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A rose to store energy

A special structure for storing energy known as a supercapacitor has been constructed in a plant for the first time. The plant, a rose, can be charged and discharged hundreds of times. This breakthrough is the result of research at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics at Linköping University (Sweden).


Forests to play major role in meeting Paris climate targets

Forests are set to play a major role in meeting the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement - however, accurately monitoring progress toward the 'below 2°C' target requires a consistent approach to measuring the impact of forests on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


Current Plant Biology Call for Papers: Special issue on MicroRNA genes

Current Plant Biology would like to invite submissions for an upcoming Special Issue on MicroRNA genes.


Study offers guidance on how to protect olive trees from being ravaged by deadly pathogen

Expert ecologists at the UK-based Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) have devised a scientific model which could help predict the spread of the deadly Xylella fastidiosa which is threatening to destroy Europe's olive trees.


Nematode resistance in soybeans beneficial even at low rates of infestation

Each spring, tiny roundworms hatch and wriggle over to the nearest soybean root to feed. Before farmers are even aware of the belowground infestation, the soybean cyst nematode (SCN) silently begins to wreak havoc on soybean yield.


In Nature Plants: How to reduce the environmental impact of a loaf of bread?

With an estimated 12 million loaves sold in the UK every year, bread remains a staple of the British diet. In a groundbreaking study researchers from the University of Sheffield have now calculated the environmental impact of a loaf of bread and which part of its production contributes the most greenhouse gas.


New gene for atrazine resistance identified in waterhemp

Waterhemp has been locked in an arms race with farmers for decades. Nearly every time farmers attack the weed with a new herbicide, waterhemp becomes resistant to it, reducing or eliminating the efficacy of the chemical. Some waterhemp populations have evolved resistance to multiple herbicides, making them incredibly difficult to kill.


Scientists remove reliance on seasonality in new lines of broccoli – potentially doubling crop production

Scientists at the John Innes Centre are developing a new line of fast-growing sprouting broccoli that goes from seed to harvest in 8-10 weeks. It has the potential to deliver two full crops a season in-field or it can be grown all year round in protected conditions, which could help with continuity of supply, as growers would no longer be reliant on seasonal weather conditions.


In New Phytologist: Where do flowers come from? Shedding light on Darwin's "abominable mystery"

The mystery that is the origin of flowering plants has been partially solved thanks to a team from the Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire et Végétale (CNRS/Inra/CEA/Université Grenoble Alpes), in collaboration with the Reproduction et Développement des Plantes laboratory (CNRS/ENS Lyon/Inra/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1) and Kew Gardens (UK). Their discovery, published in the journal New Phytologist, sheds light on a question that much intrigued Darwin: the appearance of a structure as complex as the flower over the course of evolution.


Awards, Prizes and Funding Opportunities: February 2017

Here are a few awards, prizes and funding opportunities for plant scientists that we have come across recently. Please let us know if you know of any others!


Forests worldwide threatened by drought

Forests around the world are at risk of death due to widespread drought, University of Stirling researchers have found.


Researchers detail genetic mechanisms that govern growth and drought response in plants

New research from an Iowa State University scientist identifies a genetic mechanism that governs growth and drought tolerance in plants, a development that could lead to better performing traits in crops.


Cultivating cool-for-cash-crops

When deciding what crops to grow during a season, growers look at several factors. Do the crops have a good yield in their area? Does the area currently have the resources -- usually water -- to grow that crop? Will the crop give a return on the investment? And, what are the future effects that growing that crop might have on the growers' fields?


Hybrid plant breeding: Secrets behind haploid inducers, a powerful tool in maize breeding

A common strategy to create high-yielding plants is hybrid breeding -- crossing two different inbred lines to obtain characteristics superior to each parent. However, getting the inbred lines in the first place can be a hassle. Inbred lines consist of genetically uniform individuals and are created through numerous generations of self-crossing. In maize, the use of so-called "haploid inducers" provides a short cut to this cumbersome procedure, allowing to produce inbred lines in just one generation.


In Journal of Experimental Botany: imaging technique widens our view on the inner worlds of plants and their guests

Plants come in all shapes and sizes – but why, and how? Scientists at the John Innes Centre (UK) exploring how interactions between genes affect plant patterning have developed an imaging technique to visualise live gene activity at the macroscopic scale.


Sophisticated optical secrets revealed in glossy buttercup flowers

Buttercup flowers are known for their intense, shiny yellow colour. For over a century, biologists have sought to understand why the buttercup stands out. University of Groningen scientists have now brought together all that was known about the buttercup and added some new information too. The results were published by the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.


