Why plants form sprouts in the dark

Ute Krämer and Scott Sinclair © RUB, Marquard

A signal from the cell wall decides that, in the dark, seeds grow into long yellow sprouts, instead of turning green and forming leaves. The signal that switches on the darkness programme in seedling development has not hitherto been identified. Earlier studies had shown that these processes involve photoreceptors inside plant cells.

One vital signal outside the cells has now been described by the team of Prof Dr Ute Krämer and Dr Scott Sinclair at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany), in collaboration with Prof Dr Dominik Begerow, likewise from Bochum, as well as colleagues from Australia, France, Switzerland, and from the Max Planck Institute of Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, in the journal Current Biology. The article was published online on November 2, 2017.

Help the James Hutton Institute shape the future of soft fruit research

© James Hutton InstituteDid you know products developed at the James Hutton Institute and its forebears are familiar names on supermarket shelves, including popular raspberry varieties such as Glen Ample and Glen Lyon? Also, were you aware of the fact that 50% of the world’s blackcurrant crop was developed by scientists in Dundee?

Now you have a chance to help shape the future of soft fruit research: our commercial subsidiary, James Hutton Limited, is seeking to gather opinions from soft fruit growers, marketers and retailers about the kind of tools and models that would be useful to them to support decision making throughout the growing season and ultimately, maximise the most desirable outcomes at harvest.  In the long term, this will help to support wider, Innovate UK funded and AHDB-supported research.

Swapping where crops are grown could feed an extra 825 million people

Redrawing the global map of crop distribution on existing farmland could help meet growing demand for food and biofuels in coming decades, while significantly reducing water stress in agricultural areas, according to a new study. Published today in Nature Geoscience, the study is the first to attempt to address both food production needs and resource sustainability simultaneously and at a global scale.

The results show that “there are a lot of places where there are inefficiencies in water use and nutrient production,” says lead author Kyle Davis, a postdoctoral researcher with Columbia University‘s Earth Institute. Those inefficiencies could be fixed, he says, by swapping in crops that have greater nutritional quality and lower environmental impact.

Applications open for 2018 NIAB Faculty Fellowship

For early career researchers spanning plant and crop science and those in aligned areas such as pathology, entomology, bioinformatics, engineering and robotics: NIAB wishes to support outstanding early career researchers in applications for independent research fellowship such as:

Scientists join forces with farmers, communities and local authorities in major flood mitigation project

Choosing different crops, building soil organic matter and planting more trees could allow farmers to reduce the risk of nearby rivers from bursting their banks miles downstream, according to an innovative new research project.

Researchers in a collaborative project led by the University of Reading will work with farmers, advisors, communities and local authorities across the West Thames area to learn how different land management methods impact on flood risk.

The LANDWISE (LAND management in loWland catchments for Integrated flood riSk rEduction) proposal is one of three projects funded under the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)’s £4m Understanding the Effectiveness of Natural Flood Management (NFM) programme, and will receive £1.25m.

Sugarcane could cut carbon

Abandoned sugarcane plantations across the tropics could offer us a realistic, sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

Ethanol produced from sugarcane has been one of the most successful short-term strategies to date in decarbonising energy supply, particularly in Brazil where the sugarcane ethanol system results in just 14% of the CO2 emissions of petroleum. In 2012 Brazil became the first country in which more bioethanol was used in cars than petroleum.