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Plant Science

Bucket brigades and proton gates: Researchers shed new light on water’s role in photosynthesis

By | News, Plant Science

Photosystem II is a protein in plants, algae and cyanobacteria that uses sunlight to break water down into its atomic components, unlocking hydrogen and oxygen. A longstanding question about this process is how water molecules are funneled into the center of Photosystem II, where water is split to produce the oxygen we breathe. A better understanding of this process could inform the next generation of artificial photosynthetic systems that produce clean and renewable energy from sunlight and water. 

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Africa’s “Green Wall” also makes economic sense

By | News, Plant Science

Years ago, the African Union decided on an ambitious program: degraded ecosystems in parts of the Sahel are to be successively restored in order to secure food for the people living there and to protect the soil against further degradation. At the same time, the African Great Green Wall is an important contribution to combating climate change. A study now shows that it also makes economic sense – although not everywhere in the Sahel. The analysis also shows how much violent conflicts threaten the success of the program.

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Scientists have developed new gene-edited barley that could better your beer

By | Agriculture, News, Plant Science

After a spell of unexpected rain, before the harvest season, a farmer may be faced with the unpredictable problem of untimely sprouting of barley. Sprouted barley fetches considerably low market prices and poses an economic burden on farmers and corporations that are at the mercy of nature to survive in the agriculture industry. The aggravation of climate change has not made this situation any better too.

The problem of pre-harvest sprouting, thus, has kept agricultural researchers occupied for long. Pre-harvest sprouting can be avoided by prolonged grain dormancy through genetic manipulation. However, such dormancy can interfere with malt production, and also cause non-uniform germination upon sowing. Balancing these issues is necessary for high-quality barley production, therefore.

Now, a team of scientists, offers a solution to this age-old problem.

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Research Finds Key Advances Towards Reducing the Cost of Plant Improvement

By | News, Plant Science

valuable trait. Some major examples of crops with these so-called “transgenes” include disease-resistant cotton and beta-carotene-enhanced golden rice. However, when foreign DNA is introduced into a host organism, a natural defensive response in plants is to repress or silence the expression of the unfamiliar genetic material. This “silencing,” a process known to involve DNA methylation, is a multimillion-dollar problem in the global agricultural improvement industry.

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Studying plant’s protective hair reveals metabolic innovation

By | News, Plant Science

Plants are master chemists, producing a dazzling array of molecules that are valuable to humans, including vitamins, pharmaceuticals and flavorings. The largest and most diverse group of molecules are known as specialized metabolites. Some metabolites attract beneficial insects and others repel or kill herbivore insects that feed on plants or pathogenic microbes. Some of these metabolites are poised for action at the surface of the plant, being made in trichomes, which are small hairs on stems, leaves and flowers. Unfortunately, these natural defenses are often missing from crop plants, having been lost during domestication or advanced breeding.

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Comparing photosynthetic differences between wild and domesticated rice

By | Agriculture, News, Plant Science

Millions of people in Asia are dependent on rice as a food source. Believed to have been domesticated as early as 6000 BCE, rice is an important source of calories globally. In a new study, researchers compared domesticated rice to its wild counterparts to understand the differences in their photosynthetic capabilities. The results can help improve future rice productivity.

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Quillwort genome highlights divergences in aquatic CAM photosynthesis

By | News, Plant Science

The humble quillworts are an ancient group of about 250 small, aquatic plants that have largely been ignored by modern botanists. A group of researchers have sequenced the first quillwort genome and uncovered some secrets of the plant’s unique method of photosynthesis — secrets that could eventually lead to the engineering of crops with more efficient use of water and carbon dioxide.

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How bread wheat got its gluten: Tracing the impact of a long-lost relative on modern bread wheat

By | Agriculture, News, Plant Science

Genetic detective work has uncovered an obscure ancestor of modern bread wheat, in a finding similar to uncovering a famous long-lost relative through DNA analysis in humans. Researchers have sequenced the DNA from 242 unique accessions of Aegilops tauschii gathered over decades from across its native range – from Turkey to Central Asia.

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