A Rutgers study finds that symbiotic bacteria that colonize root cells may be managed to produce hardier crops that need less fertilizer.

Bacteria boost plant root hair growth

Science Notes: Symbiotic bacteria in root cells may be key to producing better crops, study finds

Reading Time: 2 minutes A Rutgers study has found that symbiotic bacteria that colonize root cells may be managed to produce hardier crops that need less fertilizer. The study appeared in the journal Microorganisms. Bacteria stimulate root hair growth in all plants that form root hairs, so the researchers examined the chemical interactions between bacteria inside root cells. They […] Read more

“How much a plant accumulates GABA when it is stressed determines how much it applies the brake pedal to reduce the pore opening the following morning, and water loss that day - like a stress memory of the day before.” – Dr. Bo Xu.

Plant drought tolerance relates to pore openings

Science Notes: Molecule associated with relaxation controls the size of pores and water loss

Reading Time: 2 minutes A team of Australian and German researchers has discovered a novel pathway that plants can use to save water and improve their drought tolerance. The research published recently in Nature Communications shows that the molecule GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), most commonly associated with relaxation in animals, can control the size of the pores on plant leaves […] Read more

Researchers found a biosynthetic network that shapes root microbiota.

A plant’s roots tailor its soil environment

Science Notes: Plants maintain the metabolites around them, which helps explain why plants grow in so many places

Reading Time: 2 minutes The small mustard plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) produces specialized metabolites capable of selectively altering the microbial communities of the soil surrounding its roots to suit its own purposes. While the findings may be useful in engineering beneficial root microbiota for sustainable agriculture, they may also, in part, explain why plants have evolved such vast metabolic diversification. […] Read more

A bumblebee on a strawberry flower.

Bee-based disease prevention

Inoculating flowering plants with insect-delivered fungus can help limit disease

Reading Time: 4 minutes Fungi that can inoculate crops against disease can be applied using insects — bumblebees, to be specific. According to Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT) — a Canadian company with offices in the United States and Europe, and in the process of commercializing such a service — Bombus-delivered inoculants offer fruit farmers another way to augment their […] Read more

Almost all piglets who get Transmissible Gastroenteritis Virus die from it.

Eliminating enzyme creates virus-resistant pigs

Science Notes: The gene-edited pigs are resistant to the Transmissible Gastroenteritis Virus

Reading Time: 2 minutes Researchers at the University of Missouri have successfully produced a litter of pigs that are genetically resistant to a deadly porcine virus. Coronaviruses, highly contagious and widespread viruses known for their distinctive microscopic halos, are responsible for a variety of deadly intestinal diseases in livestock. Why it matters: The innovation will help reduce the financial […] Read more


In the world’s largest study of so-called “jumping genes,” the researchers traced two particular jumping genes.

Australian scientists find species-jumping genes more common than thought

Cross-species gene transfers, even between plants and animals have occurred frequently

Reading Time: 2 minutes University of Adelaide, Australia, scientists have shown that widespread transfer of genes between species has radically changed the genomes of today’s mammals and been an important driver of evolution. In the world’s largest study of so-called “jumping genes,” the researchers traced two particular jumping genes across 759 species of plants, animals and fungi. These jumping […] Read more

Some rice can grow metres-long quickly to stay above floodwaters.

Wild genetic adaptations can have many uses

Science Notes: A gene that helps rice grow taller in floods is a variant of rice genes used to rapidly increase yield

Reading Time: < 1 minute When floodwaters rise, some rice varieties rapidly grow taller to keep from drowning. A new study identifies the key gene responsible for the deep-water rice adaptation — SD1 (semidwarf 1). It’s a variant of the gene responsible for the increased grain yield that launched the rice Green Revolution. The ability of this gene to function […] Read more