39 North Innovation District Plan Unveiled
The Science in Our Food
(St. Louis Business Journal) Danforth Center to take discoveries to market with new hire Don MacKenzie is tasked overseeing the regulatory processes to bring the Danforth Center's technologies to market.
Friday, April 13, 2018 READ MORE
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch) 39 North plant science district gets trail, road planning funds Plans are in motion to rework roads and improve incubator space
Friday, March 2, 2018 READ MORE
(Ag Professional) The Future of Ag Tech in the Midwest
The development of new technology in agriculture has helped encourage young people
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 READ MORE
(Agri-Pulse) Who is leading the charge for new precision breeding tools?
Plenty of precision breeding innovation
(St. Louis Public Radio) St. Louis plant scientists use podcast to dig deep into the struggles of research
Researchers Liz Haswell and Ivan Baxter spend most their time trying to understand how plants function.
Monday, January 8, 2018 READ MORE
(HEC-TV) New Smart Crop-Monitoring Platform Alerts Farmers & Growers About Their Crops
Researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center have created a crop phenotyping station called the PheNode.
Wednesday, January 3, 2018 READ MORE
(KMOX) C-Speak Podcast: Sam Fiorello
Mark Reardon talks with Sam Fiorello on the C-Speak Podcast, the language of executives by KMOX
Friday, December 29, 2017 READ MORE
(Talking Biotech Podcast) Control of Aflatoxin in Groundnut
Dilip Shah and a team of researchers worked to devise a multi-faceted plan to protect groundnut from fungal infections.
Saturday, December 23, 2017 READ MORE
(MIT Technology Review) These Are Not Your Father's GMOS
A new wave of gene-edited crops are dodging regulators, and they're about to reach stores.
Thursday, December 21, 2017 READ MORE
New Hire to Advance Human Resources
Danforth Center Welcomes Anna Dibble
Wednesday, November 29, 2017 READ MORE
(Forbes) Collaboration Provides Hope In The Battle Against Mycotoxin Induced Cancer In The Developing World
There is new hope for a solution to this vexing health issue based on a recent collaboration between groups of scientists in the US and in India.
Saturday, November 4, 2017 READ MORE
(AgFunder News) Is St. Louis the Silicon Valley of Agtech?
St. Louis has worked hard to be a magnet for Fortune 500 companies. Nine members of this elite class call the city home, not the least of which is multinational agricultural giant Monsanto.
Thursday, November 2, 2017 READ MORE
DuPont Pioneer and Danforth Center Collaborate to Apply Cutting-Edge Technologies to Improve Crops for Smallholder Farmers
The suite of technologies DuPont Pioneer is providing to the project is revolutionary
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 READ MORE
National Science Foundation Funds Multi-Institutional Project to Improve Harvests of One of the Most Important Crops in U.S. Agriculture
Danforth Center Receives $3.4M to Improve Maize Architecture
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 READ MORE
U.S. Department of Energy Awards Danforth Center $16M to Enhance Sorghum for Bioenergy A multi-institutional research effort aims to optimize photosynthesis and water use efficiency
Monday, October 2, 2017 READ MORE
TechAccel Invests in Unique Sprayable RNAi Pesticide Technology First “Path to Commercialization” Grant Awarded to Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Monday, September 11, 2017 READ MORE
Why a St. Louis event could be one of agtech’s biggest disruptors: 4 questions with Bayer's R&D head
Monday marks the start of the ninth annual Ag Innovation Showcase.
Monday, September 11, 2017 READ MORE
The Future of Agriculture is Center Stage at Ag Innovation Showcase
Bees, new food sources and machine learning are leading trends
Thursday, August 31, 2017 READ MORE
(St. Louis Business Journal) Greitens touts Israeli relationship as economic generator
St. Louis is already home to a number of Israeli-founded companies that have moved to the area thanks to GlobalSTL, an initiative started and organized by BioSTL several years ago.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 READ MORE
Analysis Linking Field and Controlled Environments Reveals Key Traits Controlling Height
Discovery could help improve yield in food and bioenergy crops
Monday, July 10, 2017 READ MORE
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One of the planet's leading questions is how to produce enough food to feed the world in an increasingly variable climate. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicts that food production must rise 70% over the next 40 years to feed a growing global population, and plants are one major component of the necessary rise in food production. Plants—grains, cereals, fruits, vegetables, and more—feed humans directly and indirectly by supporting livestock. Current research must tap into our knowledge of how plants work to develop more efficient and higher yielding agricultural systems that produce more food using fewer resources and with reduced environmental impacts.
The solutions to feeding the world are certainly multi-faceted, requiring knowledge from a diversity of fields and practices to successfully raise food production and maintain ecosystem security. Thus, three prominent scientists are highlighting the importance of basic plant science and its relevance for pressing global issues like applied agriculture. A special issue of the American Journal of Botany—co-edited by Allison Miller, Associate Professor of Biology at Saint Louis University; Elizabeth Kellogg, Member and Principal Investigator at the Danforth Plant Science Center and former president of the Botanical Society of America; and Briana Gross, Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Minnesota Duluth—emphasizes how a broad range of basic plant science is relevant to global food demands.
Traditionally, basic plant research is motivated by curiosity to understand fundamental biological phenomena, while applied research is mainly motivated by practical applications. With that said, basic research discoveries often extend beyond their original intention. "The more we know about how plants work, how they evolve, the genes underlying adaptive variation, and many other topics," says Miller, "the better our capacity to develop sustainable agriculture, and to understand the impacts of agriculture on natural plant diversity."
The special issue contains articles from a range of research fields to call attention to the diversity of studies that bridge basic plant science and applied agricultural research. Research fields in the issue include plant ecology, evolution, phylogenetics, quantitative genetics, and economic botany. Conserving crop germplasm is addressed in articles that tackle the geographical and historical origins of crop plants. Controlling agricultural weeds is addressed in articles on plant population genetics. Crop fertility and diversity is addressed in articles on basic pollination biology and floral evolution. "Knowledge about one plant," comments Kellogg, "so often informs the study of other plants, whether they are cultivated or not." More information about the special issue articles can be found here.
In all fields of science, groundbreaking research studies are conducted using non-target organisms. In human health, for example, research on understanding and treating diseases is often done with non-human systems such as fruit flies, round worms, mice, and yeast. Plants are no exception. Basic research on non-crop wild plants provides tools for cultivated plant production. Kellogg explains, "A lot of the basic molecular and cellular work goes much faster in model systems, and if we understand the molecular and cellular details of how model and wild plants deal with drought, or heat, or pathogens, and how they keep producing seeds even in the face of such stresses, we can figure out how to keep crops producing amidst global changes."
Miller points out, "There are more than 300,000 species of plants on the planet that have evolved and diversified into a breathtaking array of forms. Understanding these forms has the potential to shed new light on what we know about how plants survive and thrive in a range of environments and under a host of different selection pressures." Miller and colleagues hope to inspire botanists to reexamine their work in the broader context of basic plant biology and relevancy to plant-related global issues like agricultural practices, plant and soil conservation, and biotechnology. A good way to start is by encouraging scientists to bookend publications with statements about how the knowledge of their study system might apply to sustainable agriculture.
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