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Dec. 2021, Volume 8 Issue 4

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The Loess Plateau is a key focus area in the Yellow River basin for implementing environmental protection and high-quality development strategies. Agricultural production on the Loess Plateau depends highly on a healthy natural environment. As the medium for crop growth, soils and water are vital for achieving desirable crop and water productivity. The development of soil and water conservation and the natural environment on the Loess Plateau are therefore matters of concern both locally and for the international community. Developments on the Loess Plateau have revealed that numerous factors can affect crop and water productivity, including climate, crop species and cultivar, field management, and soil properties. At the field scale, optimized management made full use of the limited water resources, and maximized the use of light and heat through breeding and deploying improved cultivars, regulating planting density and sowing time, following rational fertilizer regimes, increasing soil temperature, reducing the evaporation of soil moisture (e.g., by mulching with plastic film), and other measures. These technologies are particularly significant to promote soil and water conservation and productivity, and will also help to improve prospects for the high-quality development of the Loess Plateau in the future. These measures can also provide major support to protect the ecological communities of the mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, grasslands and farmlands of the Loess Plateau.
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Sep. 2021, Volume 8 Issue 3

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Crop diversity is one of the important pathways for sustainable agricultural development and can be achieved by simultaneously growing a range of crop species or other plant species on farmland. Crop diversity can be improved by farmers locally through intercropping, crop rotations and cover crops, as well as by increasing plant diversity in non-crop habitats through tree lines, agroforestry, grasslands and flower strips. Crop diversity enhances agroecosystem functioning via increasing crop yields, stabilizing interannual yields, using resources efficiently, controlling crop diseases and pests, and enhancing aboveground and belowground biodiversity of other biological taxa when crop species are appropriately combined. The efficient use of resources can save mineral fertilizer inputs, reduce environmental pollution risks and greenhouse gas emissions caused by agriculture, thus mitigating global climate change. Increased above- and belowground biodiversity of other taxa can benefit ecosystem services (i.e., protection of pollinators and other beneficial insects) and can promote soil health via improved diversity of soil macro- and microorganisms. Intercropping can benefit human food security and agricultural sustainability. Thus, if intercropping is widely used globally, it will make a strong contribution to the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of United Nations in the agricultural production sector.
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Jun. 2021, Volume 8 Issue 2

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As indicated by the overarching theme of Beijing’s Horticultural Exhibition “Live Green, Live Better”, horticulture contributes to promote respect for nature and a better life in harmony with nature. Horticultural industry comprises a wide range of plants and crops including fruit and nut trees, vegetables, edible fungi, and ornamental plants, as well as tea plants, which are cultivated for food, beverage, comfort and beautification purposes. Horticultural products not only serve as important dietary sources of antioxidants, vitamins and mineral nutrients for human nutrition and health, but also helps human being maintain the joyful mood. The cover image shows the main horticultural crops broadly distributed throughout the world, including apple, peach, pummelo, tomato, etc. Development of a green and sustainable horticulture, producing more and safer horticultural products, will assist in meeting the ever-increasing demand of the growing human population and achieving people’s yearning for a better and healthy life.
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Mar. 2021, Volume 8 Issue 1

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Crop and animal production systems produce > 95% of all the food consumed in the world, in coexistence with natural and urban environments. The cover image visualizes the coupling of crop and animal production systems through the exchange of animal feed and animal manure (indicated by the outside arrows). However, the current situation is often much less romantic than suggested by the image. Crop and animal production systems have become more specialized and spatially decoupled during last decades. This has been economically attractive, but resource use efficiency, nutrient recycling and resilience to external shocks of the systems have decreased. As a result, it is increasingly believed that a tighter spatial (re)coupling of crop and animal production systems is needed for Agriculture Green Development. A tighter spatial coupling of crop and animal production will facilitate the exchange of feed and manure, will reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers in crop production, will improve soil fertility, and will reduce the environmental cost of food production.
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Dec. 2020, Volume 7 Issue 4

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The cover image depicts an African mother and her four children all working very hard in their homestead field. Low productivity due to poor soil fertility is one of the major limiting factors for food security in Africa. Smallholders do their best to use all possible measures to increase crop productivity to help feed their families. However, the situation is still not optimistic. Most smallholders in Africa cannot easily get support from multi-stakeholder platforms, often meaning their efforts are in vain. Many African mothers imagine that if one day they could build their farming capacity with the support of multi-stakeholder platforms, like Chinese farmers do, they would no longer have to worry about their children going hungry. The Science and Technology Backyard model in China has provided adaptive technologies and knowledge transfer to empower smallholders with the cooperation of government, enterprises, knowledge hubs and farming communities. This model is providing important opportunities for achieving sustainable agriculture in Africa.

