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Annals of Botany: Plant Science Research
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France loses its harvest wild flowers

France loses its harvest wild flowers | AnnBot | Scoop.it

With changes in crop cycles, specialised seeds, deep ploughing and land with poor productivity being set aside, wild flowers have been driven to the edges of fields, where they struggle to survive. In the Paris area, a third of them have disappeared already and another third is threatened with extinction. The poppy is still abundant all over France, but corncockle and darnel, among others, are in a precarious situation.

Botanists started being worried in the 1960s, because the flowers are a good indication of biodiversity on farmland, and they provide food for many pollinating insects. In the long term losing these pollinators will damage farming itself, because even cereals need to be pollinated.

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“Living fossil” cycads are actually evolution’s comeback kings

“Living fossil” cycads are actually evolution’s comeback kings | AnnBot | Scoop.it

A group of plants called the cycads show just how slippery the concept of the “living fossil” can be. Cycads look superficially like palm trees, but they belong to a very different group. They first appeared on the planet around 280 million years ago, but they really hit their stride in the Jurassic and Cretaceous period, between 200 and 65 million years ago. But their time would soon be over. Out-competed by flowering plants, and suffering from the decline of their dinosaur polliantors, the cycads started to disappear. Today, the cycads are a mere shadow of their former glory. There are just 300 species, commonly thought to have endured since their heyday in the dinosaur era. But Nathalie Nagalingum from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University has found evidence that this narrative is a fiction. The cycads are indeed an ancient group, but the living species aren’t much older than 12 million years. They would never have been nibbled by dinosaur teeth. Living? Yes. Fossils? Hardly.

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selina's comment, October 25, 2011 8:33 PM
'dinosaur pollinators"? - perhaps cycads probably relied on insect pollinators (as they do today, especially thrips) and dinosaur seed dispersers (now those extant 'dinosaur' dispersers include emu)
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Plants Fight Back - Science & Plants for Schools

Plants Fight Back - Science & Plants for Schools | AnnBot | Scoop.it

Think that plants are defenceless? Think again.
Because a plant can't move away from predators, they've evolved to become fortresses, with a whole line up of defences from the obvious, like spines, to the subtle, such as poisons that render insects infertile. This article looks at some of the hidden plant defences against both pests and dieseases, and how plants can switch on defence-related genes. If you're thinking about applying to study biology at University, this will extend your knowledge and bring you further up to date with some contemporary ideas in the field.

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Plant light

Plant light | AnnBot | Scoop.it

Daniel Mullendore is a student of plant biology at Washington State University. While flowering plants are undoubtedly macroscopically pretty, Daniel likes to look beyond the foliage and the flowers to the beauty that most people never see.

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Miscanthus - A bioenergy crop for all seasons - Feature - BBSRC/RuSource

Miscanthus - A bioenergy crop for all seasons - Feature - BBSRC/RuSource | AnnBot | Scoop.it

Alan Spedding, Rusource Briefing 1381: Miscanthus breeding

Researchers at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at the University of Aberystwyth have been undertaking a large-scale study of Miscanthus to provide improved varieties for energy production. One way is to grow varieties which flower at just the right time and so maximise yields. Some types flower as early as June, others as late as November and some didn't flower at all. This diversity is promising as it will allow breeders to develop varieties that can flower at the time of year that best suits the environment in which they are grown.

BBSRC

Follow Alan Spedding on Twitter @RuSource

Subscribe to Rusource Briefings http://www.nationalrural.org/organisation.aspx?id=886c6950-1d3f-44d5-a362-324423edd7ea

 

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FAO: The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011 edition just out

FAO: The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011 edition just out | AnnBot | Scoop.it

How does international price volatility affect domestic economies and food security?

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011 highlights the differential impacts that the world food crisis of 2006-08 had on different countries, with the poorest being most affected. While some large countries were able to deal with the worst of the crisis, people in many small import-dependent countries experienced large price increases that, even when only temporary, can have permanent effects on their future earnings capacity and ability to escape poverty.

This year’s report focuses on the costs of food price volatility, as well as the dangers and opportunities presented by high food prices. Climate change and an increased frequency of weather shocks, increased linkages between energy and agricultural markets due to growing demand for biofuels, and increased financialization of food and agricultural commodities all suggest that price volatility is here to stay.

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Biodiversity (by EO Wilson) and Synthetic Biology (by Church & Venter) | The Scientist (its last ever issue)

Biodiversity (by EO Wilson) and Synthetic Biology (by Church & Venter) | The Scientist (its last ever issue) | AnnBot | Scoop.it

I am really sorry to hear that "The Scientist", a magazine I always pick up at conferences and regularly read on the website, is closing after the current 25th anniversary issue. Anyway, the current issue is a real cracker (with no mention of being the last). George Church and Craig Venter lead a series of articles on synthetic biology, genetic circuits, and exciting prospects. There are other articles from Walter Bodmer, Stephen Friend, Eric Kandel, Thomas Lovejoy, Chad Mirkin, Edward O. Wilson (on Biodiversity), Mary Woolley, and reviews of two papers on the Climate-Shaped Arabidopsis Genome:
Two genome-wide studies, backed up by field experiments, identify SNPs that correlate with Arabidopsis fitness in various climates." (as already featured here on AnnBot Scoop.it).

