Latest articles

University researchers model photosynthesis

They say it’s an important window into this crucial biological process and how it affects crop yields

In the next two decades, crop yields need to increase dramatically to feed the growing global population. Wouldn’t it be incredibly useful if we had a crystal ball to show us what are the best strategies available to increase crop yields? A team of scientists have just developed exactly that: a dynamic model that predicts […] Read more


It takes a village to stop weeds

Researchers say the community nature of the problem of invasive weeds hasn’t been adequately incorporated into control efforts

Invasive weeds are a problem that defies solution, and only seems to get worse. That’s because they’re a community problem that cross property boundaries, according to weed scientist Muthu Bagavathiannan, of Texas A&M. Finding a real solution will involve recognizing the nature of weeds as a community problem, and managing them accordingly, he and other […] Read more



Fungus vs. fungus

Non-harmful native fungus could supplant ones that cause harmful toxins

It’s not good when a fungus contaminates crops. Safe native fungi, however, show promise in the fight against toxic fungal contamination. One such harmful fungus is Aspergillus flavus, which can infect several crops, including corn, other cereal crops and some legumes. Some varieties, or strains, of A. flavus produce aflatoxins. Aflatoxin contamination costs farmers billions […] Read more


Study says excess phosphorus may reduce crop yields

Results suggest that excess levels can affect soil microbes

Excessive phosphorus fertilizer may do more harm than good for crop yields, say scientists at Penn State University. In a study published in Phytobiomes Journal, a team led by Terrence Bell and Jenny Kao-Kniffin found that soil treated with high amounts of phosphate can result in poorer plant performance and that it appears the soil […] Read more



Still swimming after 50 years on ice

Ram sperm frozen in 1968 successfully used to impregnate 34 ewes

Semen stored since 1968 in a laboratory in Sydney, Australia has been defrosted and successfully used to impregnate 34 Merino ewes, with the resulting live birth rate as high as sperm frozen for just 12 months. “This demonstrates the clear viability of long-term frozen storage of semen. The results show that fertility is maintained despite […] Read more


Yeast produces low-cost, high-quality cannabinoids

The development isn’t commercially ready yet, but it could change the budding cannabis and hemp industries

Before Canadian hemp and cannabis growers have even begun to capitalize on new markets, they could have new and novel competition. University of California synthetic biologists have engineered brewer’s yeast to produce marijuana’s main ingredients — mind-altering THC and non-psychoactive CBD — as well as novel cannabinoids not found in the plant itself. Feeding only […] Read more



Biocontrols often also invasive

They seem to be being unintentionally introduced the same way their prey is

Regulatory limits to the introduction of biocontrols like parasitic wasps may prove to be a moot point. They could already be being unintentionally released into Canada along with their prey. Paul Abram, of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has been looking for native predators for the brown marmorated stink bug, a pest introduced to B.C. in […] Read more


Fungi fight plants

These symbiotes are also sometimes screens when it comes to establishing plant ranges

Fungi can help plants thrive — but it turns out they can also filter them out. That’s according to new research from an international team of researchers led by Germany’s University of Göttingen. The results appeared in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. For example, in the colonization of islands by plant species, it isn’t […] Read more



Colder cold snaps under climate change?

The downside of climate change could have a bigger-than-expected effect on nature

When it comes to global warming, it would appear the effect of cold temperature variability is being severely underestimated. A team of researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York, say public attention often focuses on the effect of rising average temperatures. The researchers discovered that cold temperatures make amphibians more susceptible to road […] Read more


A very small number of crops are dominating globally

This concentration is coming as farms become larger and more industrial everywhere

A new University of Toronto study suggests that globally we’re growing more of the same kinds of crops, and this presents major challenges for agricultural sustainability. The study, done by an international team of researchers led by U of T assistant professor, Adam Martin, used data from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to […] Read more