On our Scoop It between August 1st and August 7th

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These are links from our Scoop It page between August 1st and August 7th:

Crop breeding could ‘slash CO2 levels’ (The University of Manchester)

Breeding crops with roots a metre deeper in the ground could lower atmospheric CO2 levels dramatically, with significant environmental benefits, according to research by a leading University of Manchester scientist.

Writing in the journal Annals of Botany, Professor Douglas Kell argues that developing crops that produce roots more deeply in the ground could harvest more carbon from the air, and make crops more drought resistant, while dramatically reducing carbon levels.

In principle, any crops could be treated in this way, giving more productive yields while also being better for the environment.

Although the amount of carbon presently sequestered in the soil in the natural environment and using existing crops and grasses has been known for some time, Professor Kell’s new analysis is the first to reveal the benefits to the environment that might come from breeding novel crops with root traits designed to enhance carbon sequestration.

Professor Kell, Professor of Bioanalytical Science at the University as well as Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), has also devised a carbon calculator that can show the potential benefits of crops that burrow more deeply in the ground.



Crop breeding could ‘slash CO2 levels’ (The University of Manchester)

Breeding crops with roots a metre deeper in the ground could lower atmospheric CO2 levels dramatically, with significant environmental benefits, according to research by a leading University of Manchester scientist.

Writing in the journal Annals of Botany, Professor Douglas Kell argues that developing crops that produce roots more deeply in the ground could harvest more carbon from the air, and make crops more drought resistant, while dramatically reducing carbon levels.

In principle, any crops could be treated in this way, giving more productive yields while also being better for the environment.

Although the amount of carbon presently sequestered in the soil in the natural environment and using existing crops and grasses has been known for some time, Professor Kell’s new analysis is the first to reveal the benefits to the environment that might come from breeding novel crops with root traits designed to enhance carbon sequestration.

Professor Kell, Professor of Bioanalytical Science at the University as well as Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), has also devised a carbon calculator that can show the potential benefits of crops that burrow more deeply in the ground.



Talking Plants: The hundred day alga and five seasons for the UK, just for the record

Tim Entwisle reviews his first 100 days as Director of Conservation, Living Collections and Estates at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

Interesting thoughts on the big tasks ahead, such as working out what a 'Director of Conservation' does in an organisation where almost everything is about conservation.

"And on my 100th day? I visited Wakehurst Place to talk about the UK Seed Hub project (and exciting new venture bulking up seed for restoration projects) and the future of this estate as a premier visitor attraction (which it already is really, with more than 400,000 visitors a year in a fairly difficult to get to place).

On my return to Kew I spent my 'research afternoon' (my job includes a 10% research expectation) collecting some algae from a few of the ponds in the estate. There are massive filamentous algal blooms in nearly every pond at the moment so I'm curious, and we should know, what species are in them. I was also inspired by reading two papers by Brian Whitton on the pond flora of St James lake. Brian sampled the lake a few times back in the sixties and published algal lists in at least 1966 and 1969. He made a plea for more regular long term monitoring of ponds and the like.

Whether I can sustain regular collecting at Kew I don't know but at the very least we should know what algae grow in our ponds. I can also add this data to the currently blank fields under algae in Kew's Wildlife pages."



Talking Plants: The hundred day alga and five seasons for the UK, just for the record

Tim Entwisle reviews his first 100 days as Director of Conservation, Living Collections and Estates at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.

Interesting thoughts on the big tasks ahead, such as working out what a 'Director of Conservation' does in an organisation where almost everything is about conservation.

"And on my 100th day? I visited Wakehurst Place to talk about the UK Seed Hub project (and exciting new venture bulking up seed for restoration projects) and the future of this estate as a premier visitor attraction (which it already is really, with more than 400,000 visitors a year in a fairly difficult to get to place).

On my return to Kew I spent my 'research afternoon' (my job includes a 10% research expectation) collecting some algae from a few of the ponds in the estate. There are massive filamentous algal blooms in nearly every pond at the moment so I'm curious, and we should know, what species are in them. I was also inspired by reading two papers by Brian Whitton on the pond flora of St James lake. Brian sampled the lake a few times back in the sixties and published algal lists in at least 1966 and 1969. He made a plea for more regular long term monitoring of ponds and the like.

Whether I can sustain regular collecting at Kew I don't know but at the very least we should know what algae grow in our ponds. I can also add this data to the currently blank fields under algae in Kew's Wildlife pages."



The Heredity Podcasts summarizing their published papers are back – Genetics Society

I am happy to see that Richard Nichols and colleagues from Queen Mary has re-started his outstanding podcasts again for the journal Heredity – they are always excellent summaries of the articles in the journal, including informative discussions with the authors. In the issue released at the end of July, features include comparisions of Arabidopsis thaliana and A. lyrata showing reduced tranposable element activity in A. thaliana, and the statistical analysis of molecular clocks.

