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Agriculture News – Everything From Plant Proteins to Giant Idaho Spuds

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plant-protein

New Plant Protein Discoveries Could Ease Global Food and Fuel Demands

May 1, 2013  ScienceDaily— New discoveries of the way plants transport important substances across their biological membranes to resist toxic metals and pests, increase salt and drought tolerance, control water loss and store sugar can have profound implications for increasing the supply of food and energy for our rapidly growing global population.

That’s the conclusion of 12 leading plant biologists from around the world whose laboratories recently discovered important properties of plant transport proteins that, collectively, could have a profound impact on global agriculture. They report in the May 2nd issue of the journal Nature that the application of their findings could help the world meet its increasing demand for food and fuel as the global population grows from seven billion people to an estimated nine billion by 2050.

“These membrane transporters are a class of specialized proteins that plants use to take up nutrients from the soil, transport sugar and resist toxic substances like salt and aluminum,” said Julian Schroeder, a professor of biology at UC San Diego who brought together 11 other scientists from Australia, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, the U.S. and the U.K. to collaborate on a paper describing how their discoveries collectively could be used to enhance sustainable food and fuel production.

Schroeder, who is also co-director of a new research entity at UC San Diego called Food and Fuel for the 21st Century, which is designed to apply basic research on plants to sustainable food and biofuel production, said many of the recent discoveries in his and other laboratories around the world had previously been “under the radar” — known only to a small group of plant biologists — but that by disseminating these findings widely, the biologists hoped to educate policy makers and speed the eventual application of their discoveries to global agriculture.

“Of the present global population of seven billion people, almost one billion are undernourished and lack sufficient protein and carbohydrates in their diets,” the biologists write in their paper. “An additional billion people are malnourished because their diets lack required micronutrients such as iron, zinc and vitamin A. These dietary deficiencies have an enormous negative impact on global health resulting in increased susceptibility to infection and diseases, as well as increasing the risk of significant mental impairment. During the next four decades, an expected additional two billion humans will require nutritious food. Along with growing urbanization, increased demand for protein in developing countries coupled with impending climate change and population growth will impose further pressures on agricultural production.”

“Simply increasing inorganic fertilizer use and water supply or applying organic farming systems to agriculture will be unable to satisfy the joint requirements of increased yield and environmental sustainability,” the scientists added. “Increasing food production on limited land resources will rely on innovative agronomic practices coupled to the genetic improvement of crops.”

One of Schroeder’s research advances led to the discovery of a sodium transporter that plays a key role in protecting plants from salt stress, which causes major crop losses in irrigated fields, such as those in the California central valley. Agricultural scientists in Australia, headed by co-author Rana Munns and her colleagues, have now utilized this type of sodium transporter in breeding research to engineer wheat plants that are more tolerant to salt in the soil, boosting wheat yields by a whopping 25 percent in field trials. This recent development could be used to improve the salt tolerance of crops, so they can be grown on previously productive farmland with soil that now lies fallow.

Another recent discovery, headed by co-authors Emanuel Delhaize in Australia and Leon Kochian at Cornell University, opens up the potential to grow crops on the 30 percent of Earth’s acidic soils that are now unusable for agricultural production, but that otherwise could be ideal for agriculture.

“When soils are acidic, aluminum ions are freed in the soil, resulting in toxicity to the plant,” the scientists write. “Once in the soil solution, aluminum damages the root tips of susceptible plants and inhibits root growth, which impairs the uptake of water and nutrients.”

From their recent findings, the plant biologists now understand how transport proteins control processes that allow roots to tolerate toxic aluminum. By engineering crops to convert aluminum ions into a non-toxic form, they said, agricultural scientists can now turn these unusable or low-yielding acidic soils into astonishingly productive farmland to grow crops for food and biofuels.

Other recent transport protein developments described by the biologists have been shown to increase the storage of iron and zinc in food crops to improve their nutritive qualities. “Over two billion people suffer from iron and zinc deficiencies because their plant-based diets are not a sufficiently rich source of these essential elements,” the biologists write.

