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New discoveries of the way plants transport important substances across their biological membranes to resist toxic metals and pests, increase salt and drought tolerance, control water loss and store sugar can have profound implications for increasing the supply of food and energy for our rapidly growing global population.
Why do rose petals have rounded ends while their leaves are more pointed? Scientists have revealed that the shape of petals is controlled by a hidden map located within the plant's growing buds.
Two-thirds of all forest inventory plots in the Northeast and Midwestern United States contain at least one non-native plant species, a new US Forest Service study found. The study across two dozen states from North Dakota to Maine can help land managers pinpoint areas on the landscape where invasive plants might take root.
In the spring following a forest fire, trees that survived the blaze explode in new growth and plants sprout in abundance from the scorched earth. For centuries, it was a mystery how seeds, some long dormant in the soil, knew to push through the ashes to regenerate the burned forest.
Sperm cell release can be triggered by tightening the grip around the delivery organ, according to a team of nano and microsystems engineers and plant biologists.
Researchers have digitized 106 years of growth data on the birth, growth and death of individual plants on Tumamoc Hill in Tucson, Ariz., making the information available for study by people all over the world. The permanent research plots on the University of Arizona's Tumamoc Hill represent the world's longest-running study that monitors individual plants. Knowing how plants respond to changing conditions over many decades provides new insights into how ecosystems behave.
Scientists have developed a physical map of wheat's wild ancestor, Aegilops tauschii, commonly called goatgrass. It's the first huge step toward sequencing the wheat genome -- a complete look at wheat's genetic matter. The work showed among other things, that most resistance genes seem to lie at the ends of chromosomes and can be easily accessed. The findings can lead to breeding of more productive and sustainable wheat varieties.
North America isn’t known as a hotspot for crop plant diversity, yet a new inventory has uncovered nearly 4,600 wild relatives of crop plants in the United States, including close relatives of globally important food crops such as sunflower, bean, sweet potato, and strawberry.
A smart combination of different crops, such as beans and maize, can significantly cut the use of crop protection agents and at the same time reduce the need for fertilizers. Integrating ecological knowledge from nature with knowledge of crops opens up the prospect of a sustainable strategy that will increase yield per hectare at reduced environmental costs.
The European Union cannot meet its goals in agricultural policy without embracing genetically engineered crops. That's the conclusion of scientists based on case studies showing that the EU is undermining its own competitiveness in the agricultural sector to its own detriment and that of its humanitarian activities in the developing world.
Cellulose goes off the rails: Without microtubule guidance, cellulose causes changes in organ patterns during growth
Mathematics is everywhere in nature, and this is illustrated by the spiral patterns in plants such as pine cones, sunflowers or the arrangement of leaves around a stem. Most plants produce a new bud at 137 degrees from its predecessor, and this mathematical precision leads to observable helices. Normally, the relative position of organs does not change during growth, because the stems grow straight. But if the connection between the cytoskeleton and cellulose is removed, the cellulose fibres are synthesized in a tilted fashion and the stems start to twist. As a result, the angle between successive flowers disappears, and is instead replaced by other mathematical patterns that prove to be equally robust. Incidentally, this work suggests that in the absence of regulation, all plant stems should twist rather than grow straight.
Scientists have used hybridized forage grass to combine fast root growth and efficient soil water retention. Field experiments show Festulolium cultivar reduces water runoff by up to 51 percent against nationally-recommended cultivar. Potential for the hybrid to capture more water and reduce runoff and likelihood of flood generation.
Ants play a variety of important roles in many ecosystems. As frequent visitors to flowers, they can benefit plants in their role as pollinators when they forage on sugar-rich nectar. However, a new study reveals that this mutualistic relationship may actually have some hidden costs.
Scientists create the first model of legume iron transportation aimed at maximizing nitrogen fixation, even in poor soil.
The water-filled pool within a pitcher plant, it turns out, is a tiny ecosystem whose inner workings are similar to those of a full-scale water body. Whether small carnivorous plant or huge lake, both are subject to the same ecological "tipping points," of concern on Earth Day -- and every day, say scientists.
Scientists have discovered why Heteroxenia corals pulsate. Their work resolves an old scientific mystery.
Ant family tree constructed: Confirms date of evolutionary origin, underscores importance of Neotropics
Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the higher species numbers in the tropics, but these hypotheses have never been tested for the ants, which are one of the most ecologically and numerically dominant groups of animals on the planet. New research is helping answer these questions.
A new global-scale modeling study that takes into account nitrogen -- a key nutrient for plants -- estimates that carbon emissions from human activities on land were 40 percent higher in the 1990s than in studies that did not account for nitrogen. Plant regrowth -- and therefore carbon assimilation by plants -- is limited by nitrogen availability, causing other studies to overestimate regrowth and underestimate net emissions from the harvest-regrowth cycle.
Biocontrol programs use an invasive plant's natural enemies (insects and pathogens) to reduce its population. Most biocontrol programs combine many different enemies. Some combinations of enemy species can actually end up competing or interfering with each other, instead of attacking the weed.
Hydrogen sulfide greatly enhances plant growth: Key ingredient in mass extinctions could boost food, biofuel production
In low doses, hydrogen sulfide, a substance implicated in several mass extinctions, could greatly enhance plant growth, leading to a sharp increase in global food supplies and plentiful stock for biofuel production, new research shows.