Current Flowering plants News and Events

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In fire-prone West, plants need their pollinators -- and vice versa
A new study grounded in the northern Rockies explores the role of wildfire in the finely tuned dance between plants and their pollinators. Previous studies have looked at how fire affects plants, or how fire affects animals. But what is largely understudied is the question of how fire affects both, and about how linkages within those ecological networks might respond to fire disturbance. The findings are particularly significant in light of recent reports about the rapid and widespread decline of insects globally. (2020-11-25)

New discovery by SMART allows early detection of shade avoidance syndrome in plants
Researchers from Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) have developed a tool that allows early detection of shade avoidance syndrome (SAS) in plants using Raman spectroscopy in significantly less time compared to conventional methods. The discovery can help farmers better monitor plant health and lead to improved crop yield. (2020-11-25)

New modified wheat could help tackle global food shortage
Researchers at the University of York have created a new modified wheat variety that increases grain production by up to 12%. (2020-11-25)

Novel haplotype-led approach to increase the precision of wheat breeding
Wheat researchers at the John Innes Centre are pioneering a new technique that promises to improve gene discovery for the globally important crop. (2020-11-25)

Researchers reveal switch used in plant defense against animal attack
UC San Diego researchers have identified the first key biological switch that sounds an alarm in plants when plant-eating animals attack. The mechanism will help unlock a trove of new strategies for improved plant health, from countering crop pest damage to engineering more robust global food webs. (2020-11-24)

Secrets of the 'lost crops' revealed where bison roam
Blame it on the bison. If not for the wooly, boulder-sized beasts that once roamed North America in vast herds, ancient people might have looked past the little barley that grew under those thundering hooves. But the people soon came to rely on little barley and other small-seeded native plants as staple food. (2020-11-24)

Can we harness a plant's ability to synthesize medicinal compounds?
Anthraquinones are a class of naturally occurring compounds prized for their medicinal properties, as well as for other applications, including ecologically friendly dyes. Despite wide interest, the mechanism by which plants produce them has remained shrouded in mystery until now. New work reveals a gene responsible for anthraquinone synthesis in plants. Their findings could help scientists cultivate a plant-based mechanism for harvesting these useful compounds in bulk quantities. (2020-11-24)

Microbes help unlock phosphorus for plant growth
A research team led by the University of Washington and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has shown that microbes taken from trees growing beside pristine mountain-fed streams in Western Washington could make phosphorus trapped in soils more accessible to agricultural crops. (2020-11-24)

To evade humans, this medicinal plant has evolved to hide in plain sight
Researchers reporting November 20, 2020 in the journal Current Biology have found that, in places where the herb is harvested more, the plant has evolved to blend in better with the background, making them harder for people to find. As a result, the plant varies in color from brown or grey to green, depending on whether it lives in a place that is frequented by human collectors or not. (2020-11-23)

Plant research seals importance of microbes for survival and growth
Scientists have revealed that plants have a 'sealing' mechanism supported by microbes in the root that are vital for the intake of nutrients for survival and growth. (2020-11-20)

Plant evolves to become less visible to humans
A plant used in traditional Chinese medicine has evolved to become less visible to humans, new research shows. (2020-11-20)

Synthesis study demonstrates phytoplankton can bloom below Arctic sea ice
Researchers used historical scientific studies, along with contemporary observations employing autonomous floats and robotic vehicles, to demonstrate that phytoplankton blooms occur under Arctic Ocean sea ice. Previously, scientists had assumed that was impossible due to low-light conditions, particularly when ice cover was thicker before climate change. The synthesis of more than half a century of research on under-ice blooms suggests that modern computer models underestimate the contribution of microscopic algae to the Arctic carbon cycle. (2020-11-19)

Truffle munching wallabies shed new light on forest conservation
A researcher from Edith Cowan University in Western Australia led an investigation into how swamp wallabies spread truffle spores around the environment. Results demonstrate the importance of these animals to the survival of the forest. (2020-11-19)

Study identifies reasons for soaring nuclear plant cost overruns in the US
MIT researchers have analyzed the causes of many cost overruns on new nuclear power plants in the US, which have soared in the past 50 years. The findings may help designers of new plants build in resilience to prevent such added costs. (2020-11-18)

