While rain is essential for the survival of plants, it also contains bacteria and other pathogens which can cause them harm. So how do plants protect themselves from this threat?
Life on Earth runs in 24-hour cycles. From tiny bacteria to human beings, organisms adapt to alterations of day and night. External factors, such as changes in light and temperature, are needed to entrain the clock. Many metabolic processes are controlled by the endogenous clock. Scientists have now studied the molecular rhythms of the endogenous clock in the “green lineage”.
A recent publication provides results of the first-ever study to test genomic selection in breeding for resistance to wheat blast, a deadly disease caused by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae that is spreading from its origin in Brazil to threaten wheat crops in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
AfricaBP recently published a position paper highlighting the goals, priorities and roadmap of the impressive Africa-led effort to sequence the genomes of plants, animals, fungi and protists that are endemic to Africa.
You can’t see it, but different substances in the petals of flowers create a “bulls-eye” for pollinating insects. Now research sheds light on chemical changes in flowers which helps them respond to environmental changes, including climate change, that might threaten their survival.
The seeds of a plant are relatively well protected against harmful environmental influences, while a seedling is very vulnerable. Therefore, plants in the early stage of development must closely control their seed germination: In time windows with good conditions they germinate very quickly, while in unfavorable conditions they effectively suppress seed germination. Incident light, which the plants perceive through a group of photoreceptors called phytochromes, plays a central role in this process.
Witchweed is considered by the United Nations to be a major impediment to poverty alleviation in Africa. The parasite attacks major cereal crops such as maize, sorghum, millet, sweetcorn and rice, latching on to their roots and draining the host of moisture and nutrients. Witchweed can lead to significant crop losses and can sometimes wipe out entire harvests. Damage to agriculture in Africa caused by the plant is estimated at approximately US$9 billion a year, with infestations affecting the lives of over 100 million people in 25 countries.
A team of researchers affiliated with a large number of institutions in China and one in Germany has found that turning off a certain gene in corn and rice can lead to improvements in crop yields. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes mapping the genomes of both plants as a way to search for genes associated with grain yield using CRISPR gene editing to improve yields in test crops.
Researchers have analyzed the mechanisms by which estuarine plants absorb iron, and used their findings to recommend a promising phytoremediation technique for the rehabilitation of water and soil contaminated by environmental disasters such as the 2015 collapse of the Fundão iron mine tailings dam in Mariana, Minas Gerais state (Southeast Brazil).