Carl Bernacchi works on a crop heating array control system.  |  University of Illinois photo

CO2 and temperature challenge photosynthesis

Heat may impair the enzymes that drive photosynthesis, hindering plants’ abilities to regulate carbon uptake and water loss

A recent scientific review explored how rising temperatures can affect plant uptake of carbon dioxide. CO2 drives plant productivity, but excessive heat could reduce the efficiency of enzymes driving photosynthesis, which may hinder the plant ability to regulate carbon uptake and water loss, impacting crop yields. The effect of one can complicate the function of […] Read more

Soybeans are particularly sensitive to ozone because they are fast growing and have a relatively large leaf area. | File photo

Soy modelling tracks ozone damage

An improved modelling system can more accurately help predict the impact of ozone on soybean production. The modelling has been developed by researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. It was initiated because surface ozone (O3), as a pollutant, can reduce the rate of photosynthesis, limit yields, and limit the rate of […] Read more

Florence Danila of Australian National University’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis has discovered how plants improve photosynthesis by trapping carbon dioxide inside cell layers. | ANU photo

Molecule traps carbon dioxide in leaf tissue

Researchers think adding suberin to plants that don’t have this ability could increase their yields by 30 to 50 percent

Scientists at the Australian National University in Canberra along with international partners have discovered that the molecule suberin forms a tight layer that keeps carbon dioxide inside a layer of cells called the bundle sheath, and that can improve photosynthesis. Florence Danila with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis at ANU said C4-type […] Read more


Scientists discovered that cereal roots with a certain genotype have a greater concentration of lignin, which gives them greater tensile strength and more bending force at their tips. | File photo

Strong plant roots can penetrate compact soil

Researchers conclude from this discovery that plants with stronger roots will be better able to deal with climate change

A newly discovered trait has shown that some cereal plants have roots tough enough to punch their way through hard, compact soil. This suggests that crops with strong roots will be better at dealing with a changing climate and drier conditions in the future. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have found that roots with a […] Read more

Michelle Fearon, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Michigan’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology, is studying how diversity affects disease pressure in bees. | University of Michigan photo

Biodiversity lowers pathogen levels in bees

A study in Michigan finds that bee communities with higher diversity had the lowest levels of three viral pathogens

A study by researchers at the University of Michigan has shown that the most diverse bee communities have the lowest levels of three common viral pathogens. The researchers netted and trapped more than 4,000 bees representing 60 species and they were collected at winter squash farms across Michigan. All but one species in the research, […] Read more


Scientists hope increasing the number of kernels per corn cob will help meet global food demands more sustainably. | File photo

Researchers tweak corn to get more kernels

A laboratory in the United States used gene editing to increase crop yield per acre in both ear size and kernel number

In its former wild state, corn was a weedy plant with ears that contained maybe a dozen kernels. Today, an average ear of corn has about 800 kernels in 14 to18 neat rows. Some scientists want to improve on that. At the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory near New York City, professor David Jackson and postdoctoral […] Read more

Tory Clarke from the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis hopes her research of plants’ absorption of carbon will eventually increase crop productivity. | Australian National University/ Natalia Bateman photo

Better C02 access in leaves can boost yields

Researchers determine that reducing cell wall thickness may improve photosynthetic productivity and crop production

Most schoolchildren know from science lessons that plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But few people realize that, to reach the interior of plant cells, CO2 faces many challenges along the way. CO2 moves into plant cells where it is transformed into sugars during photosynthesis by enzymes. But the journey is not simple. It […] Read more

Ian Baldwin of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology studies how plants defend themselves from herbivores. |  Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology photo

Plants develop ways to protect themselves from poisonous defence

The toxic substances that plants use to keep herbivores at bay are stored in a non-toxic form until they need to be used

Plants produce toxic substances and chemicals to protect themselves from destructive herbivores. These plant chemicals attack certain parts of the cell membrane of leaf chewers such as caterpillars. But researchers have long wondered how plants protect their own cell membranes from the toxins they produce. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in […] Read more


While more affluent countries in North America, Europe and Oceania showed negative land-use change emission, there was substantial farm-generated pollution. | File photo

Ag practices threaten climate goals: study

Research team presents an inventory of land-use contributions to carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions

A recently published paper in Nature says a new study at the University of California, Irvine, showed that rising emissions from agricultural land clearing and land-use practices will jeopardize climate change goals unless major changes are made. The Paris Agreement climate change accord signed in 2015 aims to limit global warming to less than two […] Read more

Jay Thelen, professor of biochemistry in the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, says researchers have found a way to extract oil from leaves. | University of Missouri photo

Researchers extract oil from plant leaves

Gene editing allows plants to produce greater amounts of triacylglycerol in their leaves rather than just in the seed

Vegetable oil has major health benefits, and depending on the type, has the ability to lower cholesterol levels and decrease risks of cardiovascular disease. Oil is traditionally pulled from fruit and seeds. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have found a way to extract oil from leaves. They do so by boosting the production […] Read more