How plants in the cabbage family look inward when sulfur is scarce

New research from Kyushu University in Japan provides a better understanding of how chemicals thought to impart unique health benefits to plants in the cabbage family are broken down to promote growth in conditions lacking sufficient sulfur and could aid in the future development of broccoli and cabbage that are even healthier for you. Researchers … Read more

Solving the enigma of global terrestrial nitrogen and phosphorus limitation

The concept of nutrient limitation originated from middle 1840s, when the famous Germany chemist Justus Freiherr von Liebig first proposed the Liebig’s Law of the Minimum based on experiments that added essential nutrients to improve crop productivity. The idea was later introduced to natural plant communities, evoking numerous efforts to evaluate the extent and strength … Read more

Conflict between ranchers and wildlife intensifies as climate change worsens in Chile

Scientists from the University of La Serena, Newcastle University, UK, and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile surveyed ranchers to find out what they thought were the drivers of conflict between people and guanacos (a wild camelid species closely related to the Llama). Ranchers blamed the increased aridity for reducing the availability of pasture, which … Read more

Sorghum study illuminates relationship between humans, crops and the environment in domestication

A new study that examines the genetics behind the bitter taste of some sorghum plants and one of Africa’s most reviled bird species illustrates how human genetics, crops and the environment influence one another in the process of plant domestication. The study untangles these factors to create a more complete look at crop domestication than … Read more

Climate (not humans) shaped early forests of New England

A new study in the journal Nature Sustainability overturns long-held interpretations of the role humans played in shaping the American landscape before European colonization. The findings give new insight into the rationale and approaches for managing some of the most biodiverse landscapes in the eastern U.S. The study, led by archaeologists, ecologists, and paleoclimatologists at Harvard, Emerson … Read more

Shutdown of coal-fired plants in U.S. saves lives and improves crop yields

The decommissioning of coal-fired power plants in the continental United States has reduced nearby pollution and its negative impacts on human health and crop yields, according to a new University of California San Diego study. The findings published this week in Nature Sustainability use the U.S. transition in recent years from coal towards natural gas for electric … Read more

Poplars genetically modified not to harm air quality grow as well as non-modified trees

Field trials in the Northwest and Southwest show that poplar trees can be genetically modified to reduce negative impacts on air quality while leaving their growth potential virtually unchanged, says an Oregon State University researcher who collaborated on the study. The findings, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are important because … Read more

Trashed farmland could be conservation treasure

Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research. The research team proposed a new way of understanding the conservation value of “uncontested lands” – areas where agricultural productivity is low. Dr Zunyi Xie, from UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, … Read more

Degraded soils mean tropical forests may never fully recover from logging

Continually logging and re-growing tropical forests to supply timber is reducing the levels of vital nutrients in the soil, which may limit future forest growth and recovery, a new study suggests. This raises concerns about the long-term sustainability of logging in the tropics. Trees of recovering tropical forests were found to have tougher leaves, with … Read more