A Chinese plant has evolved to hide from humans

Researchers document the first example of evolutionary changes in a plant in response to humans.

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  • A plant coveted in China for its medicinal properties has developed camouflage that makes it less likely to be spotted and pulled up from the ground.
  • In areas where the plant isn't often picked, it's bright green. In harvested areas, it's now a gray that blends into its rocky surroundings.
  • Herbalists in China have been picking the Fritillaria dealvayi plant for 2,000 years.
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Plant-grown vaccines: the next step in medicine?

Medicago is growing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate in a relative of the tobacco plant right now.

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  • Canadian biotech company Medicago is growing a vaccine candidate in Nicotiana benthamiana.
  • An Australian relative to tobacco, plant-based vaccines could be cheaper and more reliable than current methods.
  • Medicago just completed phase 3 clinical trials of an influenza vaccine, which could be a game-changer for vaccine production.
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Reinventing agriculture for climate change

Modern crops have been optimized for a lot of things, but not for climate change.

Credit: Amy Baugess/Unsplash
  • Growers are struggling to protect their crops from failure as conditions change due to global warming.
  • Modern crops lack the fortifying genetic diversity of their ancestors.
  • Scientists publish a new guide for strengthening crops through the reintroduction of wild-variety traits based on the latest science.
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Rutgers-led research finds bee decline threatens crop yields

Declining bee populations could lead to increased food insecurity and economic losses in the billions.

(Photo: Sarah Dickinson)
  • Species richness among wild bees and other pollinators has been declining for 50 years.
  • A new study found crops like apples, cherries, and blueberries to be pollination limited, meaning less pollination reduces crop yields.
  • Conservation efforts will need to be made to stave off future losses and potential food insecurity.
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    Stone stacking destroys the environment for clicks and likes

    Stone stackers enjoy the practice as a peaceful challenge, but scientists warn that moving small stones has mountainous consequences.

  • In recent years, stone stacks have become a popular pastime on social media and in our national parks.
  • Scientists and conservationists warn that such stacks cause ecological damage and risk the survival of many endemic plant and animal species.
  • The problem is one of scale: The more popular the pastime becomes, the great the damage to our natural parks and reserves.
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