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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.

Making aquafeed more sustainable: Scientists develop feeds using a marine microalga co-product
Scientists have created a more sustainable feed for aquaculture by using a marine microalga co-product as a feed ingredient. The study is the first of its kind to evaluate replacing fishmeal with a co-product in feed designed specifically for Nile tilapia.



Human wastewater valuable to global agriculture, economics
It may seem off-putting to some, but human waste is full of nutrients that can be recycled into valuable products that could promote agricultural sustainability and better economic independence for some developing countries, says a new study.



99-million-year-old beetle trapped in amber served as pollinator to evergreen cycads
Flowering plants are well known for their special relationship to the insects and other animals that serve as their pollinators. But, before the rise of angiosperms, another group of unusual evergreen gymnosperms, known as cycads, may have been the first insect-pollinated plants. Now, researchers have uncovered the earliest definitive fossil evidence of that intimate relationship between cycads and insects.



Previously grainy wheat genome comes into focus
An international consortium has completed the sequence of wheat's colossal genome.



How an herbivore hijacks a nutrient uptake strategy of its host plant
Maize plants release secondary metabolites into the soil that bind to iron and thereby facilitate its uptake by the plant. The Western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera), the economically most important maize pest worldwide, is attracted by these complexes, extracts the bound iron from the maize plant and uses it for its own nutrition. With these insights, researchers provide a new explanation for the extraordinary success of the Western corn rootworm as a global maize pest.



Logging site slash removal may be boon for wild bees in managed forests
New research suggests the removal of timber harvest residue during harvesting may be a boon for wild bees, an important step toward better understanding the planet's top group of pollinators.



Highly effective natural plant-based food preservative discovered
Scientists have discovered a plant-based food preservative that is more effective than artificial preservatives.



How forests improve kids' diets
A first-of-its-kind global study shows that children in 27 developing countries have better nutrition -- when they live near forests. The results turn on its head the assumption that improving nutrition in poorer countries requires clearing forests for more farmland -- and, instead, suggest that forest conservation could be an important tool to improve the nutrition of children.



How plants protect themselves by emitting scent cues for birds
When plants are in distress or being fed on by insects, they have been known to send out sensory volatile cues that alert organisms in the area -- such as birds -- that they are in need of help. While research has shown that this occurs in ecosystems such as forests, until now, this phenomenon has never been demonstrated in an agricultural setting.



Extending palm oil production in Africa threatens primate conservation
Future expansion of the palm oil industry could have a dramatic impact on African primates.



Origins and spread of Eurasian fruits traced to the ancient Silk Road
Studies of ancient plant remains from a medieval archaeological site in the Pamir Mountains of Uzbekistan have shown that fruits, such as apples, peaches, apricots, and melons, were cultivated in the foothills of Inner Asia. The archaeobotanical study is among the first systematic analyses of medieval agricultural crops in the heart of the ancient Silk Road.



How Neolithic people adapted to climate change
Research has uncovered evidence that early farmers were adapting to climate change 8,200 years ago.



Policy changes can help ease roadblocks to a healthy diet
Diet modification can be a vital step to prevent cardiovascular disease. While various biological, economical, physical, social and psychological factors influence food choices, interventions targeting these factors can lead to meaningful improvements in long-term eating habits.



Researchers call for comprehensive transformation of food systems
Agriculture and food systems policies should ensure more than just the supply of food. Decision-makers must make a paradigm shift to align policies about climate, agriculture and food with the United Nation's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to a group of international researchers.



North American diets require more land than we have, study finds
Researchers found that if the global population followed the United States Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines, there would not be enough land to provide the food required.



NASA satellites assist states in estimating abundance of key wildlife species
Climate and land-use change are shrinking natural wildlife habitats around the world. Yet despite their importance to rural economies and natural ecosystems, remarkably little is known about the geographic distribution of most wild species -- especially those that migrate seasonally over large areas.



