Climate change is driving plant die-offs in Southern California, UCI study finds

Irvine, Calif., June 21, 2021 – A shift is happening in Southern California, and this time it has nothing to do with earthquakes. According to a new study by scientists at the University of California, Irvine, climate change is altering the number of plants populating the region’s deserts and mountains. Using data from the Landsat satellite mission and focusing on an area of nearly 5,000 square miles surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the research team found that between 1984 and 2017, vegetation cover in desert ecosystems decreased overall by about 35 percent, with mountains seeing a 13 percent vegetation decline.

Rutgers Professor Joan Bennett Elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Joan W. Bennett, a Distinguished Professor of plant biology and pathology at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She joins neurosurgeon and CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center atmospheric scientist Ann Thompson and media entrepreneur and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.

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.

Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss How to Build a Native Plant Garden

New Brunswick, N.J. (March 18, 2021) – With spring on the horizon, Rutgers master gardener coordinator Angela Monaghan is available for interviews on how to build a native plant garden. “Everyone can encourage native plant communities in their backyards and…

“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.

Fishes Contribute Roughly 1.65 Billion Tons of Carbon in Feces and Other Matter Annually

Scientists have little understanding of the role fishes play in the global carbon cycle linked to climate change, but a Rutgers-led study found that carbon in feces, respiration and other excretions from fishes – roughly 1.65 billion tons annually – make up about 16 percent of the total carbon that sinks below the ocean’s upper layers.

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 Reproduction Finding by University of Kentucky Scientists Could Lead to More Reliable Crop Production

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 5, 2021) —Understanding the mechanisms behind successful plant reproduction can lead to more reliable crop production and higher yields. In a recent study, an international group of scientists led by researchers from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture,…

Rutgers Expert Can Discuss Colorful Household Plants for Holiday Season and Year-Round

New Brunswick, N.J. (Dec. 14, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick horticultural expert Bruce Crawford is available for interviews on colorful household plants for the holiday season, beyond the standard poinsettia. “Keeping houseplants can improve your mood, work performance and even…

How Did Red Algae Survive in Extreme Environments?

Red algae have persisted in hot springs and surrounding rocks for about 1 billion years. Now, a Rutgers-led team will investigate why these single-celled extremists have thrived in harsh environments – research that could benefit environmental cleanups and the production of biofuels and other products.

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.

Rutgers Experts Can Discuss Invasive Spotted Lanternfly Spread in N.J.

New Brunswick, N.J. (Oct. 1, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor George C. Hamilton and Associate Professor Anne L. Nielsen can discuss the spread of and threat posed by the invasive spotted lanternfly, a destructive pest, in New Jersey. “Their…

How to Get a Handle on Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Plants

How much carbon dioxide, a pivotal greenhouse gas behind global warming, is absorbed by plants on land? It’s a deceptively complicated question, so a Rutgers-led group of scientists recommends combining two cutting-edge tools to help answer the crucial climate change-related question.

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.

Rutgers Expert Can Discuss Benefits of Backyard Composting

New Brunswick, N.J. (June 29, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Michele Bakacs can discuss the benefits of composting for soil health and reducing waste going to landfills, how to get started with composting in your backyard, the correct ingredients for success…

Rutgers Expert Can Discuss Earthwise Lawn and Landscape Care, Farming

New Brunswick, N.J. (June 15, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor William T. Hlubik is available for interviews on environmentally friendly lawn and landscape care, sustainable gardening and agriculture, home and commercial vegetable and small fruit production, and how to…

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.

Rutgers Expert Can Discuss Invasive Plants in N.J. and Alternatives

New Brunswick, N.J. (June 10, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Michele Bakacs is available for interviews on invasive exotic plants in New Jersey that are growing out of control, overrunning forests and other natural areas. She can discuss why this…

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.

Rutgers Experts Available to Discuss Invasive Asian Giant Hornet

New Brunswick, N.J. (May 6, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick experts are available for interviews on inquiries about the invasive Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia). While media reports have triggered concern over the large pest, there are no reports of…

Rutgers Cooperative Extension Offers “Earth Day at Home” Webinar Series

New Brunswick, N.J. (April 16, 2020) – In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, Rutgers Cooperative Extension will offer an “Earth Day at Home” webinar series. The webinars, on Mondays from April 20 to June…

Foxglove plants produce heart medicine. Can science do it better?

Biologist Zhen Wang’s team recently published a pair of papers detailing characteristics of cardiac glycosides in two foxglove species. “This kind of study is important because we first have to know the accurate structure of natural compounds before we can explore their medicinal effects,” she says.

Rutgers Experts Available to Discuss Gardening During COVID-19 Crisis

New Brunswick, N.J. (April 7, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Michelle Infante-Casella and other Rutgers faculty and staff are available for interviews on home gardening during the COVID-19 pandemic. In each county in New Jersey, the Agriculture and Natural…

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.