October 5, 2023
Michigan State University plant biochemist Tom Sharkey and his team discovered that, on a warming planet, plants such as oaks and poplars will emit more of a compound that exacerbates poor air quality, contributing to problematic particulate matter and low-atmosphere ozone. The rub is that the same compound, called isoprene, can also improve the quality of clean air while making plants more resistant to stressors including insects and high temperatures. The findings were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
August 30, 2023
Michigan State University plant biologists have made a discovery that could help turn a natural kill switch in plant cells into a “life switch” that helps crops better survive the challenges presented by climate change. At its core, though, this is a fundamental finding, shared in the journal Nature Plants, that has implications across biology for how organisms respond to stress linked to overproduction of proteins by the cell.
August 21, 2023
In a new study, Michigan State University landscape hydrologist Anthony Kendall and his colleagues found that, by the middle of the 21st century under a moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario, the benefits of expanded irrigation will outweigh the costs of installation and operation over an extended portion of current U.S. croplands. With climate change projections showing higher temperatures, increased drought conditions, and shifting precipitation patterns, irrigating more crops in the United States will be critical to sustaining future yields. The findings were recently published in Communications Earth & Environment, an open-access journal from Nature Portfolio.
July 24, 2023
Rising global temperatures are making it harder for birds to know when it’s spring and time to breed according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A large collaboration led by Michigan State University integrative biologist Casey Youngflesh in partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that birds produce fewer young if they start breeding too early or late in the season. With climate change resulting in earlier springlike weather, the researchers report, birds have been unable to keep pace.
June 14, 2023
MSU biochemist Robert Quinn has spent years studying the biochemistry of coral bleaching, a heat-induced response to stress causing it to turn white. Bleaching is damaging to reefs and is expected to increase due to climate change. While Quinn has discovered unique betaine lipids in coral that are markers of resistance to coral bleaching, very little is known about them. During a literature review of these lipids, Quinn discovered that MSU colleague, Christoph Benning, had written on the subject. This connection led to the two scientists teaming up on a $1.9 million NSF grant to study the role that betaine lipids play in coral bleaching.
April 26, 2023
Climate changes are conjuring a whirlwind ride that seems to present some creatures opportunities to thrive. Scientists scripting supercharged scenarios caution that the difference between seasonal coping and long-term adaption is vast – and tricky to predict. Michigan State University biologists are studying damselflies to understand how other species will respond to a warmer world. Their findings were recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
April 3, 2023
The statistics are familiar. The world’s population is expected to increase by nearly 50 percent in the next century, while the demand for agriculture crops is expected to more than double by 2050. The extreme weather anomalies caused by climate change are expected to continue and worsen in the future, which could substantially reduce agricultural production globally. Michigan State University’s renowned plant researchers are collaborating on solutions to grow more abundant, nutritious and resilient plants that will feed a growing population.
March 2, 2023
New research led by Michigan State University integrative biologist Alisha Shah is showing how vulnerable the threatened meltwater stonefly is to climate change. Shah is part of a research team that’s examining the biology of these stoneflies against the backdrop of climate change. Their findings were recently published in the journal Functional Ecology.
February 10, 2023
New research from Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that, for all the complexities and challenges of ecosystem restoration, simple first steps can still go a long way. The team showed that degraded savanna ecosystems scarred by decades or centuries of human activity can reap lasting benefits from a single seeding of native understory plants. Their research was recently published in the journal Proceedings in the National Academy of the Sciences.
January 17, 2023
Michigan State University and the National Audubon Society are teaming up to help protect declining bird populations across North America. With $1.3 million from a collaborative National Science Foundation grant, the team—led by MSU integrative biologist Elise Zipkin—will develop statistical models fueled by four massive data sets to evaluate how climate change and land use are affecting hundreds of bird species.
January 12, 2023
When the U.S. government committed last January to conserving 30 percent of the United States’ natural land and water by the year 2030, the decision was embraced by the majority of Americans. Now, Michigan State University ecologists are part of a team that’s sharing data to help inform those choices throughout the United States and beyond. Their research identified North America’s climate change refugia, habitats that will be the most likely to support the persistence of the greatest amount of biodiversity in the face of a changing climate.
April 12, 2022
Climate change doesn’t just mean warmer weather. Cold spells can hit unusual lows, too, and the fluctuations between warm and chilly are becoming more extreme. MSU’s David Kramer is interested in resilience as it relates to photosynthesis because the process by which plants are powered by the sun is particularly sensitive to temperature swings. This knowledge could one day help certain crops grow in more places and help growers decide when to plant crops so they can harvest before the most severe stresses from heat and pests. The work of Kramer and his team was recently published online in the journal Plant, Cell & Environment.
May 12, 2021
As climate change threatens global food security, researchers at MSU led by plant biologist Robin Buell are building better beans crucial to human nutrition by tapping into the genetics of the more heat-resistant tepary bean. Her research on bean genetics was published May 11 in Nature Communications.
April 5, 2021
Should humans use technology to cool Earth? How would organisms and ecosystems respond? Every month since September 2019, a team of internationally recognized experts in climate science and ecology, the Climate Intervention Biology Working Group, has gathered remotely to bring science to bear on the important question of climate intervention. The pioneering group, co-led by the MSU community ecologist Phoebe Zarnetske, published their seminal paper in the most recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.
March 9, 2021
A warming climate may not increase water demand for Midwest crops that may instead be adapted through soil management to changing air temperatures and moisture, said MSU scientists helping farmers manage the challenge. The research team, led by ecosystems scientist Bruno Basso, found that the Midwest is in a unique location that typically receives ample rainfall and has deep soil, ideal for farming. Their results were published March 5 in the journal Nature Communications.
February 8, 2021
Climate change is bleaching and killing corals, but researchers from MSU and the University of Hawaii are investigating how some can stand up to a warming world. According to research published Feb. 8 in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the scientists discovered biochemical clues following an extreme high temperature event in Hawaii's Kenneohe Bay that could help reefs better weather warming waters in the future.
February 1, 2021
MSU plant biologist David Lowry is part of a study that examines the use of switchgrass in fighting climate change to improve crop growth. As reported in a recent issue of Nature, the team has produced a high-quality reference sequence of the complex switchgrass genome, and is exploring improvements to switchgrass through more targeted genome editing and customization of the crop for additional end products.
February 21, 2024Cracking the code to a healthier potato chip
February 16, 2024Spartans introduce a big new idea with the help of tiny plankton
February 15, 2024FRIB creates 5 new isotopes
February 9, 2024From Nobel Prize to Spartan pride: David MacMillan visits MSU