Agriculture

Green Blossom of Pittsburgh
October 5, 2007 12:41 PM - Greg Boulos, Ecological Home Ideas

Pittsburgh, PA - Many environmentally conscious urbanites dream of how great it would be to utilize the untapped flat rooftops that span every urban block in our nation. In Pittsburgh it narrows to one, Ernie Sota, who in the late 1970s proposed to add a biophilic space to the roof of his Victorian-era row house. After buying the building for a mere $8,000 and renovating it with his wife, Jan, Ernie stood before the zoning board and requested four variances to integrate a new type of urban yard into the roof of the building. He was granted his request. By utilizing the flat space as a garden and capturing the heating potential in a greenhouse to supplement the gas furnace, the Sotas were able to reduce their heat bills, grow some of their own food and spend time relaxing in a natural setting above the bustle of the city below.

Organic Tofu Recall, Listeria Discovered
October 5, 2007 12:05 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

San Francisco - As a precaution, a San Francisco tofu company has expanded a recall of their organic tofu. The soy products are being recalled after a bacteria called   San Francisco - As a precaution, a San Francisco tofu company has expanded a recall of their organic tofu after a bacteria called  Listeria monocytogenes was discovered in three of 29 products and 3 plant swabs. The organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. The company, Quong Hop & Co. of South San Francisco, California issued the recall voluntarily. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

 

CDC suspects 29 E.coli cases linked to Topps beef
October 4, 2007 08:27 PM -

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 29 cases of E.coli illness are suspected to be linked to the 21.7 million lbs of recalled ground beef products from Topps Meat Company LLC.

No deaths have been linked to the meat. The 29 cases were in eight states: Connecticut (two cases), Florida (one), Indiana (one), Maine (one), New Jersey (six), New York (nine) Ohio (one) and Pennsylvania (eight), according to a posting on the CDC's Web site.

Study: Vitamin C Essential For Plant Growth
October 4, 2007 07:38 PM -

University of Exeter - Scientists from the University of Exeter and Shimane University in Japan have proved for the first time that vitamin C is essential for plant growth. This discovery could have implications for agriculture and for the production of vitamin C dietary supplements.

The study, which is published in The Plant Journal, describes the newly-identified enzyme, GDP-L-galactose phosphorylase, which produces vitamin C, or ascorbate, in plants. Vitamin C is already known to be an antioxidant, which helps plants deal with stresses from drought to ozone and UV radiation, but until now it was not known that plants could not grow without it.

 

Bee Mating Habits Effect Queen's Physiology, Behavior, Permanently
October 4, 2007 07:30 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Mating has profound effects on the physiology and behavior of female insects, and in honey bee (Apis mellifera) queens, these changes are permanent.

Queens mate with multiple males during a brief period in their early adult lives, and shortly thereafter they initiate egg-laying. Furthermore, the pheromone profiles of mated queens differ from those of virgins, and these pheromones regulate many different aspects of worker behavior and colony organization. While it is clear that mating causes dramatic changes in queens, it is unclear if mating number has more subtle effects on queen physiology or queen-worker interactions; indeed, the effect of multiple matings on female insect physiology has not been broadly addressed.

Scientists Unlock Genome Of Crop Destroying Fungus
October 4, 2007 07:08 PM -

Purdue, Indiana - Why a pathogen is a pathogen may be answered as scientists study the recently mapped genetic makeup of a fungus that spawns the worst cereal grains disease known and also can produce toxins potentially fatal to people and livestock.

The fungus, which is especially destructive to wheat and barley, has resulted in an estimated $10 billion in damage to U.S. crops over the past 10 years. The scientists who sequenced the fungus' genes said that the genome will help them discover what makes this particular pathogen so harmful, what triggers the process that spreads the fungus and why various fungi attack specific plants.

How 'Mother of Thousands' Makes Plantlets
October 4, 2007 06:48 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

Davis, California - New research shows how the houseplant "mother of thousands", a plant officially called "Kalanchoe diagremontiana" makes the tiny plantlets that drop from the edges of its leaves. In an amazing twist of evolution, this houseplant, having lost the ability to make viable seeds, shifted some of the processes that make seeds to the leaves, said Neelima Sinha, professor of plant biology at UC Davis.

Scientists Get $1 Million To Demonstrate How Restored Prairies Filter Water, Produce Bioenergy
October 3, 2007 07:44 PM -

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL - University of Minnesota researchers Clarence Lehman, John Nieber and David Tilman and colleagues have been awarded a $1.07 million grant to show how restored prairie areas can act as buffers to filter water polluted by agriculture while simultaneously producing bioenergy.

The strategy will also conserve prairies, expand areas available for wildlife habitats, reduce the amount of water needed for biofuels, enhance biodiversity in Minnesota and reduce Minnesota's greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering carbon.

Rain Stops Banff Beetle Blight Burn
October 3, 2007 06:54 PM - Reuters

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Wet weather has thwarted a Canadian plan to stem the spread of tree-killing pine beetles eastward through the Rocky Mountains by burning an Alberta forest near Banff National Park, an official said on Wednesday.

The province of Alberta had planned to burn about 80 square kilometers of trees last week and it is now too late to make the attempt this year, said Duncan MacDonnell, a spokesman for the province's Sustainable Resource Development ministry.

Expert calls for "Green Super Rice" to be developed
October 2, 2007 08:15 AM - Reuters

A hybrid high-yielding rice that is rich in nutrients, resistant to pests and drought and which requires fewer fertilizers and pesticides should be developed, a Chinese agricultural expert said on Tuesday.

Writing in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Qifa Zhang of Huazhong Agricultural University in China's central Wuhan city, said genes for at least 10 of these desired traits have been isolated and were available for breeding purposes.

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