The front page of the issue is at http://the-scientist.com/2011/10/01/celebrating-25-years-of-the-scientist/ 

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Scientists Eye Windows of Opportunity for Adapting Food Crops To Climate Change in the Next Two Decades

Scientists Eye Windows of Opportunity for Adapting Food Crops To Climate Change in the Next Two Decades | AnnBot | Scoop.it

"The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has released a series of studies focused on “climate proofing” crops critical to food security in the developing world.

The studies constitute various chapters in a new book titled Crop Adaptation to Climate Change which was developed by an international team of the world’s leading climate and agricultural researchers to provide adaptation strategies for more than a dozen crops—such as potatoes, beans, bananas and cassava—on which billions of people depend worldwide.

The studies describe how climate change could threaten food production and how specific adaptation strategies could neutralize or at least significantly lessen the impact. They argue that investments are urgently needed to identify important genetic traits, including drought tolerance and pest resistance, which will be critical for helping farmers adapt to new growing conditions.

“In these studies, we’ve brought together the best climate science with the best knowledge of crop improvement to spell out how crops will be affected and what plant breeders can do to avert or at least cushion potentially devastating blows,” said Julian Ramirez, a scientist at the Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and one of the authors of the studies.

 

(PS CGIAR sites have an unfortunate habit of wild & fast changes in their web addresses. The first post of this press release is gone within 2 days; if the above link breaks, try the news release service at http://www.sciencenewsline.com/nature/2011100303210005.html ) 

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Research urged to combat Philippine banana disease - SciDev.Net

Research urged to combat Philippine banana disease - SciDev.Net | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Banana growers in the Philippines faced with a virulent fungal disease have won backing from scientists to establish a new research centre. The move follows appeals from growers who are facing the uncontrollable spread of Panama disease, caused by a destructive fungus that has wiped out banana varieties in the past.

The disease, also known as fusarium wilt, has been dormant for about 50 years, but a virulent strain has now reappeared in plantations in the Philippines, having spread from Australia to countries in Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

In the Philippines, the 'tropical race 4' strain has already wiped out 1,200 hectares of banana plantations, particularly the Cavendish variety, according to Stephen Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA).

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Applications open for the Undergraduate Summer Programme

Applications open for the Undergraduate Summer Programme | AnnBot | Scoop.it

Applications are now open for the International Undergraduate Summer Research Training Programme. The 8 week programme is co-hosted by The John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory and The Genome Analysis Centre and provides UK and non-UK students with the unique opportunity to spend the summer of 2012 on the Norwich campus.

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Cancer-fighting 'superbroccoli' goes on sale in UK

Cancer-fighting 'superbroccoli' goes on sale in UK | AnnBot | Scoop.it

"A heart disease and cancer-fighting "superbroccoli" developed by British scientists goes on sale in the UK today. The vegetable looks the same as normal broccoli but contains boosted levels of glucoraphanin, which may protect the body against heart disease and some types of cancer. The new broccoli, called Beneforte, contains two to three times more glucoraphanin than standard broccoli. It will be sold at Marks & Spencer stores from and make an appearance on the shelves of other supermarkets next year.

Beneforte was developed by British scientists using conventional breeding techniques rather than genetic engineering."

UK consumers don't want no stinking' GM veg ;-)

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Jeremy Cherfas's comment, October 5, 2011 3:12 AM
Interesting that the default statement accompanying any new crop these days is that it was made with conventional breeding, not GM. If consumers only knew what brassica breeders have to go through ... embryo rescue, protoplast fusion, etc etc.
Annals of Botany: Plant Science Research's comment, October 6, 2011 9:16 AM
GM foods simply aren't acceptable to most consumers in the UK.
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Exploring cultural and social issues around forests and woodlands

Exploring cultural and social issues around forests and woodlands | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Last week I attended a workshop organised by Defra designed to feed into the work of the Independent Forestry Panel that is charged with reviewing the future for England's trees, woods and forests....
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How to Grow a Beautiful But Deadly Garden

How to Grow a Beautiful But Deadly Garden | AnnBot | Scoop.it

From hemlock through castor bean to nightshade and monkshood ... while "most of the plants you’d find in a garden are harmless beauties, not all are so innocent and a few can even be downright deadly. But some gardeners prefer to grow on the wild side, cultivating botanical killers that can be as beautiful as they are lethal.
From rat-eating carnivores to toxin-producing plants tapped by KGB assassins, these are some of the strangest and most deadly botanicals

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/09/28/how-to-grow-beautiful-but-deadly-garden/?test=faces#ixzz1ZQ2YIeX4

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How plants sense touch, gravity and other physical forces

How plants sense touch, gravity and other physical forces | AnnBot | Scoop.it

In the 1980s, work with bacterial cells showed that they have mechanosensitive channels, tiny pores in the cells membrane that open when the cell bloats with water and the membrane is stretched, letting charged atoms and other molecules rush out of the cell. Water follows the ions, the cell contracts, the membrane relaxes, and the pores close. Genes encoding seven such channels have been found in the bacterium Escherichia coli and 10 in Arabidopsis thaliana, a small plant related to mustard and cabbage.

