Updated: In a monumental step for chocolate lovers — ah, let’s be honest, the whole of humankind — scientists announced today they have completed a preliminary genome sequence for the cacao tree.
OK, maybe it’s not that monumental; new genomes are sequenced all the time. But this one is special — cacao is no ordinary plant. Who cares about the corn genome when you can study chocolate instead?
During the siege of Leningrad, 12 scientists starved to death rather than eat the grains stored at Pavlosk Agricultural Station, the world’s first seed bank. According to an AP story, their efforts to save the seeds for future generations may now be in vain after a Russian court approved plans to raze the station’s fields of plants so a developer can build luxury homes.
If we ever decide to colonize Mars, it might be fairly simple to grow crops in that red soil, according to a new study. Mars’ reduced gravity could let us use less water and fertilizer than we do on Earth.
Readers with a sweet tooth had better start stockpiling candy -- first Choc Finger started hoarding all the world's chocolate, and now it seems the U.S. sugar supply may be in jeopardy. Farmers cannot plant new genetically modified sugar beets until the U.S. Department of Agriculture finishes a study about their environmental impact, a federal judge said Friday. That could take a couple years, which means sugar beet farmers and sugar processors might have trouble meeting demand after this year's harvest.
The raising of livestock consumes two-thirds of the planet's farmland, and is a major source of greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, tons of edible, sustainable protein swarms all around us, free for the taking. In a new policy paper being considered by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Belgian entomologist Arnold van Huis makes the sensible recommendation that the western world eat more insects.
Plants are able to remember information and react to it, thanks to an internal communications system that can be likened to a central nervous system in animals, according to a new study by a Polish plant biologist.
Plants "remember" information about light, and a certain type of cell transmits that information, much like nerves do in animals.
More than 60 ships are being dispatched to ward off a green tide approaching the city of Qingdao, the Guardian reports. Officials in the Chinese coastal city hope an armada can save them from a looming onslaught of green algae.
The grain crops that we humans depend on daily to hold body and soul together are annual crops -- they have to be planted every year. They germinate, bear their delicious product, and then die off; the following year, a brand new crop is put in to take their place.
Such annual crops are high in yield, but they require vast amounts of artificial fertilizer, and their impermanence contributes to soil erosion.
Algal blooms that feed on nutrient-rich manure and fertilizer runoff can deplete oxygen in the water when they die, creating inhospitable dead zones -- but the same green scum might also serve as a preventive solution upstream. A microbiologist with the U.S. Agricultural Research Service used algae to recover almost 100 percent of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients from manure, and suggested that the dried-out algae can then act as slow-release fertilizer for farms.
U.S. farmers are dealing with a superweed epidemic, and it's not as groovy as it sounds on first read. Ubiquitous use of the weed killer Roundup over time has spawned herbicide-resistant superweeds , much as heavy use of antibiotics over past decades has bred drug-resistant germs and bacteria.