In the news / Plant

NEWS
Dr. Joel Cuello, UArizona Biosystems Engineering professor and BIO5 member, led a cross-disciplinary team to develop the Air Accordion Photobioreactor, the sustainable tech utilized by the startup AlgaeCell, to produce microalgae for use in pharmaceuticals, supplements, and vaccines.
 
NEWS
Vertical farming startups claim they can grow hundreds of times more produce -- usually leafy greens -- per unit area than a traditional open-field farm, while cutting water use by 95% or more. And they can maintain production year-round, with no worries about crop-destroying pests and thus no pesticides, while the plants get exactly the water and nutrients they need. Driving all this is a level of automation that separates the farms, also called plant factories, from typical greenhouses. Dr. Joel Cuello, UArizona professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and BIO5 member says vertical farming is not a panacea for addressing the challenge of meeting the world's prodigiously growing food demand, but a vital component of innovations toward more sustainable farming methods.
 
NEWS
The third annual BIO5 Postdoctoral Fellowship, this year awarded to eight outstanding postdoctoral researchers, grants financial support and facilitates guidance to enrich research and career growth.
 
NEWS
For much of the past century, the invasive pink bollworm wreaked havoc in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. A multifaceted strategy eradicated the pest from cotton-producing areas of the region according to a new study led by Regents professor, UArizona Entomology department head, and BIO5 member, Dr. Bruce Tabashnik. According to the study, the eradication program saved U.S. cotton growers $192 million from 2014 to 2019. Through environmentally friendly approaches, it also helped to reduce insecticides sprayed against all cotton pests by 82% and prevented the application of over a million pounds of insecticides per year in Arizona.
 
NEWS
Dr. Bruce Walsh received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 International Congress in Quantitative Genetics in honor of his foundational textbooks, teaching, and outreach efforts.
 
NEWS
A $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation will support University of Arizona graduate students looking to work across scientific disciplines to take on the world's grand challenges, from global climate change to sustainable food production. The grant was awarded to researchers with the UArizona Ecosystem Genomics Initiative, which brings together researchers from a wide range of scientific fields to design new models to inform global climate policy, identify genes and genomic interactions that enhance crop yield, and prepare graduate students to join the national workforce in fields such as ecosystem management, medical genetics and food security.
 
NEWS
Dr. Brian Enquist teamed up with Nirav Merchant, CyVerse co-principal investigator and director of UArizona Data Science Institute, to lead an interdisciplinary collaboration of the nation's scientists aiming to harness the power of big data and cyberinfrastructure to predict global biodiversity changes under different climate outcome scenarios. The project was funded this year at $2.5 million under the National Science Foundation's Harnessing the Data Revolution program, with just over $966,000 awarded to UArizona. The grant stemmed from work done by the Bridging Biodiversity and Conservation Science group, a new interdisciplinary initiative at the University of Arizona.
 
NEWS
The world’s hottest rainforest is located not in the Amazon or anywhere else you might expect, but inside Biosphere 2, the experimental scientific research facility in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona. A recent study of tropical trees planted there in the early 1990s reported a surprising result: They have withstood temperatures higher than any likely to be experienced by tropical forests this century.
 
NEWS
Drs. Laura Meredith and Jana U’Ren pivoted their scheduled field work trip to Alaska to infer the impact of terrestrial carbon loss on climate change.
 
NEWS
Dr. Eliot Herman, a professor of plant sciences, has dedicated his career studying why plants, such as the soybean plant, trigger allergic reactions and how to reduce the likelihood of them being triggered. By crossing a non-allergenic strain of soybeans with more commonly grown soybeans, Herman and his team were able to create a new, productive plant with reduced allergic sensitivity.
 
NEWS
Tropical forests may be more resilient to predicted temperature increases under global climate change than previously thought, a study published in the journal Nature Plants suggests. The group led by Dr. Scott Saleska, UArizona professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, studied data from the rainforest habitat at UArizona's Biosphere 2 and compared them to measurements taken at natural tropical forest sites. The results could help make climate prediction models more accurate.
 
NEWS
The quest to protect Arizona’s quality of life under the scorch of record breaking heat, drought, and increasing wildfires is a constant chore. A slate of experts in Tucson, including Biosphere 2 director and BIO5 member Dr. Joaquin Ruiz, offered up recommendations on how Arizona can rise above the heat to keep the economy and the environment thriving.
 
NEWS
Dr. Bruce Tabashnik, head of the Department of Entomology and BIO5 member, has won the Plant-Insect Ecosystems Lifetime Achievement Award in Entomology from the Entomological Society of America. Dr. Tabashnik's research has provided fundamental knowledge about insects for enhancing agricultural sustainability and reducing the use of harmful insecticides.
 
NEWS
While many of us have been working from home this summer, several species of insects and plants have been acting out fascinating plays of interactions and mutual interdependence across campus. Dr. Judith Bronstein, UArizona Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and BIO5 member, discusses what we can learn from these mutualistic interactions and how she studies insect dynamics.
 
NEWS
Dr. Judith Brown, UArizona evolutionary ecologist and BIO5 member, shares the importance of the partnership between ants and wildflowers in preserving ecosystems, especially forests that could be disturbed by human activity. This relationship was reported during the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America, where researchers discussed the seed dispersion that ants complete.
 
NEWS
A new paper, co-authored by UArizona associate professor of Molecular & Cellular Biology and BIO5 member Dr. Solange Duhamel, reports that salamander eggs compete with the algae that lives inside its eggs to assimilate carbon from their surroundings – a finding that could inform similar processes in the dark ocean.
 
NEWS
Plants and animals often engage in symbiotic relationships that benefit both organisms. Scientists used to believe that the salamander eggs and algae may be helping one another by exchanging sugar molecules produced through photosynthesis – but a series of laboratory experiments by Dr. Solange Duhamel and others showed that this was not the case. Instead, salamander embryos may be able to develop without the need for this exchange. 
 
NEWS
Nicknamed the “billion-dollar beetle” for its enormous economic costs to growers in the United States each year, the western corn rootworm is one of the most devastating pests farmers face. BIO5 members Drs. Bruce Tabashnik & Yves Carriere share their research on how crop rotation and diversification can help combat the rootworm’s resistance toward certain crops.