Compounds in 'monster' radish could help tame cardiovascular disease
Step aside carrots, onions and broccoli. The newest heart-healthy vegetable could be a gigantic, record-setting radish. Scientists report that compounds found in the Sakurajima Daikon, or 'monster,' radish could help protect coronary blood vessels and potentially prevent heart disease and stroke. The finding could lead to the discovery of similar substances in other vegetables and perhaps lead to new drug treatments.



Hijacking hormones for plant growth
Hormones designed in the lab through a technique combining chemistry, biology, and engineering might be used to manipulate plant growth in numerous ways, according to a new study.



Matchmaking for sweet potato? It's complicated
Field history matters when trying to apply the optimal amount of nitrogen for sweet potato crops. Cover crops grown in the same plots prior to sweet potato crops affected how much nitrogen was needed.



Corn variety gets nutrients from bacteria, potentially reducing need for fertilizer
Is it possible to grow cereal crops without having to rely on energy-requiring commercial fertilizers? Researchers now describe a newly identified corn variety which acquires nitrogen -- an essential nutrient for plants -- by feeding its sugars to beneficial bacteria, which can in turn take up nitrogen from the air and pass it back to the plant in a usable form.



Top-performing soil microbes could be key to sustainable agriculture
A new study sheds light on how plant genetics and environmental factors affect microbial soil populations in the field.



Seeing the light: Scientists unlock seed germination process
Scientists have identified a key gene that helps seeds decide whether to germinate. The MFT gene stops seeds germinating in the dark or under shady conditions, where their chances of survival would be poor, according to new research.



Injectable trace minerals improve mineral status in beef heifers
In a set of recent studies, animal scientists study the effects of the injectable trace mineral Multimin®90 on reproductive performance in beef heifers.



Eating crickets can be good for your gut, according to new clinical trial
A new clinical trial shows that consuming crickets can help support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and that eating crickets is not only safe at high doses but may also reduce inflammation in the body.



Key gene to accelerate sugarcane growth is identified
Researchers have developed a sugarcane line with the ScGAI gene expression silenced. The modification resulted in an adequate phenotype for use in 2G ethanol production, featuring a bigger culm and more biomass.



Tropical forest seeds use three strategies to survive
From tiny banana seeds to giant coconuts, it's tough for seeds to survive in tropical soils where they are under constant attack by fungi, bacteria, insects and animals. By understanding how seeds defend themselves, tropical biologists contribute to reforestation, crop management and sustainable agriculture in the tropics.



Plants can tell the time using sugars
A new study has found that plants adjust their daily circadian rhythm to the cycle of day and night by measuring the amount of sugars in their cells.



Women seeing baby animals have a reduced appetite for meat
Images of baby animals reduces people's appetite for meat say researchers, who found that the effect is much stronger for women than for men. The findings may reflect women's greater emotional attunement towards babies and, by extension, their tendency to empathize more with baby animals. Also, meat is associated with masculinity and images of tough men who consume meat for muscle building protein, along with prehistoric ideas of the male as hunter.



Aphids manipulate their food
Aphids - who hasn't been bothered by these little insects at one time or another? Why do they reproduce on plants so successfully? Researchers have found out that aphids are able to influence the quality of their food, and that this may enable them to construct a niche on their own host plants.



Natural habitat can help farmers control pests, but not always a win-win
Natural habitat surrounding farm fields is not always an effective pest-control tool for farmers worldwide, according to analysis of the largest pest-control database of its kind.



Climate taxes on agriculture could lead to more food insecurity than climate change itself
New research has found that a single climate mitigation scheme applied to all sectors, such as a global carbon tax, could have a serious impact on agriculture and result in far more widespread hunger and food insecurity than the direct impacts of climate change. Smarter, inclusive policies are necessary instead.



To keep more carbon on the ground, halting farmland expansion is key
The conversion of forests to farmland is recognized as a major contributor to rising levels of greenhouse gases. And yet it hasn't been clear how to best minimize the loss of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere. Researchers now say that, based on their extensive studies of agricultural operations on three continents, the best course in all cases is to limit the conversion of natural habitat to farmland.



