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Hemlock Trees Saved from Woolly Adelgid With 'Forest Fungus Factory' PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 July 2011 09:35
Hemlock is the third most common tree species in Vermont. But it soon may drop off the list, going the way of the now-vanished chestnut and elm. An invasive pest, hemlock woolly adelgid, has been marching and munching its way north along the Appalachians -- killing pretty much every hemlock it can sink its sap-sucking mouthparts into. The adelgid recently arrived in southern Vermont.

So far, only extreme cold stops the hemlock woolly adelgid. But the University of Vermont's Scott Costa may soon give forest managers and homeowners a tool to fight back.

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A Novel and Potent Antioxidant Found in Tomato Plants, Initial Results Suggest PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 July 2011 09:14
A team of researchers from the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMCP) -a joint centre of the Universitat Politècnica de València and CSIC, the Spanish National Research Council- have identified a novel and potent natural antioxidant occurring in tomato plants. It is a phenolic substance that is synthesised by the tomato plant when it is subjected to biotic stress. Until now, it was completely unknown.

The UPV and CSIC have registered the national and international patents of the new antioxidant and the laboratory procedures used to isolate and synthesise it chemically.

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Plan to End Use of Environmentally Harmful Chemicals on Commercial Crops Developed PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 22 July 2011 03:05
Two University of Alberta researchers have published a step by step plan to one-day end the use of environmentally harmful chemicals on commercial crops by developing plants that produce their own fertilizer.

U of A plant biologist Allen Good says the energy required to produce nitrogen fertilizers has pushed the world-wide cost for agricultural producers to a $100 billion a year. Good says that while they are necessary for high yields, those nitrogen fertilizers also damage the environment.

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Spread of Fungus-Farming Beetles Is Bad News for Trees PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 22 July 2011 02:56
North Carolina State University researchers have found that a subset of fungus-farming ambrosia beetles may be in the early stages of a global epidemic threatening a number of economically important trees, including avocados, poplars and oaks.

"Only about 12 species of ambrosia beetle are creating problems so far, but there are thousands of other species in the world, many of which could be devastating to any number of tree species," says Dr. Jiri Hulcr, a postdoctoral research associate at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the research. "Dutch elm disease is also caused by a fungus that is spread by beetles, and it ravaged the elm population in North America and Europe."

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Loss of Large Predators Disrupting Multiple Plant, Animal and Human Ecosystems PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 July 2011 09:23
The enormous decline of large, apex predators and "consumers" ranging from wolves to lions, sharks and sea otters may represent the most powerful impacts humans have ever had on Earth's ecosystems, a group of 24 researchers concluded in a new report in the journal Science.

The decline of such species around the world is much greater than previously understood and now affects many other ecological processes through what scientists call "trophic cascades," in which the loss of "top down" predation severely disrupts many other plant and animal species.

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Record Long Algal Bloom in Disko Bay, Greenland PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 July 2011 09:13
The spring bloom of plant plankton in Disko Bay has been unusually long this year. While in some years, it may have a short burst of just two weeks, this year Disko Bay was filled with plankton alga for more than six weeks.

"Right up to the end of May we were observing high concentrations of alga, and it is only recently that the bloom has started to decrease. It is the first time that we have got measurements and data from such a long bloom. It will be interesting to examine the data in detail," says Professor Torkel Gissel Nielsen from the National Institute of Aquatic Resources (DTU Aqua) in Denmark.

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Latin American Blueberries Found to Be 'Extreme Superfruits' PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 17 July 2011 12:33
One of the treats of summer -- fresh, antioxidant-rich blueberries -- has new competition for the title of "superfruit."

But at least the contenders are keeping the title in the family.

Researchers have found that two species of wild blueberries native to the tropical regions of Central and South America -- the New World tropics, or Neotropics -- contain two to four times more antioxidants than the blueberries sold in U.S. markets.

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Soil Microbes Accelerate Global Warming PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 17 July 2011 12:19
More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes soil to release the potent greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide, new research published in this week's edition of Nature reveals. "This feedback to our changing atmosphere means that nature is not as efficient in slowing global warming as we previously thought," said Dr Kees Jan van Groenigen, Research Fellow at the Botany department at the School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, and lead author of the study.
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New Understandings of Circadian Rhythms PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 15 July 2011 07:20
A tiny plant called Arabidopsis thaliana just helped scientists unearth new clues about the daily cycles of many organisms, including humans. This is the latest in a long line of research, much of it supported by the National Institutes of Health, that uses plants to solve puzzles in human health.

While other model organisms may seem to have more in common with us, greens like Arabidopsis provide an important view into genetics, cell division and especially light sensing, which drives 24-hour behavioral cycles called circadian rhythms.

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Orchids and Fungi: An Unexpected Case of Symbiosis PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 July 2011 20:21
The majority of orchids are found in habitats where light may be a limiting factor. In such habitats it is not surprising that many achlorophyllous (lacking chlorophyll), as well as green, orchids depend on specific mycorrhizal fungal symbionts to supply them with carbohydrates in order to grow. However, orchids are found in a wide range of habitats and range in their photosynthetic capabilities. For those orchids that are fully photosynthetic, and presumably capable of acquiring their own organic carbon, are they less reliant on a specific suite of mycorrhizal fungi? A new study that examines fungal diversity in orchids in open sunny habitats, questions this assumption.
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The Tallest Tree in All the Land PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 July 2011 09:33
The next time you're outdoors, see if you can spot the tallest tree. If you're in the desert Southwest, this may be an easy task -- trees there are few and far between, and tend to hunch low to the ground to conserve resources. In the temperate Northeast, dense forests make the exercise a bit more difficult. And in the rainy Northwest, the towering stands of sequoias often reach higher than the eye can estimate.

