Daily Archives: 17th of September 2011

On our Scoop It between September 3rd and September 17th

These are links from our Scoop It page between September 3rd and September 17th:

Man-in-a-box lives off plants

In the 1770s, Joseph Priestly put a mouse in a jar with some plants. It lived for several days, much longer than one without plants. He recognised that plants were allowing us to breathe, and called them 'lungs'. He recognised they were taking something in and giving something out that we needed.



Peruvian Cacao Collection Trip Yields Treasures

A stand of very old trees, in an unexpected location, has yielded a coveted type of cacao tree. Usually, cacao trees are found along rivers, but these gems were found at a higher altitude than normal, and in Peru instead of Ecuador or Venezuela.
Collection expeditions in 2008 and 2009 through the Amazon Basin of Peru uncovered the exceptional find, along with other distinctive new populations of cacao. (Link pointed out by Rodomiro Ortiz)



US plant scientists seek united front

The perennial grass Miscanthus × giganteus has all the makings of a biofuel superstar. It grows rapidly, converts sunlight into biomass ten times more efficiently than the average plant and has little need for fertilizer. But M. × giganteus is a headache in the lab. Researchers hope that the first ever summit to map the future of US plant science will change that, by encouraging researchers to tackle the genomic wilderness of emerging biofuel crops in a more systematic way.



Timeline for evolution of wheat from the origin of plants – Annual Wheat Newsletter.

A timeline of wheat evolution:

Bread wheat originated 8 thousand years ago (TYA). The wheat ancestors separated from rye 7 million years ago. This timeline from Byrne and Gornicki in the new Annual Wheat Newsletter (AWN) shows the key steps in wheat's origin from the earliest land plant fossils of 420 million years ago.



Evolution of Fruit Shape in Tomato « Biofortified

Someday you’ll be able to use CAD software to draw up what you want a plant to look like and the software (containing detailed growth models) will tell you what genetic constructs you need to bring it into the world…

But for now we barely understand how natural morphological variation is controlled. So I was excited to see this paper out of the van der Knaap and Francis labs. In it, they review some of the known levers by which tomato plants control fruit shape and investigate their historical appearance.



FAO: Global hunger declining but still unacceptably high

Interactive hunger map and >Policy Brief: click on the timeline or select a country for national data. At close to one billion, the number of undernourished people in the world remains unacceptably high in 2010 despite an expected decline – the first in 15 years. The recent increase in food prices, if it persists, will create additional obstacles in the fight to further reduce hunger. The number is higher than before the food and economic crises of 2008-2009 and higher than the level that existed when world leaders agreed to reduce the number of hungry by half at the World Food Summit in 1996.

Source: www.fao.org



Alien worms ‘threat to forests’


Alien earthworms can alter the carbon and nitrogen cycles in woodland, as well as undermine native plant species, a study suggests.



Encyclopedia of Life catalogues more than one-third of Earth’s species


The Encyclopedia of Life (EoL), a free and collaborative website, said on Monday it now has pages for each of 750,000 species, meaning more than one-third of all the planet's 1.9m species are now covered.

Jennifer Preece, dean of the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland said, "There are many online sites dedicated to specific groups of species such as insects, birds or mammals. Not since Noah, however, has there been an effort like this to bring all the world's species together."

The site uses content from 180 partners to bring together images, videos and scientific information, including 35m pages of scanned literature created by the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The new site allows members to create their own collection of species.



Manipulating plants’ circadian clock may make all-season crops possible

Researchers have identified a key genetic gear that keeps the circadian clock of plants ticking. "Farmers are limited by the seasons, but by understanding the circadian rhythm of plants, which controls basic functions such as photosynthesis and flowering, we might be able to engineer plants that can grow in different seasons and places than is currently possible"



Counting chickens


THE world’s average stock of chickens is almost 19 billion, or three per person, according to statistics from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Cattle are the next most populous breed of farm animal at 1.4 billion, with sheep and pigs not far behind at around 1 billion. China’s vast appetite helps make it the world leader in the number of chickens, pigs and sheep,


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