By gum! Scientists find new 110-million-year-old treasure

A remarkable new treasure has been found by scientists from the University of Portsmouth – the first fossil plant gum on record. The beautiful, amber-like material has been discovered in 110 million year old fossilised leaves. University of Portsmouth PhD student Emily Roberts, made the discovery while examining fossilised leaves of the Welwitschiophyllum plant, found in the … Read more

Ancient plant foods discovered in Arnhem Land

Australia’s first plant foods – eaten by early populations 65,000 years ago – have been discovered in Arnhem Land. Preserved as pieces of charcoal, the morsels were recovered from the debris of ancient cooking hearths at the Madjedbebe archaeological site, on Mirarr country in northern Australia. University of Queensland archaeobotanist Anna Florin said a team … Read more

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

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 change unlikely to drive sugar maples north

Climate is an important factor in determining a plant species’ growing zone. Some studies suggest that by the turn of the next century, climate change will have caused some species to spread several dozen kilometres north of their current distribution areas. Such changes could have major consequences on how land-based ecosystems function. But a northern … Read more

Plant life expanding in the Everest region

Plant life is expanding in the area around Mount Everest, and across the Himalayan region, new research shows. Scientists used satellite data to measure the extent of subnival vegetation – plants growing between the treeline and snowline – in this vast area. Little is known about these remote, hard-to-reach ecosystems, made up of short-stature plants … Read more

Plants from diverse European habitats associate with the same small group of highly abundant microorganisms

A continental-scale census and analysis of root-inhabiting microorganisms reveals that plants across Europe consistently harbour a small group of unexpectedly abundant ‘core’ microorganisms, irrespective of soil conditions and climate. This contrasts to strong effects of the local environment on the composition of surrounding soil microbial communities and on the relative fitness of different populations of … Read more

Spreading the seeds of Indigenous knowledge

Indigenous wisdom and modern science are helping to bring a highly nutritious seed to the world’s attention. University of Queensland ethnobotanist Dr Boyd Wright has been working with the Kiwirrkurra in Western Australia’s Gibson Desert, investigating the seed of the native tree, warrilyu (Eucalyptus pachyphylla). “This seed has been eaten by the Kiwirrkurra people for … Read more

Australian desalination plant attracts fish

With growing populations and climate uncertainty, water security is a global concern. Many nations operate desalination plants, which remove salt from seawater to make it drinkable. These facilities typically discharge excess salt as hypersaline brine back into the ocean, with uncertain ecological effects. Now, researchers in Environmental Science & Technology report that a large desalination plant in … Read more