Recent Posts

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…

Hidden shift of the ionome of plants exposed to elevated CO2 depletes minerals at the base of human nutrition

eLife. Free air CO2 enrichment (FACE) has been used to surround plants with an elevated concentration of CO2 (eCO2) during growth, and has consistently conferred an increase in carbon assimilation and plant productivity.  However, the effect of eCO2 on nutrient status of the plant is unclear due to…

Spatial and temporal patterns of mass bleaching of corals in the Anthropocene

Science. As our ecosystems are changing rapidly, more studies are needed to document them. One of these important events is “coral bleaching”, a phenomenon that occurs due to environmental stress and when coral hosts lose their algal symbionts or zooxanthellae (Symbiodinium spp.), showing the white…

Review: Declining oxygen in the global ocean and coastal waters ($)

Science. Oxygen levels have been declining in oceans since the middle of the 20th century, largely because of global warming phenomena and human-driven nutrient enrichment of coastal regions. These effects have enhanced microbial oxygen intake, altering the cycles of nutrients and carbon, and lowering…

Review. Grasses: The original Vikings ($)

The Vikings were notorious raiders for centuries, pillaging and looting the shores throughout the northern hemisphere. Through their successful raids, the Vikings established colonies that grew into states and countries, among these Normandy, England, Sicily, and Russia. The success of the Vikings is…