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The United States is the world's top corn grower, producing 44 percent of the global crop. In 2007, U.S. farmers produced a record 13.1 billion bushels of corn, an increase of nearly 25 percent over the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The 2007 production value of corn was estimated at more than $3 billion. Favorable prices, a growing demand for ethanol and strong export sales have fueled an increase in farmland acreage devoted to corn production.

A team of scientists have completed a working draft of the corn genome, an accomplishment that should accelerate efforts to develop better crop varieties to meet society's growing demands for food, livestock feed and fuel.

Corn, also known as maize, underlies myriads of products, from breakfast cereal, meat and milk to toothpaste, shoe polish and ethanol.

The pea is an important crop species but it is unsuited to the Agrobacterium-based genetic modification techniques that are commonly used to work with crops. Researchers have now discovered the first high-throughput forward and reverse genetics tool for the pea (Pisum sativum) and it could have major benefits for crop breeders around the world.

Researchers from the INRA Plant Genomics Research Unit at Evry, and the INRA Grain Legumes Research Unit at Bretenières, both in France, developed a high-quality genetic reference collection of Pisum sativum mutants within the European Grain Legumes Integrated Project.

Abdelhafid Bendahmane and colleagues used plants from an early-flowering garden pea cultivar, Caméor, to create a mutant population, which they then systematically phenotyped for use in both forward and reverse genetics studies.

An intrepid archaeologist is well on her way to dislodging the prevailing assumptions of scholars about the people who built and used Maya temples.

From the grueling work of analyzing the “attributes,” the nitty-gritty physical details of six temples in Yalbac, a Maya center in the jungle of central Belize – and a popular target for antiquities looters – primary investigator Lisa Lucero is building her own theories about the politics of temple construction that began nearly two millennia ago.

Her findings from the fill, the mortar and other remnants of jungle-wrapped structures lead her to believe that kings weren’t the only people building or sponsoring Late Classic period temples (from about 550 to 850), the stepped pyramids that rose like beacons out of the southern lowlands as ea

Scientists have discovered Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a shrimp-like crustacean thought to live only in the upper ocean, are living and feeding down to depths of 3000 metres in the waters around the Antarctic Peninsula. The discovery completely changes scientists’ understanding of the major food source for fish, squid, penguins, seals and whales.

Antarctic krill feed on phytoplankton and are in turn eaten by a wide range of animals including fish, penguins, seals and whales. Phytoplankon are the starting point for the marine food chain and use photosynthesis to extract carbon from carbon dioxide.

Researchers writing in PMC Physics B have found that the rate at which electrons lose energy to carbon monoxide is greater than that to carbon dioxide at higher levels in the atmospheres of both Mars and Venus.

This finding contributes to the body of knowledge required for modelling of the atmospheres of Mars and Venus, which in turn provides an opportunity to validate the techniques used in modelling of more complicated atmospheres such as that of Earth.

Solar energy is both absorbed in atmospheres and eventually emitted to space by processes at the atomic level. These complicated processes need to be parameterised so that huge numbers of individual interactions can be included in models. Modelling of the atmospheres of other planets is useful because the techniques can be developed and tested on different environments, which are not complicated by biological or human activity.

Vivid colors, flowing silk ribbons, and glittering bits of mirrors - the Vikings dressed with considerably more panache than we previously thought. The men were especially vain, and the women dressed provocatively, but with the advent of Christianity, fashions changed, according to Swedish archeologist Annika Larsson.

"They combined oriental features with Nordic styles. Their clothing was designed to be shown off indoors around the fire," says textile researcher Annika Larsson, whose research at Uppsala University presents a new picture of the Viking Age.

She has studied textile finds from the Lake Mälaren Valley, the area that includes Stockholm and Uppsala and was one of the central regions in Scandinavia during the Viking Age.