Fertilizer destroys plant microbiome's ability to protect against disease
Despite enthusiasm for spraying probiotics on crops to ensure healthy microbiomes, little is known about what a healthy above-ground biome, or phyllosphere, looks like. Recent experiments show that both natural microbiomes and synthetic biomes constructed from normal populations are protective against pathogens, though sometimes low doses work better than high doses. Surprisingly, fertilizing the plant allowed pathogens to multiply on leaves despite a healthy phyllosphere.



Archeological plant remains point to southwest Amazonia as crop domestication center
The remains of domesticated crop plants at an archaeological site in southwest Amazonia supports the idea that this was an important region in the early history of crop cultivation, according to a new study.



Agricultural and urban habitat drive long-term bird population changes
Land use changes are a major driver of species declines, but in addition to the habitat to which they're best adapted, many bird species use 'alternative' habitats such as urban and agricultural land. A new study documents a century of land use change in Illinois and shows that species' long-term fate can depend on the availability and suitability of these alternative habitats.



Soil bugs munch on plastics
Thin mulch films made of polyethylene are used in agriculture in numerous countries, where they cause extensive soil contamination. Researchers have now identified an alternative: films made of the polymer PBAT biodegrade in soils.



Rice with fewer stomata requires less water and is better suited for climate change
A new study finds that engineered rice lines with low stomatal density used just 60 percent of the normal amount of water and were able to survive drought and high temperatures for longer than unaltered plants.



Unwrapping the brewing secrets of barley
Researchers have uncovered fundamental new information about the malting characteristics of barley grains. They say their finding could pave the way to more stable brewing processes or new malts for craft brewers.



Study shows EU pesticide ban failing to protect suburban bees
Bees living in suburban habitats are still being exposed to significant levels of pesticides despite the EU ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops, new research shows.



We can feed the world if we change our ways
Current crop yields could provide nutritious food for the projected 2050 global population, but only if we make radical changes to our dietary choices, a new study shows.



Gene study pinpoints superbug link between people and animals
Scientists have shed light on how a major cause of human and animal disease can jump between species, by studying its genes. The findings reveal fresh insights into how new disease-causing strains of the bacteria -- called Staphylococcus aureus -- emerge. Experts say the research could help improve the use of antibiotics and design better strategies for limiting the spread of disease.



New scholarly focus needed to help solve global food crisis
The global food system is unsustainable and urgently needs an overhaul. Yet current approaches to finding solutions through applied academic research are too narrow and treat the food system as a collection of isolated components within established disciplines such as agronomy, sociology or nutritional science.



Researchers explore popular food trends in nutritional review
What's the bottom line on the potential heart health benefits of popular health foods? Researchers discuss nutritional ''hypes'' and controversies around dairy products, added sugar, legumes, coffee and tea, alcohol, energy drinks, mushrooms, fermented foods, Omega-3s and vitamin B12.



Ancient farmers transformed Amazon and left an enduring legacy on the rainforest
Ancient communities transformed the Amazon thousands of years ago, farming in a way which has had a lasting impact on the rainforest, a major new study shows.



Houseplants could one day monitor home health
A student from two unrelated disciplines -- plant sciences and architectural design -- explore the future of houseplants as aesthetically pleasing and functional sirens of home health. Their idea is to genetically engineer house plants to serve as subtle alarms that something is amiss in our home and office environments.



How plant breeding technologies could make fruits and vegetables more exciting to eat
Forget vegetables with dull colors and fuzzy skin or fruits that lack of flavor -- the produce aisle of the future could offer plant products that are designed for creative cooks and fussy eaters. In a new article, food researchers describe how new breeding technologies have the potential to enhance the shape, size, color, and health benefits of produce, as well as to inform conventional breeding programs.



