JC Cahill, a researcher and biological sciences professor at the University of Alberta, wants to see if ranchers and farmers can tap into the fighting abilities of plants.  |  Jeremy Simes photo

Researcher gets into plants’ heads

U of A scientist tries understanding what makes plants tick in an effort to make them natural weed killers

An Alberta researcher wants to figure out if farmers can tap into the fighting abilities of their crops and use that to benefit the farm. The benefits could mean higher yields, fewer inputs and fewer weeds, according to JC Cahill, a biological sciences professor with the University of Alberta. Cahill discussed this idea during the […] Read more

Scientists have shown that plants can communicate with other plants and can sense their surroundings using chemical signals. | File photo

The secret life of plants

For decades, scientists and crop protection companies have employed a straightforward approach to fight weeds, diseases and insects. Step one: find a chemical that controls a particular pest in a crop. Step two: convince farmers to spray the chemical on the crop. While chemistry remains the go-to solution for crop protection, a different form of […] Read more

Researchers have discovered some plant molecules can absorb ultraviolet light to keep plants from burning up.  |  WP photo illustration

Why don’t plants get sunburned?

Much like a five-year-old with red hair, it turns out plants also need sun protection. Researchers at the University of Purdue now understand how plants produce their own sunscreen. Tim Zwier, a chemistry professor at Purdue, determined that crops and other plants use a group of molecules called sinapate esters to block harmful ultraviolet radiation. […] Read more