Research over the past two decades in the laboratory of Gail Taylor has been focused on delivering applied, translational Plant Sciences that make a real-world impact on the supply of safe, nutritious,
The year 2020 has been "unprecedented" in many ways because of the COVID-19 pandemic. UC Davis has moved most of the classes online so that undergraduate students can access them remotely. However, this way of teaching can be hard for some classes, especially when there is a discussion lab.
Was this as a familiar sight for you as it was for me during peak lockdown?
If anything, the outbreak of COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of the global food chain in keeping our supermarkets stocked. My research focuses on the base of this food chain, working on developing nutritionally-dense and environmentally-friendly varieties of watercress. Despite the pandemic’s best efforts to keep me out of the field, I was able to start a UK field trial at a watercress farm in June this year.
Last week academics of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) met to share their latest projects as well as to discuss how the UK’s recently adopted ‘net zero’ emissions target and declaration of ‘Climate Emergency' have influenced the direction of energy research.
The humble lettuce… a garnish to your burger, the crunch in your sandwich, the star of your salad… Believe it or not, the lettuce industry rakes in over $2 billion in revenue in California, which grows over 2/3 of the lettuce consumed in the whole of the US, placing it as the 6th most valuable food commodity1. And this is before the consideration of value-added products, such as pre-prepared salads and baby leaf salad mixes.
The UC Davis post-harvest centre was founded over 40 years ago by Adel Kader. The aim of this centre is to coordinate and gather knowledge to reduce postharvest losses and improve the product quality. From there till now, the postharvest centre remains as one of the top sources of postharvest knowledge offering three courses: Fruit ripening, Postharvest short-course and the Fresh cut workshop.
University of California (UC) is committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2025. This is a very ambitious target but it also reflects the urgent need for rapid and aggressive decarbonisation of the American economy, if we are to avoid the most dangerous and damaging impacts of climate collapse.
Climate change and air quality are certainly not matters to be sniffed at. They are major environmental issues we face as a global community – and California is no exception. This has been reflected in the agreement of international conventions, down to state level legislation, of which California has led the pack.
Transport culture in the USA is very different from Europe. Here, the car is king. The country is organised to support driving: roads are wide, straight, and easy to travel on for long distances, fuel is cheap, and most towns are not compact, with few living within easy walking distance of local shops.
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide that inhibits an enzyme involved in three amino acids biosynthesis (phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan). Glyphosate is mainly absorbed through the leaves, and then internally distributed to rest of the plant. The enzyme inhibition causes a diversion in the energy from other processes, and after few a days the plant turns yellow and dies.
Illusive and often overlooked, the microbiome is often referred to as the 2nd genome of plants, due to the discovery of its profound impact on plant fitness. The microbiome consists of the soil surrounding the roots of plants with the bacteria, viruses and fungi it contains. Last week, I, along with over 20 others from UC Davis, visited a company harnessing the beneficial powers of the microbiome: Bioconsortia.
Bioconsortia are a small venture capital company based in Davis developing microbial products for improving plant performance.
A tradition that has been running for over a century in Davis, this year’s picnic day was the first in which we participated and it was a great success. There is a wide range of events at picnic day including Doxie Derby, cockroach racing, DNA extractions, chick hatching, a petting zoo, sports games and so many more. Our lab group, along with an estimated 75,000 visitors, enjoyed a range of events. My favourite each year is always the parade but others in our group enjoyed cow milking and battle of the bands.
I attended two impressive participatory research seminars hosted by 2019 Plant Sciences Winter Colloquium and the Plant Breeding Center at UCD. The first one was by Dr. Julie Dawson, University of Wisconsin-Madison, about developing organic culinary varieties from seed to kitchen. The second one was by Dr. Tareke Berhe who breeds “super grain”, Teff with aim to produce a local supply for restaurants in Sacramento, CA. Participatory Research increases the involvement of farmers in research.
As biologists, we are accustomed working with various biotic and abiotic conditions. One may get a result when growing a population in a controlled environment but a completely different result when repeating the experiment in the glasshouse and another result in the field. It is our job to tease apart the differences in conditions to figure out why our results differ between experiments. What environmental conditions have changed? Is it stress from pests in the field? Is it that constricted roots in the controlled environment and glasshouse causing a stress effect?