Lars Brudvig, associate professor in Michigan State University’s plant biology department, found more productive soil had greater weed cover, which led him to conclude that attempting to restore prairie grassland in this type of environment was actually less successful.  |  Michigan State University photo

Weather at seeding affects prairie restoration

Researcher finds grasses seeded in rainy years are less successful because they have more weeds and fewer native plants

Before there were farms, there were prairies. When the early settlers arrived on the Great Plains, they were greeted by a sea of grasses rich in a biodiversity that supported everything from butterflies to bison and rejuvenated seasonally by prairie wildfires. In time, those rich soils were plowed under to support agriculture. Now, these vast […] Read more

Alison McAfee, biochemist at the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC, and post-doctoral fellow, North Carolina State University with her subjects.  |  UBC photo

Honeybee queens vulnerable to heat-related fertility loss

Excessive heat can kill sperm cells in many animal species, but there are few ways to gauge the impact of heat on pollinators like honeybees. Now, research conducted at the University of British Columbia has found five proteins that are activated when queen honeybees are exposed to temperatures characteristic of climate change. These proteins not […] Read more

Fungi help plants cope with stress

Plants have a microbiome community that helps them cope through stressful conditions, such as drought, wet conditions, cold or disease threats. At Washington State University, scientists looked at the comparative roles of bacteria and fungi and they discovered that tiny fungi especially play a significant role in helping plants survive drought and other forms of […] Read more

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University looked at more than three decades of crop-yield data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service across 18 top-producing states. They concluded that ideal growing conditions for corn and soybeans were moving north.
 | File photo

Research confirms corn and soybean’s northward shift

If global warming continues as predicted, the next 50 years could see the best growing conditions for corn and soybeans shift from Iowa and Illinois to Minnesota, the Dakotas and Canada. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University looked at more than three decades of crop-yield data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service […] Read more

Elizabete Carmo-Silva, left, researcher Dawn Worrall, and graduate student Gustaf Degen examine research being done on heat tolerant wheat at Lancaster University  |  Lancaster University photo

Amino acid swap makes wheat more heat tolerant

Thermostats tell air conditioners to switch on when it’s hot and shut down when it’s cool. Plants have Rubisco activase (Rca) that tells their energy-producing enzyme, Rubisco, to kick in when the sun is shining and stop when leaves are receiving less light. To increase the efficiency of Rca and activate Rubisco faster, researchers at […] Read more

Benedetto Marelli, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT says microneedles hadn’t been invested for plants, so his team did. | MIT photo

An injection system for plants using bio-silk

That breakfast glass of orange juice may not be around in the future if an insect called the Asian citrus psyllid, which is host to a destructive bacterium, continues its invasion of Florida’s orange trees. The bacterium infects the phloem, the tissue in plants that transports compounds like sugar glucose to where they are needed. […] Read more

Potential new mode of action causes fungus to self-destruct

Fungi present of the greatest challenges to plant health. Wheat is at risk of septoria blotch caused by zymoseptoria tritici, corn is at risk of the corn smut fungus called ustilago maydis, and the rice blast fungus, magnaporthe oryzae, can ravage rice crops. Crops can be protected with fungicides but continued use can lead to […] Read more

Plants select which microbes have the chance to live with them

It is common knowledge that microbes live inside plants but new research from Michigan State University has shown that plant genes actually select which microbes get to live inside to help the plant remain healthy. Just like humans need a balanced gut bacteria community for a healthy digestive system, plants need a well-balanced microbiome community […] Read more

Researchers have found that tiny hairs on plant roots play a pivotal role in reducing soil erosion and increas-ing soil cohesion. | File photo

Plant root hairs can help prevent soil erosion

Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Exeter in the United Kingdom have found that tiny hairs on plant roots play a pivotal role in reducing soil erosion and increasing soil cohesion. “I have been a root hair biologist since 1993,” said professor Claire Grierson, head of school in Life Sciences with the University of […] Read more

A scientist compares Golden Rice, right, and ordinary rice. Golden Rice is genetically modified to be infused with beta-carotene, a chemical substance responsible in producing vitamin A in the body. The biofortified rice helps prevent vitamin A deficiency, which causes immunity deficiency syndrome and is the leading cause of blindness in children in developing nations. |  REUTERS/Erik De Castro photo

CRISPR enhances Golden rice

Rice is a worldwide staple, feeding half the world’s population. Golden rice, a genetically modified rice with high levels of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A, is highly valued in countries where vitamin rich food is limited. To improve upon the conventional method of genetically modifying rice, scientists at the University of California, Davis, used […] Read more