The scientists also discovered transporters in plants and symbiotic soil fungi that allow crops to acquire phosphate — an element essential for plant growth and crop yield — more efficiently and to increase the uptake of nitrogen fertilizers, which are costly to produce. “Nitrogen fertilizer production consumes one percent of global energy usage and poses the highest input cost for many crops,” the scientists write. “Nevertheless, only 20 to 30 of the phosphate and 30 to 50 percent of the nitrogen fertilizer applied are utilized by plants. The remainder can lead to production of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, or to eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems through water run-off.”

The biologists said crops could be made more efficient in using water through discoveries in plant transport proteins that regulate the “stomatal pores” in the epidermis of leaves, where plants lose more than 90 percent of their water through transpiration. Two other major goals in agriculture are increasing the carbohydrate content and pest-resistance of crops. A recent discovery of protein transporters that move sugar throughout the plant has been used to develop rice plants that confer pest resistance to crops, the biologists said, providing a novel way to simplify the engineering of crops with high yields and pest resistance, which could lead to reduced use of pesticides in the field.

“Just as our cell phones will need more advanced technology to carry more information, plants need better or new transporters to make them work harder on existing agricultural land,” said Dale Sanders, director of the John Innes Centre in the U.K. and a corresponding co-author of the paper. “Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are the current solution, but we can make plants better at finding and carrying their own chemical elements.”

These recent developments in understanding the biology of plant transporters are leading to improved varieties less susceptible to adverse environments and for improving human health. Says Schroeder, “More fundamental knowledge and basic discovery research is needed and would enable us to further and fully exploit these advances and pursue new promising avenues of plant improvement in light of food and energy demands and the need for sustainable yield gains.”

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USDA and EPA Release New Report on Honey Bee Health

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Release Date: 05/02/2013

Contact Information: EPA, Molly Hooven (News Media Only), hooven.molly@epa.gov, 202-564-2313, 202-564-4355, USDA, Michelle Saghafi (News Media Only),Michelle.Saghafi@oc.usda.gov, 202-720-6959

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health. The report states that there are multiple factors playing a role in honey bee colony declines, including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.

“There is an important link between the health of American agriculture and the health of our honeybees for our country’s long term agricultural productivity,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “The forces impacting honeybee health are complex and USDA, our research partners, and key stakeholders will be engaged in addressing this challenge.”

“The decline in honey bee health is a complex problem caused by a combination of stressors, and at EPA we are committed to continuing our work with USDA, researchers, beekeepers, growers and the public to address this challenge,” said Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “The report we’ve released today is the product of unprecedented collaboration, and our work in concert must continue. As the report makes clear, we’ve made significant progress, but there is still much work to be done to protect the honey bee population.”

In October 2012, a National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health, led by federal researchers and managers, along with Pennsylvania State University, was convened to synthesize the current state of knowledge regarding the primary factors that scientists believe have the greatest impact on managed bee health.

Key findings include:

Parasites and Disease Present Risks to Honey Bees:

The parasitic Varroa mite is recognized as the major factor underlying colony loss in the U.S. and other countries. There is widespread resistance to the chemicals beekeepers use to control mites within the hive. New virus species have been found in the U.S. and several of these have been associated with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Increased Genetic Diversity is Needed:

U.S. honeybee colonies need increased genetic diversity. Genetic variation improves bees thermoregulation (the ability to keep body temperature steady even if the surrounding environment is different), disease resistance and worker productivity.

Honey bee breeding should emphasize traits such as hygienic behavior that confer improved resistance to Varroa mites and diseases (such as American foulbrood).

Poor Nutrition Among Honey Bee Colonies:

Nutrition has a major impact on individual bee and colony longevity. A nutrition-poor diet can make bees more susceptible to harm from disease and parasites. Bees need better forage and a variety of plants to support colony health.

Federal and state partners should consider actions affecting land management to maximize available nutritional forage to promote and enhance good bee health and to protect bees by keeping them away from pesticide-treated fields.

There is a Need for Improved Collaboration and Information Sharing:

Best Management Practices associated with bees and pesticide use, exist, but are not widely or systematically followed by members of the crop-producing industry. There is a need for informed and coordinated communication between growers and beekeepers and effective collaboration between stakeholders on practices to protect bees from pesticides.

Beekeepers emphasized the need for accurate and timely bee kill incident reporting, monitoring, and enforcement.

Additional Research is Needed to Determine Risks Presented by Pesticides:

The most pressing pesticide research questions relate to determining actual pesticide exposures and effects of pesticides to bees in the field and the potential for impacts on bee health and productivity of whole honey bee colonies.

