Aphids, small sap-sucking insects, are virus carriers responsible for significant economic losses in many crops worldwide. Many aphids form symbiotic and mutualistic relationships with viruses, an aspect of plant disease that has not been well explored.
Excess selenium from fertilizers and other natural sources can create air pollution that could lead to lung cancer, asthma, and Type 2 diabetes, according to new UC Riverside research.
Worldwide declines in insect populations have garnered significant attention of late. However, many species are understudied, including firefly beetles, whose charismatic bioluminescent displays elevate their cultural and economic importance. Reporting the results of a recent survey in BioScience, Sara M. Lewis of Tufts University and her colleagues present a broad overview of the threats facing these diverse insect populations.
Habitat loss, pesticide use and, surprisingly, artificial light are the three most serious threats endangering fireflies across the globe, raising the specter of extinction for certain species whose features render them more vulnerable to specific threats. Impacts range from loss of biodiversity to ecotourism. The authors, compiling the knowledge of experts around the globe, will use the study to focus conservation efforts.
Despite the perception that wild birds in farm fields can cause food-borne illness, a WSU study has found little evidence linking birds to E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter outbreaks.
Soil scientists from Cornell and Rice Universities have dug around and found that although adding carbon organic matter to agricultural fields is usually advantageous, it may muddle the beneficial underground communication between legume plants and microorganisms.
Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients as is a key component for healthy crop production globally. Because the microbiota is crucial to the plant's ability to take in nitrogen, scientists are very interested in identifying ways to ensure this transfer.
Dissolved carbon in soil can quench plants' ability to communicate with soil microbes, allowing plants to fine-tune their relationships with symbionts. Experiments show how synthetic biology tools developed at Rice University can help understand environmental controls on agricultural productivity.
Flowering plants are better pollinated in urban than in rural areas. Researchers from central Germany have now published this result in Nature Communications. Despite a greater diversity of flying insects in the countryside, more bees in cities pollinated more flowers of test plants. The most industrious pollinators were bumble bees, most likely benefitting from the abundant habitats in the city. The researchers recommend to take into greater account the needs of bees when landscape planning.
For hundreds of years, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine have used an herb called Stemona sessilifolia as a remedy for parasitic infections, such as those caused by pinworms and lice. Now, researchers reporting in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry have identified 10 compounds that might be responsible for the herb's effectiveness. But there's a twist: The insecticides are produced by symbiotic microbes that live within the plant's cells -- not by S. sessilifolia itself.