Praise for the generosity of the British public, the need to continue supporting small-scale farmers, and the importance of science: these issues were all raised in a debate on food security and famine in the Horn of Africa in the UK’s House of Commons on Thursday 15 September. Continue reading →
A newly published paper has found that temperature increases are benefiting coffee berry borers in East Africa. The insects are causing more damage to coffee crops and it has also been reported that their distribution range has also expanded. The researchers behind the study also predict that the damage caused by the borers will worsen in the future.
The coffee industry is worth $90 billion dollars and involves around 25million coffee farmers across the tropics. It is an important crop for many farmers in developing countries and all efforts need to be taken to reduce pest damage.
British researchers have discovered how corals are able to resist harmful UV light through their relationship with algae. They have found more than 20 sun-protection compounds within corals that could be used to benefit farmers in developing countries. The new compounds could bolster the current sun protection processes found in temperate crops to allow them to thrive in tropical conditions.
Coral by flightsaber (flickr)
The team from King’s College London, supported by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, made the discovery by analysing coral samples from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
They found that the mutually dependent relationship between coral and algae is the key to the coral’s ability to survive the sun’s exposure. The team suggested that the algae produce a compound that is transported to the coral which then modifies it for use as a sunscreen. This protects the coral and allows the algae to also benefit as it allows their mutually beneficial relationship to continue.