Sep. 2020, Volume 7 Issue 3

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Healthy and productive soils are fundamental for the provision of essential ecosystem services that underpin food security and improved nutrition, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and sustainable development. A new paradigm and the re-designing of the agricultural systems based on healthy soil is essential for development of a more sustainable agriculture and a greener eco-environment and food industry in the future. As brought into focus by the World Soil Day 2020 motto, “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity”, soil ecological engineering is one solution which aims at maximizing soil biodiversity-driven ecosystem delivery in cropping systems while reducing the excessive reliance on agrochemicals. More importantly, system and holistic approaches capturing the interactions of the climate, soil, crops and management are indispensable for producing healthy food and achieving the goals of agricultural green development.

Jun. 2020, Volume 7 Issue 2

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“All domestic animals are thriving, and a bumper harvest for all crops” describes an ideal agriculture that the Chinese farmers have dreamed for thousands of years. With the recent advent of genome editing technologies centered on sequence-specific nucleases such as zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs), transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) and clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat-associated endonucleases (CRISPR/Cas), we are fortunate to see the dawn of a new era of revolutionary breeding technology—genome editing breeding (GEB). This cover image shows that GEB can be expected to facilitate the development of a highly efficient, sustainable agriculture worldwide.

Mar. 2020, Volume 7 Issue 1

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The cover image shows a beautiful agricultural landscape and a village, which has already embraced the concepts of green development and rural revitalization. The objective of Agriculture Green Development (AGD) is to coordinate “green” with “development”, and realize the transformation of traditional agriculture with high resource-environmental costs towards a green agriculture and countryside with high-quality, high-yield and high-efficiency farming, sustainable eco-environment, improving income and human health. The innovations focus on reconstructing the entire agriculture and food system benefits for all. Development proceeds according to two principles: high eco-environmental standards and quality-food demands, involving green crop-production, integrated animal-crop production, green food-products and industry, and improved rural environment and ecosystem services. The implementation of AGD in China has valuable implications for realizing global sustainable developmental goals.
(Jianbo SHEN, Qichao ZHU, Xiaoqiang JIAO, Hao YING, Hongliang WANG, Xin WEN, Wen XU, Tingyu LI, Wenfeng CONG, Xuejun LIU, Yong HOU, Zhenling CUI, Oene OENEMA, William J. DAVIES, Fusuo ZHANG, pp. 5-13)

Dec. 2019, Volume 6 Issue 4

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Phosphorous is a nutritional element essential for all living organisms. However, phosphate rock reserves are limited and unevenly distributed worldwide. Despite this limitation, current phosphate use is highly inefficient with open cycles causing severe environmental problems. Both the environmental problems and the exhaustion of global phosphate reserves could be avoided in the future by optimizing food-feed-energy production and consumption systems towards lower but markedly more efficient phosphate input and the closing of cycles to maximize phosphate return.
(Torsten MüLLER, Fusuo ZHANG, pp. 313-320)

Sep. 2019, Volume 6 Issue 3

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The Ug99 race of stem rust fungus carrying complex virulence combinations continues to pose a significant threat to global wheat production. Concerted research efforts on enhanced surveillance, large-scale deployment of new varieties with combinations of race-specific genes and high to adequate levels of adult plant resistance, together with resistance testing and selection based on functional phenotyping platforms, has significantly reduced the occurrence of epidemics. Promising technologies such as GWAS, GS, Cis-genes cassettes and gene editing can enhance resistance durability and further simplify breeding. This picture displays typical symptoms caused by stem rust fungus on wheat.
(Sridhar BHAVANI, David P. HODSON, Julio HUERTA-ESPINO, Mandeep S. RANDHAWA, Ravi P. SINGH, pp. 210-224)

Jun. 2019, Volume 6 Issue 2

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Plant nucleotide-binding and leucine-rich repeat (NLR) receptors recognize pathogens and mediate innate immune responses that usually associate with hypersensitive cell death. We summarized the recent advances on the regulation of NLR stability in plant immunity. This picture depicts the major pathways/components in the stability regulation of NLRs in plants.
(Tao WANG, Jiaxin LI, Qian-Hua SHEN, pp. 97-104)

Feb. 2019, Volume 6 Issue 1

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SALL4 belongs to the spalt family which contains several alternative splicing variants that are differentially expressed and are vital for maintaining pluripotent stem cells. However, the molecular features and function of SALL4 have not been adequately elucidated in porcine induced pluripotent stem cells (piPSCs). Since SALL4 and other pluripotent factors were reported to be relevant to embryo development and pluripotent stem cells self-renewal, we investigated the expressions of OCT4 and SOX2 in undifferentiated piPSCs. Immunofluorescence staining revealed high levels of expression of pluripotent factors OCT4 and SOX2 in piPSCs, but the expression of these factors was not evident in differentiated cells.
(Ning WANG, Sile WANG, Yaxian WANG, Yuanxing CAI, Fan YANG, Huayan WANG, pp. 81-92)

Nov. 2018, Volume 5 Issue 4

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Precision agriculture, which started more than 20 years ago, is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops. It is usually managed as a three-stage process, data collection, analysis of the variability and decision-making, and implementation by variable-rate technology (VRT). The key technologies for precision agriculture include advanced sensors, GNSS (global navigation satellite system), remote sensing, GIS (geographic information system), agricultural machines. Essential components of this new technological and industrial revolution in precision agriculture include modern information and communication technologies (ICT), mobile internet, internet of things, big data, cloudy computing, and robotics. This upgraded version of precision agriculture, also called smart agriculture, is the future of farming.

