Some plants have been found and that’s good news, while for others it was bad. Another compilation of the stories we’ve been sharing on social media.

Inside the Illegal Cactus Trade

In May, 2017, at a military checkpoint in northern Baja, a van with a few men in it was inspected and some Dudleya pachyphytum were found. Although it is illegal to take the island’s D. pachyphytum, it was a small amount. Not long afterward, a fifty-five-foot tractor-trailer arrived at the same checkpoint. In it were some five thousand D. pachyphytum.

I discovered … a tiny 700-year-old forest within sight of North America’s busiest highway

“I realised other ancient trees could have survived, right under our noses. In France, they discovered one tree that had started growing before the Romans left.”

The lesser-known Latin American history behind the poinsettia flower

Poinsettia plants are used to adorn stores, are printed on Christmas cards and are seen as the traditional Christmas flower. Their history begins with Indigenous communities from Latin America but is often erased according to professors and journalists.

Myrtle rust is devastating Australian forests. A new high-tech spray holds out hope for native trees

Around a decade ago, an invasive fungal disease called myrtle rust reached Australia and began to spread like a plague through certain plants. The disease affects plants of the Myrtaceae family, which includes eucalypts, paperbarks and lilly pillies, and makes up 10% of Australian plant biodiversity.

Gardening gives students a break from academic rigour, and teaches a ‘useful art’

“Are you able to identify the New Zealand Christmas tree, sir”, a beaming south Auckland year 10 college student asks as he goes about his work helping to plant 637 native plants at Ōtāhuhu College.

Smart planting key to beating caterpillar damage

Cabbage white butterflies — Pieris rapae — are one of the most common garden visitors. The butterfly looks elegant in white with black dots on its wings: females have a pair of black spots and males a single spot on each forewing. But their velvety green caterpillars are ravenous beasts on brassicas — the plant family that includes common vegetable crops such as cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, kale and bok choy.


Harvesting pollen with vibrations: Towards an integrative understanding of the proximate and ultimate reasons for buzz pollination (OA)

Vallejo-Marin & Russell review for bees and plants the proximate (mechanism and ontogeny) and ultimate (adaptive significance and evolution) explanations for buzz pollination, focusing especially on integrating across these levels to synthesise and identify prominent gaps in our knowledge. They highlight new technical and modelling approaches and the importance of considering morphology, biomechanics, and behaviour in shaping our understanding of the adaptive significance of buzz pollination.

Effector-triggered susceptibility by the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae (OA)

Oliveira-Garcia et al. review recent advances in the cell biology of Magnaporthe oryzae–host interactions and show how new breakthroughs in disease control have stemmed from an increased understanding of effector proteins of M. oryzae are deployed and delivered into plant cells to enable pathogen invasion and host susceptibility.

Natural habitat connectivity and organic management modulate pest dispersal, gene flow, and natural enemy communities ($)

The simplification and fragmentation of agricultural landscapes generate effects on insects at multiple spatial scales. As each functional group perceives and uses the habitat differently, the response of pest insects and their associated natural enemies to environmental changes varies. Therefore, landscape structure may have consequences on gene flow among pest populations in space. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of local and landscape factors, at multiple scales, on the local infestation, gene flow and broad dispersion dynamics of the pest insect Bemisia tabaci (Genn.) Middle East-Asia Minor 1 (MEAM-1, former biotype B) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) and its associated natural enemies in a tropical agroecosystem.

Forest restoration and fuels reduction work: Different pathways for achieving success in the Sierra Nevada (OA)

Fire suppression and past selective logging of large trees have fundamentally changed frequent-fire-adapted forests in California. The culmination of these changes produced forests that are vulnerable to catastrophic change by wildfire, drought, and bark beetles, with climate change exacerbating this vulnerability. Management options available to address this problem include mechanical treatments (Mech), prescribed fire (Fire), or combinations of these treatments (Mech + Fire). Stephens et al. quantify changes in forest structure and composition, fuel accumulation, modeled fire behavior, intertree competition, and economics from a 20-year forest restoration study in the northern Sierra Nevada.

Fruit production in coffee (Coffea arabica L.) crops is enhanced by the behaviour of wild bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) (OA)

Changes in floral visitors’ diversity and community composition have been reported to affect coffee production, which optimal growing conditions are cool to warm tropical climates found in the coffee belt. However, few studies have focused on understanding how insects’ foraging behaviour (e.g., contact with floral reproductive organs) relates with coffee production. Thus, it is important to consider floral visitors’ foraging behaviour, as this can influence the transfer of conspecific pollen required for plant fertilisation, the efficiency of floral visitors and improve the pollination service provided. Escobar-González et al. assessed how foraging behaviour of honeybees and stingless bees affects coffee fruit set and fruit weight in conventional and agroecological managed crops.

Barley MLA3 recognizes the host-specificity effector Pwl2 from Magnaporthe oryzae (OA)

Brabham et al. show that Mla3 also confers resistance to the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae in a dosage-dependent manner. Using a forward genetic screen, they discovered that the recognized effector from M. oryzae is Pathogenicity toward Weeping Lovegrass 2 (Pwl2), a host range determinant factor that prevents M. oryzae from infecting weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula). Mla3 has therefore convergently evolved the capacity to recognize effectors from diverse pathogens.

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