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Plant virus alters competition between aphid species

In the world of plant-feeding insects, who shows up first to the party determines the overall success of the gathering; yet viruses can disrupt these intricate relationships, according to researchers at Penn State.


Epic genetic: the hidden story of wheat

Globally, wheat, together with maize and rice, provides the most human nutrition. It can thrive in a whole range of different environments, even within a similar geographical region.


Species-rich forests better compensate environmental impacts

Forest ecosystems are elementary for a climatic balance. Countries such as China have recognized this fact; for years, they have been conducting extensive afforestation programs to compensate their rising CO2 emissions. As part of the global carbon cycle, forests take up about 45 percent of the carbon from the environment and bind it in the soil and as biomass over long periods of time. At the same time, trees can take up or release carbon in the short term, as well.


A switch to turn fragrances on and off

Salk Institute and Purdue University scientists have discovered the switch in plants that turns off production of terpenoids -- carbon-rich compounds that play roles in plant physiology and are used by humans in everything from fragrances and flavorings to biofuels and pharmaceuticals.


Ecosystems are getting greener in the Arctic

In recent decades, scientists have noted a surge in Arctic plant growth as a symptom of climate change. But without observations showing exactly when and where vegetation has bloomed as the world's coldest areas warm, it's difficult to predict how vegetation will respond to future warming. Now, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley have developed a new approach that may paint a more accurate picture of Arctic vegetation and our climate's recent past - and future.


Plant protein complex plays large role in important growth and development process

A little-studied plant cellular complex plays an essential role in a biological process -- vacuole fusion -- critical to plant growth and development, according to new research from [North Carolina State University. The findings shed light on complex and important plant processes as well as on how plants may have adapted to respond to environmental signals.


What's behind the retreating kelps and expanding corals?

Climate change and other external forces are causing rapid marine community shifts in Japan's coastal ecosystems. Better understanding of species distribution dynamics, as driven by these factors, can improve conservation efforts and climate change management.


In the eastern US, adult trees adapt and acclimate to local climate

Trees growing in temperate forests in the eastern US show strong adaptation or acclimation to local climate. So reports a new study that analyzed more than 23,000 tree cores to investigate how adult trees respond to changes in climatic conditions. Results were published this week in the journal Ecosphere.


Love vine sucks life from wasps, leaving only mummies

An evolutionary biologists have discovered a new trophic interaction -- the first example of a parasitic plant attacking a parasitic insect on a shared host plant. The find is detailed this week in Current Biology and could point to new methods for controlling agricultural pests and perhaps fighting cancer.


The bright ways forests affect their environment

For decades scientists have tried to understand why forests emit the volatile gases that give pine forests their distinctive smell. A new study led by the University of Leeds may have found the answer.


Scientists examine the relative impact of proximity to seed sources

A new research study published in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management tackles an important, unresolved question in the biology of invasive plants. Which is most important to the establishment of new invasive communities - proximity to seed sources, canopy disturbance, or soil disturbance?


In Frontiers in Plant Science: Mechanism behind orchid beauty revealed

Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan have identified the gene related to the greenish flower mutation in the Habenaria orchid.


In Frontiers in Plant Science: Genetic differences in trees untouched by mountain pine beetles

A University of Montana researcher has discovered that mountain pine beetles may avoid certain trees within a population they normally would kill due to genetics in the trees.


How an herbivore hijacks a nutrient uptake strategy of its host plant

The Western corn rootworm causes annual losses of more than two billion US dollars in corn production, and is thus one of the economically most important pests in agriculture. The insect originates from America, but its occurrence in Europe has increased in recent years. It is resistant to many conventional pest control strategies, and the natural defense mechanisms of maize plants provide little protection against this particular enemy.


Origins and spread of Eurasian fruits traced to the ancient Silk Road

Studies of ancient preserved plant remains from a medieval archaeological site in the Pamir Mountains of Uzbekistan have shown that fruits, such as apples, peaches, apricots, and melons, were cultivated in the foothills of Inner Asia. The archaeobotanical study, conducted by Robert Spengler of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, is among the first systematic analyses of medieval agricultural crops in the heart of the ancient Silk Road. Spengler identified a rich assemblage of fruit and nut crops, showing that many of the crops we are all familiar with today were cultivated along the ancient trade routes.


Play-Doh helps plant research

When plants are in distress or being fed on by insects, they have been known to send out sensory volatile cues that alert organisms in the area -- such as birds -- that they are in need of help. While research has shown that this occurs in ecosystems such as forests, until now, this phenomenon has never been demonstrated in an agricultural setting.