Report: In retrospect, the burning of wood in district heating plants has resulted in climate saving
A new report from the University of Copenhagen shows that the burning of wood is significantly more climate friendly than coal and slightly more climate friendly than natural gas over the long run. For the first time, researchers quantified what the conversion of 10 Danish cogeneration plants from coal or natural gas to biomass has meant for their greenhouse gas emissions. (2020-11-17)

Scientific journal launches new series on the biology of invasive plants
The journal Invasive Plant Science and Management (IPSM) announced the launch of a new series focused on the biology and ecology of invasive plants. (2020-11-16)

The Popovich of floral nectar spurs
Scientists identify the gene critical to controlling the development of these spurs in the common columbine, or Aquilegia. They found it acts as a master regulator that appears to control the creation of the spurs by regulating the activity of other genes, the way a coach decides who plays and when. (2020-11-13)

Climate-adapted plant breeding
Securing plant production is a global task. Using a combination of new molecular and statistical methods, a research team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) was able to show that material from gene banks can be used to improve traits in the maize plant. Old varieties can thus help to breed new varieties adapted to current and future climates. (2020-11-11)

Chemists studied the composition of oils extracted from popular medicinal plants
A team of Russian and Vietnamese chemists from RUDN University, Belgorod State University, Ton Duc Thang University, and the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology were the first to study the composition of oils extracted from two flowering plants of the genus Thladiantha that are popular in traditional Chinese medicine. The team confirmed that the seeds of both plants contain around 40% oils rich in unsaturated fatty acids. (2020-11-11)

For asymbiotic growth of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, feed them fatty acids
Scientists around the world have been working to grow arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi without their host plants because they can be used as organic fertilizer in agriculture and forestry. AM fungi help plants receive nutrients from the soil through a network that is efficient and far more reaching than their own roots can provide. Shinshu University group successfully demonstrated that AM fungi can be grown asymbiotically when given myristate as a carbon and energy source. (2020-11-09)

On the hunt for wild bananas in Papua New Guinea
Scientists are racing to collect and conserve wild banana species. A recent expedition to the epicenter of banana diversity shows that wild species hold traits critical to helping the world's favorite fruit survive climate change, pests and diseases (2020-11-06)

Biological clock and extra gene pairs control important plant functions
New understanding of circadian rhythms could be key to stronger, drought-resistant crops in the face of climate change. (2020-11-05)

Host genetic factors shape composition of virus communities
Plants can be infected by multiple viruses at once. However, the composition of the pathogen community varies, even if individuals belong to the same species and the same population. Ecologists at the University of Zurich have now shown that these differences are primarily due to genetic variation among the hosts. The loss of genetic diversity could thus render species more vulnerable to infections and extinction. (2020-11-05)

Corn and other crops are not adapted to benefit from elevated carbon dioxide levels
Although rising carbon dioxide levels can boost plant growth, a new review from the University of Illinois shows that some crops, including corn, are adapted to a pre-industrial environment and cannot distribute their resources effectively to take advantage of extra CO2. (2020-11-05)

When plants attack: parasitic plants use ethylene as a host invasion signal
Researchers from Nara Institute of Science and Technology have found that parasitic plants use the plant hormone ethylene as a signal to invade host plants. Parasitic plants make an organ called a haustorium to attach to and invade hosts, and to obtain water and nutrients. Ethylene is used by parasitic plants to tweak haustorium development and host invasion. This knowledge could be used to develop new ways to control a range of parasitic weeds. (2020-11-04)

Plant viruses hijack the defence system of plants, but there might be a way to strike back
Recently discovered interactions between plant and viral proteins open up new avenues for making plants resistant to viruses, thus safeguarding crop yields in changing climate conditions. (2020-11-03)

Hungry plants rely on their associated bacteria to mobilize unavailable iron
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research have found that, faced with limiting iron, plants direct their microbiota to mobilise this essential nutrient for optimal growth. (2020-11-02)

For plant and animal immune systems the similarities go beyond sensing
Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ) and University of Cologne researcher Takaki Maekawa and colleagues have discovered that plants have independently evolved a family of immune proteins that are strikingly similar to animals. (2020-11-02)

