Three years ago, biotechnologists demonstrated in field trials that they could increase the productivity of maize by introducing a rice gene into the plant that regulated the accumulation of sucrose in kernels and led to more kernels per maize plant.
They knew that the rice gene affected the performance of a natural chemical in maize, trehalose 6-phosphate (T6P), which influences the distribution of sucrose in the plant. But they were keen to discover more intimate details of the relationships governing the increased productivity.
Scientists have found diamondback moth (DBM) caterpillars surviving in UK Brassica crops this winter and are recommending growers check their own crops for the pest now.
Previously considered a migratory pest, recent research from AHDB indicated that diamondback moths could be surviving UK winters.
AHDB’s Dawn Teverson, and Rosemary Collier from Warwick Crop Centre have been out in the field hunting for the caterpillars and found the pest on the underside of leaves in un-netted swede crops, located in the south west of England.
Making grasses more digestible promises improved feed for ruminants and better biomass for biofuel production, with economic and environmental benefits for both.
Plant biomass contains considerable calorific value but most of it makes up robust cell walls, an unappetising evolutionary advantage that helped grasses to survive foragers and prosper for more than 60 million years.
The trouble is that this robustness still makes them less digestible in the rumen of cows and sheep and difficult to process in bioenergy refineries for ethanol fuel.
Modern farming owes much to long-standing research that continues to pump out results and to provide valuable perspectives to guide the future of agricultural science, achievements that will be celebrated at a three-day international conference in May.
One of the most ambitious programmes to provide lasting improvements in nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa begins today when a diverse multinational team of experts from agriculture to ethics start looking for ways to end dietary deficiencies in essential micronutrients.
“Our results provide the first demonstration that these stressors can synergistically interact and cause significant harm to animal survival,” report the researchers. “These findings have implications for pesticide risk-assessment and pollinator protection, and emphasise the importance of nutrition.”