plant dormancy cycles

Perennial plants in the Midwest are well attuned to their surroundings. They hunker down all winter in a dormant state, just waiting for a sign that it’s safe to unfurl their first tender leaves or flower buds. For many plants, the cue is a sustained warming trend, but day length also factors into the dormancy equation.


DNA provides new insights on the control of invasive Russian knapweed

A recent study featured in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management sheds new light on the control of Russian knapweed, an invasive plant found in the western U.S.


Agricultural scientists urge new global crop alliance to secure future food supply

At a time when weather patterns are becoming less predictable and population pressures on food supply are increasing, a group of crop scientists are laying the groundwork for an international crop network to systematically tackle threats to global food security


Light pollution as a new threat to pollination

Artificial light disrupts nocturnal pollination and leads to a reduced number of fruits produced by the plant. This loss of night time pollination cannot be compensated by diurnal pollinators. The negative impact of artificial light at night on nocturnal pollinators might even propagate further to the diurnal community, as ecologists of the University of Bern were able to show.