Those involved in developing the report include USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Agricultural Research Services (ARS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) as well as the EPA and Pennsylvania State University. The report will provide important input to the Colony Collapse Disorder Steering Committee, led by the USDA, EPA and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

An estimated one-third of all food and beverages are made possible by pollination, mainly by honey bees. In the United States, pollination contributes to crop production worth $20-30 billion in agricultural production annually. A decline in managed bee colonies puts great pressure on the sectors of agriculture reliant on commercial pollination services. This is evident from reports of shortages of bees available for the pollination of many crops.

The Colony Collapse Steering Committee was formed in response to a sudden and widespread disappearance of adult honey bees from beehives, which first occurred in 2006. The Committee will consider the report’s recommendations and update the CCD Action Plan which will outline major priorities to be addressed in the next 5-10 years and serve as a reference document for policy makers, legislators and the public and will help coordinate the federal strategy in response to honey bee losses.

To view the report, which represents the consensus of the scientific community studying honey bees, please visit: http://www.usda.gov/documents/ReportHoneyBeeHealth.pdf

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Plants ‘Talk’ to Plants to Help Them Grow

May 7, 2013 ScienceDaily — Having a neighborly chat improves seed germination, finds research in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Ecology. Even when other known means of communication, such as contact, chemical and light-mediated signals, are blocked, chilli seeds grow better when grown with basil plants. This suggests that plants are talking via nanomechanical vibrations.

Monica Gagliano and Michael Renton from the University of Western Australia attempted to grow chilli seeds (Capsicum annuum) in the presence or absence of other chilli plants, or basil (Ocimum basilicum). In the absence of a neighboring plant, germination rates were very low, but when the plants were able to openly communicate with the seeds more seedlings grew.

However when the seeds were separated from the basil plants with black plastic, so that they could not be influenced by either light or chemical signals, they germinated as though they could still communicate with the basil. A partial response was seen for fully grown chilli plants blocked from known communication with the seeds.

Dr Gagliano explained, “Our results show that plants are able to positively influence growth of seeds by some as yet unknown mechanism. Bad neighbors, such as fennel, prevent chilli seed germination in the same way. We believe that the answer may involve acoustic signals generated using nanomechanical oscillations from inside the cell which allow rapid communication between nearby plants.”

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SCIENTISTS IDENTIFY PLANTS’ SIGNALING MECHANISM TO WARN DANGER

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen, the James Hutton Institute, and Rothamsted Research in the United Kingdom have discovered that plants use underground fungal networks to warn their neighbors of aphid attack. The study, published in Ecology Letters, is the first to reveal plants’ ability to communicate underground in this way.

Scientists grew the bean plant (Vicia faba) in groups of five. They allowed three in each group to grow underground networks of mycelia – thread-like part of a fungus that grows from one set of roots to another. They kept the two remaining plants free of the fungal links. They then infested one of the plants in each group with aphids, triggering the release of a suite of chemicals designed to repel aphids but attract wasps, one of the aphid’s predators.

Remarkably, plants which were not under attack themselves, but which were connected to the victim by the underground fungal network, also began to produce the defensive chemical response. Unconnected plants didn’t mount a chemical defense, thus they have remained vulnerable to aphid attack. Previous research had shown that plants could communicate chemically through the air, but the researchers covered the plants with bags to rule out above-ground signaling.

See the James Hutton Institute’s news release at http://www.hutton.ac.uk/news/plants-use-underground-networks-communicate-danger.

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Idaho spud giant bets on biotech potatoes

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May 14, 2013

By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A dozen years after a customer revolt forced Monsanto to ditch its genetically engineered potato, an Idaho company aims to resurrect high-tech spuds.

This month, tuber processing giant J.R. Simplot Co. asked the U.S. government to approve five varieties of biotech potatoes. They’re engineered not to develop ugly black bruises. McDonald’s, which gets many of its fries from Simplot, rejects those. They’re also designed to have less of a natural but potentially cancer-causing neurotoxin, acrylamide.

Much has changed in 12 years, according to the Boise-based company.

Unlike transgenic varieties Monsanto commercialized in the 1990s using genes from synthetic bacteria to kill insect pests, Simplot’s new “Innate”-brand potatoes use only potato genes.

