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News About a Plant Hormone

The plant hormone jasmonic acid also performs a function that was previously unknown. It ensures that the leaf pores close when leaves are injured. For the plant, this could be an emergency signal.


New Study Makes 52 Million Tree Records More Accessible to Science

The world's primary archive of tree ring data, which holds more than 52 million cost-free records spanning 8,000 years of history, has gotten a makeover by scientists from four countries committed to making science more accessible.


A Model System for Perennial Grasses

Panicum hallii genomes offer insights to drought tolerance.


People and plants: Working together for the planet

We rely on plants for food, shelter, fuel and fibres for clothing, for our gardens, landscape, and artistic inspiration. We live on a planet where life is powered by plants through photosynthesis, on land and in the sea; plants connect all of us. Human civilisation exists because of plants.


Invasive species and habitat loss our biggest biodiversity threats

Invasive species and habitat loss are the biggest threats to Australian biodiversity, according to new research by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub in partnership with The University of Queensland.


Plants prove to be efficient antifungal factories

Researchers of the Institute of Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMCP), a mixed centre of the Valencia Polytechnic University (UPV) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), in collaboration with the Centre of Agrigenomic Research (CRAG) of the CSIC, the government of Catalunya, the Authonomous University of Barcelona and the University of Barcelona; and the Institute of Food Agrochemistry and Technology (IATA) of the CSIC, have been able to efficiently produce antifungal proteins in plants, based on a modified tobacco mosaic virus. The results of this research, which could have a great impact in the agri-food industry, have been published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal.


Nuclear events make a flower bloom

Flowers do more than give plants beautiful lovely colors and fragrances. They are the reproductive organs of the plant. Their formation depends on strict nuclear events that if compromised can leave the plant sterile. A new study by researchers at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) shows how two transcription factors, AGAMOUS and CRABS CLAW, bind sequentially to the gene YUC4, which is responsible for synthesizing the plant hormone auxin. The findings, which can be read in Nature Communications, provide an epigenetic explanation for proper formation of the gynoecium, the female reproductive organ of flowering plants.


Flower power with the family

For centuries, people have conveyed feelings of happiness and love with flowers. Now an EU research team has found that plants flower more when surrounded by relatives compared to when growing with strangers or alone.


Nature's 'laboratory' offers clues on how plants thrive through genetic diversity

Scientists have turned to nature’s own ‘laboratory’ for clues about how plants adapt in the environment to ensure their own survival.


Global warming increases frost damage on trees in Central Europe

Global warming increases frost damage on trees in large areas of Central Europe, according to a new Finnish-Chinese study by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, the Chinese Academy of Science and Zhejiang A&F University.


The African Orphan Crops Consortium bears its first fruits

New research published describes and releases the first five orphan crop genomes from an international project to boost the productivity of traditional African food supplies.


Plant cells inherit knowledge of where's up and where's down from mother cell

Knowing which way is up and which way is down is important for all living beings. For plants, which grow roots into the soil and flowers above ground, getting this polarization wrong would cause a whole host of problems. In plants, polarization of the entire organism depends on every single cell being polarized. Cell division, however, disrupts polarization. How polarity is reestablished was unknown - until now. Researchers at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have solved one piece of the puzzle: They found that plant cells inherit the knowledge of where is up and where's down from their mother cell. The study led by Jiří Friml, Professor at the Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria), with first author Matouš Glanc, PhD student in the Friml group), and Matyáš Fendrych, previously a postdoc in the Friml group), and Matyáš Fendrych and now Assistant Professor at Charles University in Prague, is published in Nature Plants.


Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities

There are many organizations monitoring endangered species such as elephants and tigers, but what about the millions of other species on the planet — ones that most people have never heard of or don’t think about? How do scientists assess the threat level of, say, the plicate rocksnail, Caribbean spiny lobster or Torrey pine tree?


New technique to identify phloem cells aids in the fight against citrus greening

Crops worldwide are increasingly vulnerable to pandemics, as diseases hitch rides on global flows of people and goods, hopping from continent to continent. Phloem diseases such as citrus greening are one particularly devastating group of plant diseases that have been wreaking economic havoc globally. However, these diseases can be difficult to study, as phloem cells are relatively inaccessible and difficult to isolate. In work presented in a recent issue of Applications in Plant Sciences, Dr. Ed Etxeberria and colleagues at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center present a new technique for identifying phloem cells in plant tissue.


Inactivating genes can boost crop genetic diversity

Researchers from CIRAD and INRA recently showed that inactivating a gene, RECQ4, leads to a three-fold increase in recombination in crops such as rice, pea and tomato. The gene inhibits the exchange of genetic material via recombination (crossover) during the sexual reproduction process in crops. This discovery, published in the journal Nature Plants, could speed up plant breeding and development of varieties better suited to specific environmental conditions (disease resistance, adaptation to climate change).


