This aerial photo shows a mosaic of cropland to illustrate the different colours, and associated reflectivity, of the land surface related to management.  |  National Center for Atmospheric Research photo

Cover crops can affect winter temperatures

Research finds the darker surface of a cover crop field absorbs more heat from the sun than does a snow-covered field

Cover crops have long been known to have ecological benefits, such as controlling runoff and erosion, weed control and increasing soil productivity. But research now suggests that they can also produce warming temperatures in winter, perhaps influencing regional climate change, especially in the northern United States and southern Canada. A new study by researchers at […] Read more

Research on how plants use defence bouquets is focused on Piper kelleyi, a relative of black pepper that grows in Equador and Peru. |   Michigan State University photo

Plants use chemical bouquet to fight insects

Subtle levels of light influenced by shaded forest understory can prompt changes in the compounds that make up the defence bouquet

CHILLIWACK, B.C. — To survive, plants have learned to use a variety of chemical compounds to confuse insects and keep them at bay. But researchers at Michigan State University have found that plants not only use a bouquet of compounds, but also different types of defence bouquets to reduce damage from insects. Andrea Glassmire, a […] Read more

Postdoctoral fellow Imtiyaz Khanday, left, and professor Venkatesan Sundaresan inspect clonal rice plants at the University of California, Davis.  |  Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo

Plant breeding sees cloning breakthrough

Scientists in California have discovered how to replicate seeds that are clones of a parent hybrid rice plant

What if crops could be cloned? What if there was no need to buy hybrid seed every year but, instead, we could take advantage of the cloned seeds from the parent plants of last year’s crop? And what if those designer seeds were all high yielding as well as climate tolerant and disease resistant? Scientists […] Read more


It’s estimated that the damage to cattle caused by liver fluke costs the industry $3 billion a year worldwide in lost productivity.  |  File photo

New software could help detect liver fluke

A computer program helps make grazing decisions by predicting the likelihood of conditions conducive to the parasite

Liver fluke, a disease of cattle and sheep, appears to be on the rise in a warmer, wetter climate. The parasite Fasciola hepatica lays eggs that pass into the pasture from the feces of cattle or sheep. Emerging from the egg, the miracidium seeks a mud snail to continue its development to the next stage. […] Read more

Crossfell Cinder Candy is the first calf to be karyomapped. |  University of Kent photo

Karyomapping tests now available for cattle

The screening method used previously in human fertility services will help producers make the best breeding decisions

When couples have difficulty conceiving a child, they may consider the services of a fertility clinic for in vitro fertilization. The process leading to an embryo being implanted in the uterus involves many biological tests and, for some, it will also involve genetic screening, especially when one of the parents might be carrying a challenging […] Read more


Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are looking at the mechanisms and processes of plant disease resistance. Its goal is to make fundamental discoveries about plants and their interactions with microbial pathogens.  |  University of Edinburgh photo

Gene discovered to help plants control disease

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have discovered a gene that helps plants control how they respond to disease. If scientists can fine-tune how the genes are expressed, it could lead to infection-resistant crops. Plant diseases are a leading cause of crop losses worldwide and, together with pests, account for about 40 percent of lost […] Read more

A diverse amount of bacterial DNA has been found to exist in the calf’s intestine right at the moment of birth. | File photo

Calves born with intestinal bacteria: study

A diverse amount of bacterial DNA has been found to exist in the calf’s intestine right at the moment of birth

Are newborn calves born without evidence of any bacteria? One might think so, given the assumed sterile nature of its dam’s uterus. But, according to researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, a diverse amount of bacterial DNA has been found to exist in the calf’s intestine right at the moment of birth. “We are […] Read more

Wildflower strips must be in Goldilocks zone

The success of wildflower strips to attract pollinators depends on having the right mix of natural habitat and farmland

Forty percent of the Earth’s land surface is used for agricultural production resulting in natural habitat transformed into croplands, a primary driver of biodiversity loss. Yet many biological communities such as bees (for pollination) and wasps (that kill crop pests) provide important ecosystem services to agriculture. Finding ways to conserve that biodiversity and balance it […] Read more


Australian National University researchers Dr. Wei Yih Hee, left, Dr. Ben Long and Professor Dean Price inspect tobacco plants as part of their research into photosynthesis.  |  Australian National University photo

Researchers rev up engine of photosynthesis

Carbon-capturing ‘engines’ found in blue-green algae may help plants capture CO2 more efficiently and boost yields

CHILLIWACK, B.C. — For millions of years, plants have been converting carbon dioxide, water and sunlight into energy for growth through photosynthesis. The process is controlled by the enzyme Rubisco, which fixes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Photosynthesis sets, or limits, the level of crop yield. Now, plant biologists at the Australian National University are […] Read more

Barley virus and aphids gang up on wheat

The virus, which is brought into crops on aphid salivia, modifies plant leaves to make them more nutritious for aphids

New research from Pennsylvania State University is uncovering an extraordinary relationship between two aphid species and the barley yellow dwarf virus to the detriment of wheat crops. The virus, which is brought into wheat fields in the saliva of aphids, modifies the crop leaves by increasing nutrients for the benefit of the aphids. This results […] Read more