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New research accurately predicts Australian wheat yield months before harvest

Topping the list of Australia’s major crops, wheat is grown on more than half the country’s cropland and is a key export commodity. With so much riding on wheat, accurate yield forecasting is necessary to predict regional and global food security and commodity markets. A new study published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology shows machine-learning methods can accurately predict wheat yield for the country two months before the crop matures.


Scientists Create New Genomic Resource for Improving Tomatoes

Tomato breeders have traditionally emphasized traits that improve production, like larger fruits and more fruits per plant. As a result, some traits that improved other important qualities, such as flavor and disease resistance, were lost.


A late-night disco in the forest re­veals tree per­form­ance

A group of researchers from the University of Helsinki has found a groundbreaking new method to facilitate the observation of photosynthetic dynamics in vegetation. This finding brings us one step closer to remote sensing of terrestrial carbon sinks and vegetation health.


New research shows community forest management reduces both deforestation and poverty

Giving local communities in Nepal the opportunity to manage their forests has simultaneously reduced deforestation and poverty in the region, new research has shown.


Dehesa health starts from the ground up

University of Cordoba research analyzes how changes in the structure of soil microbiota affect holm oak decline


Plants and the art of microbial maintenance

It’s been known for centuries that plants produce a diverse array of medically-valuable chemicals in their roots.


Location is everything for plant cell differentiation

While the fate of most human cells is determined by their lineage—for example, renal stem cells go on to form the kidney while cardiac progenitor cells form the heart—plant cells are a little more flexible. Research shows that although they undergo orderly division during growth, the fate of plant cells is often determined by their location in the growing plant rather than how they started out. Intriguingly, this suggests that plant cells recognize where they are and can alter gene activity in response to their location.


Essential tool for precision farming: new method for photochemical reflectance index measurement

Scientists at Lobachevsky University have proved the possibility of using yellow-green light pulses to measure the photochemical reflectance index and to estimate the amount of light stress in agricultural plants


Seed Abortion and the Role of RNA Pol IV in Seed Development

Abortion of seeds with extra genomes is caused by the enzyme RNA Pol IV


Climate extremes explain 18%-43% of global crop yield variations

Researchers from Australia, Germany, Switzerland and the US have quantified the effect of climate extremes, such as droughts or heatwaves, on the yield variability of staple crops around the world.


The hunger gaps: how flowering times affect farmland bees

For the very first time, researchers from the University of Bristol have measured farmland nectar supplies throughout the whole year and revealed hungry gaps when food supply is not meeting pollinator demand. This novel finding reveals new ways of making farmland better for pollinators, benefitting the many crop plants and wildflowers that depend on them.


Scientists see fingerprint of warming climate on droughts going back to 1900

In an unusual new study, scientists say they have detected the fingerprint of human-driven global warming on patterns of drought and moisture across the world as far back as 1900. Rising temperatures are well documented back at least that far, but this is the first time researchers have identified resulting long-term global effects on the water supplies that feed crops and cities. Among the observations, the researchers documented drying of soils across much of populous North America, central America, Eurasia and the Mediterranean. Other areas, including the Indian subcontinent, have become wetter. They say the trends will continue, with severe consequences for humans. The study appears in the leading journal Nature.


How plant viruses can be used to ward off pests and keep plants healthy

Imagine a technology that could target pesticides to treat specific spots deep within the soil, making them more effective at controlling infestations while limiting their toxicity to the environment.


Plant discovery opens frontiers

University of Adelaide researchers have discovered a biochemical mechanism fundamental to plant life that could have far-reaching implications for the multibillion dollar biomedical, pharmaceutical, chemical and biotechnology industries.


‘Exotic’ genes may improve cotton yield and quality

Cotton breeders face a “Catch-22.” Yield from cotton crops is inversely related to fiber quality. In general, as yield improves, fiber quality decreases, and vice-versa. “This is one of the most significant challenges for cotton breeders,” says Peng Chee, a researcher at the University of Georgia.


Excessive rainfall as damaging to corn yield as extreme heat, drought

Recent flooding in the Midwest has brought attention to the complex agricultural problems associated with too much rain. Data from the past three decades suggest that excessive rainfall can affect crop yield as much as excessive heat and drought. In a new study, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Illinois linked crop insurance, climate, soil and corn yield data from 1981 through 2016.


