Researchers have made a breakthrough in deciphering the molecular, physiological and biochemical background to the senescence in corn that has been bred to stay green longer and produce greater yields.  |  File photo

Researchers crack secret of stay-green plants

Understanding the genetics behind senescence — the process of aging — should help make crops more productive

Senescence is the condition of aging in plants and animals. One of the best examples is the change in the colour of leaves in autumn as they die and fall off trees. The energy saved from the leaves is stored in the trunk and branches for next spring’s growth. While the process of senescence is […] Read more

Protein ‘decides’ if plant acquires phosphorus

Researchers have discovered a protein that can have both a negative and a positive regulatory effect on phosphorus use

Researchers at La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia, have uncovered a protein that can sense phosphorus levels and alter gene regulation to either turn off or turn on phosphorus acquisition. Phosphorus is essential to maintaining plant health and one of the three main nutrients most commonly found in fertilizers, the other two being nitrogen and […] Read more

Resarchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies who are studying root growth include Joseph Noel, left, Joseph Ecker, Julie Law, Joanne Chory and Wolfgang Busch.  |  Salk Institute for Biological Studies photo

Genetic influence on root growth discovered

Researchers in the United State have found the gene that influences whether roots need to grow deep or shallow

While flowers and leaves define a plant, of equal importance is its network of underground roots drawing up nutrients and water from the soil. But missing from the knowledge of plant roots are the mechanisms that dictate which parts of the soil the roots actually explore. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in […] Read more

Dr. Patrick Tranel, left, works with University of Illinois graduate student Jacob Montgomery, who co-authored the research paper that compared male and female Palmer amaranth plants in the greenhouse.  |  University of Illinois photo

Scientists explore genetic weed control

The goal is to modify male plants that would mate with wild females and produce nothing but male offspring

Weeds are the Achilles’ heel of farming. They invade crops, reduce productivity, compete for water, nutrients and sunlight, and lead to poor crop quality and reduced yield. Herbicides are the farmer’s counterbalance but for aggressive weeds like waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, both of which are resistant to 7 and 8 herbicide groups, respectively, they have […] Read more

Jennifer Wilson, a PhD candidate at Cornell University, is studying how aphids spread disease.  | USDA/Agricultural Research Service photo

Plant and insect viruses help spread disease

Researchers are better understanding how insect and plant viruses work together to use aphids as a way to spread to other organisms

Aphids and their ability to spread viruses are the bane of many farmers’ production forecasts. Globally, aphids cause billions of dollars in crop damage, and more plant viruses are transmitted by aphids than any other group of insects. But until recently, the complex relationship between the aphid host — a plant virus — and an […] Read more

Air channel networks can influence how leaves operate

Understanding how carbon dioxide moves through pores could help develop crops to adapt to climate change

Botanists have long known that plants breathe through tiny openings in leaves called stomata that take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. But until now, it was never clear how these air channels form their intricate patterns in the right places to deliver a steady flow of CO2 to every plant cell. In a new […] Read more

Scientists have now found a way to increase vitamin D content in eggs by exposing lay hens to UV light. | File photo

UV light increases vitamin D in chicken eggs

A lack of vitamin D can lead to brittle and painful bones, muscle weakness and a variety of health risks. During summer, people are able to get about 90 percent of their daily requirements naturally through the skin by exposure to the sun. The remainder is consumed through foods such as oily fish or chicken […] Read more

Temperature extremes, drought and heavy precipitation account for 18 to 43 percent of variations in global crop yields. | File photo

Weather extremes devastate yields: study

International researchers have more precisely measured how extreme weather events driven by a changing climate can devastate crop yields. Hot and cold temperature extremes, drought and heavy precipitation account for 18 to 43 percent of variations in global yields for maize, spring wheat, rice and soybeans. “Climate extremes such as heat waves or droughts can […] Read more

John  Williams, director of the School of Animal and Veterinary Science’s Davies Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, has shown it is possible to breed cattle to reduce their methane emissions.  |   University of Adelaide photo

Cattle bred to produce less methane

Genetic makeup of an individual cow significantly controls the level and type of methane-producing microbes in its rumen

Cattle and other ruminants are known as significant producers of the greenhouse gas methane. According to Agriculture Canada, a lactating dairy cow produces about 400 grams of methane each day. In one year, that adds up to the equivalent of greenhouse gas emissions from a mid-sized car driven 20,000 kilometres. Given there are about 1.5 […] Read more

Kai Voss-Fels’s research focused on varieties that played a major role in wheat production in Western Europe, but the University of Quensland researcher said the results can be extrapolated to other production regions because wheat breeding is similar throughout the world.  |   University of Queensland photo

Research discredits wheat hardiness myth

An Australian study finds today’s wheat out-performs older strains in both optimum and challenging conditions

Contrary to popular opinion, modern wheat varieties are not heavily dependent on pesticides and fertilizer to remain productive. In fact, recent research from the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia shows that today’s wheat out-performs older strains not only in optimum conditions but under challenging growing situations. In addition, the modern wheat gene pool is […] Read more