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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…

Building starch backbones for lab-grown meat using Lego pieces

An electrospinner made of Lego pieces is used to create strands of starch. Credit: Patrick Mansell A new technique to spin starch fibers using Lego pieces could have future applications for lab-grown "clean" meat, according to a team of food scientists from Penn State and the University of Alabama. "There's a lot of interest in…

Deciphering the walnut genome

New research could provide a major boost to California's growing $1.6 billion walnut industry. Credit: UC Davis California produces 99 percent of the walnuts grown in the United States. New research could provide a major boost to the state's growing $1.6 billion walnut industry by making it easier to breed walnut trees better equipped to…

The growth of a wheat weed can be predicted to reduce...

This is an image of wild oats analyzed by the research group. Credit: University of Cordoba Wild oats are a kind of grass weed and one of the greatest enemies of certain grains such as barley, rye and wheat. Wild oats compete with these crops by taking their water, light and nutrients and their density…

Caterpillars retrieve ‘voicemail’ by eating soil

This field study site in the natural area of the Veluwe (the Netherlands) is the source of the soil for the experiments. It sports different plant legacies, depending on the species of herbs and grasses present. Credit: NIOO-KNAW Leaf-feeding caterpillars greatly enrich their intestinal flora by eating soil. It's even possible to trace the legacy…

Breakthrough in fight against plant diseases

A global research team including scientists from La Trobe University have identified specific locations within plants' chromosomes capable of transferring immunity to their offspring. Credit: La Trobe University A global research team including scientists from La Trobe University have identified specific locations within plants' chromosomes capable of transferring immunity to their offspring. The findings could…

Honey bee colonies more successful by foraging on non-crop fields

A honey bee gathering pollen and nectar from a helianthus flower. Credit: ARS-USDA Honey bee colonies foraging on land with a strong cover of clover species and alfalfa do more than three times as well than if they are put next to crop fields of sunflowers or canola, according to a study just published in…

Butterfly numbers down by two thirds

Hominy Blue (Polyommatus icarus). Credit: Jan C. Habel / TUM Meadows adjacent to high-intensity agricultural areas are home to less than half the number of butterfly species than areas in nature preserves. The number of individuals is even down to one-third of that number. These are results of a research team led by Jan Christian…

Beware of sleeping queen bumblebees underfoot this spring

Queen bumblebee. Credit: Joe Woodgate Scientists at Queen Mary University of London have discovered a never before reported behaviour of queen bumblebees. It was long thought that queen bumblebees, after hibernating in the ground over winter, emerged, began feeding and dispersed quite quickly to found their new colony. But new research shows that directly after…

First Anatolian farmers were local hunter-gatherers that adopted agriculture

This is the burial of a 15,000 year old Anatolian hunter-gatherer. Credit: Douglas Baird An international team, led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and in collaboration with scientists from the United Kingdom, Turkey and Israel, has analyzed 8 pre-historic individuals, including the first genome-wide data from a…

Natural selection favors cheaters

Acmispon strigosus is an annual herb that is native to California. Credit: Sachs lab, UC Riverside Mutualisms, which are interactions between members of different species that benefit both parties, are found everywhere -- from exchanges between pollinators and the plants they pollinate, to symbiotic interactions between us and our beneficial microbes. Natural selection -- the…

Avocado seed extract shows promise as anti-inflammatory compound

Researchers Gregory Ziegler (left) and Joshua Lambert (right) along with Rachel Shegog, a food science graduate student, examine a sample of bright orange liquid extracted from avocado seeds that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Credit: Penn State An extract from the seeds of avocados exhibited anti-inflammatory properties in a laboratory study, according to…

Pesticides influence ground-nesting bee development and longevity

Alex Harmon-Threatt (left) and Nick Anderson have published a new study exploring how ground-nesting bees are exposed to pesticides through the soil. Credit: Jesse Wallace, College of LAS at the University of Illinois Results from a new study suggest that bees might be exposed to pesticides in more ways than we thought, and it could…

Grasses are better than fertilizer for growing healthy blueberries

Intercropping with grasses is an effective and sustainable alternative to chemical treatments for maximizing blueberry yield and antioxidant content in limey soils. Credit: Dr. José I. Covarrubias Blueberries are prone to iron deficiency -- and correcting it increases their health-enhancing antioxidant content, researchers have discovered. Published in Frontiers in Plant Science, their study shows that…

Crop residue burning is a major contributor to air pollution in...

This is a farmer tending some burning of agricultural crop residue. Credit: Dr. Atinderpal Singh, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL, Ahmedabad) /Stockholm University While fossil fuel emissions in New Delhi account for 80 percent of the air pollution plume during the summer, emissions from biomass burning (such as crop residue burning) in neighboring regions rival those…

Impact of urbanization on wild bees underestimated

Wild bees are indispensable pollinators, supporting both agricultural productivity and the diversity of flowering plants worldwide. Credit: Paul Glaum Wild bees are indispensable pollinators, supporting both agricultural productivity and the diversity of flowering plants worldwide. But wild bees are experiencing widespread declines resulting from multiple interacting factors. A new University of Michigan-led study suggests that…

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