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

The rate at which people consume water in some regions surpasses the rate at which it can be naturally replenished leading to chronic water shortages. | File photo

Rotational fallowing urged to conserve water

In the face of climate change, shifting weather patterns that drive prolonged droughts and multiple uses of water, finding adequate amounts of fresh water is becoming a critical issue. The rate at which people consume water in some regions surpasses the rate at which it can be naturally replenished leading to chronic water shortages. The […] Read more


Dr. Leyi Wang, a clinical assistant professor in veterinary clinical medicine with the University of Illinois, says it is possible bovine kobuvirus has been in the U.S. for a while but not recognized until now. | University of Illinois photo

Bovine kobuvirus little understood by science

The virus, which causes neonatal calf diarrhea, was first identified in Japan and was recently found in the United States

A virus that causes neonatal calf diarrhea has found its way to the United States. Bovine kobuvirus was first discovered in Japan in 2003 and it belongs to a family of viruses known as picornaviridae that also includes rhinovirus, the source of head colds and sinus infections in people, and poliovirus, the cause of polio. […] Read more

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center in Long Island, New York, say they are close to developing an African swine fever vaccine that appears promising. | File photo

U.S. closes in on vaccine for African swine fever

U.S. government researchers are working on a vaccine for African swine fever. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center in Long Island, New York, say they are close to developing a vaccine that appears promising. It is still in the testing phases but what is most promising is that both […] Read more


Researchers say exploring intermediate stages of tomato domestication has direct implications for crop improvement.  |  File photo

Tomato’s evolution took several turns

Researchers discover more to the vegetable’s development than the previously believed two-step evolutionary process

For decades it was thought that tomatoes became domesticated in a two-step process. This oversimplified view involved the transition of the small, wild blueberry-sized tomato Solanum pimpinellifolium L to an intermediate fruit and then to the fully domesticated, cultivated tomato. But there were missing links. Tomatoes are one of the world’s most consumed, highest valued […] Read more

The bacteria that researchers have genetically modified would protect honeybees from varroa mites and deformed wing virus.  |  File photo

Engineered bacteria can protect honeybees

The genetically modified strain would live in the gut of honeybees and produce medicines to protect against diseases

In recent years, beekeepers have suffered huge losses of their honeybees because of colony collapse. Long, harsh winters, starvation, poor or failing queens, habitat loss, weak colonies, and parasites and viruses have combined to killed millions of bees, in some cases causing catastrophic losses of hives. According to the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists’ (CAPA) […] Read more

Newly discovered protein acts as on-off switch for plants

What makes plants grow? Or not? Scientists at the University of California Riverside discovered an answer to that question when studying Arabidopsis, a plant in the mustard family. While looking for clues to how plant cells divide or expand, they discovered a protein they named IRK in the cells of root tips. “It was very […] Read more


Professor David Stern examines test corn plants at Boyce Thompson Institute with Coralie Salesse-Smith. They are looking for varieties that will be better able to cope with cold weather.  |  Boyce Thompson Institute photo

New corn variety copes better with cold

Corn is the third largest grain crop in Canada and the number one crop in Ontario in terms of production. Nationally, yields vary depending on weather, and 2019 was a particularly challenging year. Heavy rain and colder than normal temperatures made planting conditions difficult in Eastern Canada. Very dry conditions persisted into the growing season […] Read more

Researchers have learned how to use silk from a domestic silkworm to coat seeds with rhizobacteria.  |  REUTERS/Hereward Holland photo

Coating seeds with silk extends their reach

The silk is treated with rhizobacteria, which allows seeds to germinate and thrive in otherwise unproductive soil

Silk is one of the most valued natural resources in the world, used in everything from bedding to parachutes, clothing, bike tires and surgical sutures. It also has a unique agricultural application. A research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a way to coat seeds with silk that has been treated with […] Read more