Plant Science

Image: wheat spikes. Credit: Hans / Pixabay

Simple trick could improve accuracy of plant genetics research

By | News, Plant Science

A recent study highlights the significance of artificial spike-ins in RNA analysis. Researchers discovered that plant transcriptional activity varies significantly depending on the time of day, with higher activity observed at night. This novel technique promises to enhance accuracy in understanding global transcription dynamics, offering insights crucial for advancing plant research.

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Image: Keerti Rathore stands in his lab with ultra-low gossypol cotton plants that were created using RNA interference, a gene-silencing technique. Credit: Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Beth Luedeker

Natural tech for ‘dimming’ genes brings transformative potential to agriculture

By | Agriculture, News, Plant Science

Advancements in RNA interference (RNAi) technology are revolutionizing agriculture, offering precise gene-silencing capabilities akin to dimming a light switch rather than turning it off completely like CRISPR. RNAi, a natural defense mechanism in organisms, enables targeted gene modification, enhancing crop traits and reducing reliance on pesticides. Exciting applications include virus-resistant papaya and low-toxicity cottonseed, marking a sustainable shift in global food production. As regulatory acceptance grows, RNAi promises safer, more efficient agricultural practices, heralding a future of enhanced food security and environmental stewardship.

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Image: A bushel of tomatoes at the CSHL Uplands Farm. Credit: CSHL

An evolutionary mystery 125 million years in the making

By | Botany, News, Plant Science

Over 125 million years of evolution, plants like tomatoes and Arabidopsis thaliana have developed distinct genetic regulatory systems, influencing traits like fruit size. Researchers found mutating regulatory DNA around the CLV3 gene affects growth differently in each species. Understanding these evolutionary mysteries could revolutionize crop engineering, benefiting farmers worldwide.

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Image: The newly discovered plant Relictithismia kimotsukiensis probably diverged at an early stage in the evolution of the whole family and retains ancestral characteristics. This history is reflected in the plant’s name. Credit: SUETSUGU Kenji (CC BY) 

Researchers discover a new plant species whose name tells a story

By | Botany, News, Plant Science

In a botanical breakthrough, researchers unveil a new plant species, Relictithismia kimotsukiensis, discovered in Kimotsuki, Kagoshima Prefecture. Divergent from Tanuki-no-shokudai, it constitutes a new genus within the Thismiaceae family, signifying a rare find in Japan’s well-explored botanical landscape. With environmental threats looming, further ecological research becomes imperative.

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Image: Syntrichia ruralis moss. Credit: Jenna T. B. Ekwealor

Drying Without Dying: Tracing Water Scarcity Coping Mechanisms from Mosses to Flowering Plants

By | Botany, News, Plant Science

In a groundbreaking study, researchers unravel the evolutionary secrets behind plants’ ability to survive harsh drought conditions. Exploring moss resilience mechanisms, akin to crop seed dormancy, sheds light on a 450-million-year-old adaptation. Insights could revolutionize crop resilience amidst climate change, offering hope for a greener future.

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Image: Leaf with herbivores. Credit: Lisa Hülsmann

Overcrowding increases tree mortality, perhaps explaining higher biodiversity in tropical forests

By | Forestry, News, Plant Science

New research reveals that tree mortality increases with overcrowding, especially in tropical forests. The study, involving 52 scientists worldwide, suggests specialized pathogens or herbivores as culprits. These findings shed light on why tropical forests harbor more species and underscore the importance of long-term forest studies for biodiversity conservation.

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