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Bridging The Gap
Human impact on African forests.
  Monday 26 March, 2018
Human impact on African forests.

About 2600 years ago, continuous forest in western central Africa was replaced by a mosaic of forest and savanna. It has been unclear, however, whether this was caused by climate change or expansion of the contemporary human population. Using a sedimentary record of vegetation and hydrological history from Cameroon, Garcin et al. confirm the key role of humans in this transition. Although the pollen record indicates an abrupt fragmentation of the forest, there is no signature of an accompanying hydrological change. Nor did the hydrology alter 500 years later when the landscape reverted once more to forest, indicating a negligible role for climate.

Salt stress in agriculture is not just a matter of being near the ocean; as much as half of irrigated farmland is overly salty. Plants have strategies to adjust to saline conditions, such as reducing sodium uptake or altering the architecture of their root systems. Julkowska et al. analyzed a range of Arabidopsis thaliana genotypes to identify genetic loci that could drive changes in root architecture in response to salt. Natural variation across 347 A. thaliana accessions affected the angle of roots and the distribution of bulk between main and lateral roots, leading to identification of the genes responsible. For example, variation in gene expression in response to salt showed that the CYP79B2 (cytochrome P450 family 79 subfamily B2) gene serves to reduce lateral root growth in salt-stressed conditions.





source:http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6382/twil

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