Model way to protect trees

Oak processionary moth and ash dieback are among the most notorious tree pests and diseases intro-duced into the UK. And many exotic pests and diseases are suspected of having been introduced, or are known to have been introduced, through the import of commercial tree planting material.


The wheat code is finally cracked

The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) published in the international journal Science a detailed description of the genome of bread wheat, the world's most widely cultivated crop. This work will pave the way for the production of wheat varieties better adapted to climate challenges, with higher yields, enhanced nutritional quality and improved sustainability.


Dating the ancient Minoan eruption of Thera using tree rings

New analyses that use tree rings could settle the long-standing debate about when the volcano Thera erupted by resolving discrepancies between archeological and radiocarbon methods of dating the eruption, according to new University of Arizona-led research.


How do plants rest photosynthetic activity at night?

Photosynthesis, the process by which plants generate food, is a powerful piece of molecular machinery that needs sunlight to run. The proteins involved in photosynthesis need to be 'on' when they have the sunlight they need to function, but need to idle, like the engine of a car at a traffic light, in the dark, when photosynthesis is not possible. They do this by a process called 'redox regulation'--the activation and deactivation of proteins via changes in their redox (reduction/oxidation) states. What happens in light is well understood: the ferredoxin-thioredoxin reductase (FTR)/thioredoxin (Trx) pathway is responsible for the reduction process, which activates the photosynthetic pathway. However, scientists have long been in the dark about what happens when light is not available, and how plants reset photosynthetic proteins to be ready to function when light is resumed.


VOX pops cereal challenge

A plant virus with a simple genome promises to help crop scientists understand traits and diseases in wheat and maize more quickly and easily than existing techniques and, as its full potential is tapped, to work across a range of different plant species.


Trees and climate change: Faster growth, lighter wood

Trees are growing more rapidly due to climate change. This sounds like good news. After all, this means that trees are storing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in their wood and hence taking away the key ingredient in global warming. But is it that simple? A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) analyzed wood samples from the oldest existing experimental areas spanning a period of 150 years - and reached a surprising conclusion.


Research Brief: No defense for some plants in the eat-or-be-eaten world of grasslands

If you're a gardener, you may not be too thrilled when insects, rabbits, fungi and other plant-eaters nibble their way through your world. But in two recent papers published in the journals Ecology and Ecology Letters, University of Minnesota researchers are showing the important role such plant-eating consumers play in an ecosystem's ability carry out key jobs like storing carbon -- and, in turn, the role plants play in supporting these organisms and the others that depend on them. The research was carried out at the U's Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, a field research station just north of the Twin Cities.


A conversation between plants' daily and aging clocks

Every day you get a day older. So do plants. While the biological daily clock ticks, time passes also for the aging clock. Scientists at the Center for Plant Aging Research, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), have found out how the two clocks talk to each other genetically. Plants' circadian clock - the 24-hour cyclic rhythm - plays a critical role in regulating aging, in particular in timing the yellowing of the leaves. As aging plants recycle nutrients for the new leaves and seeds, uncovering these timekeeping mechanisms is important to understand plant productivity.


Hotter temperatures extend growing season for peatland plants

A futuristic experiment simulating warmer environmental conditions has shown that peatland vegetation responds to higher temperatures with an earlier and longer growth period. A study published in Nature revealed that turning up the heat accelerates spring greening in mature trees, shrubs and mosses and delays fall color change.


Fresh insight into invasive plant that blights UK rivers

New research into the behaviour of an invasive plant seen on riverbanks across the UK could help improve the management of the problem, experts have found.


Blocking sunlight to cool Earth won't reduce crop damage from global warming

Injecting particles into the atmosphere to cool the planet and counter the warming effects of climate change would do nothing to offset the crop damage from rising global temperatures, according to a new analysis by University of California, Berkeley, researchers.


The value of seagrass in securing a sustainable planet

Researchers believe that improving knowledge of how seagrasses are important for biodiversity, fisheries and our global carbon cycle in turn needs to be reflected with greater protection for these sensitive habitats.


Matchmaking for sweet potato? It's complicated

Some relationships can be complicated. Take the one between sweet potato crops and soil nitrogen, for example.


Hijacking hormones for plant growth

Hormones designed in the lab through a technique combining chemistry, biology, and engineering might be used to manipulate plant growth in numerous ways, according to a New Phytologist study.