Botany News -- ScienceDaily Botany news. Read about the latest research on experimental crops, dramatic changes in forest growth, ancient flowering plants and more.

  • Crop-saving soil tests now at farmers' fingertips
    on February 23, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    Soil pathogen testing -- critical to farming, but painstakingly slow and expensive -- will soon be done accurately, quickly, inexpensively and onsite, thanks to new research. […]

  • New approach to improve nitrogen use, enhance yield, and promote flowering in rice
    on February 23, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Using nitrogen fertilizer increases crop yields, but excess runoff causes environmental pollution. Moreover, in grains such as rice, large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer can delay flowering, leaving the crop vulnerable to late-season cold weather. A recent study has identified a rice nitrate transporter that can be overexpressed to increase grain yield and accelerate flowering. This approach has the potential to improve grain yields while avoiding the downside of late maturation. […]

  • Climate warming causes local extinction of Rocky Mountain wildflower species
    on February 21, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    New research has established a causal link between climate warming and the localized extinction of a common Rocky Mountain flowering plant, a result that could serve as a herald of future population declines. […]

  • Scientists create 'Evolutionwatch' for plants
    on February 21, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Using a hitchhiking weed, scientists reveal for the first time the mutation rate of a plant growing in the wild. […]

  • Tropical trees use unique method to resist drought
    on February 21, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Tropical trees in the Amazon Rainforest may be more drought resistant than previously thought, according to a new study. That's good news, since the Amazon stores about 20 percent of all carbon in the Earth's biomass, which helps reduce global warming by lowering the planet's greenhouse gas levels. […]

  • Theory suggests root efficiency, independence drove global spread of flora
    on February 21, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Researchers suggest that plants spread worldwide thanks to root adaptations that allowed them to become more efficient and independent. As plant species spread, roots became thinner so they could more efficiently explore poor soils for nutrients, and they shed their reliance on symbiotic fungi. The researchers report that root diameter and reliance on fungi most consistently characterize the plant communities across entire biomes such as deserts, savannas and temperate forests. […]

  • How bacteria manipulate plants
    on February 21, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    Attack at the protein front: Xanthomonas bacteria cause diseases in tomato and pepper plants and inject harmful proteins into plant cells. Researchers have now discovered how one of these proteins manipulates the nutrient supply and hormonal balance of plants. […]

  • New weakness discovered in the sleeping sickness pathogen
    on February 21, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    Trypanosomes are single-celled parasites that cause diseases such as human African sleeping sickness and Nagana in animals. But they are also used in basic research as a model system to study fundamental biological questions. Researchers have now investigated how trypanosomes equally distribute their “power plant” to the daughter cells during cell division. The discovered mechanism potentially opens new avenues for drug interventions. […]

  • Climate change, evolution, and what happens when researchers are also friends
    on February 20, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    A new study that addresses how climate change is affecting the evolution of organisms underscores the need for evolutionary, ecosystem and climate scientists to work together to better understand eco-evolutionary feedback dynamics. […]

  • 'Demographic compensation' may not save plants facing changing climate
    on February 20, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    A large-scale study shows mixed results for hypothesis on how plants deal with climate change. […]

  • Designing microbial communities to help plants battle nutritional stress
    on February 20, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    Plants and microbes engage in a diverse array of symbiotic relationships, but identifying the specific microbes or groups of microbes that contribute to plant health is extremely difficult. Researchers have devised a general experimental scheme to identify and predict which small groups of bacterial species can help plants respond to phosphate starvation, a form of nutritional stress. […]

  • Oil-eating microbes are challenged in the Arctic
    on February 20, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Bacteria play a major role in cleaning up oil spills and mitigating its environmental impacts. In a new paper, researchers examine the major limiting factors for microbial degradation in Arctic environments. […]

  • Lasers revolutionize mapping of forests
    on February 20, 2018 at 2:34 pm

    New laser scanning technologies are being used to map forests in more detail than ever before. […]

  • New light shed on how plants get their nitrogen fix
    on February 16, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    Legumes are widely-consumed plants that use soil bacteria to obtain nitrogen through root nodulation. The process is energetically costly, and so legumes inhibit nodulation when soil nitrate is available. However, the mechanism that drives this inhibition is unknown. Researchers found that NRSYM1 is responsible for inhibiting nodulation in the presence of nitrate, and acts by directly regulating gene expression. The findings may aid agricultural efforts to improve the crop efficiency of legumes. […]

  • At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
    on February 15, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Butterflies offer key insights into community ecology, how species originate and evolve, climate change and interactions between plants and insects. But a comprehensive map of how butterflies are related to each other has been lacking -- until now. […]

