Plant news from around the world
Scientists are working toward a simple, practical way to remediate mine waste laced with copper and other toxic elements. And they are shedding light on the inner workings of the plants and bacteria that do the cleanup.
Soybean improvement through plant breeding has been critical over the years for the success of the crop. In a new study that traces the genetic changes in varieties over the last 80 years of soybean breeding, researchers concluded that increases in yield gains and an increased rate of gains over the years are largely due to the continual release of greater-yielding cultivars by breeders.
The banana variety Yangambi km5 produces toxic substances that kill the nematode Radopholus similis, a roundworm that infects the root tissue of banana plants -- to the frustration of farmers worldwide. The finding bodes well for the Grande Naine, the export banana par excellence, which is very susceptible to the roundworms.
Is it possible to improve tolerance of trees to high temperatures and other types of stress derived of climate change? Scientists are studying the tolerance of trees using molecular and biotechnological tools. Biologists succeeding in making popular trees significantly more tolerant to high temperatures, drought, and the presence of weed-killers.
It is with great sadness that the Botanic Garden Meise announces the passing of Gert Ausloos (24/02/1967 – 02/03/2014), head of public awareness, member of the management committee and scientific council.
Exposing leafy vegetables grown during spaceflight to a few bright pulses of light daily could increase the amount of eye-protecting nutrients produced by the plants, according to a new study.
Teaching crop plants to concentrate carbon dioxide in their leaves could increase photosynthetic efficiency by 60 percent and yields by as much as 40 percent, researchers report in a new study. The team used a computer model to simulate how adding genes from algae known as cyanobacteria might influence photosynthetic efficiency in plants.
Complex plant behavior? In fight against parasites, Barberry sacrifices seeds depending on survival chance
Plants appear to be able to make complex decisions. At least this is what scientists have concluded from their investigations on Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), which is able to abort its own seeds to prevent parasite infestation. The results are the first ecological evidence of complex behavior in plants. They indicate that this species has a structural memory, is able to differentiate between inner and outer conditions as well as anticipate future risks, scientists say.
In many ways, plants act as chemical factories, using energy from sunlight to produce carbon-based energy and taking nutrients from the soil. How much does the portfolio of chemicals generated by plants vary, depending on the surrounding environment, and what can this tell us about how we interact with forests? To answer, scientists climbed into the Amazonian canopy and discovered that the forest's chemical portfolios form a rich mosaic varying with elevation and soil content.
In the Western Amazon—arguably the world's most biodiverse region—scientists have found that not only is the forest super-rich in species, but also in chemicals. Climbing into the canopy of thousands of trees across 19 different forests in the region—from the lowland Amazon to high Andean cloud forests—the researchers sampled chemical signatures from canopy leaves and were surprised by the levels of diversity uncovered.
The bark of the Amur cork tree has traveled a centuries-long road with the healing arts. Now it is being put through its paces by science in the fight against pancreatic cancer, with the potential to make inroads against several more. Researchers were already exploring the cork tree extract's promise in treating prostate cancer when the team found that deadly pancreatic cancers share some similar development pathways with prostate tumors. The potential of natural substances to treat and cure disease has great appeal, but the advantage of cork tree extract, available as a dietary supplement in capsule form, is that it already has been established as safe for use in patients.
Spanish forest ecosystems will probably emit high quantities of carbon dioxide in the second half of the 21st century. This is the conclusion of a report that reviews the results obtained from the implementation of a forest simulation model that serves as a tool to simulate forest growth processes under several environmental conditions and to optimize Mediterranean forests management strategies in the context of climate change.
A new way of measuring how much light a plant can tolerate could be useful in growing crops resilient to a changing climate, according to scientists.
Color is crucial in ecological studies, playing an important role in studies of flower and fruit development, responses to heat/drought stress, and plant–pollinator communication. But, measuring color variation is difficult, and available formulas sometimes give misleading results. An improved formula to calculate hue (one of three variables characterizing color) has now been developed.
Wildfires, although seemingly destructive, play an important role in plant ecosystems. In ecosystems where it occurs regularly, exposure to fire may initiate seed germination or enhance plant growth. Compounds released as plant tissue burns can break seed dormancy and stimulate germination. In a new article, an efficient system to produce smoke solutions is described to aid investigation of the role of smoke compounds in seed germination and seedling growth.
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome is the most expensive and invasive disease for pig producers on a global scale. Though it is not occurring on every farm, it is the biggest disease problem in the pig industry, said an animal sciences researcher.
Plants, like animals, employ hormones as messengers, which coordinate growth and regulate how they react to the environment. One of these plant hormones, auxin, regulates nearly all aspects of plant behavior and development, for example phototropism, root growth and fruit growth. Depending on the context, auxin elicits a range of responses such as cell polarization or division. Scientists now report finding the molecular mechanism by which the plant hormone auxin affects the organization of the cell's inner skeletons.
Literal biodiversity reservoirs, coral reefs and associated ecosystems are in grave danger from natural and human-made disturbances. The latest World Resources Institute assessment is alarming with 75% of coral reefs reported as endangered worldwide, a figure that may reach 100% by 2050. The numbers are concerning, particularly as coral reefs provide sustenance and economic benefits for many developing countries and fish biodiversity on coral reefs partly determines the biomass available for human consumption.
Zebra chip disease in potatoes is currently being managed by controlling the potato psyllid with insecticides. But one specialist is trying to manage the disease symptoms with alternative methods and chemistries.
Cowpeas, known as black-eyed peas in the U.S., are an important and versatile food legume grown in more than 80 countries. Scientists are working to map the genes controlling drought and heat tolerance in recent varieties. Cowpeas were chosen for the study because they are a high protein grain, vegetable, fodder and high nitrogen-fixing legume that can be intercropped with corn, cotton and other crops in many countries. The drought and heat tolerant genes, once defined and cloned, are expected to significantly advance understanding of the molecular basis underlying plant tolerances to these stresses.