Image: Soil profile of a test field: - Samples the size of a brick were taken from the soil at different depths and the roots were then isolated, scanned and measured.  Credit: Johannes Siebigteroth / University of Bonn

Agriculture study delivers unexpected results: Cover crops and roots

By | Agriculture, Fruits and Vegetables, News

Farmers usually plant so-called cover crops after harvesting their main crop in the Fall. This prevents erosion of the soil and nutrient leaching. The roots of these crops also stabilize the structure of the soil. It had been assumed up to now that a mixture of different cover crops would result in particularly intensive rooting. However, a recent study found only limited evidence that this is the case. Instead, mixed cover crops grow thinner roots than when just one single type of cover crop is planted. This result was unexpected. It documents how little is currently understood about the interactions between plant roots.

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Rafflesia banaoana. Credit: Chris Thorogood

Researchers issue urgent call to save the world’s largest flower -Rafflesia – from extinction

By | Botany, News, Plant Science

An international group of scientists has issued an urgent call for coordinated action to save the iconic genus Rafflesia, which contains the world’s largest flowers. This follows a new study which found that most of the 42 species are severely threatened, yet just one of these is listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species. Furthermore, over two thirds (67%) of the plants’ habitats are unprotected and at risk of destruction.

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Microscope image of one of the closest algal relatives of land plants, a single-celled alga called Mesotaenium endlicherianum (20 micrometres corresponds to 0.02 millimetres). Credit: Tatyana Darienko

Algae provide clues about 600 million years of plant evolution

By | News, Plant Science

The Earth’s surface is covered by plants. They make up the majority of biomass on land and exhibit a wide range of diversity, from mosses to trees. This astounding biodiversity came into existence due to a fateful evolutionary event that happened just once: plant terrestrialization. This describes the point where one group of algae, whose modern descendants can still be studied in the lab, evolved into plants and invaded land around the world. An international group of researchers generated large scale gene expression data to investigate the molecular networks that operate in one of the closest algal relatives of land plants, a humble single-celled alga called Mesotaenium endlicherianum.

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Image:  Cabbage white caterpillar eating an oilseed rape plant. Credit: Benjamin Fuchs/University of Turku

Fungal–plant symbiosis offers a promising tool to boost crop resilience

By | Agriculture, Fruits and Vegetables, News, Plant Health

Researchers inoculated oilseed rape plants with a species of fungus that is known for its ability to combat pest insects. Utilising the relationship between beneficial fungi and crop plants may introduce a new era of agriculture where the plant resilience is improved and the ecological footprint of traditional/chemical pesticides is minimised.

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