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

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

The illustration shows the distribution routes of wheat based on its genetic similarity patterns. They are similar to human migration routes over the same period.

Wheat evolution mapped

Wheat gene pools changed in part due to socio-economic factors

As the world population grows and climate change progresses, food resources could become scarce in the future. That has ramped up the pressure on plant breeders to improve the yield of our staple plants, giving rise to a key question: Can existing varieties be optimized through breeding? To help boost the yield of today’s sorts, […] Read more

Corn in a Waksman Institute of Microbiology field in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Pollen genes mutate naturally in only some strains of corn

Science notes: Breeders have reported some lines are more genetically stable than others

Pollen genes mutate naturally in only some strains of corn, according to Rutgers-led research that may lead to better breeding of corn and other crops. Scientists at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and Montclair State University looked at gene mutations that arise spontaneously in corn plant pollen. Pollen grains are the male gametes, or reproductive cells, in […] Read more

Zone of inhibition produced by Streptomyces sp myrophorea on a lawn of MRSA. The bacteria is the brown spot, and the lighter colour around the spot shows that it is inhibiting the spread of the MRSA which is surrounding it.

Bacteria found in ancient Irish soil halts growth of superbugs

Science Notes: The discovery offers new hope for tackling antibiotic resistance

Researchers analyzing soil from Ireland long thought to have medicinal properties have discovered that it contains a previously unknown strain of bacteria effective against four of the top six superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics, including MRSA. Antibiotic resistant superbugs could kill up to 1.3 million people in Europe by 2050, according to recent research. […] Read more

Wheat is one of four crops including soybeans, corn and rice, that make up about half of the agriculture land in use on the planet.

Crop diversity declining worldwide

Science Notes: The number of different crops is increasing in North America but other regions are moving more toward monocultures

University of Toronto – A new University of Toronto study suggests that globally more of the same kinds of crops are being grown, and this presents major challenges for agricultural sustainability on a global scale. The study, by an international team of researchers led by University of Toronto assistant professor Adam Martin, used data from […] Read more


Wang and colleagues discovered that lignin has limited contact with cellulose inside a plant.

Scientists discover new ‘architecture’ in corn

Science Notes: Findings may improve biofuel production efficiency

New corn research has revealed a different internal structure of the plant than previously thought, which can help optimize how corn is converted into ethanol. “Our economy relies on ethanol, so it’s fascinating that we haven’t had a full and more precise understanding of the molecular structure of corn until now,” said Louisiana State University […] Read more

Potatoes are one of the crops to be tested with the improved photosynthesis process.

Increasing sunlight to energy conversion

Science Notes: Scientists believe plant productivity can be increased by as much as 40 per cent

Researchers believe they can boost crop productivity by as much as 40 per cent by engineering plants to improve how efficiently they convert the sunlight into energy via photosynthesis. Researchers from the University of Illinois and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service report in the journal Science that crops engineered with a photorespiratory shortcut […] Read more

The final stages of corn’s domestication appear to have happened more than once in more than one place.

Scientists overhaul corn domestication story with new analysis

Science Notes: Semi-wild proto-corn spread from Mexico to South America before becoming fully domesticated, offering new clues to its future

Smithsonian scientists and collaborators are revising the history of one of the world’s most important crops. Drawing on genetic and archaeological evidence, researchers have found that a predecessor of today’s corn plants still bearing many features of its wild ancestor, was likely brought to South America from Mexico more than 6,500 years ago. Farmers in […] Read more


An international team of more than three dozen researchers published a paper showing the potential of citizen science in agriculture and food research.

Citizen science can play role in addressing agricultural challenges

Science Notes: Local sampling and input can play a role in making agriculture research more efficient

An international team of more than three dozen researchers has published a paper highlighting the potential of citizen science to address pressing research challenges in agriculture and food systems. One key to capitalizing on such efforts, the researchers find, may be to build stronger ties between citizen science and agricultural extension efforts. “We define citizen […] Read more

Cows fed a clay-based binder had reduced aflatoxin in their milk.

Clay supplements boost cow immune systems

Science Notes: Clay binds to aflatoxin allowing it to be excreted through feces

In the fight against aflatoxin, dairy producers often turn to sequestering agents such as clay to reduce transference of the toxin into milk. It’s an effective tactic, but a new study from the University of Illinois shows that clay has additional benefits for overall cow health. “There has been a good amount of research showing […] Read more