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New funds to tackle tree diseases

New funds to tackle tree diseases | AnnBot | Scoop.it

The UK government has said that it will invest £7m to tackle tree diseases, amid fears that millions of trees could be lost unless urgent action is taken. The Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity action plan was launched as scientists confirmed the arrival of a deadly disease in England among urban trees. Phytophtora lateralis was recorded in Devon on a Lawson cypress, a popular species in parks and gardens. Ministers hope the plan will tighten biosecurity measures and protect trees.

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Trees 'boost African crop yields'

Trees 'boost African crop yields' | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Planting trees that improve soil quality can help boost crop yields for African farmers and improve food security, an assessment shows.

 

The results appear in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability.

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What bananas tell us about radiation - as a unit for exposure

What bananas tell us about radiation - as a unit for exposure | AnnBot | Scoop.it

We cover much about the science of bananas on AoBBlog.com and in Annals of Botany - an even have the occassional article referring to radiation mutagenesis, since the crop cannot be bred conventionally by hybridization (when did you last eat a banana seed?). But the BBC now plans that we should use the amount of radiation in a banana as a unit for the dose of radiation: eating a banana will give you a 0.1 microSieverts dose.

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The Race to Grow the One-Ton Pumpkin

The Race to Grow the One-Ton Pumpkin | AnnBot | Scoop.it
Galvanized by the prospect of growing the world’s largest pumpkin, amateur gardeners are devising new strategies involving natural growth hormones, double grafting and more.
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Brazil cooks up transgenic bean

Brazil cooks up transgenic bean | AnnBot | Scoop.it

Paired with rice or steeped in feijoada stew, beans are an essential feature of Brazilian cuisine. So great is Brazil's love of legumes that demand often outstrips domestic supply, forcing the country to import beans from Argentina, Bolivia and China. But this relationship could face the ultimate test as Brazilian scientists roll out a transgenic pinto bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) engineered to fend off one of the crop's most devastating enemies: the golden mosaic virus.

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The return of the weird sex life of orchids

The return of the weird sex life of orchids | AnnBot | Scoop.it

The Guardian story that went AWOL this week is back.

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Plant genomes may help next generation respond to climate change

Plant genomes may help next generation respond to climate change | AnnBot | Scoop.it

In the face of climate change, animals have an advantage over plants: They can move. But a new study led by Brown University researchers shows that plants may have some tricks of their own.

In a paper published in Science, the research team identifies the genetic signature in the common European plant Arabidopsis thaliana that governs the plant’s fitness — its ability to survive and reproduce — in different climates. The researchers further find that climate in large measure influences the suite of genes passed on to Arabidopsis to optimize its survival and reproduction. The set of genes determining fitness varies, the team reports, depending on the climate conditions in the plant’s region — cold, warm, dry, wet, or otherwise. (pointed out by Rodomiro Ortiz rodomiroortiz(a)gmail dot com)

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Early detection of plant disease

Early detection of plant disease | AnnBot | Scoop.it

Each year, plant viruses and fungal attacks lead to crop losses of up to 30 percent. That is why it is important to detect plant disease early on. Yet laboratory tests are expensive and often time-consuming. Researchers are now developing a low-cost quick test for use on site.

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Decadal Plan for Plant Science Begins to Take Shape

Decadal Plan for Plant Science Begins to Take Shape | AnnBot | Scoop.it

"U.S. plant scientists have taken the first steps toward a 10-year plan to help improve global food supplies using sustainable practices and to make progress in understanding how plants work.


There is both a great need and great potential right now, says Gary Stacey, a plant scientist at the University of Missouri, Columbia, who chaired a closed meeting last week ... Food prices and the demand for food are rising, says Stacey, climate change is affecting natural habitats as well as cropland, and there’re increasing efforts to use plants for energy."

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Another look at science graduates: how many go into science

Another look at science graduates: how many go into science | AnnBot | Scoop.it

In the UK, "50% of [sceince] graduates who are employed within 6 months of graduating go into a ‘graduate job’ with different proportions of these going into scientific/technical jobs ... graduates entering a profession connected to their degree discipline ... are much higher than for the social sciences, arts and humanities. The figures also show that large proportions (30 – 40%) of science and engineering graduates continue their studies including, higher degrees, which suggests that are specialising further in order to increase their chances of gaining employment in a career related to their discipline" writes Sarah Blackford on the CaSE Science campaign blog.  In a letter in the Guardian today, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/09/science-graduates-careers , Imran Khan welcomes the diversity of jobs open to science graduates.

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Secrets of artificial leaf revealed

Secrets of artificial leaf revealed | AnnBot | Scoop.it

It isn't green and it doesn't grow, but the wafer sitting in a beaker of water in Dan Nocera's laboratory is remarkably like a leaf. Using a silicon solar cell coated with cheap and abundant catalysts, the device uses sunlight to rip apart molecules of water, just like a photosynthesizing leaf. This produces hydrogen and oxygen gases, which bubble up on either side of the wafer

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