Unlocking crop diversity by manipulating plant sex

Researchers have discovered a key gene that influences genetic recombination during sexual reproduction in wild plant populations. Adding extra copies of this gene resulted in a massive boost to recombination and diversity in plant offspring. This finding could enable plant breeders to unlock crop variation, improve harvests and help ensure future food security.


Three-way dance between herbivores, plants and microbes unveiled

What looks like a caterpillar chewing on a leaf or a beetle consuming fruit is likely a three-way battle that benefits most, if not all of the players involved, according to a Penn State entomologist.


Fifth of world's food lost to over-eating and waste, study finds

Almost 20 per cent of the food made available to consumers is lost through over-eating or waste, a study suggests.


Winners and losers: climate change will shift vegetation

Projected global warming will likely decrease the extent of temperate drylands by a third over the remainder of the 21st century coupled with an increase in dry deep soil conditions during agricultural growing season. These results have been presented in Nature Communications by an international collaboration led by the US Geological Survey and members from seven countries, including Scott Wilson at the Climate Impacts Research Centre (CIRC) at Umeå University in Sweden.


More warm-dwelling animals and plants as a result of climate change

Since 1980, populations of warm-dwelling species in Germany have increased. The trend is particularly strong among warm-dwelling terrestrial species, as shown by the most comprehensive study across ecosystems in this regard to date. The most obvious increases occurred among warm-dwelling birds, butterflies, beetles, soil organisms and lichens according to the study published recently in the scientific journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution” led by Senckenberg scientists. Thus, it appears possible that rising temperatures due to the climate change have had a widespread impact on the population trends of animals in the past 30 years.


New life for 19th-century plants

Humans have long had a knack for concentrating heavy metals that would otherwise remain at low concentrations within the environment. These human-produced pollutants can be found going back as far as one million years ago with fires in caves during the Paleolithic Era, to industrial development in the 19th century, to increased concentrations of contaminants like cadmium and lead in the 20th century.


Laissez-faire is not good enough for reforestation

In order to restore tropical rainforests, it is not enough to simply set up protected areas and leave them to their own devices. In particular, tree species with large fruit and seeds distributed by birds will have to be actively planted. This is one of the conclusions of a large-scale study by scientists from ETH Zurich in the Western Ghats, the mountain range running along the western coast of India. Today, the rainforest that exists there is highly fragmented. In the late 20th century in particular, large areas fell victim to intensive logging and commercial agriculture such as coffee and tea plantations.


How much biomass grows in the savannah?

Savannahs form one of the largest habitats in the world, covering around one-fifth of the Earth’s land area. They are mainly to be found in sub-Saharan Africa. Savannahs are home not only to unique wildlife, including the ‘Big Five’ – the African elephant, rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, leopard and lion – but also to thousands of endemic plant species such as the baobab, or monkey bread tree.


Modifying fat content in soybean oil with the molecular scissors Cpf1

A team from the Center for Genome Engineering, within the Institute for Basic Research (IBS), Korea, succeeded in editing two genes that contribute to the fat contents of soybean oil using the new CRISPR-Cpf1 technology: an alternative of the more widely used gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9. The results of this new plant gene editing method, applied to soybeans and wild tobacco genes, are published in Nature Communications.


Underwater seagrass beds dial back polluted seawater

Seagrass meadows -- bountiful underwater gardens that nestle close to shore and are the most common coastal ecosystem on Earth -- can reduce bacterial exposure for corals, other sea creatures and humans, according to new research published in Science.


Genes in albino orchids may hold clues to parasitic mechanism used by non-photosynthetic plants

How do plants give up photosynthesis and become parasites? A research team in Japan are using comprehensive analysis of gene expression in albino and green orchids to investigate the evolution of parasitic plants.


Study rewrites early history of corn in corn country

A new study contradicts decades of thought, research and teaching on the history of corn cultivation in the American Bottom, a floodplain of the Mississippi River in Illinois. The study refutes the notion that Indian corn, or maize, was cultivated in this region hundreds of years before its widespread adoption at about 1000 A.D.


How to be a successful pest: Lessons from the green peach aphid

UK scientists, in collaboration with groups in Europe and the US, have discovered why the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) is one of the most destructive pests to many of our most important crops. Their research will inform industry and research programmes to support pest control and aid global food security.


New peptide hormone aids waterproof barrier formation in plant roots

Nagoya University researchers identify peptide hormones needed for formation and maintenance of plant root barrier to preserve ion homeostasis and adapt to harsh soil conditions.