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Many scientists assume that the growing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will accelerate plant growth but a new study suggests much of this growth will be curtailed by limited soil nutrients so that by the end of the century, there may be more 10 percent more CO2 in the atmosphere, which would accelerate climate change.  

Cory Cleveland, a University of Montana associate professor of biogeochemistry, and co-authors looked at 11 leading climate models to examine changes in nitrogen and phosphorous. They found that nitrogen limitation actually will reduce plant uptake of CO2 by 19 percent, while a combined nitrogen and phosphorous limitation will reduce plant uptake by 25 percent. 

Sweet potatoes, one of the most important food crops for human consumption, contain genes from the bacterium Agrobacterium but that was not done by scientists. The foreign DNA that turned sweet potatoes into a GMO was put there by nature.

The researchers discovered the foreign DNA sequences of Agrobacterium while searching the genome - this is the entire DNA-code - of sweet potato for viral diseases. Instead of contributing this peculiar finding to bacterial contamination of the plant samples, the researchers decided to study these sequences in more detail.

A study of disease dynamics in a California grassland has shed light on fundamental principles underlying the spread of pathogens among species, according to researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz who measured the amount of disease on the leaves of plants in a meadow on campus.

They found that the amount of disease on each species depended on how common it was, as well as on the abundance of its close relatives. The results were a tight link between the structure of a plant community and the vulnerability of individual species to disease. In addition, when the researchers introduced novel plant species into the grassland, they were able to predict which ones would be most strongly affected by naturally occurring diseases. 

Researchers have determined that the eardrum evolved independently in mammals and diapsids - the taxonomic group that includes reptiles and birds. Published in Nature Communications, the work shows that the mammalian eardrum depends on lower jaw formation, while that of diapsids develops from the upper jaw. Significantly, the researchers used techniques borrowed from developmental biology to answer a question that has intrigued paleontologists for years.

Nerve cells come in very different shapes and a new paper reveals why, in insects, the cell body is usually located at the end of a separate extension.

Nerve cells follow a functional design: They receive input signals over more or less ramified cell branches (dendrites), which they forward to other nerve cells along an elongated, thin cell process (axon). The cell body contains the nucleus with genetic material and other components of the machinery that keeps the neuron alive.

Its location differs significantly between animal classes: in mammals, the cell body is usually found at a central position between the dendrites and the axon, while in insects, it is often "outsourced" to the end of a separate prolongation.

Stegosaurus, a large, herbivorous dinosaur with two staggered rows of bony plates along its back and two pairs of spikes at the end of its tail, lived roughly 150 million years ago during the Late Jurassic in the western United States. Some individuals had wide plates, some had tall ones, with the wide plates being up to 45 percent larger overall than the tall plates.

According to a new study, the tall-plated Stegosaurus and the wide-plate Stegosaurus were not two distinct species, nor were they individuals of different age - they were actually males and females.