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Interplay of pollinators and pests influences plant evolution

Brassica rapa pollinated by bumblebees has more attractive flowers. Credit: Florian Schiestl, UZH Brassica rapa plants pollinated by bumblebees evolve more attractive flowers. But this evolution is compromised if caterpillars attack the plant at the same time. With the bees pollinating them less effectively, the plants increasingly self-pollinate. In a greenhouse evolution experiment, scientists at…

CRISPR-based ‘allelic drive’ allows genetic editing with selective precision and broad...

Left panel: Gene-drive is mediated by a guide RNA (gRNA) that cuts at the exact site (scissors) where the gene-drive element (blue box: Cas9 gene; yellow box: gRNA) is inserted into the genome, resulting in full gene-drive element copying. Right panel: The new allelic drive is accomplished by the addition of a second gRNA (blue…

More than dozen wild bee species declining in Northeastern U.S.

Busy pollinating this flower is the ground nesting bee, Andrena vicinia, one of 14 declining wild bee species identified by researchers at the University of New Hampshire. Credit: Molly Jacobson Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have found a dramatic decline of 14 wild bee species that are, among other things, important across the…

Spotted lanternflies found to be flyers, not gliders

This is the spotted lanternfly on grape vines. Credit: Thomas Baker/Penn State The spotted lanternfly is not a strong or frequent flyer, weaknesses that may hinder its ability to travel long distances by air, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. Those were among the findings of a study on flight behaviors…

New pathways for sustainable agriculture

Small-scale agricultural landscapes (left) offer advantages: they promote biological diversity, pollination and natural pest control. Credit: Matthias Tschumi Hedges, flowering strips and other seminatural habitats provide food and nesting places for insects and birds in agricultural landscapes. This also has advantages for agriculture: bees, flies, beetles and other animal groups pollinate crops and control pest…

Cross-boundary solutions for wicked weeds

Kochia or tumbleweeds can spread across fields by the tumbling action and get caught in fence lines. This is an example of landscape-scale weed spread issues. Credit: Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan Weed species continue to spread and management costs continue to mount, in spite of best management practices and efforts by…

Wild bees flock to forested areas affected by severe fire

Triepeolus on Canada thistle. Credit: Jim Rivers, OSU A groundbreaking two-year study in southern Oregon found greater abundance and diversity of wild bees in areas that experienced moderate and severe forest fires compared to areas with low-severity fires. The study, published today in the journal Ecosphere by researchers in the Oregon State University College of…

Global centers of unsustainable harvesting of species identified

Herd of elephants (Loxodonta africana), Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Credit: Enrico Di Minin Unsustainable harvesting, including hunting, trapping, fishing and logging, is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity. Yet, no previous assessment has investigated which areas are most vulnerable to this threat globally. In a new article published in the journal Science…

The future of agriculture is computerized

Researchers in MIT’s Open Agriculture Initiative grow basil under controlled environmental conditions to study how taste and other features are affected. Credit: Melanie Gonick What goes into making plants taste good? For scientists in MIT's Media Lab, it takes a combination of botany, machine-learning algorithms, and some good old-fashioned chemistry. Using all of the above,…

Insect-deterring sorghum compounds may be eco-friendly pesticide

The flavonoids are not present in the phloem -- vascular tissue in plants that conducts the sugars aphids seek -- but are in the epidermal cells that form the outermost layer of defense. When aphids repeatedly probe and puncture the epidermal cells with their stylets, or beaks, they take up the flavonoids that lead to…

A 5,000-year-old barley grain discovered in Finland changes understanding of livelihoods

Researchers determined the age of millennia-old barley grains using radiocarbon dating. Credit: Santeri Vanhanen On the basis of prior research, representatives of the Pitted Ware Culture from the Stone Age have been known as hard-core sealers, or even Inuits of the Baltic Sea. Now, researchers have discovered barley and wheat grains in areas previously inhabited…

How understanding animal behavior can support wildlife conservation

This is a meerkat in its habitat. Credit: Arpat Ozgul - University of Zurich Advancement in sensor technologies has meant that field biologists are now collecting a growing mass of ever more precise data on animal behaviour. Yet there is currently no standardized method for determining exactly how to interpret these signals. Take meerkats, for…

Manure application changes with winter crop can cut nitrogen loss, boost...

Dairy farmers in the Northeast can improve water quality and boost the profitability of their operations by changing the timing and method of applying manure to their fields in the fall, along with planting rye as a cover crop between corn crops -- or by double-cropping rye and corn, according to Penn State researchers. Credit:…

New gene essential for making ears of corn

A normal corn plant (left) and a barren stalk2 (ba2) plant (right). Plants with a mutation in the ba2 gene cannot grow ears, hence the name barren stalk. Credit: University of Missouri A team of scientists led by University of Missouri maize geneticist Paula McSteen has identified a gene essential for forming the ears in…

Old for new: Using ancient genetic variation to supercharge wheat

This is Dr. Ryan Johnson in wheat field in Mexico. Credit: Earlham Institute Wheat is responsible for half of global calories consumed either directly or as animal feed and we need to make a lot more of it in the coming decades. Now, an important paper marks a step change in how breeders might approach…

Sea grapes reveal secrets of plant evolution

Umi-budo, or 'sea grapes' in English, grow tiny green balls along their stems. These pop in the mouth when chewed, releasing a refreshing flavor reminiscent of the sea. Credit: OIST If you've ever dined on the tropical island of Okinawa, Japan, your plate may have been graced by a remarkable pile of seaweed, each strand…

Birds bug out over coffee

The yellow-tailed oriole is among the resident Colombian bird species. University of Delaware researchers studied canopy tree preference of birds in shade-coffee farms with a particular focus on the implications for migratory birds that spend the winter in neotropical coffee farms. Credit: University of Delaware/ Doug Tallamy and Desirée Narango Coffee grown under a tree…

Codifying the universal language of honey bees

The researchers analyzed the dances of 85 marked bees from three hives. Credit: Virginia Tech For Virginia Tech researchers Margaret Couvillon and Roger Schürch, the Tower of Babel origin myth -- intended to explain the genesis of the world's many languages -- holds great meaning. The two assistant professors and their teams have decoded the…

Are no-fun fungi keeping fertilizer from plants?

Different fungal species isolated from native and disturbed soils within Florida International University's Miami campus and Everglades National Park. Credit: Photo credit Mary Tiedeman Crops just can't do without phosphorus. Globally, more than 45 million tons of phosphorus fertilizer are expected to be used in 2019. But only a fraction of the added phosphorus will…

Crop damage: Researchers advance effort to manage parasitic roundworms

A PDE inhibitor bound to PDE4. Credit: UNH Roundworms that feed on plants cause approximately $100 billion in annual global crop damage. Now researchers at the University of New Hampshire have made a patent-pending discovery that certain enzymes in roundworms, called nematodes, behave differently than the same enzymes in humans, with amino acids potentially playing…

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