Haven Baker, Simplot’s Yale- and Harvard University-trained vice-president of plant sciences, said his scientists journeyed inside the vegetable’s genome to “silence” unwanted attributes, while making sure it remained 100 percent potato.

“You’ll never get as much beneficial effect from traditional plant breeding,” he said. “And it’ll take twice as long.”

Those in the industry remember Monsanto’s ill-fated foray and say Simplot’s major challenge in avoiding a similar fate is ensuring its product is acceptable among growers, processors and, ultimately, people eating it.

“Unless your customers are prepared to embrace this product, it’s not going to be successful,” said Frank Muir, president of the Idaho Potato Commission that represents Idaho’s $3 billion industry. His group, whose website currently boasts Idaho potatoes aren’t genetically engineered, hasn’t weighed in on Simplot’s endeavor.

But Muir does think the company is making the right moves: Reaching out to the industry, as well as consumers who may eventually buy Innate potatoes as big, un-bruised bakers or golden fries. “They’re taking all the appropriate steps.”

As the USDA and Food and Drug Administration embark on vetting Simplot’s potatoes, the agencies are nearing completion of a similar review of a genetically engineered apple created by a Canadian company, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, to resist browning when cut.

The apple industry has opposed Okanagan’s “Arctic” apple, on grounds it could create marketing headaches for growers of unmodified apples. Christian Schlect, the Northwest Horticultural Council president, said he hopes the potatoes go to market first.

“We’d just as soon the potato people take the initial foray on marketing this technology, and we’ll follow their experience,” he said.

In fact, the two products, should they win the government’s blessing, could hit customers about the same time, 2015 or 2016.

Baker said with Simplot’s new potatoes, growers would earn more money with less wastage from bruising, something that can affect up to 5 percent of their harvest. Additionally, the spuds are designed to produce acrylamide levels so low they skirt California’s strict, voter-mandated cancer labels on french fries and potato chips, he said.

McDonald’s didn’t return a call seeking comment about the tubers. A big Simplot processing rival, ConAgra, says its potatoes are not genetically engineered.

Twelve years on, St. Louis-based Monsanto remains tight lipped about jettisoning its “New Leaf” potatoes — engineered, among other things, to kill Colorado potato beetles. That was a business decision “not influenced by any negative reaction to genetically-modified organisms,” spokeswoman Carly Scaduto said.

But experts say plunging interest — including from Simplot, which told farmers in Idaho and North Dakota in 2000 to quit planting New Leaf potatoes after restaurants like McDonald’s banished them from their fryers — drove the spuds from the fields. Monsanto’s biotech potatoes, planted on 55,000 acres in North America in 1996, disappeared by 2002.

Joe Guenther, a University of Idaho professor of agricultural economics, in 2011 won funding from Simplot to survey potato industry players about re-introducing genetically engineered potatoes into the food chain. His conclusion: It could succeed, provided potatoes were modified with potato genes, not foreign microorganisms that in the 1990s spawned terms like “frankenfood.”

“The Monsanto product crossed that species line,” Guenther said. “The exciting thing about the Simplot product is, it stays within the potato species.”

Another thing Guenther’s 2011 report said would help was backing from an environmental group, something that remains a scarce commodity. Groups worried about corporations commandeering potato genes a decade ago remain no less alarmed.

Bill Freese, science policy analyst with Washington, D.C.-based Center for Food Safety, said Simplot’s potatoes join a litany of other genetically engineered crops that don’t face rigorous-enough USDA or FDA testing.

While Simplot’s Baker said 20 field trials demonstrate Innate potatoes exhibit characteristics virtually identical to their unmodified cousins, Freese painted a darker picture: Genetic engineering is a noisy, unpredictable process, where the best-intentioned genome tinkering could be accompanied by unforeseen effects on human health and the environment.

Freese said the absence of long-term animal feeding trials and labeling requirements is also cause for worry, since potatoes are staple crops people eat directly. Freese predicted Innate potatoes will fail, just like Monsanto’s did.

“The question is why do they continue to so miscalculate public perception?” he said. “The biotech approach is to change the food on a genetic level in quite frankly risky ways with inadequate regulation to adapt a crop to an industrial food system that’s really unhealthy in so many ways.”

