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Discovery of new protein in tomato explains long-standing plant immunity mystery

URBANA, Ill. – When a plant senses an invading pathogen, it activates a molecular signaling cascade to switch on its defense mechanisms. One such mechanism involves sacrificing host cells to the pathogen. This is a tightly controlled process that involves the work of plant proteins to ensure that the sacrificial cells are only killed if the pathogen is attacking. This process, called the cell death response, ensures that only a few host cells die.

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Palmer amaranth’s molecular secrets reveal troubling potential

URBANA, Ill. – Corn, soybean, and cotton farmers shudder at the thought of Palmer amaranth invading their fields. The aggressive cousin of waterhemp – itself a formidable adversary – grows extremely rapidly, produces hundreds of thousands of seeds per plant, and is resistant to multiple classes of herbicides, including glyphosate.

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ACES alumnus recognized for lifetime achievement in international horticulture

John Bowman (Ph.D. Plant Pathology ’84) recently received the “Outstanding International Horticulturalist” award from the American Society of Horticultural Science. This award recognized Bowman’s lifetime of achievement in international horticulture. He currently serves as a program area leader in the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Agricultural Research and Policy.

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Tornadoes, windstorms pave way for lasting plant invasions

URBANA, Ill. – When tornadoes touch down, we brace for news of property damage, injuries, and loss of life, but the high-speed wind storms wreak environmental havoc, too. They can cut through massive swaths of forest, destroying trees and wildlife habitat, and opening up opportunities for invasive species to gain ground.

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Scientists transform tobacco info factory for high-value proteins

Champaign, Ill. –– For thousands of years, plants have produced food for humans, but with genetic tweaks, they can also manufacture proteins like Ebola vaccines, antibodies to combat a range of conditions, and now, cellulase that is used in food processing and to break down crop waste to create biofuel.

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New mutations for herbicide resistance rarer than expected, study finds

The relative contribution of new mutations to the problem of herbicide resistance is poorly understood. In a new study, Illinois crop scientists hoped to determine the baseline mutation rate for a plant of the genus Amaranthus, a group that includes waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, and other problematic agricultural weeds.

Read more from the Illinois News Bureau.

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When introduced species interact: Degraded Hawaiian communities operate similarly to native ones

URBANA, Ill. – On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, it is possible to stand in a lush tropical forest that doesn’t contain a single native plant. The birds that once dispersed native seeds are almost entirely gone too, leaving a brand-new ecological community composed of introduced plants and birds. In a first-of-its-kind study published today in Science, researchers demonstrate that these novel communities are organized in much the same way as native communities worldwide.

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Natural plant defense genes provide clues to safener protection in grain sorghum

URBANA, Ill. – Weeds often emerge at the same time as vulnerable crop seedlings and sneak between plants as crops grow. How do farmers kill them without harming the crops themselves?

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When temperatures drop, Siberian Miscanthus plants surpass main bioenergy variety

URBANA, Ill. – Photosynthesis drives yields, but in cold conditions, this process that turns sunlight into biomass takes a hit. Miscanthus is a popular, sustainable, perennial feedstock for bioenergy production that thrives on marginal land in temperate regions.

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Environmental greenness may not improve student test scores, study finds

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers at the University of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service suggest in a new study that environmental greenness may not be associated with higher test scores in schoolchildren after all.

In a study that involved more than 400 public schools in Chicago, the Illinois-led team found that there was “no convincing evidence for a positive relationship between greenness and academic performance.” The study was published recently in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.

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