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Newly-published spinach genome will make more than Popeye stronger

While you may not gulp spinach by the can-fuls, if you love spanakopita or your go-to appetizer is spinach artichoke dip, then you'll be excited to know that new research out of Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) will make it even easier to improve this nutritious and delicious, leafy green.


‘Agricultural revolution’ in Anglo-Saxon England sheds new light on medieval land use

Researchers from the University of Leicester (UK) will be shedding new light on how an ‘agricultural revolution’ in Anglo-Saxon England fuelled the growth of towns and markets as part of a new project investigating medieval farming habits. The project, titled ‘Feeding Anglo-Saxon England (FeedSax): The Bioarchaeology of an Agricultural Revolution’, which is funded by the European Research Council, is led by the University of Oxford working with colleagues from the University of Leicester.


Micro delivery service for fertilizers

Plants can absorb nutrients through their leaves as well as their roots. However, foliar fertilization over an extended period is difficult. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, German researchers have now introduced an efficient delivery system for micronutrients based on biohybrid microgels. Special peptides anchor the "microcontainers" onto the leaf surface while binding sites inside ensure gradual release of the "cargo".


Sunflower genome sequence to provide roadmap for more resilient crops

University of Georgia researchers are part of an international team that has published the first sunflower genome sequence. This new resource will assist future research programs using genetic tools to improve crop resilience and oil production.


Discovery of an alga's 'dictionary of genes' could lead to advances in biofuels and medicine

Plant biologists and biochemists from UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco have produced a gold mine of data by sequencing the genome of a green alga called Chromochloris zofingiensis.


Scientists identify two new proteins connected to plant development

The discovery of two new proteins could lead to better ways to regulate plant structure and the ability to resist crop stresses such as drought, thus improving agriculture productivity, according to researchers at Texas A&M AgriLife Research.


Antarctic has seen widespread change in last 50 years, moss study reveals

In 2013, researchers studying mosses and microbes growing at the southern end of the Antarctic Peninsula documented unprecedented ecological change over the last 50 years, driven by warming temperatures. Now, the same research group has confirmed that those striking changes in the Antarctic are widespread, occurring all across the Peninsula. The findings appear in Current Biology.


Untangling the genetic legacy of tomato domestication

Tomatoes have come a long way from their origins as pea-sized berries due to humans breeding tomato plants to produce bigger fruit. However, favorable mutations that went along with increased fruit size and other beneficial traits do not always play well together. A study published in Cell found that natural mutations in two important tomato genes that were selected for different purposes in breeding can cause extreme branching and reduce fruit yield when they occur in the same plant. However, the researchers have found a way to use those genes to create an improved tomato plant that grows a larger number of tomatoes.


Sowing new seeds of knowledge about the drivers of plant diversity

A new study of Australian wildflower communities is improving understanding of how climatic stress controls plant diversity, based on the strategies different species use to survive, grow and reproduce.


Some forests have been hiding in plain sight

A new estimate of dryland forests suggests that the global forest cover is at least 9% higher than previously thought. The finding will help reduce uncertainties surrounding terrestrial carbon sink estimates.


Myanmar's extensive forests are declining rapidly due to political and economic change

The loss of intact forest cover in Myanmar has accelerated over the last decade, according to a study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Peter Leimgruber from Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, United States of America; Ned Horning from the American Museum of Natural History, United States of America; and colleagues.


Solving the mystery of the white oak

Research published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences solves a mystery that has long shrouded our understanding of white oaks: where did they come from? The approximately 125 white oak species in the Americas and 25 in Eurasia--including the massive bur oak of American prairies and savannas, the valley oak of California and the eponymous white oak of eastern North American forests--are important in forests and savannas throughout much of the northern hemisphere. Yet, despite their economic and ecological importance, not much was known about the evolutionary history of the white oak group until now.


Blue and purple corn: Not just for tortilla chips anymore

Consumers today insist on all-natural everything, and food dyes are no exception. Even if food manufacturers are willing to make the change, current sources of natural dyes are expensive and hard to come by. Now, a large University of Illinois project is filling the gap with colored corn.


WIN a book from Burleigh Dodds' Crops series!

To celebrate Fascination of Plants Day (today!) the Global Plant Council has teamed up with scientific publisher Burleigh Dodds to give you the chance to WIN a book from their 'Crops' series!


Researchers find conflicting effects of climate, vector behavior on spread of plant disease

A top challenge of mitigating the impact of climate change on agricultural production is knowing the exact ways in which higher temperatures and altered precipitation regimes affect the many aspects of agroecosystems. This is especially the case with insect pests and crop diseases.


Study solves mystery of how plants use sunlight to tell time via cell protein signaling

Findings of a new study solve a key mystery about the chemistry of how plants tell time so they can flower and metabolize nutrients.


Plants call 911 to help their neighbors

When Harsh Bais, a botanist at the University of Delaware, emailed Connor Sweeney to tell the high school student he would be willing to mentor him on a research project, Sweeney, a competitive swimmer, was so ecstatic he could have swum another 200-meter butterfly at practice.


Carnivorous plant's prized genetic treasures, unveiled

The carnivorous humped bladderwort plant is a sophisticated predator. Living in swamps and ponds, it uses vacuum pressure to suck prey into tiny traps at breathtaking speeds of under a millisecond.


More genes turned on when plants compete

Some people travel to northern California for wine. However, Maren Friesen, Michigan State University plant biologist, treks to the Golden State for clover.


Disentangling chloroplast genetics

Proper DNA inheritance is essential for healthy cell growth and division. The same goes for the genetic material found in chloroplasts: the energy centers of all plant cells.


New study upends established models of forecasting coextinction in complex ecosystems

A study from Iowa State University researchers casts new light on how biologists understand the likelihood of coextinction among plants and animals that depend on one another for survival.


Stem cells in plants and animals behave surprisingly similarly

"The plant and animal kingdoms were separated through evolution more than 1.6 billion years ago. It is surprising that the interactions between the handful of key genes that control the fate of each stem cell are so similar in both cases," says Carsten Peterson, professor at the Faculty of Science at Lund University.


Growing plants and scientists: Hydroponic gardening program wins over students

Hands-on science lessons in a greenhouse can grow more than fruits and vegetables. They also nurture a love of science among youths in student populations long underrepresented in the sciences, according to a new report by researchers at Boston College's Lynch School of Education.


Maternal and paternal cooperation in plants

The Arabidopsis thaliana is a tiny, inconspicuous and herbaceous offshoot of the family of cruciferous plant that one might easily overlook in a meadow, yet the plant has the potential to disrupt a common school of thought: Together with his working group and colleagues from the University of Nagoya, Japan, the Freiburg biologist Prof. Dr. Thomas Laux show how plants start embryo development and thereby follow a fundamentally different reproduction strategy than animals. The team used the Arabidopsis thaliana as a model organism and showed how plants begin with gene transcription, that is genome reading, just hours after fertilization. That includes the genes that regulate the first steps in embryonic development. The researchers describe the newly found mechanism in the scientific journal Genes and Development.


Thirsty seeds reach for medicine cabinet

Just like humans and animals sometimes need medicine to feel well or perform better, so can plants.


Microscopic soil creatures could orchestrate massive tree migrations

Warming temperatures are prompting some tree species in the Rocky Mountains to "migrate" to higher elevations in order to survive.


Study refutes findings behind challenge to Sierra Nevada forest restoration

A study led by ecologists at UC Berkeley has found significant flaws in the research used to challenge the U.S. Forest Service plan to restore Sierra Nevada forests to less dense, and less fire-prone, environments.


New strategy to enhance the efficiency of cereal straw for biofuel production

Straw is commonly used for feeding animals, burning, baling, etc. As one of the "Three Canton Treasures", straw can actually be used as a raw material to produce biofuel.


Genome sequence of fuel-producing alga announced

The genome of the fuel-producing green microalga Botryococcus braunii has been sequenced by a team of researchers led by a group at Texas A&M AgriLife Research.