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Soils make smog too

California researchers say as much as 40 per cent 
of nitrogen oxides come from fertilizers

Internal combustion engines are typically blamed for smog in urban centres but researchers in California say fertilized fields need to be added to that list. The scientists, from University of California-Davis, say they’ve found about 40 per cent of the nitrogen oxide emissions in the Golden State is coming from fertilized soils in the agriculture-rich […] Read more


Not all omega-3s are created equal

It turns out the source of these healthy fatty acids is important

Fish or flax? That’s the question researchers from the University of Guelph have been trying to answer when looking at the cancer-prevention qualities of various sources of omega-3 fatty acids. David Ma, a professor in the university’s department of human health and nutritional sciences, says so far fish is coming out on top. His work […] Read more



Scientists want to understand behaviour of invasive weeds

Why are certain plants able to enter a new ecosystem and run riot?

Is it possible to predict which non-native plant species will become invasive weeds and when? According to research featured in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management, the answer is “hopefully yes.” Researchers say invasive species generally follow a three-phase development curve — from lag to expansion to plateau. The length and rapidity of the […] Read more


How flowers won

Flowering plants conquered the world, 
now scientists think they know why

It’s a problem that puzzled even geneticist Charles Darwin so much he called it the “abominable mystery” — how did flowering plants take over the world? They’re relative newcomers, yet they dominate most landscapes, are incredibly diverse, form the basis of our food system and drive the animal diversity we see all around us. A […] Read more



A row to hoe

Robots are the future of weed control, one researcher says

Forget about that old hoe — it’s time to go high tech with weed control. Researchers at the University of California-Davis say robotic weeders are already making headway in high-value vegetable crops, fuelled by a lack of chemical controls and lack of affordable labour. Steven Fennimore, an extension specialist at the university, pegs the cost […] Read more


No rest for weary canola plants

You’re not the only one who can’t get any ‘sleep’ during those sweltering summer nights

Turns out your canola plants just need to get a little rest. When high temperatures, especially at night, prevent them from “sleeping” properly productivity takes a hit, and now researchers from Kansas State University are trying to figure out why. What exactly is the plant doing at night? It’s not sleeping like humans do, but […] Read more



Nitrogen reduction not the path

Reducing how much nitrogen enters a lake has little impact on algal blooms, IISD researchers say

If you take the nitrogen out of the equation for lake algal blooms it turns out you really haven’t changed things at all. According to researchers at the Experimental Lakes Area, operated by Winnipeg’s International Institute for Sustainable Development, that’s because many of the algae responsible for the harmful blooms can turn around and fix […] Read more


Eating garbage

A new study shows acceptance, and even preference for, 
food made from waste

A recent study has shown consumers won’t just accept food made from discarded ingredients — they’ll embrace it. Researchers from Philadel­phia’s Drexel Univer­sity looked at products that were made from recovered ingredients that would otherwise have been destined for the waste stream. “There is an economic, environmental and cultural argument for keeping food, when possible, […] Read more



Shine a light on plant growth

Researchers have discovered how plants respond to changes in light 
at the molecular level

Plants don’t have eyes, but it would seem they do “see” their surroundings using light. That’s made possible by proteins called photoreceptors that absorb light and convert it into a signal that turns genes on or off. Until now, scientists haven’t fully understood the molecular mechanism underlying that process, which allows plants to recognize when […] Read more


Lake Winnipeg blooms create neurotoxins

Researchers say the substances have been associated with 
several health conditions

Manitoba’s largest lake is the host to potentially harmful toxins caused by cyanobacteria, more commonly known as “blue-green algae.” Researchers from the University of British Columbia, working with the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium, were looking for a specific toxin called BMAA that’s been linked with conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to Lou Gehrig’s disease. “Cyanobacteria blooms […] Read more