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Plant scientists untangle the molecular mechanisms connecting plant stress and growth

Iowa State University researchers for the first time have mapped the various molecular components that govern how environmentally stressed plants interrupt their normal growth pathways by tapping into an important energy recycling function.


Putting a price tag on grassland biodiversity

Talk to just about any biologist long enough and the conversation will steer toward the benefits of biodiversity. Although the ecological benefits of biodiversity are well documented, those benefits have rarely been expressed in dollars and cents. A team of economists and ecologists, including University of Illinois professor of environmental economics Amy Ando, has developed one of the first models to assign a dollar value to the loss or gain of species in an ecosystem. This new work offers an economic argument for preserving biodiversity.


In New Phytologist: Feeding fat to fungi: Evidence for lipid transfer in arbuscular mycorrhiza

Nearly all organisms live in symbiosis with a vast, diverse array of microbes. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis is the interaction between plants and a group of fungi called Glomeromycota. Most land plants, including several crop species, are able to interact with these fungi, which have been long known to positively affect plant growth and nutrition. The fungi live in plant roots where they elongate their tendrils (called hypha) into the surrounding soil, like an extension of the root system, to better access and transfer nutrients to the plant. In return the plant serves the fungus food made during photosynthesis.


Wiley, ASPB and SEB partnering on new open access journal: Plant Direct

John Wiley & Sons, Inc. have announced the launch of Plant Direct, a new open access journal published in collaboration with the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) and the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB).


When old growth beats old school

As the planet warms, carbon markets are getting hot too. Forest landowners have been looking for ways to enter these markets, making money from their commercial timberland not just by selling logs--but also by demonstrating that their land is absorbing climate-warming carbon dioxide from the air. The more carbon an acre of trees holds, the more valuable it will be in these new carbon markets--whether in the California "cap and trade" market, international voluntary markets, or others that have been sprouting up across the US and Canada.


400 million years of a stable relationship

Walking through a grassy field or forest take a moment to consider what lies beneath the surface. A web of plant roots interacts symbiotically with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi that extend their hyphae from the root system further into the earth, accessing nutrients such as phosphates to give to the plant in return for carbohydrates, tit for tat.


Plants have been helping to offset climate change, but now it's up to us

Plants are currently removing more CO2 from the air than they did 200 years ago, according to new work from Carnegie's Joe Berry and led by J. Elliott Campbell of UC Merced. The team's findings, which are published in Nature, affirm estimates used in models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


Study explores risk of deforestation as agriculture expands in Africa

Next time you bite into a chocolate bar, think of Africa. The continent produces nearly 70 percent of the world's cocoa, a growing output that requires carving more than 325,000 acres of new farmland from forests every year -- a drop in the bucket of overall agricultural expansion there.


Scientists engineer sugarcane to produce biodiesel, more sugar for ethanol

A multi-institutional team led by the University of Illinois have proven sugarcane can be genetically engineered to produce oil in its leaves and stems for biodiesel production. Surprisingly, the modified sugarcane plants also produced more sugar, which could be used for ethanol production.


Sensing technology identifies trees affected by deadly larch disease

Researchers from the University of Leicester have used remote sensing technology by Leicestershire-based aerial mapping company Bluesky in order to identify trees affected by a destructive disease.


In Nature Plants: A step forward to making crops drought tolerant

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers are part of an international consortium of researchers whose work hopes to future-proof crops against the impacts of global climate change.


New rice fights off drought

Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) have developed strains of rice that are resistant to drought in real-world situations. Published in Plant Biotechnology Journal, the study reports that transgenic rice modified with a gene from the Arabidopsis plant yield more rice than unmodified rice when subjected to stress brought by natural drought. The study was carried out in collaboration with researchers from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia and the Japanese International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) in Japan.


Set strawberry alarm clock for post-apple bloom

Growers who time their strawberries to bloom just after apples do, can reap a better harvest, according to new research.


Domesticated rice goes rogue

A new study in Nature Genetics describes an ancestry.com-type adventure that reveals the deep history of a family, including some disreputable relatives. But the family in this case is Asian rice (Oryza sativa), and the disreputable relatives are the weedy cousins of domesticated rice.


Study IDs ways to encourage 'refuge' planting, slowing resistance to Bt crops

A new study from North Carolina State University finds a significant shortfall in the amount of "refuge" cropland being planted in North Carolina -- likely increasing the rate at which crop pests will evolve the ability to safely devour genetically engineered Bt crops. However, the study also identified actions that may make farmers more likely to plant refuge crops in the future.


