ScienceDaily Botany News
Botany news. Read about the latest research on experimental crops, dramatic changes in forest growth, ancient flowering plants and more.
Updated: 14 hours 41 min ago
By engineering plants that emitted sex pheromones that mimic those naturally produced by two species of moths, researchers have demonstrated that an effective, environmentally friendly, plant-based method of insect control is possible. While a proof-of-concept experiment, engineering plants to be insect pheromone-producing factories creates an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides as well as an easier and less expensive method of synthesizing insect pheromones
It has long been known that, in the form of free ions, silver particles can be highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Yet to this day, there is a lack of detailed knowledge about the doses required to trigger a response and how the organisms deal with this kind of stress. In the past, silver mostly found its way into the environment in the vicinity of silver mines or via wastewater emanating from the photo industry. More recently, silver nanoparticles have become commonplace in many applications -- as ingredients in cosmetics, food packaging, disinfectants, and functional clothing. To learn more about the cellular processes that occur in the cells, scientists subjected algae to a range of silver concentrations.
The appropriate concentration of flurprimidol for the 'orange tiger' tiger lily has been evaluated by scientists, who tested for residual effects of flurprimidol the following year. These researchers found that flurprimidol used at optimal concentrations does not affect plant growth or flowering during the second season. The team also found differential responses to flurprimidol for three other tiger lily cultivars, and recommended that growers conduct preplant bulb soak trials to determine optimal concentrations before applying flurprimidol to an entire crop.
The use of rapeseed cake in the production of livestock feed cuts methane and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 13%, according to the initial results of new research. Specifically, the incorporation of this oilseed plant into animal food cuts methane emissions by between 6% and 13% and carbon dioxide emissions by between 6.8% and 13.6%. The advantages of using this plant start from its use as a rotation crop, because it is capable of increasing cereal productivity and improving soil structure. Once it has been harvested, rapeseed can be used as a biofuel and added to diesel in varying proportions after simple cold pressing.
Silver gone astray: What concentration of silver ions disrupts biological processes in aquatic life?
It has long been known that, in the form of free ions, silver particles can be highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Yet to this day, there is a lack of detailed knowledge about the doses required to trigger a response and how the organisms deal with this kind of stress. To learn more about the cellular processes that occur in the cells, scientists subjected algae to a range of silver concentrations.
Several types of aquatic algae can detect orange, green and blue light, according to new research. Land plants have receptors to detect light on the red and far red of the spectrum, which are the common wavelengths in the air. These plants sense the light to move and grow as their environment changes, for example when another plant shades them from the sun. But in the ocean, the water absorbs red wavelengths, instead reflecting colors such as blue and green. Scientists have now sequenced about 20 different marine algae and found they were capable of detecting not only red light, but also many other colors.
Like a kindergarten or a busy airport where cold viruses and other germs circulate freely, flowers are common gathering places where pollinators such as bees and butterflies can pick up fungal, bacterial or viral infections that might be as benign as the sniffles or as debilitating as influenza. A recent survey of scientific literature has identified this issue as a promising area for future research: how floral traits influence pathogen transmission. 'Given recent concerns about pollinator declines caused in part by pathogens, the role of floral traits in mediating pathogen transmission is a key area for further research,' authors of the new article conclude.
Producing second-generation biofuel from dead plant tissue is environmentally friendly -- but it is also expensive because the process, as used today, needs expensive enzymes, and large companies dominate this market. Now scientists have a new technique that avoids the expensive enzymes. The production of second generation biofuels thus becomes cheaper, probably attracting many more producers and competition, and this may finally bring the price down.
A multi-institutional team reports that it can increase sugarcane's geographic range, boost its photosynthetic rate by 30 percent and turn it into an oil-producing crop for biodiesel production.
Recovering from natural disasters usually means rebuilding infrastructure and reassembling human lives. Yet ecologically sensitive areas need to heal, too, and scientists are pioneering new methods to assess nature's recovery and guide human intervention. A new study focused on the epicenter of China's devastating Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, a globally important valuable biodiversity hotspot and home to the beloved and endangered giant pandas. Not only did the quake devastate villages and roads, but the earth split open and swallowed sections of the forests and bamboo groves that shelter and feed pandas and other endangered wildlife. The study indicated that forest restoration after natural disasters should not only consider the forest itself, but also take into account the animals inhabiting the ecosystem and human livelihoods.
Placing seedpods in a pearl net, tethered by a rope but allowed to sway with the tides, may be an especially effective way of restoring eelgrass meadows. The resulting crop of eelgrass grown for this study was as genetically diverse as the beds from which the seeds were harvested, which researchers say can make restoration efforts more likely to succeed. The emphasis on genetic diversity is a relatively new concern in ecosystem restoration projects, where there has been an understandable urgency to move plants and animals back into an area as quickly as possible.
Plant roots and certain human membrane systems resist chemical transport in much the same way, say researchers. This similarity could make it easier to assess chemical risks for both people and plants, and may even lead to a new approach to testing medications. "A plant's root is similar to the blood-brain barrier and intestine of humans," say the researchers. "It's amazing when you think about it -- plants and animals evolved separately but somehow developed comparable structures to control transport of water and dissolved chemicals."
An efficient approach for sequencing hundreds of nuclear genes across members of the Compositae (sunflower family) has now been developed, to better-resolve phylogenetic relationships within the family, as well as a bioinformatic workflow for processing and analyzing the resulting sequence data. This method can be applied to any taxonomic group of interest and could serve as a model for phylogenetic investigations of other major plant groups.
The protein essential for relocating cytokinins from roots to shoots has now been identified. The regulating hormone distribution mechanisms in plants have been identified before, but there was a poor understanding of how they worked. This new research could lead to sustainable bioenergy crops with increased growth and reduced needs for fertilizer.
Scientists have overturned a long-standing hypothesis about plant speciation (the formation of new and distinct species in the course of evolution), suggesting that agricultural crops could be more vulnerable to climate change than was previously thought.
Scientists use measurements from airborne lasers to gauge changes in the height of trees in the forest. Tree height tells them things like how much carbon is being stored. But what accounts for height changes over time -- vertical growth or overtopping by a taller tree? A new statistical model helps researchers figure out what's really happening on the ground.
Duckweed is a tiny floating plant that's been known to drive people daffy. It's one of the smallest and fastest-growing flowering plants that often becomes a hard-to-control weed in ponds and small lakes. But it's also been exploited to clean contaminated water and as a source to produce pharmaceuticals. Now, the genome of Greater Duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza) has given this miniscule plant's potential as a biofuel source a big boost.
In a striking case of pathogen transfer involving the bacteria responsible for human acne, P. acnes, scientists report on a new type of P. acnes which exploits grapevines, dubbing it P. acnes type Zappae. They named the bacterium after the Italian term 'zappa,' meaning, hoe, as well as a tribute to eclectic composer Frank Zappa. This is the first evidence ever of human-to-plant obligate transfer and gives new perspective of bacteria host transfer between humans and domesticated plants.
As every gardener knows, nitrogen is crucial for a plant's growth. But nitrogen absorption is inefficient. This means that on the scale of food crops, adding significant levels of nitrogen to the soil through fertilizer presents a number of problems, particularly river and groundwater pollution. As a result, finding a way to improve nitrogen uptake in agricultural products could improve yields and decrease risks to environmental and human health.
An international team of anthropologists has discovered definitive evidence of the environment inhabited by the early ape Proconsul on Rusinga Island, Kenya. The findings provide new insights into understanding and interpreting the connection between habitat preferences and the early diversification of the ape-human lineage.