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ScienceDaily - Agriculture and Food News

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Agriculture and Food News -- ScienceDaily

Agricultural research news. From fertilizers and organic farming to maximizing crops and hybridization, read about advancements in agriculture.

Planetary boundaries for antibiotic and pesticide resistance identified
Researchers have now published the first estimates of antibiotic and pesticide 'planetary boundaries.' The researchers suggest that if resistance to antibiotics and pesticides goes beyond these boundaries, societies risk large-scale health and agricultural crises. The results indicate one group of bacteria has passed a boundary.



Farmer adjustments can offset climate change impacts in corn production
New research looks closely at the future of maize crop yields with the effects of climate change.



Pollution in cities damaging insects and ecosystems
High levels of pollution found in many of the world's major cities are having negative effects on plants and insects, according to new research.



Waking sleeping plants with plasmas
A critical concern for commercial farmers is to have good and synchronized tree growth. The problem in mild winter climates is that plants do not receive enough chilling, and growth resumption becomes spread out with some buds even failing to grow. Now scientists have discovered an effective new way to control the dormancy of grapes and other fruiting plants, by using high-tech plasmas to wake them from their winter's slumber.



Bees on the brink
Using an innovative robotic platform to observe bees' behavior, researchers showed that, following exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides -- the most commonly-used class of pesticides in agriculture -- bees spent less time nursing larvae and were less social that other bees. Additional tests showed that exposure impaired bees ability to warm the nest, and to build insulating wax caps around the colony.



Researchers generate plants with enhanced drought resistance without penalizing growth
Extreme drought is one of the effects of climate change that is already being perceived. A team has obtained plants with increased drought resistance by modifying the signaling of the plant steroid hormones, known as brassinosteroids. The study is among the first to find a strategy to increase plant hydric stress resistance without affecting overall plant growth.



Florida monarch butterfly populations have dropped 80 percent since 2005
A 37-year survey of monarch populations in North Central Florida shows that caterpillars and butterflies have been declining since 1985 and have dropped by 80 percent since 2005.



Goldilocks and the optimal mating distance: Neither too small nor too large but just right
Evolutionary theory predicts that the fitness of an individual is maximized when the genetic differences between its parents are neither too small nor too large but some ideal amount known as the optimal mating distance.



Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument home to rich bee diversity
Researchers say one out of every four bee species in the United States is found In Utah and the arid, western state is home to more bee species than most states in the nation. About half of those species dwell within the original boundaries of the newly reduced Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.



Turning marginal farmlands into a win for farmers and ecosystems
Many farms have areas where the ground either floods or does not retain enough water or fertilizer for crops to thrive. Such marginal lands could become useful and potentially profitable if they are planted with perennial bioenergy crops such as shrub willow and switchgrass, researchers report.



Changing temperatures are helping corn production in US -- for now
Increased production of corn in the United States has largely been credited to advances in farming technology but new research shows that changing temperatures play a significant role in crop yield.



Hot temperatures can trigger an RNA response in plants
The stress of hotter temperatures may trigger a response in a plant's RNA -- part of a cell's genetic messaging system -- to help manage this change in its environment.



Small genetic differences turn plants into better teams
Diverse communities of plants and animals typically perform better than monocultures. However, the mechanisms that are responsible for this have so far been a mystery to science. Biologists have now been able to identify the genetic cause of these effects. Their findings might help to improve crop yield.



Caterpillar, fungus in cahoots to threaten fruit, nut crops, study finds
New research reveals that Aspergillus flavus, a fungus that produces carcinogenic aflatoxins that can contaminate seeds and nuts, has a multilegged partner in crime: the navel orangeworm caterpillar, which targets some of the same nut and fruit orchards afflicted by the fungus. Scientists report that the two pests work in concert to overcome plant defenses and resist pesticides.



Key gene find could enable development of disease-resistant crops
Discovery of a gene that helps plants control their response to disease could aid efforts to develop crops that are resistant to infection, research suggests.



How one tough shrub could help fight hunger in Africa
The trick to boosting crops in drought-prone, food-insecure areas of West Africa could be a ubiquitous native shrub that persists in the toughest of growing conditions. Growing these shrubs side-by-side with the food crop millet increased millet production by more than 900 percent.



With a little help from their friends
A new study shows that plant-associated bacteria protect their hosts by competing with harmful filamentous microbes for access to plant roots.



Bee diversity and richness decline as anthropogenic activity increases, scientists confirm
Researchers compared wild bee communities in the tropical dry forest of Mexico living in three habitat conditions: preserved vegetation, agricultural sites and urbanized areas.



Roadmap for filling the gaps in forest pollinator research
Actively managed conifer forests may also provide important habitat for the pollinators that aid the reproduction of food crops and other flowering plants around the globe.



Fertilizers' impact on soil health compared
Researchers dug into how fertilizing with manure affects soil quality, compared with inorganic fertilizer.



