Plant Sciences

Investigating Agave: Scientists Studying Emerging Crop

An interdisciplinary team of scientists and researchers from University of California, Davis, are studying agave plants in the Golden State as farmers are turning to the crop as a potential drought-tolerant option of the future.

The research is centered on studying agave genetics, virus susceptibility, pest control, soil management and crop productivity, said Ron Runnebaum, a viticulture and enology professor who is leading the team of researchers at the newly formed UC Davis Agave Center.  

Car Fumes, Weeds Pose Double Whammy for Fire-Loving Native Plants

Springtime brings native wildflowers to bloom in the Santa Monica Mountains, northwest of Los Angeles. These beauties provide food for insects, maintain healthy soil and filter water seeping into the ground — in addition to offering breathtaking displays of color. 

They’re also good at surviving after wildfire, having adapted to it through millennia. But new research shows wildflowers that usually would burst back after a blaze and a good rain are losing out to the long-standing, double threat of city smog and nonnative weeds.

Google Weed View? Professor Trains Computer to Spot Invasive Weed

To manage johnsongrass, a noxious weed that crowds out cotton and sickens horses, farmers have tried herbicides, burning and hand-pulling. Now, researchers at University of California, Davis, have developed a more high-tech weapon against the invasive weed: artificial intelligence and machine learning.

UC Davis Genome Center Appoints New Director

Blake Meyers, a principal investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and a professor of plant sciences from the University of Missouri - Columbia, has been named the new director and Novozymes Chair in Genomics at the UC Davis Genome Center. Meyers, who studies plant RNA biology, bioinformatics and functional genomics, will step into the role on March 1, 2024.

Teaching Lands Nourish Hungry Aggies

Red, ripe cherries hide in small clusters amid long leaves in the UC Davis teaching orchard. They’re sweet, juicy, beautiful. In area grocery stores, such delights cost up to $8 a pound, but these would have gone to the birds. They must be harvested by hand, and at the price of labor, they’re too expensive to pick, said orchard manager Victor Serratos of the Department of Plant Sciences.

USDA Awards Research Grants to Study Triticale, Snap Beans and More

Craft bakers love adding a little triticale to breads for its subtle blend of nutty and earthy flavors and its moist, slightly chewy texture. Farmers love the grain mainly for forage: It produces bigger yields with less water and fertilizer compared to wheat. Now, Joshua Hegarty and colleagues across the country will work on combining those qualities to create new varieties of triticale that are good for bread-baking at commercial scale.

Taylor Swift Becomes a Phenotype Monitoring Machine

Taylor Swift: A cultural icon, controversial TicketMaster name, and now a remote phenotype (plant trait) monitoring machine. 

Plant Sciences Assistant Professor Troy Magney is a Swiftie to his core. After listening to Swift’s album Folklore on repeat while he was coding and building the instrument in his lab, naming his machine after her was a natural progression.