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36 news posts in Frontiers in Plant Science


Featured news

05 Jun 2023

Seeing inside a dying brain: Here are five Frontiers articles you won’t want to miss

By Deborah Pirchner, Frontiers science writer Image: At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, it’s impossible to cover all of them. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed. What happens to the brain when we die? The mystery of what happens in the brain when we die has fascinated humans for centuries. Despite understanding gained from recent studies, there still are open questions – not lastly because obtaining data about the last moments of life is difficult. Researchers largely have to rely on descriptions of near-death-experience survivors. To fill knowledge gaps, these accounts are immensely valuable.   Now, in a review article published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, an international team of researchers has reviewed the current knowledge on what neurophysiological changes occur in the brain during these experiences. They also examined what anatomical correlates to these changes are, and how drugs and metabolic factors are involved. Understanding the underlying neurophysiological changes in the dying human brain could be the only way to decipher the neurophysiology of death, the scientists noted. Descriptions from near-death survivors may be our only […]

Featured news

07 Oct 2022

Scientists peel back ancient layers of banana DNA to reveal mystery ancestors

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Researchers compare the genomes of more than 200 wild and domesticated varieties of bananas and show that three extra ancestors, either subspecies or distinct species, must have been involved in the domestication process. They also deduce the geographic regions in Australasia where these mystery ancestors lived. If they haven’t gone extinct, they are likely threatened and it’s urgent to find and protect them, to preserve genetic diversity that could help breed better bananas. Bananas are thought to have been first domesticated by people 7,000 years ago on the island of New Guinea. But the domestication history of bananas is complicated, while their classification is hotly debated, as boundaries between species and subspecies are often unclear. Now, a study in Frontiers in Plant Science shows that this history is even more complex than previously thought. The results confirm that the genome of today’s domesticated varieties contains traces of three extra, as yet unknown ancestors. ► Read original article► Download original article (pdf) “Here we show that most of today’s diploid cultivated bananas that descend from the wild banana M. acuminata are hybrids between different subspecies. At least three extra wild ‘mystery ancestors’ must have contributed to this […]


12 Sep 2022

Scientists eavesdrop on minke whale ‘boing’ calls in Hawai’i, and 4 other articles you don’t want to miss

By Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image: Annie Leblanc/ At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, many often fly under the radar. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed. Scientists eavesdrop on minke whale conversations in Hawai’i Scientists writing in Frontiers in Marine Science used hydrophones to study hard-to-spot minke whales in Hawai’i, learning that they use their ‘boing’ calls more frequently when they are close to other members of the same species. Minke whales who visit this area are hard to study because they are small, solitary, and visit outside the times when most ship-based surveys are conducted. Passive acoustic monitoring, using hydrophones mounted on the sea bed, allows scientists to listen in on whales all year round. The authors used 47 hydrophones to record thousands of calls between 2012 and 2017. These calls were analyzed to detect individual whales and monitor their behavior in the study area. The minke whales used their ‘boing’ calls only between fall and spring, and called more rapidly when other minke whales were nearby. Because minke whales are so enigmatic, it isn’t […]

Featured news

18 Jul 2022

Alzheimer’s impact on the brain is broader than we thought and 4 other fascinating Frontiers articles you don’t want to miss

By Colm Gorey, Frontiers science communications manager Image: At Frontiers, we bring some of the world’s best research to a global audience. But with tens of thousands of articles published each year, many often fly under the radar. Here are just five amazing papers you may have missed. Impact of Alzheimer’s on the brain may be greater than previously thought A significant review of more than 200,000 scientific publications has shown that the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on the brain are far broader than initially thought. Writing in their review article in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, the international team of researchers said that they wanted to understand the breadth and diversity of biological pathways – key molecular chain reactions that drive changes in cells – that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease by research over the last 30 years. They found that while nearly all known pathways have been linked to the disease, the most frequently associated biological mechanisms have not significantly changed in the last three decades, despite major technological advances. These include those related to the immune system, metabolism, and long-term depression. They also found that the top-ranked 30 pathways most frequently referred to in literature remained relatively consistent […]

Featured news

09 Mar 2022

Ancient art and genetics combine to reveal origin of world’s most expensive spice

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Harvest of saffron crocuses. Image credit: Petia_is / Shutterstock In a new review, researchers showcase how the first likely depictions of the domesticated saffron crocus date from Bronze Age Greece. This evidence, which suggests that the species was first domesticated in Greece by approximately 1700 BCE, converges with recent genetic studies which showed that its closest wild relative only occurs in Greece. Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, is extracted from the flowers of the saffron crocus, Crocus sativus. It has been grown for thousands of years in the Mediterranean region. But when and where was saffron first domesticated by our ancestors? In a review in Frontiers in Plant Science, researchers conclude that lines of evidence from ancient art and genetics converge on the same region. “Both ancient artworks and genetics point to Bronze Age Greece, in approximately 1700 BCE or earlier, as the origin of saffron’s domestication,” said Ludwig Mann, one of the leading authors and a PhD student at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. ► Read original article► Download original article (pdf) The genus Crocus, with approximately 250 species, ranges from South and Central Europe and North Africa to Western China. Unlike domesticated saffron, these […]

Climate action

23 Feb 2022

Sharp drop in flower abundance caused by climate crisis will leave pollinators searching further for food

By Mischa Dijkstra, Frontiers science writer Image credit: Ellen D Moss Researchers simulated the warmer, wetter conditions predicted for northern Europe under climate change, by locally heating agricultural fields by 1.5 ºC and increasing irrigation by 40%. These conditions immediately lead to changes in the community of wildflowers and their associated insects. Most plant species were ‘losers’: they grew fewer flowers, secreted less nectar, and set fewer or lighter seeds. This reduced the food resources for pollinators, stimulating them to visit a wider range of plants. It is predicted that global average temperatures will have risen by between 0.9 and 2.0 ºC around the middle of this century, according to the IPCC’s intermediate emission scenario RCP4.5. As a result, many species, especially specialists with highly specific requirements for food, habitat, and reproduction, won’t be able to adapt. Because approximately 35% of our crops depend on insects for pollination, it is necessary to study impact of global warming on the fitness of insects and the wildflowers on which they depend for food. Once we understand the likely changes, we may be able to mitigate the negative effects for wild and crop plants. Here, a study by scientists from Newcastle University in […]


04 Mar 2021

Seagrass loss around the UK may be much higher than previously thought

By Suzanna Burgelman, Frontiers science writer Dogfish between seagrass. Image: Frogfish Photography The United Kingdom (UK) could have lost as much as 92% of historic seagrass meadows, a new study shows. These seagrass meadows are an essential part of healthy marine ecosystems, supporting the UK’s fish stocks, and helping to absorb and trap carbon from the atmosphere. The research highlights an urgent need to protect and restore current and degrading seagrass meadows. The loss of seagrass in the waters around the UK is much higher than previously estimated. A new study published in Frontiers in Plant Science concludes that, with high certainty, at least 44% of the UK’s seagrasses have been lost since 1936, of which 39% has been since the 1980s. This study is one of the first of its kind to bring together seagrass data from diverse sources and give a systematic estimate of the current and historic extent of seagrass, as well as seagrass loss in the UK. The study was a collaboration between researchers at University College London, Kings College London, and Swansea University. Read original article Download original article (pdf) Seagrasses as climate change superheroes Nature-based solutions are essential to mitigate the effects of the […]