Agricultural and Forestry Science

Had your morning coffee? Thank a killer bee

Smithsonian scientist shows pollination by exotic honeybees increases coffee crop yields by more than 50 percent

Debunking the widely held belief that the self-pollinating shrub that produces the popular Arabica coffee bean has no use for insects, David W. Roubik of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama has demonstrated that pollination – particularly by naturalized, non-native African honeybees – dramatically boosts the yield from shade-grown coffee plants.

Rutgers geneticists discover probable causes of hybrid plant vigor

Agricultural breeders have long observed that when plants or animals from different strains are interbred, the offspring tend to be stronger, healthier or generally more fit than either of their parents, although no one knew why this occurred. Now plant geneticists investigating the maize (corn) genome at Rutgers’ Waksman Institute of Microbiology have discovered a possible explanation for this phenomenon, known as heterosis or hybrid vigor.

The Rutgers findings, presented by research

Rutgers scientists create high-protein corn with Third World potential

A new approach without the controversial biotechnology used in GMOs

Rutgers geneticists have devised a new approach to create a more nutritious corn without employing the controversial biotechnology used in genetically modified foods. Instead of adding foreign DNA to the corn, the researchers increased the plant’s ability to produce more of its own naturally occurring protein by adjusting the genetic signals that control the process. The result is a more nutritious and natural fo

Clay-clad corpses kill crop pests

Pellets of rotting moths could keep weevils off oranges.

Mummified rotting cadavers could be a cost-effective way to combat soil pests, suggest scientists at the US Department of Agriculture. Citrus crops, cranberries and ornamental shrubs all stand to benefit.

Bacteria in the guts of roundworms grown inside dead wax moths can emerge to kill other soil insects, including the black vine weevil ( Otiorhynchus sulcatus ), a serious pest of plants in nurseries.

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Insect pest of potatoes Tecia solanivora is devastating crops in Latin America and has reached the Canary Islands

Lepidopteran Tecia solanivora, an insect pest, is currently devastating potato crops in Latin and Central America. Equador is particularly badly hit. Known as the “Guatemala moth”, it spreads quickly. Indeed in 2000 the moth was found to have reached the Canary Islands. Since then it has been on the red list of the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO). The pest, if uncontrolled, is considered to be a major threat to potato crops throughout southern Europe. A research team f

Genetically modified eggplants (aubergines) shown to be 30% more productive

Research, published in the online journal, BMC Biotechnology shows how researchers in Italy have used genetically modified eggplants made by the introduction of a gene that increases the level of the plant hormone indole acetic acid (IAA) to produce seedless fruits. Furthermore, these genetically modified eggplants are 30-35% more productive than conventional varieties in both greenhouse and field trials.

The public have a special liking for seedless fruits for two reasons, firstly seeds a

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