Plants

Ancient Barley Could Help Farmers Adapt to Changing Climate

Publication: By John Roach   Date: July 27, 2009   View Article

DNA has been recovered from an ancient form of barley that persisted for more than 3,000 years and the tastes of five civilizations in Egypt’s upper Nile, according to a new study.

The barely was particularly well-adapted to the region’s parched climate, allowing it to trump more bountiful but less hardy varieties, according to genetic analyses of the preserved grains.

The finding could assist efforts to breed modern crops that are able to survive a drying climate, noted plant researcher Robin Allaby, an associate professor at the University of Warwick in the UK.

“If we find genes that have evolved to cope with arid conditions, we can then look to transferring those genes, or replicating those genes in modern varieties,” he explained to me in an e-mail exchange.

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Some European Grasslands May Resist Warming

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 7, 2008   View Article

Grassland ecosystems found in higher altitudes throughout Western Europe may be resistant to climate change, according to new results from a long-term experiment.

The finding is in sharp contrast to similar research conducted in an alpine meadow in North America that suggests mountain wildflowers will all but disappear in a warming world.

Ancient Global Warming Gave Bugs the Munchies

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 11, 2008   View Article

A temperature spike about 55 million years ago gave bugs the munchies, according to a new study.

If modern temperatures continue to rise as anticipated in the coming years, researchers add, the planet could see a similar increase in insect damage to crops and other plants.

“Doomsday” Vault Will End Crop Extinction, Expert Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 27, 2007   View Article

Deep in Norway’s frozen Svalbard archipelago sits a high-tech facility that could save the world.

If global catastrophes like asteroid impacts or disease pandemics were to strike, seeds stored in this first ever “doomsday” vault would ensure that humans could regrow the crops needed for survival.

Group to Clone California Redwoods

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 29, 2007   View Article

The towering redwood trees that once dominated the coastal forests of the U.S. West Coast may soon be restored throughout their historic range.

A group of historic tree buffs will collect genetic samples Tuesday from the tops of several old-growth redwood trees in California—the first step in cloning the trees and regrowing lost forests.

Gene Altered Plant, Tree Can Suck Up Toxins

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 15, 2007   View Article

Two types of genetically modified plants can remove toxic compounds from the environment, according to research by a pair of independent groups.

One group developed Arabidopsis plants—small plants related to cabbage and mustard—that can clean up soil contaminated with cyclonite, or RDX. The widely used explosive is highly toxic and carcinogenic.

Frequent Flora Miles: Plants Can “Hop” to Distant Lands

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 14, 2007   View Article

Looking for frequent flyer tips? Ask an Arctic plant.

The hardy flora rack up the miles as climate change sends them adrift in search of fresh places to put down roots, a new study says.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach