Recent Posts

The demise of the largest and oldest African baobabs ($)

Patrut et al. report that 8 of the 13 oldest and 5 of the 6 largest African Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) trees, known for their enormous size and great longevity, have died (or at least their largest and/or oldest parts/stems have collapsed and died). Included in the dead are Panke, the oldest Baobab…

Impact of Conventional and Integrated Management Systems on the Water-Soluble Vitamin Content in Potatoes, Field Beans, and Cereals ($)

J. Agric. Food Chem. Agriculture in the EU is shifting towards a more sustainable use of resources and preservation of the biodiversity. This process requires a careful assessment of the balance between economic and environmental demands. To achieve this goal, the James Hutton Institute set up a long-term…

Strategic seed sourcing will enable species to better adapt to changing environments (eLIFE)

Yellow box, Eucalyptus melliodora, is an iconic Australian tree and foundation species of a critically endangered woodland community that is the target for restoration efforts. This community is currently severely fragmented, and less that 5 % of its original distribution remains. Models of climate prediction…

Pursuing sustainable productivity with millions of smallholder farmers ($) (Nature)

Improving crop productivity of rural areas while addressing pollution problems is a challenge that not only depends on scientific studies and technology but also requires an effective dialog with the smallholder farming communities. This month, Nature published the results of a ten-year Chinese agricultural…

Perspective: Farming with crops and rocks to address global climate, food and soil security (Nature Plants)

Rising atmospheric CO2 levels are causing wide-ranging climate abnormalities. Beerling et al. discuss ways to capture CO2 in soils through augmenting soils with crushed basalt, or silicate-rich wastes such as sugarcane mill ash. As the added rock weathers, it reacts with gaseous CO2 to release cations…

Impact of genetically engineered maize on agronomic, environmental and toxicological traits (Sci. Rep.)

The question of the relative risks and benefits of genetically engineered (GE) maize is still in the middle of a heated debate, despite the widespread cultivation of GE crops (12% of the global crop-land) and long standing commercialization (since 1996).  Pellegrino et al. report a meta-analysis of…

Review. Rhizobia: From saprophytes to endosymbionts (Nat. Rev. Microbiol.) ($)

One of the best characterized plant-bacteria interactions is that between legumes and rhizobia. This review by Poole et al. explores rhizobia in their non-plant associated state (as saprophytes that derive energy and nutrients from organic matter in the soil), through the complex signals that lead to…

Calling from distance: attraction of soil bacteria by plant root volatiles (ISME J.) ($)

Plant interactions with beneficial microbes are good strategies to survive biotic and abiotic challenging conditions, but the mechanisms that plants use to recruit these interactions, specially belowground, remain scarcely known. Schulz-Bohm et al. designed an olfactometer system to analyze the long…

Drastic genome reduction in an herbivore’s pectinolytic symbiont

Cell. In a very interesting report, Salem et al., showed evidence of an alternative mechanism supporting how the degradation of pectin, a very hard to metabolize component of the cell wall, has directed the evolution of herbivory in insects and arthropods. Recent reports have indicated that horizontally…