Plant Sciences

Could Vines Be the Answer to Speeding Urban Cooling, Water Reduction in the West?

Perhaps trees aren’t the only green solution when it comes to cooling urban spaces and reducing energy costs. Honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, pink trumpet and other vines could be a fast-growing substitute in climate-smart cities of the future.

Researchers from UC Davis are leading a nearly $880,000 federal grant to study how vines may provide cooling and shade in Western states in less time than it takes a tree to grow tall.

Little Fires: Landowners Learn to Burn

Smoke billows over the forest like a slow-moving fog. Dried oak leaves singe, crackle and curl into ash. Neighbors, scientists and agency staffers rake the embers, directing the flames with calm, careful control. Ted Odell’s grandson runs along his namesake trail, Henry’s Hill, to adjust a hose. 

This is Odell’s property in Placer County, where five of his 11 acres are being burned by prescribed fire with assistance from Placer County Resource Conservation District, UC Davis researchers and others. 

 

UC Davis Team Identifies Wheat Gene that Increases Yield

A team of scientists from University of California, Davis, have identified a new gene variant in wheat that can increase the amount of the grain produced, new research published in the journal PLOS Genetics finds.

Wheat is a staple of food diets worldwide and the gene discovery could allow farmers to grow more food without increasing land use. Increased yield could also lower consumer prices, making the crop more accessible.

Just What Is a ‘Resilient’ Forest, Anyway?

What does a “resilient” forest look like in California’s Sierra Nevada? A lot fewer trees than we’re used to, according to a study of frequent-fire forests from the University of California, Davis.

More than a century ago, Sierra Nevada forests faced almost no competition from neighboring trees for resources. The tree densities of the late 1900s would astonish most Californians today. Because of fire suppression, trees in current forests live alongside six to seven times as many trees as their ancestors did — competing for less water amid drier and hotter conditions. 

New Pima Cotton Cultivars Show Improved Resistance to Disease

Pima cotton is the predominant variety of cotton grown in California. It’s ideal for making premium fabrics for clothing and bed sheets. But Fusarium wilt disease, caused by a soil-borne fungus, can devastate a cotton crop. It’s responsible for crop losses in several production regions in the U.S. and worldwide. 

Barbara D. Webster Scholar Award Established by Daughter Susan to Honor UC Davis Professor and Administrator Who Forged a Path for Women in Science

At 5 feet, 2 inches, Plant Sciences Professor Emerita Barbara D. Webster may have been petite in stature, but she was a powerhouse when it came to reducing barriers for women in academia.

“She was formidable,” said her daughter, Susan V. Webster, with a chuckle. “She didn’t back down.”