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Scientists crack the code to regenerate plant tissues

Plant regeneration can occur via formation of a mass of pluripotent cells. The process of acquisition of pluripotency involves silencing of genes to remove original tissue memory and priming for activation by external input. Led by Professor Sachihiro Matsunaga from Tokyo University of Science, a team of scientists have shown that plant regenerative capacity requires a certain demethylase that can prime gene expression in response to regenerative cues.


Pollen Genes Mutate Naturally in Only Some Strains of Corn

Pollen genes mutate naturally in only some strains of corn, according to Rutgers-led research that helps explain the genetic instability in certain strains and may lead to better breeding of corn and other crops.


How plants defend themselves

Plant immune system detects bacteria through small fatty acid molecules.


Getting to the root of plant simulations

New dynamic model better portrays how plant roots forage and adapt to resource fluctuation.


Crop yield in maize influenced by unexpected gene ‘moonlighting’

Maize is a staple crop that came from humble beginnings. If you look at its wild ancestor, teosinte, the plant looks nearly unrecognizable. Human selection has persuaded the maize plant to grow in a way that produces higher yields and can be more efficiently harvested. But scientists and farmers are looking for ways, in the face of climate change, population growth, and other factors, to even further optimize maize yields.


Study recommends improvements to how impacts of Non-Native Species are assessed

CABI has led an international team of Non-Native Species (NNS) specialists who have compiled a list of recommendations to improve the way in which the impact of a range of invasive pests – such as the tomato leaf miner Tuta absoluta – are assessed, potentially helping towards ensuring greater global food security.


Rice Cultivation: Balance of Phosphorus and Nitrogen Determines Growth and Yield

Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences CEPLAS cooperates with partners from Beijing to develop new basic knowledge on nutrient signalling pathways


Okinawan Sea Grapes Reveal Secrets of Plant Evolution

If you’ve ever dined on the tropical island of Okinawa, Japan, your plate may have been graced by a remarkable pile of seaweed, each strand adorned with tiny green bubbles. Known as umi-budo or sea grapes, the salty snack pairs well with rice, sashimi and a tall glass of beer. But umi-budo is more than an iconic side dish; it’s a staple crop for Okinawan farmers. Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) recently decoded the sea grape genome to learn about the plant’s unique morphology and assist farmers in proper cultivation of the succulent seaweed.


Harnessing plant hormones for food security in Africa

Striga hermonthica, also known as purple witchweed, is an invasive parasitic plant that threatens food production in sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated to ruin up to 40 per cent of the region's staple crops, the equivalent of $7-10 billion, putting the livelihoods and food supplies of 300 million people in danger.


Duckweed: The low-down on a tiny plant

Duckweeds – for many aquatic animals like ducks and snails, a treat, but for pond owners, sometimes a thorn in the side. The tiny and fast-growing plants are of great interest to researchers, and not at least because of their industrial applications – for example, to purify wastewater or generate energy. An international research team from Münster, Jena (both Germany), Zurich (Switzerland) and Kerala (India) have recently studied the genomics of the giant duckweed. They discovered that genetic diversity, i.e. the total number of genetic characteristics that are different among individuals, is very low. “This is remarkable given that their population size is very large – there can, for example, be millions of individuals in a single pond”, says Shuqing Xu, professor for plant evolutionary ecology at the University of Münster and lead author of the study.


Are no-fun fungi keeping fertilizer from plants?

Crops just can’t do without phosphorus.


Not All Carrot Germplasm is the Same—In Terms of Salinity Tolerance

Salinity stress is considered one of the most important abiotic factors that limits the productivity of crop plants, and the estimated global cost due to salinity is more than $12 billion annually. This is due to the extensive use of irrigation and high rates of evapotranspiration, which result in increased salt accumulation in the soil.


Deciphering the Walnut Genome

California produces 99 percent of the walnuts grown in the United States. New research could provide a major boost to the state’s growing $1.6 billion walnut industry by making it easier to breed walnut trees better equipped to combat the soil-borne pathogens that now plague many of California’s 4,800 growers.


How Tree Diversity Regulates Invading Forest Pests

A national-scale study of U.S. forests found strong relationships between the diversity of native tree species and the number of nonnative pests that pose economic and ecological threats to the nation’s forests.


Inclusion of a crop model in a climate model to promote climate modeling

Crop models are parameterization schemes that simulate the processes of crop development and production. Their inclusion in climate models can promote the simulation ability of climate models, according to Dr. Zou Jing at the Institute of Oceanographic Instrumentation, Qilu University of Technology.


