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Endless Summer Roundup

September 7, 2012

By manipulating how plants respond to the shorter days in the fall, researchers hope to get crops to produce fruit longer.



Longer summers for crops. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

As summer turns to fall, people begin swapping out their summer clothing for cold weather gear. According to new research at Michigan State University, plants sense the shorter days and activate something called the CBF cold response pathway. It prepares the plant for surviving the cold and shuts down fruit and seed production. The hope is that by fine-tuning this pathway, researchers can coax crops into bearing fruit and grain far longer, even as the daylight wanes.

In other news, researchers at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University have developed a device that can quickly detect even the tiniest virus. It uses laser light orbiting within a microscopic glass sphere. Contact with a virus changes the light in recognizable ways that reveal the virus. The device could help in the early diagnosis of many diseases. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

When plants sense that days are growing shorter, they shut down fruit and seed production. (burgkirsch/Wikimedia Commons)