• Study: Vitamin C Essential For Plant Growth

    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.

     

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  • Bee Mating Habits Effect Queen's Physiology, Behavior, Permanently

    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.
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  • Should Organics be Tested for GMOs?

    Iowa - A recent disturbing incident of GMO contamination of organic soybeans raises the question of whether organic foods should be tested for genetically modified material. The US National Organic Program rules prohibit GMOs in organics but don't require methods to prohibit GMO contamination or establish thresholds for adventitious GM presence. The Organic & Non-GMO Report surveyed organic industry experts to obtain their thoughts on the question of testing.

    According to Billy Hunter, an Iowa-based organic inspector, many organic food companies are ignoring the genetically modified food threat. "Many companies have their heads in the sand about the issue," says Hunter, who conducts organic inspections for certifiers such as Quality Assurance International and Oregon Tilth, as well as audits for a non-GMO certification firm.

    "Heads in the sand doesn't solve the problem"
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  • Scientists Unlock Genome Of Crop Destroying Fungus

    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.
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  • How 'Mother of Thousands' Makes Plantlets

    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. >> Read the Full Article
  • Scientists Get $1 Million To Demonstrate How Restored Prairies Filter Water, Produce Bioenergy

    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.
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  • Rain Stops Banff Beetle Blight Burn

    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.

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  • Los Angeles School Gardens Take Root, Get Funding

    LOS ANGELES - Some California schoolkids are going to have the opportunity to grow their lunch, and many more plants.

    California Secretary of Agriculture, A.G. Kawamura, is scheduled to address the teachers and principals this week on the important role school gardens play on campus as "learning laboratories." LA schools will be receiving more than $1.7 million in CISGP grant funds to be used for supplies, professional development and technical assistance for school gardens at more than 500 sites this school year. More than 30,000 seedlings will be available for teachers who are interested in launching or enhancing their own school garden.

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  • Expert calls for "Green Super Rice" to be developed

    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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  • China Suspends Soybean Imports From US , Beetle Infestation Discovered

    Beijing, China - China's quality control administration said on Friday that it found live khapra beetles in soybeans imported from the United States. The beetle is a much-feared pest that can destroy soybean stores.

    A statement from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said the 460 tons of soybeans shipped by the U.S.-based Scoular Company contained the beetles and "other species of harmful insects," without elaborating. Ragweed seeds were also detected in the 21 containers. >> Read the Full Article