HPW Retrospectacle 2018 – October

Number 10 (CC BY 2.0) by Time Green

From Taller Arctic Plants To GMO Organic Farming.

A recurring topic in the plant science news of last October seemed to be “big”, as in Arctic plants may be getting bigger due to a warming climate, or making bigger fruit using genetic engineering.

Speaking of GMO’s, the idea of organic farmers growing GMO crop plants was in the news in October 2018, along with using genetic engineering to breed plants needing less fertilizer. On the negative side of GMO’s, some scientists voiced concern about virus-carrying insects potentially being used as bioweapons.

  • Arctic Plants Getting Bigger?: “The low-lying shrubs, grasses and other plants growing in the Arctic are getting taller. The finding comes from scientists who have analysed three decades of measurements. This data, gathered across Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia, indicates that a warming climate is driving the change.”
    Taller plants moving into warmer Arctic
  • War On Plants?: “It sounds like science fiction: A research program funded by the U.S. government plans to create virus-carrying insects that, released in vast numbers, could help crops fight threats such as pests, drought, or pollution. “Insect Allies,” as the $45 million, 4-year program is called, was launched in 2016 with little fanfare. But in a policy forum in this week’s issue of Science, five European researchers paint a far bleaker scenario. If successful, the technique could be used by malicious actors to help spread diseases to almost any crop species and devastate harvests, they say.”
    Crop-protecting insects could be turned into bioweapons, critics warn
  • Rooting Out Nitrogen?: “With robotics, computers and advanced genetics, researchers at the University of California, Davis, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have established a core set of genes that help plants metabolize nitrogen, the key to plant growth and crop yield.”
    Gene Network Lets Plant Roots Handle Nitrogen

Next-Time: From “friendly” bacteria to plants in the “fast-lane”….

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