New species evolve faster as mountains form

Mountains, like rainforests, are hotbeds of biodiversity. But scientists aren't sure why. For years, they've thought that it might be related to the new environments that arise when mountains form -- as plants and animals adapt to the new micro-habitats and their populations become isolated by increasingly rugged terrain, they divide into new species at a faster rate than usual. However, there was little hard proof that this hypothesis was correct. In a new paper in PNAS, a team has put forth compelling quantitative evidence in favor of the hypothesis, analyzing thousands of plant species from China's Hengduan Mountains and adjacent regions. They found that as the Hengduan Mountains were forming, the plants there evolved into new species at a faster rate than in the nearby Himalayas, which are older.


Monitoring pollen using an aircraft

Plant pollen and fungal spores can be found at variable heights in the air, even at elevations up to 2000 meters. This is the conclusion of a report by researchers of Helmholtz Zentrum München and Technical University of Munich together with Greek colleagues, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports. Hitherto it was assumed that such allergens are mainly present close to where they are released, namely near ground level.


Even short-duration heat waves could lead to failure of coffee crops

"Hot coffee" is not a good thing for java enthusiasts when it refers to plants beset by the high-temperature stress that this century is likely to bring, research at Oregon State University suggests.


Newly characterized protein has potential to save US farmers millions annually

Instead of turning carbon into food, many plants accidentally make a plant-toxic compound during photosynthesis that is recycled through a process called photorespiration. University of Illinois and USDA/ARS researchers report in The Plant Cell the discovery of a key protein in this process, which they hope to manipulate to increase plant productivity.


Red and violet light reset the circadian clock in algae via novel pathway

As anyone who has spent wakeful nights suffering from jetlag will attest, the human body has a strong sense of time. The body clock runs on a 24-hour cycle, or circadian (from the Latin meaning "about a day") rhythm. When our internal cycle gets out of sync with our surroundings, such as when crossing time zones, jetlag can result. The circadian rhythm therefore needs to be reset, which is achieved primarily by exposure to light.


Fairy circles of Namibia: New research helps scientists gain insight

A study conducted by researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis adds new insights into one of nature's great mysteries: the fairy circles of Namibia.


Highway to health: New findings point way to more nutritious crops

Almost every calorie that we eat at one time went through the veins of a plant. If a plant's circulatory system could be rejiggered to make more nutrients available -- through bigger seeds or sweeter tomatoes -- the world's farmers could feed more people.


Feeding the Future: Four Years On - new report by the UK National Farmers' Union

A new report from the UK's National Farmers' Union (NFU) urges government and research providers to invest in agricultural research and development, and to enable British farmers to use the latest technologies.


Mustard seeds without mustard flavor: New robust oilseed crop can resist global warming

University of Copenhagen and the global player Bayer CropScience have successfully developed a new oilseed crop that is much more resistant to heat, drought and diseases than oilseed rape. The breakthrough is so big that it will feature as cover story of the April issue of Nature Biotechnology, a journal about biotechnology research.


Key research priorities for agricultural microbiomes identified

A coordinated effort to understand plant microbiomes could boost plant health and agricultural productivity, according to a new Perspective published in the open access journal PLOS Biology by Posy Busby of Oregon State University in Corvallis and colleagues at eight other research institutions.


Forests fight global warming in ways more important than previously understood

Forests play a complex role in keeping the planet cool, one that goes far beyond the absorption of carbon dioxide, new research has found.


Fighting world hunger: Robotics aid in the study of corn and drought tolerance

Developing drought tolerant corn that makes efficient use of available water will be vital to sustain the estimated 9 billion global population by 2050. In March 2014, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the University of Missouri ("Mizzou"; USA) a $20 million grant as part of a multi-institutional consortium to study how corn maintains root growth during drought conditions. Using funding from the NSF, Mizzou engineers on a multidisciplinary team have developed a robotic system that is changing the way scientists study crops and plant composition.


Global Plant Council stress resilience commentaries published in Food and Energy Security

In October 2015, researchers from around the world came together in Iguassu Falls, Brazil, for the Stress Resilience Symposium, organized by the Global Plant Council and the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB), to discuss the current research efforts in developing plants resistant to the changing climate. (See our blog by GPC's Lisa Martin for more on this meeting!)


Current Plant Biology and Current Opinion in Plant Biology supporting journals for Plant Genome Evolution 2017

A Current Opinion in Plant Biology Conference
1–3 October 2017 | Meliá Sitges, Sitges (near Barcelona), Spain


Ant-plant symbioses: Adapting to changes in partner abundance

Many ant species live in often highly specific symbiotic relationships with plants from which both partners benefit. Researchers of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich now reveal that such selective interactions can break down over the course of evolution.