Aerial picture of the Broadbalk experiment
Scientists at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden (1) and the University of Reading have been able to recover DNA from crop diseases on wheat samples stored as part of a Victorian field experiment (2). Using this DNA, they have discovered how changes in air pollution over the last 160 years have affected fungal diseases on our wheat crops.
The most damaging wheat disease in Europe is leaf blotch, caused by two different fungal species, Phaeosphaeria nodorum and Mycosphaerella graminicola. These species cause the loss of millions of tonnes of grain worldwide each year. Changes in the importance of these two species have been reported in the UK and elsewhere but the reason for this has remained unclear.
Dr Bart Fraaije and his colleagues looked at straw samples archived from the Broadbalk experiment, the world’s oldest, continually-running field experiment, which was set up in 1843 to investigate the effect of fertilisers on crop yields and the soil. They were able to extract fungal DNA from the straw, enabling them to carefully track changes in the populations of the two fungi since Broadbalk’s inception over 160 years ago.
Elspeth Bartlet | alfa
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The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
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The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
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