Heavily armed, new species of tomato genus Solanum is not the villain but the 'star' in its ecosystem in Brazil. Despite its large thorn formations and sticky stems, it turns out that newly discovered Solanum kollastrum plays important role in the life of local pollinators and is a possible food source to bat species in the region. The study was published in the open access journal PhytoKeys.
An international team of researchers is highlighting the potential of citizen science to address pressing research challenges in agriculture and food systems. One key to capitalizing on such efforts may be to build stronger ties between citizen science and agricultural extension efforts.
The same traits that allow barbed cactus spines to readily penetrate animal flesh also make the spines more difficult to dislodge, a new study finds. The microscopic barbs on the spines are layered like shingles and sized perfectly to snag muscle and collagen fibers. When testing the anchoring power of various spines, the researchers discovered that a single cholla spine could hoist a half-pound hank of pork shoulder.
A UC Berkeley team developed a computer model that identifies the high-priority areas in California for preservation in order to save the state's native plants in the face of rapid climate change and habitat destruction. The model is based on three measures of biodiversity: genetic uniqueness (divergence), historic speciation rate (diversification) and independent evolutionary history (survival), but also includes assessments of how badly the area is degraded and thus whether it is worth the effort.
Harvard researchers are among the co-editors of a special issue of Philosophical Transactions B dedicated to exploring the creative ways in which researchers have made use of biological collections around the world and to advocating for their continued preservation.
Which plant species grow where -- and why? In a new study in Nature Ecology & Evolution, an international research team presents the world's first global vegetation database which contains over 1.1 million complete lists of plant species for all terrestrial ecosystems.
Motivated by observations of desert flora and fauna, researchers in Arizona began experimenting in the laboratory to characterize cactuses' microscopic 3D epidermal structure at dry and wet times of the year. They apply the lessons in wettability -- the study of how droplets interact with solids -- to engineering surfaces for industrial applications, and will present the discoveries from this Sonoran wettability research at the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics 71st Annual Meeting, Nov. 18-20.
Researchers from Würzburg and Toyama have discovered that a compound isolated from tropical rainforest vines inhibits the growth of pancreatic cancer cells in the lab.
Fall-applied residual herbicides are a commonly used control for glyphosate-resistant Italian ryegrass -- one of the most troublesome weeds in Mid-South row crops. But research published in the journal Weed Technology shows rice growers need to be cautious. Some residual herbicides can have a negative impact on rice crop performance.
Farmers can now quickly monitor changes in pasture nutrients and adapt their animals' grazing methods accordingly, using a new, real-time method to check nutrient levels in grassland. This relatively cheap and easy approach will greatly improve the sustainable management of pasture for sheep and cattle. Using this new method, the researchers show that overgrazing pasture to below 7 cm significantly reduces the amount protein and digestibility of the grassland.