 

Unless you have Apple hardware or iTunes continuously bugging you to update/slow down/crash your system, downloading is tricky and not described on the Genetics, Heredity/Nature or Queen Mary websites however! On a PC, go to http://webspace.qmul.ac.uk/ranichols/podcast/july2011.mp3 or http://webspace.qmul.ac.uk/ranichols/podcast/may2011.mp3 or http://webspace.qmul.ac.uk/ranichols/podcast/January2011.mp3 (case-sensitive and different), and listen directly, or right-click and save-as in any directly you want to listen later.



Crop breeding could ‘slash CO2 levels’ (The University of Manchester)

Breeding crops with roots a metre deeper in the ground could lower atmospheric CO2 levels dramatically, with significant environmental benefits, according to research by a leading University of Manchester scientist.

Writing in the journal Annals of Botany, Professor Douglas Kell argues that developing crops that produce roots more deeply in the ground could harvest more carbon from the air, and make crops more drought resistant, while dramatically reducing carbon levels.

In principle, any crops could be treated in this way, giving more productive yields while also being better for the environment.

Although the amount of carbon presently sequestered in the soil in the natural environment and using existing crops and grasses has been known for some time, Professor Kell’s new analysis is the first to reveal the benefits to the environment that might come from breeding novel crops with root traits designed to enhance carbon sequestration.

Professor Kell, Professor of Bioanalytical Science at the University as well as Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), has also devised a carbon calculator that can show the potential benefits of crops that burrow more deeply in the ground.



Patrick Schnable gives Capitol Hill seminar on the future of our food

Patrick Schnable addressed a crowd in a hearing room for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture. The seminar, entitled "Mapping for the future of our food,” focused on the importance of public sector funding of plant science research and development in boosting crop yields amid increasing demands for plant-based products including food, feed, fiber, and fuel. Schnable called for innovation in addressing potential challenges, namely decreasing amounts of arable land, increasing costs and undesirable ecological impacts of agricultural inputs, and coping with climate variability.
Schnable highlighted the value of next generation sequencing technologies in linking genes to crop traits resulting in ultimate improvements in yield, disease and pest resistance, and nutrient utilization. He sees traditional breeding and genetic engineering as complementary approaches in meeting this goal. He stressed that U.S. involvement in this type of agricultural research is essential.

Source: my.aspb.org



Coconuts: not indigenous, but quite at home nevertheless | Thoughtomics, Scientific American Blog Network

Humans have always been eager to bring coconuts along on their travels, and for good reasons. Coconuts are not only a source of both food and water, different parts of the coconut palm can also be used for other purposes. Alcohol and sugar can be extracted from its sap, and cocos oil from the nut itself, for example. Today, they grow on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. But where did this useful crop first come from?



Yale Environment 360: Crops With Deeper Roots Could Boost CO2 Storage, Study Says



Plant science: A leaf that’s loud and proud

Many plants lure pollinators to their flowers with diverse colours and patterns, but Marcgravia evenia (pictured) has evolved to attract pollinators that rely on sound rather than sight. The Cuban rainforest vine grows a deep cup-shaped leaf above its flowers that creates a distinct echo for nectar-feeding bats.



Network Evolution in an Arabidopsis Interactome Map e! Science News

An international team including Salk Institute plant biologist Joseph Ecker, describe their mapping and early analyses of thousands of protein-to-protein interactions within the cells of Arabidopsis thaliana. "With this one study we managed to double the plant protein-interaction data that are available to scientists," says Ecker,"This starts to give us a big, systems-level picture of how Arabidopsis works, and much of that systems-level picture is going to be relevant to – and guide further research on – other plant species, including those used in human agriculture and even pharmaceuticals."
In the paper, http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6042/601.abstract , they note "Plants have unique features that evolved in response to their environments and ecosystems. A full account of the complex cellular networks that underlie plant-specific functions is still missing. We describe a proteome-wide binary protein-protein interaction map for the interactome network of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana containing about 6200 highly reliable interactions between about 2700 proteins. A global organization of plant biological processes emerges from community analyses of the resulting network, together with large numbers of novel hypothetical functional links between proteins and pathways. We observe a dynamic rewiring of interactions following gene duplication events, providing evidence for a model of evolution acting upon interactome networks. This and future plant interactome maps should facilitate systems approaches to better understand plant biology and improve crops."



Coconuts: not indigenous, but quite at home nevertheless | Thoughtomics, Scientific American Blog Network

Humans have always been eager to bring coconuts along on their travels, and for good reasons. Coconuts are not only a source of both food and water, different parts of the coconut palm can also be used for other purposes. Alcohol and sugar can be extracted from its sap, and cocos oil from the nut itself, for example. Today, they grow on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. But where did this useful crop first come from?



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