Study shows first evidence of bacterial-induced apoptosis in algae

A new study by UAlberta biologists shows the first evidence of apoptosis, or programmed cell death in algae. The outcomes have broad-reaching implications, from the development of targeted antibiotics to the production of biofuels in industry.


Natural plant defense genes provide clues to safener protection in grain sorghum

Weeds often emerge at the same time as vulnerable crop seedlings and sneak between plants as crops grow. How do farmers kill them without harming the crops themselves?


Plant immunity cut to size

An international team based in Ghent, Belgium VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology and Basel, Switzerland (University of Basel) found a link between a class of enzymes and immune signals that is rapidly triggered upon physical damage in plants. This new discovery will increase our understanding of the plant immune system and might be exploited to improve crop health and yield in the future.


New Plant Breeding Technologies for Food Security

An international team, including researchers from the University of Göttingen, argues in a perspective article recently published in “Science” that new plant breeding technologies can contribute significantly to food security and sustainable development. Genome editing techniques in particular, such as CRISPR/Cas, could help to make agriculture more productive and environmentally friendly. The researchers advocate the responsible use and support of these new technologies.


New, more efficient way to reduce water use and improve plant growth

A team of scientists has revealed a new, sustainable way for plants to increase carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake for photosynthesis while reducing water usage.


Revealing the plant genes that shaped our world

The creation of new library of mutants of the single-celled photosynthetic green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii enabled a Carnegie- and Princeton University-led team of plant scientists to identify more than 300 genes that are potentially required for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants, algae, and some bacteria convert energy from sunlight into carbohydrates—filling our planet’s atmosphere with oxygen as a byproduct.


Genetic diversity maps to help forests survive climate change

Forests have a special magic for many of us. Steeped in folklore and fantasy, they are places for enchantments, mythical creatures and outlaws. But if they are to survive into the future, they may also need a helping hand from science.


Floodplain forests under threat: Researchers warn of the effects of summer drought and competition for ground water

A team from the Institute of Forest Sciences at the University of Freiburg shows that the extraction of ground water for industry and households is increasingly damaging floodplain forests in Europe given the increasing intensity and length of drought periods in the summer. The scientists have published their results in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change.


Algal library lends insights into genes for photosynthesis

It isn’t easy being green. It takes thousands of genes to build the photosynthetic machinery that plants need to harness sunlight for growth. And yet, researchers don’t know exactly how these genes work.


Nitrogen Pollution's Path to Streams Weaves through More Forests (and Faster Pace) than Suspected

Nitrogen in rain and snow falls to the ground where, in theory, it is used by forest plants and microbes. New research by a scientific collaboration led by the USDA Forest Service shows that more nitrogen from rain and snow is making it to more streams than previously believed and flowing downstream in forests of the United States and Canada. The study, “Unprocessed atmospheric nitrate in waters of the Northern Forest Region in the USA and Canada” was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technolog.


Pests and the plant defenses against them drive diversity in tropical rainforests

Researchers have been baffled by tropical rainforest diversity for over a century; 650 different tree species can exist in an area covering two football fields, yet similar species never grow next to each other. It seems like it’s good to be different than your neighbors, but why?


‘Specialized’ Microbes Within Plant Species Promote Diversity, Study Finds

It’s widely accepted within agriculture that maintaining genetic diversity is important. In areas where crop plants are more diverse, pathogens might kill some plants but are less likely to wipe out an entire crop.


Transcription Factor Network Gets to Heart of Wood Formation

North Carolina State University researchers have uncovered how a complex network of transcription factors switch wood formation genes on and off. Understanding this transcriptional regulatory network has applications for modifying wood properties for timber, paper and biofuels, as well as making forest trees more disease- and pest-resistant.


Disappearing rice fields threaten more global warming

All over China, a huge change has been taking place without any of us noticing. Rice paddies have been (and are being) converted at an astonishing rate into aquaculture ponds to produce more protein for the worlds growing populations. This change risks creating an unexpected impact on global warming.


Large and branched root systems can speed up growth of spruces

According to a study by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), strong growth rate of spruces can be due to the structure of their root system. A large and branched root system offers a major benefit when competing for water and nutrients, and it can boost the growth of fast-growing spruces when compared to slow-growing ones already from the early stages.