Tag Archives: plant

MU Researchers Find Boron Facilitates Stem Cell Growth and Development in Corn

Results could lead to advancements in corn crop yields and farming techniques

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Boron deficiency is one of the most widespread causes of reduced crop yield. Missouri and the eastern half of the United States are plagued by boron deficient soil and, often, corn and soybean farmers are required to supplement their soil with boron; however, little is known about the ways in which corn plants utilize the essential nutrient. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that boron plays an integral role in development and reproduction in corn plants. Scientists anticipate that understanding how corn uses the nutrient can help farmers make informed decisions in boron deficient areas and improve crop yields. (more…)

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First Step to Reduce Plant Need for Nitrogen Fertilizer Uncovered in Science Study

MU scientists say discovery could save farmers billions and protect the environment.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Nitrogen fertilizer costs U.S. farmers approximately $8 billion each year, and excess fertilizer can find its way into rivers and streams, damaging the delicate water systems. Now, a discovery by a team of University of Missouri researchers could be the first step toward helping crops use less nitrogen, benefitting both farmers’ bottom lines and the environment. The journal Science published the research this month.

Gary Stacey, an investigator in the MU Bond Life Sciences Center and professor of plant sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, found that crops, such as corn, are “confused” when confronted with an invasive, but beneficial, bacteria known as rhizobia bacteria. When the bacteria interact correctly with a crop, the bacteria receive some food from the plant and, simultaneously, produce nitrogen that most plants need. In his study, Stacey found that many other crops recognize the bacteria, but do not attempt to interact closely with them. (more…)

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Do peppers reduce risk of Parkinson’s?

Eating peppers — which are in the same botanical family as tobacco — may reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. The findings are reported in the May 9 edition of the Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society.

Nearly one million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that results from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. In early stages, Parkinson’s is characterized by difficulties in controlling movement. Initial symptoms include hand tremors, limb rigidity, and problems walking. As the disease progresses, cognitive problems may develop and advance into dementia. (more…)

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Reducing arsenic in food chain

Soil may harbor answer to reducing arsenic in rice

Harsh Bais and Janine Sherrier of the University of Delaware’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences are studying whether a naturally occurring soil bacterium, referred to asUD1023 because it was first characterized at the University, can create an iron barrier in rice roots that reduces arsenic uptake.

Rice, grown as a staple food for a large portion of the world’s population, absorbs arsenic from the environment and transfers it to the grain. Arsenic is classified as a poison by the National Institutes of Health and is considered a carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program. (more…)

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‘Fat Worms’ Inch Scientists toward Better Biofuel Production

Fat worms confirm that researchers from Michigan State University have successfully engineered a plant with oily leaves ­– a feat that could enhance biofuel production as well as lead to improved animal feeds.

The results, published in the current issue of The Plant Cell, the journal of the American Society of Plant Biologists, show that researchers could use an algae gene involved in oil production to engineer a plant that stores lipids or vegetable oil in its leaves – an uncommon occurrence for most plants. (more…)

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Emerging Consensus Shows Climate Change Already Having Major Effects on Ecosystems and Species

Plant and animal species are shifting their geographic ranges and the timing of their life events – such as flowering, laying eggs or migrating – at faster rates than researchers documented just a few years ago, according to a technical report on biodiversity and ecosystems used as scientific input for the 2013 Third National Climate Assessment.

The report, Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services, synthesizes the scientific understanding of the way climate change is affecting ecosystems, ecosystem services and the diversity of species, as well as what strategies might be used by natural resource practitioners to decrease current and future risks. More than 60 federal, academic and other scientists, including the lead authors from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Wildlife Federation and Arizona State University in Tempe, authored the assessment. (more…)

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A Better Route to Xylan

Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Find New Access to Abundant Biomass for Advanced Biofuels

After cellulose, xylan is the most abundant biomass material on Earth, and therefore represents an enormous potential source of stored solar energy for the production of advance biofuels. A major roadblock, however, has been extracting xylan from plant cell walls. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have taken a significant step towards removing this roadblock by identifying a gene in rice plants whose suppression improves both the extraction of xylan and the overall release of the sugars needed to make biofuels.

The newly identified gene – dubbed XAX1 – acts to make xylan less extractable from plant cell walls. JBEI researchers, working with a mutant variety of rice plant – dubbed xax1 – in which the XAX1 gene has been “knocked-out” found that not only was xylan more extractable, but saccharification – the breakdown of carbohydrates into releasable sugars – also improved by better than 60-percent. Increased saccharification is key to more efficient production of advanced biofuels. (more…)

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NASA Maps How Nutrients Affect Plant Productivity

PASADENA, Calif. – A new analysis led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has estimated how much the growth of plants worldwide is limited by the amount of nutrients available in their soil. The maps produced from the research will be particularly useful in evaluating how much carbon dioxide Earth’s ecosystems may be able to soak up as greenhouse gas levels increase.

A research team led by JPL research scientist Josh Fisher used 19 years of data from NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and international satellites to assess the maximum possible growth of vegetation all over the world based upon available water and light conditions. The scientists then cross-compared that potential maximum with observed vegetation productivity as measured by satellites. This is the first time such an analysis has been conducted. (more…)

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