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Researchers model ways to control deadly maize disease

August 18th, 2017 / SciDevNet

In Kenya, researchers have used mathematical modelling to develop how to combat two co-infecting viruses causing maize lethal necrosis – which can cause up to 90 per cent loss of yield. According to researchers who conducted the new study, because maize is a staple crop in sub-Saharan Africa, the spread …

Enhancing powdery mildew resistance in wheat

August 17th, 2017 / ISAAA, US

Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) suffers significant yield losses due to powdery mildew, a major fungal disease caused by Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici (Bgt). The enhanced disease resistance1 (EDR1) gene plays a negative role in the defense response against powdery mildew in Arabidopsis thaliana, making EDR1 a target for improving …

Tanzania: Ambitious new plan aims to double production of coffee

August 17th, 2017 / AllAfrica.com

Coffee production in Tanzania could more than double in four years’ time if an action programme to increase the competitiveness of small holder farmers is successfully implemented.
The ten-year programme launched in 2011/2012 aims to increase coffee production and quality from 50,000 tonnes a year by then to 150,000 tonnes in …

Why do consumers prefer organic to conventional produce when both use pesticides?

August 11th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

What gets overlooked by [activist] groups are the reports from the USDA itself that show that even organic foods have pesticide residues on them β€” some are synthetic pesticides and some, like Spinosad, are ones approved for organic uses. Feel comfortable, though, because that same USDA data showed safe levels …

Plants love microbes – and so do farmers

August 10th, 2017 / UQ News, Australia

Increasingly, farmers want to capitalise on beneficial microbes to support their crops, and science can assist the design of effective crop probiotics to make crops healthier, hardier and more productive, by increasing their resilience to pests, diseases and environmental stresses, and improving access to nutrients. Read …

When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

August 7th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Which is more disruptive to a plant: genetic engineering or conventional breeding?
It often surprises people to learn that GE commonly causes less disruption to plants than conventional techniques of breeding. But equally profound is the realization that the latest GE techniques, coupled with a rapidly expanding ability to analyze …

Capitalize on African biodiversity

August 4th, 2017 / Nature, UK

Artemisinin, ginkgolides, quinine, reserpine, scopolamine, paclitaxel. What do these molecules have in common? They are all extracted from plants and transformed into useful drugs, treating conditions including malaria, nausea, cancer and high blood pressure. None of the plants is from Africa.
Almost 60% of commercially available drugs are based on molecules …

Climate change Is draining protein out of staple crops

August 4th, 2017 / IFL Science

No matter how hard we work at stopping it, some human-driven climate change is inevitable. It’s already happening, and it will continue to happen even if we drawdown carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
This means that there are certain adaptations we need to make in order to make it through the …

Controlling rats on small-scale African farms is vital for food security

August 3rd, 2017 / The Conversation

Recent analysis suggests that Africa will only be able to achieve food security if it invests in crop intensification like increased fertiliser and pesticide input per hectare. But the expansion of agricultural production areas can also improve this.
A complicating factor in African agriculture is that most of the production comes …

Cracking the code of megapests

August 3rd, 2017 / CSIRO

Led by CSIRO, in collaboration with a team of renowned experts, the researchers identified more than 17,000 protein coding genes in the genomes of the Helicoverpa armigera and Helicoverpa zea (commonly known as the Cotton Bollworm and Corn Earworm, respectively).
They also documented how these genetics have changed overtime.
This level of …