Root bacterium to fight Alzheimer's
A bacterium found among the soil close to roots of ginseng plants could provide a new approach for the treatment of Alzheimer's. Rhizolutin, a novel class of compounds with a tricyclic framework, significantly dissociates the protein aggregates associated with Alzheimer's disease both in vivo and in vitro, as reported by scientists in the journal Angewandte Chemie. (2020-11-02)

Self-watering soil could transform farming
A new type of soil created by engineers at The University of Texas at Austin can pull water from the air and distribute it to plants, potentially expanding the map of farmable land around the globe to previously inhospitable places and reducing water use in agriculture at a time of growing droughts. (2020-11-02)

Short-term moisture removal can eliminate downy mildew of spinach
Scientists at the University of Arkansas explored the relationship between available moisture and disease establishment and in a recent article they demonstrated that removing moisture decreased both spore survival and disease. Even a 30-minute dry period reduced spore germination to almost zero. Spores were unable to recover and cause disease on spinach. (2020-11-02)

Beetroot peptide as potential drug candidate for treating diseases
In a recent study, a research group led by Christian Gruber at MedUni Vienna's Institute of Pharmacology isolated a peptide (small protein molecule) from beetroot. The peptide is able to inhibit a particular enzyme that is responsible for the breakdown of messenger molecules in the body. Due to its particularly stable molecular structure and pharmacological properties, the beetroot peptide may be a good candidate for development of a drug to treat certain inflammatory diseases, such as e.g. neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases. (2020-10-30)

Individual red foxes prefer different foods in the city and the countryside
Using stable isotope analysis, scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in cooperation with Berlin-Brandenburg State Laboratory showed that individual red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) have a narrower diet than might be expected from their omnivorous habits. The population of country foxes had a broader diet than their urban conspecifics; the diet of urban and country foxes showed little overlap. This combination of specialisation and flexibility is a key to this omnivore's adaptability. (2020-10-29)

CAM modes provide environment-specific water-saving benefits in a leaf metabolic model
Several plant lineages living in arid environments have evolved crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthesis, a water-saving mode of carbon fixation in which CO2 uptake and CO2 fixation are temporally separated. Researchers from IPK Gatersleben and the University of Oxford tested whether full CAM is also necessarily the best solution for C3 crops grown in temperate environments and attempted to identify alternative metabolic modes that best balance the trade-off between water loss and photosynthetic productivity under a range of environments. (2020-10-29)

Molecular compass for cell orientation
Plants have veins that transport nutrients through their body. These veins are highly organized. The hormone auxin travels directionally from cell-to-cell and provides cells with positional information, coordinating them during vein formation and regeneration. Scientists at IST Austria now discovered how cells translate auxin signals into forming a complex system of veins. This phenomenon also applies to wound healing and might lead to more mechanically resistant plants and further agricultural implications. (2020-10-29)

Habitat loss is bad news for species - especially for top predators
Scientists at Linköping University, Sweden, have simulated what happens in ecosystems when the habitats of different species disappear. When plants and animals lose their habitats, predator species at the top of the food chain die out first. The results have been published in Ecology Letters, and may provide information for and strengthen initiatives to preserve biodiversity. (2020-10-28)

Endangered trees in Guam contribute to ecosystem diversity and health
Research at the University of Guam has shown that the decomposition of leaf litter from three threatened tree species releases nitrogen and carbon into the soil for use by other plants. (2020-10-27)

Geologists simulate soil conditions to help grow plants on Mars
Humankind's next giant step may be onto Mars. But before those missions can begin, scientists need to make scores of breakthrough advances, including learning how to grow crops on the red planet. (2020-10-27)

Shifts in flowering phases of plants due to reduced insect density
A research group of the University of Jena and the iDiv has discovered that insects have a decisive influence on the biodiversity and flowering phases of plants. If there is a lack of insects where the plants are growing, their flowering behaviour changes. This can result in the lifecycles of the insects and the flowering periods of the plants no longer coinciding. If the insects seek nectar, some plants will no longer be pollinated. (2020-10-26)

A molecular break for root growth
The dynamic change in root growth of plants plays an important role in their adjustment to soil conditions. Depending on the location, nutrients or moisture can be found in higher or lower soil layers. This is why, depending on the situation, a short or a long root is advantageous. Caroline Gutjahr, Professor of Plant Genetics at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), and her team investigate how plant hormones influence the growth of roots. (2020-10-26)

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