Simplot’s Baker pointed to, among other sources, the FDA, which says genetically-engineered foods it reviews meets the same safety requirements as those from traditionally-bred plants. “The nutrients and allergens are no different from conventional potatoes,” he said.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Potato Commission, representing 45,000 U.S. growers, learned of Simplot’s plans several months ago. Chief Executive Officer John Keeling said it supports scientific advancements to improve potatoes, but has advised Simplot to avoid past mistakes.

For instance, some Monsanto tubers found their way into Japan, where they weren’t approved. After that, Japan-bound U.S. potatoes had to be tested, he said.

“If some parts of the marketplace are saying they don’t want Innate technology and others want it, you’ve got to be able to address both of those issues.” Keeling said. “Simplot seems to have taken to heart the thoughts that we had.”

Simplot is seeking approval in Japan, as well as Canada, Mexico and South Korea.

(Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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Canada to Improve the Yield, Sustainability and Profitability of Canadian Wheat

(May 17, 2013)  

The Government of Canada, the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan today announced the creation of a new Canadian Wheat Alliance (CWA). This initiative will coordinate research and development projects to improve the yield of Canadian wheat by reducing losses under extreme weather conditions such as drought, heat, cold and diseases.

“The Canadian Wheat Alliance will improve the quality of Canadian wheat, and enhance Canada’s competitive position in the growing world market,” said Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, on behalf of the Honorable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology). “The benefits of this Alliance will flow throughout the entire value chain, strengthening our producers’ bottom lines and our overall economy.”

The Canadian Wheat Alliance will invest approximately $97 million over the first five years of this initiative to support research to improve the profitability of the Canadian wheat industry, advance the development of Canada’s wheat crops, and help ensure the global competitiveness of Canadian farmers. The Alliance will also study ways to more efficiently use chemical fertilizers to help improve the environmental sustainability of Canadian wheat.

“Saskatchewan is a leader in agriculture research and production, and this initiative will help to grow our industry and entire provincial economy,” said Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart. “Our government remains committed to agriculture and this research will help to increase wheat production, open up new opportunities to promote and market Saskatchewan wheat, and provide long-term benefits for our producers.”

“With renowned plant breeding expertise available in areas such as our Crop Development Centre, the University of Saskatchewan is a recognized leader in agricultural and food production research,” said Dr. Ilene Busch-Vishniac, University of Saskatchewan President. “Through this alliance, we will continue to work with our partners to further strengthen the knowledge and tools needed to improve wheat, a crop that brings nearly $4 billion annually to the farm gate in Canada.”

This important network combines the expertise of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan. The Government of Canada will invest nearly $85 million in funding and in-kind contributions toward the Alliance. The Government of Saskatchewan has committed an additional $10 million to support wheat research in the province over the next five years, of which $5 million is dedicated to support the CWA activities and leverage contributions from other stakeholders. The University of Saskatchewan is contributing $1.4 million per year in in-kind contributions. The CWA brings together federal, provincial and academic expertise and welcomes the engagement of both public and private sector organizations.

On May 7th, the Government of Canada announced the refocused NRC and outlined how its new structure would bridge the gap between knowledge and discoveries, and industrial innovation. The Canadian Wheat Alliance is an example of the kind of research and technology development that NRC will pursue in order to benefit Canadians.

The National Research Council of Canada is a research and technology organization focused on real-world applications contributing to a stronger and more prosperous Canada. NRC provides access to strategic research and development, technical services and specialized scientific infrastructure.

Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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Malaysian “sustainable” oil suppliers upset with lack of demand

The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) is reportedly under pressure to quit RSPO as its members are complaining about the sluggish sales of sustainable oil and the mounting cost of certification. In 2012, only about half of the 7.1 million tonnes of palm oil certified “sustainable” by the RSPO was bought. The rest was sold as conventional oil with no premium going to growers, according to The Grocer news. MPOA has hundreds of small growers who are upset with the lack of demand for “sustainable oil”. MPOA’s Indonesian counterpart quit RSPO in 2011 amid similar concerns.