Knowing how tall trees can grow in any given region can give ecologists a wealth of information, from the potential density of a forest and size of its tree canopy to the amount of carbon stored in woodlands and the overall health of an ecosystem.

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Six new species of Eucalantica micro-moths discovered from the New World PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 July 2011 08:41

The Eucalantica genus belongs to the relatively primitive micro-moth group, Yponomeutidae. Six new species have been described by Mr. Jae-Cheon Sohn from the University of Maryland, College Park, USA and Mr. Kenji Nishida from Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica and published in the open access taxonomy journal Zookeys.

"Yponomeutid moths are important group in tracing the evolution of plant association in Lepidoptera. In spite of this importance, the family has been neglected by systematists and its biodiversity and phylogeny remain poorly understood" comments Mr. Sohn, Ph. D. candidate.

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As Agricultural Riches Waylay Pollinators, an Endangered Tree Suffers PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 22 July 2011 03:04
For the conservation of species, hostile territory might sometimes have its advantages. That's according to a study of pollen flow among trees found only in remnant patches of native Chilean forest. The data show that the pollinators those rare trees rely on can be waylaid by the abundance of resources found in agricultural lands. As a result, trees growing in native forest patches are more likely to mate successfully when separated by resource-poor pine plantations than by those more attractive farmlands.
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Unlisted Ingredients in Teas and Herbal Brews Revealed in DNA Tests by High School Students PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 22 July 2011 01:41
Take a second look at your iced or steaming tea. Guided by scientific experts, three New York City high school students using tabletop DNA technologies found several herbal brews and a few brands of tea contain ingredients unlisted on the manufacturers' package.

The teen sleuths also demonstrated new-to-science genetic variation between broad-leaf teas from exported from India versus small-leaf teas exported from China.

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Origami in Seed Capsules: Lids on Seed Cases of the Ice Plant Unfold When Honeycomb Structure Swells Inside Them PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 19 July 2011 09:16
A number of plants disperse their seeds in a rather artistic way: the seed capsules of the ice plant Delosperma nakurense, for instance, unfold lids over the seed compartments in the manner of a movable origami when they are moistened by rain. This is the finding of researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam and the Technische Universität Dresden in a precise investigation of the opening mechanism. The lids open up because cells on the inside of them absorb water and change their structure. The plant, which grows in very arid regions, thereby ensures that its seeds have a good chance of opening. The researchers are keen to use this model to develop materials that move when they become wet or when their temperature changes.
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Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia Yield 18 New Species of Rare Ferns and Flowering Plants PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 July 2011 09:10
Recent botanical exploration efforts in the rugged Marquesas Islands (French Polynesia) have increased the known flora of the archipelago by an impressive 20%. Field research and collecting in conjunction with the Vascular Flora of the Marquesas Islands and Flore de la Polynesie française projects have yielded 62 new species of ferns and flowering plants bringing the total native species to 360, of which 18 are newly described and illustrated in a special issue of PhytoKeys.
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Enzymes for Cell Wall Synthesis Conserved Across Species Barriers PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 17 July 2011 12:22
Plants have neither supportive bone tissue nor muscles, and yet they can form rigid structures like stalks and even tree trunks. This is due to the fact that plant cells are enveloped by a stable cell wall. The main component of the plant cell wall is cellulose, which represents almost 50 percent of the total cell wall material and, at one billion tonnes per year, is the most frequently produced macromolecule in nature. Very little is known about the way in which cellulose is produced, and the knowledge that is available has mainly been obtained from the model plant thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) which, although easy to study, is of no economic significance.
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Climate Adaptation of Rice PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 17 July 2011 12:16
Rice -- which provides nearly half the daily calories for the world's population -- could become adapted to climate change and some catastrophic events by colonizing its seeds or plants with the spores of tiny naturally occurring fungi, just-published U.S. Geological Survey-led research shows.
In an effort to explore ways to increase the adaptability of rice to climatic scourges such as tsunamis and tidal surges that have already led to rice shortages, USGS researchers and their colleagues colonized two commercial varieties of rice with the spores of fungi that exist naturally within native coastal (salt-tolerant) and geothermal (heat-tolerant) plants.
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Biologists Discover an 'Evening' Protein Complex That Regulates Plant Growth PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 15 July 2011 07:11
Farmers and other astute observers of nature have long known that crops like corn and sorghum grow taller at night. But the biochemical mechanisms that control this nightly stem elongation, common to most plants, have been something of a mystery to biologists -- until now.
In this week's early online publication of the journal Nature, biologists at the University of California, San Diego report their discovery of a protein complex they call the "evening complex" that regulates the rhythmic growth of plants during the night. More importantly, the biologists show how this protein complex is intricately coordinated through the biological clock with the genes that promote stem elongation in a way that could enable plant breeders to engineer new varieties of crops that grow faster, produce greater yields of food or generate more biomass per acre of land for conversion into biofuels.
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One in 10 Species Could Face Extinction: Decline in Species Shows Climate Change Warnings Not Exaggerated, Research Finds PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 14 July 2011 19:41
One in 10 species could face extinction by the year 2100 if current climate change impacts continue. This is the result of University of Exeter research, examining studies on the effects of recent climate change on plant and animal species and comparing this with predictions of future declines.

Published in leading journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the study uses the well-established IUCN Red List for linking population declines to extinction risk. The research examines nearly 200 predictions of the future effects of climate change from studies conducted around the world, as well as 130 reports of changes which have already occurred.

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