Scientists Reveal the Relationship Between Root Microbiome and Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Rice

A collaborative team led by Prof. BAI Yang and Prof. CHU Chengcai from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), recently examined the variation in root microbiota within 68 indica and 27 japonica rice varieties grown in field conditions. They revealed that the indica and japonica varieties recruited distinct root microbiota.


New avenues for improving modern wheat

Since the Agricultural Revolution about 12,000 years ago, humans have been selectively breeding plants with desirable traits such as high grain yield and disease resistance. Over time, Triticum aestivum, otherwise known as bread wheat, has emerged as one of the world's most important crops. Together with the growing human population and the changing climate, the demand for wheat with a higher yield and additional resilience is increasing.


Close relatives can coexist: two flower species show us how

Scientists have discovered how two closely-related species of Asiatic dayflower can coexist in the wild despite their competitive relationship. Through a combination of field surveys and artificial pollination experiments, the new study shows that while reproductive interference exists between the two species, Commelina communis and Commelina communis forma ciliata, both can counter the negative effects of this interference through self-fertilization.


New discovery could alleviate salty soil symptoms in food crops

New research published in Nature Scientific Reports has found that a hormone produced by plants under stress can be applied to crops to alleviate the damage caused by salty soils. The team of researchers from Western Sydney University and the University of Queensland identified a naturally-occurring chemical in plants that reduces the symptoms of salt stress in plants when applied to soil, enabling the test plants to increase their growth by up to 32 times compared with untreated plants.


Early spring: Predicting budburst with genetics

Although climate skeptics might find it hard to believe with this year’s endless snow and freezing temperatures, climate change is making warm, sunny early springs increasingly common. And that affects when trees start to leaf out. But how much? In a study published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Simon Joly, biology professor at Université de Montréal and Elizabeth Wolkovich, an ecology professor at University of British Columbia, showed that a plant's genetics can be used to produce more accurate predictions of when its leaves will burst bud in spring.


Can sweet potatoes save the world?

Some foods are known as seasonal wonders, making an appearance only once or twice a year when families gather for holiday feasts. Cranberry sauce, pecan pie, eggnog. Sweet potatoes, typically with tiny marshmallows roasted on top, were once on that list. But sweet potatoes are on the rise. They have become increasingly recognized as a superfood packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, and are now enjoyed throughout the year — in upscale restaurants, as a healthier alternative to French fries, and in products as varied as vodka, sausage and muffins.


Banana disease boosted by climate change

Climate change has raised the risk of a fungal disease that ravages banana crops, new research shows.


Wax Helps Plants to Survive in the Desert

The leaves of date palms can heat up to temperatures around 50 degrees Celsius. They survive thanks to a unique wax mixture that is essential for the existence in the desert.


Tomato, Tomat-oh! Understanding evolution to reduce pesticide use

Although pesticides are a standard part of crop production, Michigan State University researchers believe pesticide use could be reduced by taking cues from wild plants.


Risk and unnaturalness cannot justify EU’s strict policy on GMO

The EU’s policy on GMO is extremely strict and prevents new GMO crops from being authorized. The policy is based on arguments about the risk and unnaturalness of GMO plants – but these arguments cannot justify the restrictive regulation, three researchers conclude in a new study in the journal Transgenic Research. They also conclude that the use of GMO plants is consistent with the principles of organic farming.


Research sheds light on genomic features that make plants good candidates for domestication

New research published identifies the genomic features that might have made domestication possible for corn and soybeans, two of the world’s most critical crop species.


With Flower Preferences, Bees Have a Big Gap Between the Sexes

For scores of wild bee species, females and males visit very different flowers for food – a discovery that could be important for conservation efforts, according to Rutgers-led research.


Plant signals trigger remarkable bacterial transformation

Cycad plant roots release signals into the soil that triggers the transformation of bacteria into its motile form, helping them move to the plant roots and establish a symbiotic partnership.


Targeting how fungi ‘taste’ wheat could be key to developing control

Exploring how a hazardous fungal pathogen ‘tastes’ its surroundings within a wheat plant to coordinate virulence could be the key to developing new control strategies, scientists believe.