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GM CROP SAFETY ANALYSIS – TIME FOR A RETHINK

Crop Biotech Update, May 22, 2013

A paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry implies that regulation on compositional equivalence may no longer be justified, based on a review of 20 years of literature on the subject. Paper co-authors Rod A. Herman of Dow AgroSciences and retired US FDA officer William D. Price found that in 148 GM crops approved in the US and 189 submissions in Japan, there is substantial equivalence of the GM crops to their conventional counterparts. This covers the full range of trait modifications in GM soybean, canola and cotton, tomato, potato and raspberry in more than 80 peer reviewed publications.

Hence, the paper highlights the evidence that genetic modification is less disruptive of crop composition compared with traditional breeding. The authors further concluded that, “The merits of continuing to generally require compositional analysis of GM crops to inform safety seems dubious given the results of 20 years of research, and if agreement can be reached that these studies are no longer warranted, use of this technology will become accessible to a wider array of scientists.”

See the news article at http://www.abca.com.au/news/ and original research article at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf400135r.

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The plant mechanism controlling nitrogen utilization

NIN-like transcription factors regulate nitrate response in plants

Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo

2013/04/01

Plants take up nitrogen in soils and utilize it for biosynthesis of nitrogen-containing organic compounds for their growth. Nitrate, which is a major nitrogen source for land plants, functions as a key signal molecule that modulates the expression of a wide spectrum of genes, including not only nitrate assimilation-associated genes but also genes encoding regulatory proteins, and that regulate the nitrogen utilization mechanism and the growth rate.

Nitrate activates NIN-like transcription factors through their N-terminal regions, and then the activated factors promote the expression of nitrogen assimilation-related genes and genes encoding regulatory proteins. Hence, NIN-like transcription factors are key factors for nitrogen response in higher plants.

A research team led by Associate Professor Shuichi Yanagisawa in the Laboratory of Plant Functional Biotechnology at the Biotechnology Research Center of the University of Tokyo demonstrated that NIN-like transcription factors play a central role in the regulation of nitrate-inducible events. Nitrate signaling activates NIN-like transcription factors, and the activated factors then promote the expression of a number of nitrate-inducible genes. Hence, NIN-like transcription factors function as key regulators of the nitrogen utilization mechanism.

As most land soils globally are nitrogen-deficient, huge amounts of nitrogen fertilizers are applied to fields to realize high crop yields. However, nitrogen fertilizers severely pollute the environment, especially the aquatic ecosystem. Identification of key factors in the regulation of the nitrate utilization mechanism will be of great value in plant biotechnology research, enabling the enhancement of the nitrogen utilization efficiency of crop plants to achieve increases in plant biomass and improve environmental protection.

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STUDY REVEALS NEW REGULATOR FOR PLANT HORMONE SIGNALING

Scientists at Dartmouth College in the U.S. investigated the molecular mechanisms involved in the plant’s ability to recognize and respond to hormones. Anti-aging hormones such as cytokinins are important in controlling plant growth and development, including stimulating yield, greening, metabolism, and cell division.

Hyo Jung Kim and colleagues identified a family of proteins called KISS ME DEADLY (KMD) as a new regulator of cytokinin signaling. To regulate plant growth, plants must recognize cytokinins and convert this information into changes in gene expression. The KMDs target a key group of cytokinin-regulated transcription factors for destruction, then regulates the gene expression changes that occur as reaction to cytokinin presence. When the KMD concentration increases, there will be reduced cytokinin response (or less plant growth), and vice-versa.

The results of the study provides better understanding of cytokinins and that KMD could help improve agricultural productivity.

Read the research paper at http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/05/28/1300403110.abstract.

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USDA INVESTIGATES DETECTION OF GE WHEAT IN OREGON

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducted an investigation on the possible presence of genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-resistant wheat plants in Oregon. They tested the samples in the USDA laboratories and found that they contain GE wheat variety that Monsanto was authorized to field test from 1998 to 2005.

According to USDA, the detected wheat variety does not pose a food safety concern based on the voluntary consultation conducted by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the safety of food and feed from this GE wheat variety in 2004. FDA has concluded then that the variety is as safe as conventional wheat varieties in the market.

A formal investigation has been launched by USDA to determine the circumstances and the extent of the situation and how it happened. Once they have proven that the situation is a violation of the Plant Protection Act (PPA), APHIS will seek penalties and has the authority to refer the situation for criminal prosecution, if appropriate.

Read the news release at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2013/05/ge_wheat_detection.shtml.


Created June 12, 2013 | Category: Government

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