Plant-based or vegan diet may be best for keeping type 2 diabetes in check
A predominantly plant-based or vegan diet may be best for keeping type 2 diabetes in check, not least because of its potential impact on mood, suggests a systematic review of the available evidence.



Genetic search reveals key to resistance in global cotton pest
Researchers have pinpointed a dominant genetic mutation that makes cotton bollworms, one of the world's most destructive crop pests, resistant to genetically engineered cotton. The study's cutting-edge use of genomics and gene editing signals a new era in global efforts to promote more sustainable pest control.



Sweet discovery pushes back the origins of chocolate
As Halloween revelers prepare to feast on chocolate, a new study from an international team of researchers is pushing back the origins of the delicious sweet treat.



Whole-system view of plant cold stress
When temperatures drop, plants can't bundle up. Stuck outside, exposed, plants instead undergo a series of biochemical changes that protect cells from damage. Scientists have described these changes and identified some of the genes controlling them, but it's not clear how all the processes work together. Lacking this global view, plant breeders have struggled to engineer cold-tolerant crops. A recent study provides answers.



Honeybees at risk from Zika pesticides
Up to 13 percent of US beekeepers are in danger of losing their colonies due to pesticides sprayed to contain the Zika virus, new research suggests.



Bigger = better: Big bees fly better in hotter temps than smaller ones do
Larger tropical stingless bees fly better in hot conditions than smaller bees do and larger size may help certain species better tolerate high body temperatures. The findings run contrary to the temperature-size 'rule,' which suggests that insects that rely on the external environment to control their temperature are larger in cold climates and smaller in hot ones.



Cappuccino made with jackfruit seed flour has chocolate aroma
A study conducted in Brazil shows that flour made from roasted jackfruit seeds can replace cocoa powder in a mixture of milk and coffee used to make cappuccino.



Large cells for tiny leaves
Scientists identify protein that controls leaf growth and shape.



Not enough fruits, vegetables grown to feed the planet
Study results show that the global agriculture system currently overproduces grains, fats and sugars, while production of fruits and vegetables and, to a smaller degree, protein is not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of the current population. The researchers also found that shifting production to match nutritional dietary guidelines would require 50 million fewer hectares of arable land, because fruits and vegetables take less land to grow than grain, sugar and fat.



Glyphosate found in cat and dog food
A new study finds that glyphosate, the active herbicidal ingredient in widely used weed killers like Roundup, was present at low levels in a variety of dog and cat foods the researchers purchased at stores. Before you go switching Fido or Fluffy's favorite brand, however, be aware that the amounts of the herbicide found correspond to levels currently considered safe for humans.



Gene network lets plant roots handle nitrogen
With robotics, computers and advanced genetics, researchers are unraveling how plant roots take up and metabolize nitrogen, the key to plant growth and crop yield.



Cacao analysis dates the dawn of domesticated chocolate trees to 3,600 years ago
Researchers analyzing the genomes of cultivated cacao trees have traced their origin to a 'single domestication event' some 3,600 years ago. The discovery opens a new front in a long-running argument over when and where humans started growing the source of chocolate.



Breeding beans that resist weevils
A small beetle can cause big losses to bean crops. But a new study has narrowed down the genetic locations of several weevil resistance genes in the common bean.



Climate change, rising sea levels a threat to farmers in Bangladesh
Rising sea levels driven by climate change make for salty soil, and that is likely to force about 200,000 coastal farmers in Bangladesh inland as glaciers melt into the world's oceans, according to estimates from a new study.



Predicting how native plants return to abandoned farm fields
Tracking how seeds move -- or disperse -- can be difficult because of a seed's small size. However, a new study finds a solution for tracking seed movement by using electrical engineering and mathematical models.



For a lower climate footprint, vegetarian diet beats local
A new study provides a more comprehensive accounting of the greenhouse gas emissions from EU diets. It shows that meat and dairy products are responsible for the lion's share of greenhouse emissions from the EU diet.



Overspending on defense arsenal bankrupts a plant's economy
Scientists have genetically tuned a plant to become highly resistant to insect attacks. But becoming such a fortress compromises its growth and procreative capabilities.



Genetic profile for a section of Aspergillus fungi
Aspergillus is an important fungal genus, with roles in agriculture, biotechnology, human health, enzyme production and food fermentation. Scientists now present the first large analysis of an Aspergillus fungal subgroup, section Nigri.



Invasive forage grass leads to grassland bird decline
Researchers found that a common cattle forage grass, tall fescue, is associated with nest failure in dickcissels, small grassland birds similar to sparrows.



Working lands play a key role in protecting biodiversity
Diversifying working lands -- including farmland, rangeland and forests -- may be key to preserving biodiversity in the face of climate change, says a new review article. These changes could extend the habitat of critters like bats, but also much larger creatures like bears, elk and other wildlife, outside the boundaries of protected areas, while creating more sustainable, and potentially more productive, working lands.



Bee social or buzz off: Study links genes to social behaviors, including autism
A new study found that the social lives of sweat bees -- named for their attraction to perspiration -- are linked to patterns of activity in specific genes, including ones linked to autism.



Plant hormone makes space farming a possibility
With scarce nutrients and weak gravity, growing potatoes on the Moon or on other planets seems unimaginable. But the plant hormone strigolactone could make it possible, plant biologists have shown. The hormone supports the symbiosis between fungi and plant roots, thus encouraging plants' growth -- even under the challenging conditions found in space.



Climate changes require better adaptation to drought
Europe's future climate will be characterized by more frequent heat waves and more widespread drought. Heat and drought will both challenge crop production, but drought in particular will be a problem -- especially for spring sown crops such as maize.



Best use of wildflowers to benefit crops on farms
For the first time, a new study of strawberry crops on New York farms tested this theory and found that wildflower strips on farms added pollinators when the farm lay within a ''Goldilocks zone,'' where 25 to 55 percent of the surrounding area contained natural lands. Outside this zone, flower plantings also drew more strawberry pests, while having no effect on wasps that kill those pests.



PPR virus poses threat to conservation
Researchers have reviewed the threat of the virus peste des petits ruminants (PPR) to conservation.



Virus-resistant pigs to vastly improve global animal health
Researchers have successfully produced a litter of pigs that are genetically resistant to Transmissible Gastroenteritis Virus (TGEV), which commonly infects the intestines of pigs and causes almost 100 percent mortality in young pigs.



Potential benefits of wildlife-livestock coexistence in East Africa
A study of 3,588 square kilometers of privately owned land in central Kenya offers evidence that humans and their livestock can, in the right circumstances, share territory with zebras, giraffes, elephants and other wild mammals -- to the benefit of all.



Irrigating vegetables with wastewater in African cities may spread disease
Urban farmers growing vegetables to feed millions of people in Africa's ever-growing cities could unwittingly be helping to spread disease by irrigating crops with wastewater, a new study reveals.



Getting to the root of lavender's secrets
A team of researchers has identified the complete genetic makeup of the lavender plant, Lavandula angustifolia.



Shrimp talent quest finds a winner
Shrimp help keep fish clean -- and scientists have identified the 'cleaner shrimp' with the most talent for reducing parasites and chemical use in farmed fish.



Feeding 10 billion people by 2050 within planetary limits may be achievable
A new study quantifies how food production and consumption affects the planetary boundaries that describe a safe operating space for humanity beyond which Earth's vital systems could become unstable.



Understanding water's role in antibiotic resistance emergence and dissemination in Africa
Greater access to antibiotic drugs, together with their misuse and overuse, has accelerated the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria worldwide. A new study now suggests that surface water dynamics are a crucial contributor to this growing global health concern.



Boxing up agricultural field nitrogen
Scientists develop edge-of-field practices so growers can keep the early planting offered by the tile drains while protecting nearby streams-and the Gulf of Mexico-from nitrate contamination.



In the absence of bees, flies are responsible for pollination in the Arctic region
Most of the fauna in the Arctic region take part in pollinating, yet during the busiest flowering weeks, there's a shortage of such services. A recent study indicates that the pollination services provided to plants and, thus, the plants' ability to produce seeds are dependent on the timing of the blooming season, and on how many other species are in bloom simultaneously.



Success is sweet: Researchers unlock the mysteries of the sugarcane genome
For centuries, sugarcane has supplied human societies with alcohol, biofuel, building and weaving materials, and the world's most relied-upon source of sugar. Now, researchers have extracted a sweet scientific prize from sugarcane: Its massive and complex genome sequence, which may lead to the development of hardier and more productive cultivars.



A step towards biological warfare with insects?
A project by a research agency of the US Department of Defense could easily be misused for developing biological weapons, according to researchers.



When yesterday's agriculture feeds today's water pollution
Water quality is threatened by a long history of fertilizer use on land, scientists find.



Amazon rainforest conservation victories spill losses to neighbors
New research suggests that protecting the Amazon rainforest from deforestation may just be shifting the damage to a less renowned neighbor. The unintended consequences are profound.



Fungus provides powerful medicine in fighting honey bee viruses
A mushroom extract fed to honey bees greatly reduces virus levels, according to a new paper. In field trials, colonies fed mycelium extract showed a 79-fold reduction in deformed wing virus and a 45,000-fold reduction in Lake Sinai virus compared to control colonies. The hope is that the results of this research will help dwindling honey bee colonies fight viruses that are known to play a role in colony collapse disorder.



European badgers' gut bacteria may be a powerful ally in the fight against tuberculosis
Researchers look at novel ways to reduce TB spillover from European badgers to cattle in the midst of an outbreak.



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