Cyanobacteria in the Soil

A biocrust. Image credit:

A biocrust. Image credit:

     While it may be common to hear about cyanobacterial blooms in lakes and ponds this summer, what you might not hear about is the presence and role of cyanobacteria in our soil. Specifically, in soil known as biocrusts (or biological crusts) that can be found dotting the high-desert landscape of places like northern New Mexico (where it appears like a brownish mold spread between bunch grass).

     Integral in sustaining life in the southwest, these biocrusts are composed of thousands of species of bacteria and fungi; which species decompose organic matter, release carbon dioxide into the air (and fix it into the soil) and contribute to the nutrition in the soil. They also keep water in the soil, while simultaneously stabilizing and tempering erosion. 

     And check out this new research on biocrusts and their role in desert environments from a multidisciplinary team of biologists, geneticists and computational scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, alongside scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service.

Minimal Cell Divisions May Explain Longevity

A sweet basil plant. Article: Minimal Cell Division May Explain Longevity.

     In a recent study published in Current Biology scientists from the University of Bern in Switzerland presented evidence for a potential mechanism that could help explain the extraordinary longevity of some plants (evergreens in particular). Minimal stem cell divisions in the axillary meristems-- the stem cells responsible for branches-- means there is less opportunity for deleterious genetic mutations in somatic cells. 

     "Meristem aging is not a problem for perennial plants, in other words," said Sergi Munne Bosch, plant physiologist at the University of Barcelona who was not part of the study. "The meristems are the growing units. If they don't senesce, then the plant will keep the capacity to grow and reproduce forever, at least potentially." Most often, he added, structural defects or pathogens will be what kills the plants.

      "It's a very interesting paper on the preservation of the integrity of the germ cell line," said Larry Nooden, plant biologist and professor emeritus a the University of Michigan. "Whether it determines longevity, that may be a different matter."

     For the full article on how these minimal stem cell divisions play out in perennial plants, click on the article available here or through the link below.


"Save a Tree, Use This Tee"

     Made of natural fertilizer, the inventors behind "Save a Tree, Use This Tee" hope to offer an environmentally-friendly alternative to wooden tees. While the addition of fertilizer may not be desirable on all courses, and by all superintendents, the inventors are hoping the small, biodegradable, tire-friendly tees will be a success on golf courses around the country. 

     "Golf Pros and their staff at most country clubs will offer members a free cart if they collect broken tees," said Ruben Huerta, inventor. "The Save a Tree, Use This Tee does not require individual golfers or members to pick up broken or forgotten and discarded tees. At the same time this tee is an attractive golf product to sell in the pro shop as players register. 

     For more information, check out the link available below. 

Control Methods: Poa Annua

Image via

Image via

     What has the latest research into Poa Annua control shown? According to Dr. Cale Bigelow, assistant professor of agronomy and turfgrass science at Purdue University, much the same as previous research. “Annual bluegrass is such a genetically diverse plant, so the concept that there is a “one-size fits all” solution is unlikely to completely work.” For bentgrasses, September through October is still the best time for application, while similar results are often more difficult to achieve during the spring months.

     And, in his opinion, what is the biggest mistake in PGR use? Short term use and not thinking “big picture.” “A single or short period of low application rates will likely not be effective,” he says, “be holistic in your thinking, everything from growing environment (shade and excess soil wetness favor annual bluegrass), to fertility source and mowing height.”