Why massive effort needs to be put into growing trees on farms

It’s now over 50 years since the world was first warned that resources were being used at an unsustainable rate. It has now been estimated that almost one quarter to one third of the world’s land is degraded to some extent.


Why do some plants live fast and die young?

An international team led by researchers at The University of Manchester have discovered why some plants “live fast and die young” whilst others have long and healthy lives.


How we can get more out of our forests

Most European forests are primarily used for timber production. However, woodlands also offer spaces for recreation and they store carbon but it is not clear how forests can be managed for these multiple benefits. A new study under the direction of the University of Bern is now showing how forestry can be improved so that wooded areas can fulfill as many services as possible.


New biocontainment strategy controls spread of escaped GMOs

Hiroshima University (HU) researchers successfully developed a biocontainment strategy for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Their new method prevents genetically modified cyanobacteria from surviving outside of their test environment, enabling ways to more safely research the effects of GMOs. Their results were published in ACS Synthetic Biology.


Plant characteristics shaped by parental conflict

Different subpopulations of a plant species can have distinct traits, varying in size, seed count, coloration, and so on. The primary source of this variation is genes: different versions of a gene can lead to different traits. However, genes are not the only determinant of such traits, and researchers are learning more about another contributor: epigenetics. Epigenetic factors are things that regulate genes, altering their expression, and like genes they can be inherited from generation to generation, even though they are independent of the actual DNA sequences of the genes.


Climate change will likely cause darker tropical forests, researchers say

Observable effects of climate change that scientists had predicted in the past are now a reality: Glaciers are shrinking, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner.


Researchers discover how to generate plants with enhanced drought resistance without penalizing growth

Extreme drought is one of the effects of climate change that is already being perceived. This year, the decrease in rainfall and the abnormally hot temperatures in northern and eastern Europe have caused large losses in cereals and potato crops and in other horticultural species. Experts have long warned that to ensure food security it is becoming necessary to use plant varieties that are productive in drought conditions. Now, a team led by the researcher at the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) Ana Caño-Delgado has obtained plants with increased drought resistance by modifying the signaling of the plant steroid hormones, known as brassinosteroids. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, is the first to find to find a strategy to increase hydric stress resistance without affecting overall plant growth.


Scientists find a "switch" to increase starch accumulation in algae

Results from a collaborative study by Tokyo Tech and Tohoku University, Japan, raise prospects for large-scale production of algae-derived starch, a valuable bioresource for biofuels and other renewable materials. Such bio-based products have the potential to replace fossil fuels and contribute to the development of sustainable systems and societies.


Conventional seed banking methods not an option for over a third of threatened species

New evidence from suggests that traditional seed banking approaches do not work for some of our most economically important fruit and vegetables and iconic tree species. Alternative methods can help conserve these species.


Gene find could pave way for disease-resistant crops

Discovery of a gene that helps plants control their response to disease could aid efforts to develop crops that are resistant to infection, research suggests. The findings could lead to ways to fine-tune the gene’s activity to boost disease resistance, pointing towards more resilient crop breeds or new treatments for infections. It could help curb crop losses incurred by plant diseases. These are the leading cause of crop losses worldwide, accounting for 10 per cent of lost produce in key varieties.


Dry conditions may have helped a new type of plant gain a foothold on Earth

In the dramatically changing conditions of ancient Earth, organisms had to evolve new strategies to keep up. From the mid-Oligocene, roughly 30 million years ago, to the mid-to-late Miocene, about 5 million years ago, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere fell by a roughly a third. This same period saw the emergence of a new form of photosynthesis in a subset of plants, the C4 pathway. Present in a subset of plants, the C4 pathway supplemented the earlier C3 photosynthetic pathway, meaning those species now reaped energy from the sun using two different strategies.


‘Cryptic’ Interactions Drive Biodiversity Decline Near the Edge of Forest Fragments

When humans cut contiguous tropical forests into smaller fragments, ecologists say, forests along the edges of those fragments tend to experience a number of changes (e.g. higher temperatures, lower humidity), collectively known as “edge effects.” One such edge effect is a decline in tree species diversity. What causes this effect, however, has never been fully understood.


Exploiting Epigenetic Variation for Plant Breeding

Epigenetic changes can bring about new traits without altering the sequence of genes. This may allow plants to respond quicker to changes in their environment. Plant biologists at the University of Zurich have now demonstrated that epigenetic variation is also subject to selection and can be inherited. This could expand the possibilities for crop breeding.


Biological traits predict spread of invasive plants

Around the world, over 13,000 plant species have embedded themselves in new environments – some of them integrating harmoniously with the native plants, while others spread aggressively disrupting the ecosystem. Understanding why some plants become invasive, while others do not is critical to preserving the world’s biodiversity.


Ragweed May Expand Its Range Northward with Climate Change

A new predictive model developed by an ecologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a climate scientist at the University of Washington suggests that climate change may allow common ragweed to extend its growing range northward and into major northeast metro areas, worsening conditions for millions of people with hay fever and asthma.