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In the heat, tomato plants can’t fight off the hungry tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. From www.shutterstock.com

Crops could face double trouble from insects and a warming climate

Plants have evolved techniques for protecting themselves from heat and insect attacks – but when both these stresses happen at once, one defense may neutralize the other.
Need a handkerchief? Num LP Photo/Shutterstock

Why do onions make you cry?

Like many plants, onions have defenses to ward off creatures that may want to eat them. Their secret weapon is a kind of natural tear gas.
A mast year can be a squirrel’s dream come true. Editor77/Shutterstock.com

Tons of acorns? It must be a mast year

Masting is what biologists call the pattern of trees for miles around synchronizing to all produce lots of seeds – or very few. Why and how do they get on schedule?
The talamanca hummingbird, or admirable hummingbird, is found in Costa Rica and Panama. Milan Zygmunt/Shutterstock.com

Not all genes are necessary for survival – these species dropped extra genetic baggage

How many genes do you really need? Are there any that we can lose? Researchers are now identifying species that have streamlined their genome to adapt to a particular lifestyle.
Pulses of light followed by extended dark periods might help make indoor agricultural production more sustainable. DutchScenery/Shutterstock.com

Micro-naps for plants: Flicking the lights on and off can save energy without hurting indoor agriculture harvests

Indoor plant factories have high energy costs since LEDs replace the sunlight outdoor plants get for free. Scientists found a way to dial back how much light is needed by breaking it into tiny bursts.

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