How spiders can harm and help flowering plants

Summary: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Now researchers show that this principle also holds for crab spiders and flowering plants. While it’s true that the spiders do eat or drive away useful pollinators such as bees, they’re also attracted by floral scent signals to come and help if the plant is attacked by insects intent on eating it.     Crab spiders sitting on the flowers keep away bees and also plant-eating insects from visiting the plants. Credit: Anina C. Knauer   Interactions between organisms such as…

Read More

Gene boosts rice growth and yield in salty soil

Discovery of a gene that helps rice plants grow in salty soil paves the way to developing salt-tolerant crops Members of the research team collecting samples in a rice paddy field in Changsha, China. Credit: Jianzhong Lin Around 20% of the world’s irrigated land is considered to contain elevated concentrations of salt, and the soil continues to get saltier as the climate warms. Agricultural production is hard hit by soil salinity; salt stress reduces the growth and yield of most plants, resulting in billions of dollars in crop yield losses…

Read More

Lizards, mice, bats and other vertebrates are important pollinators, too

Study reviews the global importance of vertebrate pollinators for plant reproduction   Bees are not the only animals that carry pollen from flower to flower. Species with backbones, among them bats, birds, mice, and even lizards, also serve as pollinators. Although less familiar as flower visitors than insect pollinators, vertebrate pollinators are more likely to have co-evolved tight relationships of high value to the plants they service, supplying essential reproductive aid for which few or no other species may substitute.   In plants known to receive flower visitations from vertebrates,…

Read More

Why some Beetles like Alcohol

Beetles share the work of cultivating their fungal gardens: some clean the tunnel systems that are being eaten into the wood, others clear the dirt from the nest and clean their fellow workers always with the aim of optimizing the symbiosis of beetle and fungus. Credit: Gernot Kunz If on a warm summer’s evening in the beer garden, small beetles dive into your beer, consider giving them a break. Referred to as “ambrosia beetles,” these insects just want what’s best for themselves and their offspring. Drawn to the smell of…

Read More

New study finds clear differences between organic and non-organic milk and meat

In the largest study of its kind, an international team of experts led by Newcastle University, UK, has shown that both organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products. Analyzing data from around the world, the team reviewed 196 papers on milk and 67 papers on meat and found clear differences between organic and conventional milk and meat, especially in terms of fatty acid composition, and the concentrations of certain essential minerals and antioxidants. Publishing their findings today in the British Journal…

Read More

Forage-based diets on dairy farms produce nutritionally enhanced milk

Markedly higher levels of health-promoting fatty acids reported Summary: Researchers have found that cows fed a 100 percent organic grass and legume-based diet produce milk with elevated levels of omega-3 and CLA, and thus provides a markedly healthier balance of fatty acids. The improved fatty acid profile in grass-fed organic milk and dairy products (hereafter, ‘grass milk’) brings the omega-6/omega-3 ratio to a near 1 to 1, compared to 5.7 to 1 in conventional whole milk. Full Story: Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential human nutrients, yet consuming too…

Read More

Nutritionally-speaking, Do you know that soy milk is the best plant-based milk? Find out

Closest to cow’s milk in range of nutrients it offers                      Cow’s milk is compared with various plant-based milk. Credit: McGill University How healthy is your almond milk really? It may taste good and may not cause you any of the unpleasant reactions caused by cow’s milk. But though plant-based milk beverages of this kind have been on the market for a couple of decades and are advertised as being healthy and wholesome for those who are lactose-intolerant, little research has been done to compare the benefits and drawbacks of…

Read More

New study shows producers where and how to grow cellulosic biofuel crops

Study including University of Illinois researchers produced a yield map for five energy crops across the US. Credit: D.K. Lee and Tom Voigt According to a recent ruling by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 288 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel must be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply in 2018. Although this figure is down slightly from last year, the industry is still growing at a modest pace. However, until now, producers have had to rely on incomplete information and unrealistic, small-scale studies in guiding their decisions about which…

Read More

Agricultural fungicide attracts honey bees

Fungicides are among the top contaminants of honey bee hives and can interfere with the bees’ ability to metabolize other pesticides. Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer  When given the choice, honey bee foragers prefer to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports. The puzzling finding comes on the heels of other studies linking fungicides to declines in honey bee and wild bee populations. One recent study, for example, found parallels between the use of chlorothalonil and the…

Read More

Not just for Christmas: Study sheds new light on ancient human-turkey relationship

For the first time, research has uncovered the origins of the earliest domestic turkeys in ancient Mexico                                                          Wild turkey. Credit: © Paul / Fotolia For the first time, research has uncovered the origins of the earliest domestic turkeys in ancient Mexico. The study also suggests turkeys weren’t only prized for their meat with demand for the birds soaring with the Mayans and Aztecs because of their cultural significance in rituals and sacrifices. In an international collaboration, researchers from the…

Read More

Bees use invisible heat patterns to choose flowers

                             Floral heat patterns from rock rose.  Credit: University of Bristol A new study, led by scientists from the University of Bristol, has found that a wide range of flowers produce not just signals that we can see and smell, but also ones that are invisible such as heat. In the hidden world of flower-pollinator interactions, heat can act not only as life-sustaining warmth, but can also be part of the rich variety of sensory signposts that flowers…

Read More