Colombia peace deal brings new threat to country's rainforest
The historic peace treaty in Colombia which brought an end to half a century of violence has led to mass deforestation. Once FARC soldiers were disarmed, it led to a vacuum of power which is being exploited by large landowners who are now deforesting the area at an alarming rate to make way for farms and for the illegal growth of coca crops. An ecologically significant region of Colombia, is now at risk of disappearing.



Cities as study proxies for climate change
Cities can serve as useful proxies to study and predict the effects of climate change, according to a research review that tracks urbanization's effects on plant and insect species.



Living plant varieties reveal ancient migration routes across Eurasia
New study identifies human choice and environmental adaptation as crucial factors for the spread of food staple in prehistory.



Agriculture: DIY field imaging system
Farmers and plant breeders can now build their own automated field camera track system to collect data on dynamic plant traits, such as crop lodging and movement, as it's happening in the field to help reduce losses in crop yield.



Feeding plants to this algae could fuel your car
The research shows that a freshwater production strain of microalgae, Auxenochlorella protothecoides, is capable of directly degrading and utilizing non-food plant substrates, such as switchgrass, for improved cell growth and lipid productivity, useful for boosting the algae's potential value as a biofuel.



Agriculture: Quick soil test aims to determine nitrogen need
One of the essential nutrients for vigorous crop production is nitrogen. Yet most routine tests done in commercial soil testing labs do not measure available nitrogen in the soil. Soil scientists think they have found a solution.



Sap-sucking bugs manipulate their host plants' metabolism for their own benefit
Researchers have shown for the first time that free-living, sap-sucking bugs can manipulate the metabolism of their host plants to create stable, nutritious feeding sites.



Archaeologists discover bread that predates agriculture by 4,000 years
At an archaeological site in northeastern Jordan, researchers have discovered the charred remains of a flatbread baked by hunter-gatherers 14,400 years ago. It is the oldest direct evidence of bread found to date, predating the advent of agriculture by at least 4,000 years. The findings suggest that bread production based on wild cereals may have encouraged hunter-gatherers to cultivate cereals, and thus contributed to the agricultural revolution in the Neolithic period.



Bacteria engineered to create fertilizer out of thin air
Researchers have created a bacteria that uses photosynthesis to create oxygen during the day, and at night, uses nitrogen to create chlorophyll for photosynthesis. This development could lead to plants that do the same, eliminating the use of some -- or possibly all -- human-made fertilizer, which has a high environmental cost.



Allergy potential of strawberries and tomatoes depends on the variety
Strawberries and tomatoes are among the most widely consumed fruits and vegetables worldwide. However, many people are allergic to them, especially if they have been diagnosed with birch pollen allergy. A team has investigated which strawberry or tomato varieties contain fewer allergens than others and to what extent cultivation or preparation methods are involved.



Fuzzy yellow bats reveal evolutionary relationships in Kenya
DNA analysis of fuzzy yellow bats in Kenya revealed at least two new species unknown to science. It's important because Africa's biodiversity is often under-studied and poorly understood, even though bats play a crucial role in agriculture and public health.



Financial incentives create critical waterbird habitat in extreme drought
New research shows how financial incentive programs can create vital habitat for waterbirds, filling a critical need in drought years. Researchers used satellite images to evaluate two issues: 1) the impact of the 2013-2015 drought on waterbird habitat in the Central Valley; and, 2) the amount of habitat created by incentive programs.



Tree shrews can tolerate hot peppers: Mutation in pain receptor makes peppery plant palatable
Almost all mammals avoid eating chili peppers and other 'hot' foods, because of the pain they induce. But not the tree shrew, according to a new study. The researchers found that this close relative of primates is unaffected by the active ingredient in chili peppers due to a subtle mutation in the receptor that detects it.



Rice plants evolve to adapt to flooding
Although water is essential for plant growth, excessive amounts can waterlog and kill a plant. In South and Southeast Asia, where periodic flooding occurs during the rainy season, the water depth can reach several meters for many months.



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