plants

Yes, spring flowers are blooming earlier. It might confuse bees.

After a long pandemic winter, people are eager to welcome the first cheerful blooms of spring. Lucky for them, many flowers really are popping open earlier in the year. Not so lucky for some plants, though. Plants that rely on bees or other insect pollinators to transport pollen between like individuals — buzzing from violet to violet, or trillium to trillium — face uncertainties when spring becomes front-loaded.

“Ghost Forests” Expanding Along Northeast U.S. Coast

Why are “ghost forests” filled with dead trees expanding along the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coast? Higher groundwater levels linked to sea-level rise and increased flooding from storm surges and very high tides are likely the most important factors, according to a Rutgers study on the impacts of climate change that suggests how to enhance land-use planning.

How Rocks Rusted on Earth and Turned Red

How did rocks rust on Earth and turn red? A Rutgers-led study has shed new light on the important phenomenon and will help address questions about the Late Triassic climate more than 200 million years ago, when greenhouse gas levels were high enough to be a model for what our planet may be like in the future.

Plant-Based Spray Could be Used in N95 Masks and Energy Devices

Engineers have invented a way to spray extremely thin wires made of a plant-based material that could be used in N95 mask filters, devices that harvest energy for electricity, and potentially the creation of human organs. The method involves spraying methylcellulose, a renewable plastic material derived from plant cellulose, on 3D-printed and other objects ranging from electronics to plants, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Materials Horizons.

Once infected, twice infected

A key to surviving in the wild is fighting off infection — and not just once. In plants as in humans, one infection may or may not leave a plant with lasting immunity. In fact, an early infection might make things worse. New research from an international team including an assistant professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis shows that infection actually makes a plant more susceptible to secondary infection — in experiments and in the wild. The findings are published Aug. 31 in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

New Device Can Measure Toxic Lead Within Minutes

Rutgers researchers have created a miniature device for measuring trace levels of toxic lead in sediments at the bottom of harbors, rivers and other waterways within minutes – far faster than currently available laboratory-based tests, which take days. The affordable lab-on-a-chip device could also allow municipalities, water companies, universities, K-12 schools, daycares and homeowners to easily and swiftly test their water supplies. The research is published in the IEEE Sensors Journal.

Geoengineering’s Benefits Limited for Apple Crops in India

Geoengineering – spraying sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to combat global warming – would only temporarily and partially benefit apple production in northern India, according to a Rutgers co-authored study. But abruptly ending geoengineering might lead to total crop failure faster than if geoengineering were not done, according to the study – believed to be the first of its kind – in the journal Climatic Change.

Could These ‘Salt-loving’ Edible Sea Vegetables be the New Kale?

Skip the salt! Three species of sea vegetables could just be the new kale with the added benefit of a salty flavor. The 10-week study was designed to determine the optimal growing conditions for these sea vegetables that could soon be a great addition to salads, soups, pasta, rice and other dishes in the continental U.S. These nutritious plants for human consumption do not require fresh water and instead are grown in salt water.

Living Walls: University Researchers Develop Green Tech for Treating Wastewater from Microbreweries

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) researchers received a patent for green wall technology that will provide craft breweries cost-effective and sustainable options for wastewater treatment. The team found a way to make the common Pothos and recycled glass an environmental solution to support the growing microbrewery trend in the region.

Scientists Have Discovered the Origins of the Building Blocks of Life

Rutgers researchers have discovered the origins of the protein structures responsible for metabolism: simple molecules that powered early life on Earth and serve as chemical signals that NASA could use to search for life on other planets. Their study, which predicts what the earliest proteins looked like 3.5 billion to 2.5 billion years ago, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Getting to the root of plant survival

Researchers have new insight into plant survival after identifying hormones and proteins that interact to regulate root emergence. The findings may lead to the ability to control when and how many additional roots a plant can form – a key weapon in battling dry conditions caused by climate change.

How to Make it Easier to Turn Plant Waste into Biofuels

Researchers have developed a new process that could make it much cheaper to produce biofuels such as ethanol from plant waste and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Their approach, featuring an ammonia-salt based solvent that rapidly turns plant fibers into sugars needed to make ethanol, works well at close to room temperature, unlike conventional processes, according to a Rutgers-led study in the journal Green Chemistry.

Two Rutgers Professors Named Fellows of AAAS

Two Rutgers professors have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) this year, an honor awarded to AAAS members by their peers. They join 441 other AAAS members named new fellows because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. The fellows will be presented an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on Feb. 15 at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2020 AAAS Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington.