Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Discovering the Seeds of Defense: Stress Causes the Widespread Epigenetic Changes Aiding In Disease Resistance

For a very long time, the scientists were convinced that methylation, the essential part of every living organism development process, was just a static modification of DNA, which was not possible to be altered by environmental conditions.  However, according to new findings provided by the researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the DNA of organisms experiencing stress undergo changes in the DNA methylation pattern which alters the way genes are regulated.

Professor Joseph Ecker working at Salk’s Genomic Analysis Laboratory believes that the epigenome may not be a static set of instructions but can also take part in “rewriting” those instructions according to the received experience. Eventually, it all boils down to the theory that life experiences leave an imprint on our DNA.
Using the genome-wide sequencing technologies, the researchers have tracked numerous methylation changes in the plant’s response to bacterial infections and went on with a number of analyses focused on analyzing the way such changes are able to alter gene expression. The Salk findings are sure to influence the agriculture, including plants DNA methylation process engineering aimed at generating pathogen-resistant crops and minimizing the pesticide exposure. These technologies bring about huge interest among farmers , as more than 30 per cent of the yearly crops are lost due to pathogens and cost of $500 billion.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wastewater As Fertilizer? Why not!

Using liquid manure, wastewater and sewage sludge as the fertilizer components for food production has been quite a common way to boost crops in agriculture. Fraunhofer scientists have now come up with a “green”, chemical - free process allowing the recovered salts to be converted directly into organic food for crops.
Every person that works in agriculture industry knows that phosphorus is the essential element, not only for plants but for every living organism. However lately, farmers have faced the increasing shortage of that mineral and as a result, the prices of phosphate-based fertilizers have soared. That is why coming up with the alternative solution was just a question of time.
The researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart have invented a solution allowing the use of the locally available resources which are abundant in the wastewater from sewage treatment plants and in the fermentation residues from biogas plants. The process, developed by the researchers,  precipitates out the nutrients in a form that allows applying them directly as fertilizer. That energy- saving, eco – friendly process is now being tested in a mobile pilot plant. It seems that agriculture has received a powerful ally when it comes to improving crop performance!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Drought Monitor Alert: the Record- Breaking Expanse of Drought Across the U.S.

According to the latest report on drought in America, there are more parts of the U.S. suffering from moderate drought nowadays than there were within the 12-year history of the American Drought Monitor.
The analysis of the latest drought monitor data shows clearly that 46.84 per cent of the nation’s land area remains in various stages of drought – moderate or even worse than that. The recent dryness and heat is catching up on the national scale and the government has to deal with the problem of drought on a larger section of the country than it was previously assumed.
The report brought some unrest to the farmers as it remains a serious threat to the agriculture issues: moderate droughts damage pastures and crops causing the streams and wells get low. What’s more, the great droughts include crop and pasture losses, accompanied with the shortages of water and causing water emergencies.
Now the government needs to take some preventive steps in order to stop this adverse effect from spreading or worsening and safeguard the future of agriculture industry.