Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Agriculture

Common features of domestic animals suggest caveats to evolutionary theory

White patches on fur coats, floppy ears, and curly tails are some of the traits frequently seen in domesticated animals. A group of researchers has now put forth a theory as to why these traits so often evolve in association … Continue reading

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Unlocking a mystery of seed development promises fatter, oilier oilseeds

The canola cooking oil lining supermarket shelves comes from the seeds of Brassica napus, a weedy-looking plant in the mustard family. Farmers of this crop understandably want varieties that yield big, oily seeds. A recent study in The Plant Cell … Continue reading

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Nitrogen-fixing bacteria talk to soybean roots via tiny RNAs, suggesting new avenue to improve yields

In order for soybean plants to get their necessary dose of nitrogen, they partner with bacteria called rhizobia, which can convert atmospheric nitrogen into organic forms the plant can use. But scientists don’t have the full picture of what facilitates … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Understanding how a plant makes a hook could someday improve crops

This spring, as the first shoots of new plants emerge from the soil, many are bent over in a hook. This simple act protects the fragile stem tip and leaves as the sprout pokes up through the dirt. But how … Continue reading

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Journal club: A simple model to help identify which species might become invasive

Invasive species are a major driver of global biodiversity loss. Now researchers have developed a simple model that can quickly predict which species are likely to become established outside their native environment. The team recently reported in the Proceedings of … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Seedbanks, meant to safeguard key plant species, need to enhance their diversity

Humanity’s last hope could someday rest on a humble seed, tucked away in the cool and dark of a collection. Seed collections, called seedbanks or seed genebanks, store millions of grains, nuts, and kernels in baggies and plastic bins, meant … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Single gene mutation may boost recombination and help produce better crops

As climate change and population growth threaten to destabilize global food security, plant breeders are ramping up efforts to create better, more productive crops. But in order to introduce new traits, breeding techniques typically rely on rare genetic recombination events … Continue reading

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Journal Club: Protein vs protein, study comprehensively compares the environmental impacts of livestock and seafood

The most environmentally friendly protein sources include clams, sardines, and cod. Not surprisingly, beef has the worst environmental impact. Somewhat surprisingly, farmed salmon is relatively innocuous; but catfish is not. These are the conclusions of a recent study that compares … Continue reading

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Journal Club: How traditional people tamed the Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest is often thought of as an untamed wilderness. But a growing number of studies, for example one in 2015 and another in 2017, show that local people have domesticated the forests for millennia, weaving patches of useful … Continue reading

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Journal Club: How to measure the global potential for biomass vegetation

Plants play a big role in removing carbon from the atmosphere. Almost a quarter of carbon from car exhaust and industry gets absorbed by vegetation. That’s a significant amount. But a recent study suggests that amount has the potential to … Continue reading

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