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Rare tree species safeguard biodiversity in a changing climate

New research suggests that rare species of trees in rainforests may help safeguard biodiversity levels as the environment undergoes change.


Research yields test to predict bitter pit disorder in Honeycrisp apples

A test to determine whether bitter pit -- a disorder that blindsides apple growers by showing up weeks or months after picking -- will develop in stored Honeycrisp apples was developed by a team of Penn State researchers, promising to potentially save millions of dollars annually in wasted fruit.


Petals produce a 'blue halo' that helps bees find flowers

Latest research has found that several common flower species have nanoscale ridges on the surface of their petals that meddle with light when viewed from certain angles.


Proliferation and breeding methods of drought-resistant jojoba developed

A group of researchers from Osaka University studied proliferation and breeding methods of jojoba, a drought-resistant and profitable plant, and found that jojoba would allow for profitable desert afforestation.


Watching plant photosynthesis...from space

University of Sydney and NASA researchers have developed a revolutionary new technique to image plant photosynthesis using satellite-based remote-sensing, with potential applications in climate change monitoring.


Some plants grow bigger -- and 'meaner' -- when clipped, study finds

Some plants behave like the mythical monster Hydra: Cut off their heads and they grow back, bigger and better than before. A new study finds that these "overcompensators," as they are called, also augment their defensive chemistry -- think plant venom -- when they are clipped.


Research clarifies nuclear hormone receptor function in plants

The striking capacity for plants to adapt their growth and development to an ever-changing environment is mediated by diverse plant hormones that regulate virtually every aspect of plant life. In the past 10-15 years, enormous progress has been made in elucidating the nature of plant hormone receptors.


Tropical tree roots represent an underappreciated carbon pool

Ask someone to draw a tree and s/he will invariably draw a trunk and branches -- leaving the roots out of the picture. In a unique study of tropical tree roots at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute published in PLOS ONE, roots accounted for almost 30 percent of the total biomass of young trees. The authors hope that future estimates of carbon storage and water-use by tropical forests will include information on root biomass and architecture.


Breeding Salt-Tolerant Plants

The quinoa plant might serve as a model for making other crops salt-tolerant. It grows well on saline soils because the excess salt is simply dumped into special bladders on its leaves.


Researchers identify gene to help hybrid wheat breeding

Australian researchers at the University of Adelaide have identified a naturally occurring wheat gene that, when turned off, eliminates self-pollination but still allows cross-pollination - opening the way for breeding high-yielding hybrid wheats.


Genetically Boosting the Nutritional Value of Corn Could Benefit Millions

Rutgers scientists have found an efficient way to enhance the nutritional value of corn – the world’s largest commodity crop – by inserting a bacterial gene that causes it to produce a key nutrient called methionine, according to a new study.


In New Phytologist: Researchers discover an evolutionary stepping stone to beet-red beets

The color red is splashed across gardens, forests and farms, attracting pollinators with bright hues, signaling ripe fruit and delighting vegetable and flower gardeners alike.


Protein restricts sap uptake by aphids

Researchers at Umeå University and Wageningen University have discovered how plants can defend themselves against aphids. They recorded aphid behavior on video, and identified a plant protein that keeps aphids from feeding. The results have been published in the journal the Plant Cell.


Cancer scientists crack the durian genome

Scientists from the Humphrey Oei Institute of Cancer Research, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) and Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore have achieved a world's first by deciphering the complete genetic map of durian - a prized tropical fruit delicacy known in Asia as the "king of fruits". The Singapore team's efforts were driven by both innate scientific curiosity and a love of the fruit, and funded by private donations from anonymous durian devotees.


Carbon feedback from forest soils to accelerate global warming

After 26 years, the world's longest-running experiment to discover how warming temperatures affect forest soils has revealed a surprising, cyclical response: Soil warming stimulates periods of abundant carbon release from the soil to the atmosphere alternating with periods of no detectable loss in soil carbon stores. Overall, the results indicate that in a warming world, a self-reinforcing and perhaps uncontrollable carbon feedback will occur between forest soils and the climate system, adding to the build-up of atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by burning fossil fuels and accelerating global warming. The study, led by Jerry Melillo, Distinguished Scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), appears in Science.


Modified peptides could boost plant growth and development

A new Australian study of peptide hormones critical for plant development could result in wide-ranging benefits for agriculture, tissue culture, and related industries, and even improve knowledge of peptides in humans.


On the road to making cereals that consume nitrogen from air

Some bacteria carry an enzyme called nitrogenase that enables them to grow incorporating nitrogen from air into biomass. Transferring nitrogenase to cereals would keep crop production high while reducing nitrogen fertilization.


New measurements show widespread forest loss has reversed the role of tropics as a carbon sink

A new, cutting-edge approach to measuring changes in aboveground forest carbon density has helped scientists determine that widespread deforestation, degradation and disturbance has caused tropical forests to now emit more carbon than they capture, countering their role as a net carbon "sink."


Plant cells survive but stop dividing upon DNA damage

The cell cycle is the system through which a cell grows and divides. It is also how a cell passes its DNA to its progeny and is why the cell cycle ceases if the DNA is damaged, as otherwise it risks passing this damage to daughter cells. Scientists at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) have reported a new molecular mechanism that explains how this cessation occurs. The study, which can be read in Nature Communications, shows the transcription factor family MYB3R prevents progression to the division stage (M phase) of the cell cycle in Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant that is a member of the mustard family.


DNA barcoding technology helping monitor health of all-important boreal forest

The Boreal forest is essential to Canada and the world, storing carbon, purifying water and air and regulating climate. But keeping tabs on the health of this vulnerable biome has proven to be a painstaking and time-consuming undertaking - until now.


Deer prefer native plants leaving lasting damage on forests

When rampant white-tailed deer graze in forests, they prefer to eat native plants over certain unpalatable invasive plants, such as garlic mustard and Japanese stiltgrass. These eating habits lower native plant diversity and abundance, while increasing the proportion of plant communities made up of non-native species, according to a new study.


Liverwort genes and land plant evolution

Though it's found around the world, it's easy to overlook the common liverwort -- the plant can fit in the palm of one's hand and appears to be composed of flat, overlapping leaves. Despite their unprepossessing appearance, these plants without roots or vascular tissues for nutrient transport are living links to the transition from the algae that found its way out of the ocean to the established multitude of land plants.


Tropical diversity takes root in relationships between fungi and seeds

A team led by Smithsonian scientists in Panama exposed a key to understanding tropical tree diversity by studying how fungi interact with seeds that linger in the ground. Despite a smorgasbord of species available to choose from, tropical fungi and seeds are picky about associating with one another. Early pairings with a particular fungus may influence whether a seed survives and also may help explain how tropical forests remain so diverse.


New machine evaluates soybean at harvest for quality

When a field of soybeans is ready to harvest, speed is of the essence. But harvesting grinds to a halt every time the combine operator has to climb down out of the cab to manually check for quality -- whole, un-split beans without stray husk material. Researchers from Kyoto University and University of Illinois recently developed a machine to automate the process, evaluating bean quality on the fly, so harvesting can go on uninterrupted.


Global research team fills language gap in plant science

To keep pace with the fast-evolving study of cellular plant science, an international team of researchers has created terminology and definitions likely to become everyday language in laboratories and university classrooms worldwide.


Plants become more tolerant when living in symbiosis with fungi

By developing a symbiotic relationship with fungi, plants not only become more tolerant to diseases but can also help contribute to more sustainable agricultural practices. This is the conclusion of a new study from the University of Gothenburg.


Evolutionary crop research: Ego-plants give lower yield

Survival of the fittest is a fundamental concept in Darwin's theory of natural selection which drives evolution.


Win-win strategies for climate and food security

Climate policies that target agriculture and forests could lead to increased food prices, but reducing deforestation and increasing soil carbon sequestration in agriculture could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while avoiding risk to food security, according to new research published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.


Bioreactors on a chip renew promises for algal biofuels

For over a decade, companies have promised a future of renewable fuel from algae. Investors interested in moving the world away from fossil fuel have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the effort, and with good reason. Algae replicate quickly, requiring little more than water and sunlight to accumulate to massive amounts, which then convert atmospheric CO2 into lipids (oils) that can be harvested and readily processed into biodiesel.


Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities exposed with new DNA sequencing approach

The roots of most land plants are colonized by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which help their plant partners to grow while also influencing the wider environment. Their hidden nature has meant these fungi are poorly understood, but researchers from the Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University have developed a new approach to detect and identify the many species involved in these ecologically vital communities.