  • Plant survival under high salinity: Plant cell wall sensing mechanism
    on February 15, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    How cells sense their physical state and compensate for cell wall damage is poorly understood. But a new analysis of plants exposed to salt stress offers the first experimental evidence and molecular mechanisms showing how FERONIA is essential for the cellular responses that ensure survival under high salinity. […]

  • The more kinds of bees, the better for humans
    on February 15, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    The bigger the area to pollinate, the more species of wild bees you need to pollinate it. […]

  • Hunting is changing forests, but not as expected
    on February 15, 2018 at 5:50 pm

    In many tropical forests, over-hunting is diminishing the populations of animals who are vital for dispersing the seeds of woody plants. Those same plants are vital for carbon storage and previous theoretical modeling studies predicted dire consequences to defaunation, this research suggests otherwise. Instead the data shows the effects on the ecosystem are less straightforward and less immediately devastating. […]

  • Mystery of phytoplankton survival in nutrient-poor pacific
    on February 15, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Upwelling in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean provides essential nutrients for the region’s microscopic plants, but iron – a key ingredient that facilitates nitrogen consumption – is in short supply. To compensate, the phytoplankton band together to recycle the scarce metal and retain it in their upper-ocean habitat, scientists have discovered. […]

  • Light determines the genes that function in plant growth
    on February 14, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    The xylem is essential for transporting water across the entire plant body. Its development is heavily regulated by VASCULAR-RELATED NAC-DOMAIN (VND) genes. Scientists report a new experimental system that shows three VND genes are necessary for xylem differentiation in cotyledons in darkness but not in light. The study gives clues on how environmental factors can be modified to stimulate plant growth. […]

  • Building a DNA barcode library for the Canadian flora using herbarium collections
    on February 13, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    Researchers have built a DNA barcode library for the vascular plant flora of Canada based entirely on herbarium collections. DNA barcode libraries are important to facilitate plant identification for a variety of studies including analysis and regulation of supplements, food, and environmental or ancient DNA. The scale of the study surpasses previous library-building efforts, providing barcodes for 98 percent of Canada's vascular plant species (5,076 of 5,190). […]

  • Genetic limits threaten chickpeas, a globally critical food
    on February 13, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    Scientists have discovered an extreme lack of genetic diversity and other threats to the future adaptability of domestic chickpeas, the primary source of protein of 20 percent of the world's people. But they also collected wild relatives of chickpeas in Turkey that hold great promise as a source of new genes for traits like drought-resistance, resistance to pod-boring beetles, and heat tolerance. […]

  • Plants feel the heat, especially at night
    on February 13, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Scientists have solved a 79-year-old mystery by discovering how plants vary their response to heat stress depending on the time of day. This understanding could help with breeding commercial crops able to produce higher yields in hotter climates as predicted under climate change. […]

  • Weeds out of control
    on February 12, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Herbicides can no longer control the weeds that threaten crop productivity and food security in the UK because the plants have evolved resistance, and future control must depend on management strategies that reduce reliance on chemicals. So concludes a nationwide epidemiological assessment of the factors that are driving the abundance and spread of the major agricultural weed, black-grass. […]

  • Researchers raise a 170-million-year question over mysterious moss gene
    on February 12, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    A surprise discovery provides insight into how cells build their external walls and raises questions about a one-of-a-kind, fused gene. […]

  • Global warming could cause key culinary crops to release seeds prematurely
    on February 12, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Climate change is threatening crop yields worldwide, yet little is known about how global warming will confuse normal plant physiology. Researchers now show that higher temperatures accelerate seed dispersal in crop species belonging to the cabbage and mustard plant family, limiting reproductive success, and this effect is mediated by a gene called INDEHISCENT. […]

  • Organic food provides significant environmental benefits to plant-rich diets
    on February 9, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    A study of the diets of 34,000 people confirms that a diet high in fruit and vegetables is better for the planet than one high in animal products. The study also finds that organic food provides significant, additional climate benefits for plant-based diets, but not for diets with only moderate contribution from plant products. This is the first-ever study to look at the environmental impacts of both food choices and farm production systems. […]

  • Snacking snakes act as ‘ecosystem engineers’ in seed dispersal
    on February 8, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    Despite the bad rap snakes often get, they are more central to ecology than most people realize. New research reveals that snakes might even play a key role in dispersing plant seeds. […]

  • Nursery stock, homeowner preferences drive tree diversity in Salt Lake Valley
    on February 8, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    What factors shape the formation of a new urban forest? Researchers' survey of tree species diversity in the Salt Lake Valley found that diversity can be shaped by the species available in nurseries, the preferences of the homeowners, and even the tree selections of their neighbors. […]

  • First report in decades of a forgotten crop pathogen calls for critical close monitoring
    on February 8, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Scientists, breeders, farmers and conservation groups must continue to work in close collaboration to prepare for the potential re-emergence of a forgotten crop pathogen, a new study advises today. […]