“Exciting biology” rewrites text books in uncovering plants’ high-fat diet for fungal benefactors

One of biology’s most charismatic relationships, credited with helping plants to colonise land more than 400 million years ago, has yielded a fundamental survival secret with implications for agriculture and biotechnology.

Plant scientists have discovered that a particular form of fungi, which invades plant roots and then helps the colonised plants to absorb nutrients from soil, receive life-sustaining carbon from their symbiotic hosts in the form of long-chain fatty acids, a building block for essential lipids.

Old apple varieties could provide important health benefits

© Public domainResearchers from Cranfield University and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew have constructed the metabolic fingerprint of British heritage apples and mainstream commercial varieties. This has highlighted the extraordinary phytochemical content of some very old apples, with dates of introduction spanning several centuries.

The results show key metabolites, with enhanced health promoting properties, have gradually been bred out from modern cultivars with the focus instead being on sweetness, crispy texture and appearance.

East Malling to host global Horticulture Research Conference

The world’s leading plant scientists are set to gather for the Fourth International Horticulture Research Conference, taking place at NIAB EMR in East Malling, Kent, from 16th to 20th July 2017.

The Conference will bring together international researchers conducting fundamental research on horticultural crops, to showcase the latest research findings and to network with colleagues from around the world.

Abstract submission is now extended until 21st May 2017.

Waitrose expands own vineyard by 50%

Waitrose is continuing its investment in the English and Welsh wine industry. In response to customer demand, the supermarket has planted 50% more vines at its own vineyard on the Leckford Estate in Hampshire.

The new vines will extend the production of the Leckford Estate Brut, which is made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes. The Leckford Estate vineyard currently produces 30,000 bottles of fine fizz per year, depending on harvest conditions, and the new vines are expected to boost production to 45,000 bottles of Leckford Estate Brut. This year’s harvest will be ready to drink by 2021. The sparkling wine, which was launched with the maiden 2011 vintage, is made by award-winning winemakers Ridgeview at their state-of-the-art winery in Sussex.

Crop Professor joins Board of Directors for global food security organisation

© University of Reading

Professor Richard Ellis

A professor from the University of Reading has joined the board of a global food research and development charity, whose aim is to provide food security for billions of people around the globe.

The World Vegetable Center works across Asia and Africa to alleviate poverty and malnutrition in developing countries, and has appointed Professor Richard Ellis as one of three new directors of the centre.

Cutting-edge research points the way to canker resistant parsnip varieties

Studies carried out by Warwick University‘s Dr Lauren Chappell, now an Elsoms plant pathologist, have identified the three main pathogens responsible for parsnip canker, providing a secure platform for the development of disease-resistant lines. Elsoms, a global leader in parsnip breeding, is investing heavily in research, state-of-the art breeding techniques and seed production to bring UK growers the very best varieties.