Jul. 2018, Volume 5 Issue 3

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With economic development, people worldwide are getting more and more concerned about what they eat on their dinner plates (Photograph by Yefang Hou). In this special issue on “Agri-product Quality and Safety”, different research topics ranging from food safety regulation, the mechanisms, prevention and control of food hazards, and nutrition evaluation are discussed. As presented by Prof. Joseph J. JEN in this special issue, although China is facing many difficult challenges in food safety, it is believed that China can find ways to overcome these challenges.
(Joseph J. JEN, pp. 291-293)

May. 2018, Volume 5 Issue 2

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In order to study the general characteristics of the downwash airflow distribution and simulate the static wind field of multi-rotor UAVs in hovering state, a 3D full-size physical model of a JF01-10 six-rotor plant protection UAV was constructed with SolidWorks. The simulation results proved that six-rotor plant protection UAVs could be employed for spray width detection and pesticide spraying. This picture describes the JF01-10 six-rotor plant protection UAV hovering above the corn field.
(Yongjun ZHENG, Shenghui YANG, Xingxing LIU, Jie WANG, Tomas NORTON, Jian CHEN, Yu TAN, pp. 159-167)

Mar. 2018, Volume 5 Issue 1

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A new integrated crop-livestock system approach of pastoral livestock production on the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau (QTP) allows the livestock grazing on the natural grassland area during the short warm season and the mixed crop/pastoral area during the cold season. The approach demonstrates that the benefits brought by the combination of livestock, forage and agricultural byproducts from the three zones are beyond the sum of individual resources. This study shows that the new approach improves the efficiency of livestock production and conserves natural grassland as well for a sustainable system for the QTP.
(Xinquan ZHAO, Liang ZHAO, Qi LI, Huai CHEN, Huakun ZHOU, Shixiao XU, Quanmin DONG, Gaolin WU, Yixin HE, pp. 1-8)

Dec. 2017, Volume 4 Issue 4

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Established in 1955, and after three generations of persistent effort to overcome many challenges, Saihanba Forest Farm, Hebei Province in northern China has been transformed from an unproductive patchwork of inferior secondary forests, degraded grasslands and invading desert to an extensively planted and productive forest covering over 730 km2. This represents a magnificent achievement in ecological rehabilitation, and constitutes both an excellent model and a worthy precedent for on-going ecological endeavors in China. Saihanba Forest Farm just received the United Nations’ highest environmental honor, the Champions of the Earth award, on December 5, 2017.

Sep. 2017, Volume 4 Issue 3

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Rabies virus infection is always lethal and the virus has developed a series of strategies to evade host immune system. One of these strategies is keeping the integrity of blood brain barrier (BBB) by limiting the expression of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. This picture shows how the BBB permeability is modulated by inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. This study reviews the important roles of cytokines and chemokines in antiviral innate immune responses in rabies virus infection.
(Ying HUANG, Clement Wesley GNANADURAI, Zhenfang FU, pp. 260-267)

Jun. 2017, Volume 4 Issue 2

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In the semi-arid loess plateau areas of Northwest China, water is the limiting factor for rain-fed wheat yields. Genetic advances in grain yields under rain-fed conditions have been achieved with the introduction of Rht genes. This picture, which was taken in a field of semi-arid loess plateau area in Northwest China, displays a promising autumn harvest scene resulting from introducing specific dwarf genes into current wheat cultivars. This study reviewed the mechanism involved in dwarfing genes that reduce plant height and affect root and coleoptile length, their consequent effects on grain yields and water use efficiency.
(Jiakun YAN, Suiqi ZHANG, pp. 126-134)

Mar. 2017, Volume 4 Issue 1

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More than 250 Berberis species were recorded in China and 35 species of them were identified to be alternate (sexual) hosts for Puccinia striiformis West. f. sp. tritici Erikss. et Henn., a causal pathogen of wheat stripe rust. The existence of sexual reproduction of the rust under natural conditions in China was recently demonstrated, which playing roles in virulence variation of the pathogen and epidemics of wheat stripe rust. This combined pictures illustrated that wind-borne aeciospores was first derived from infected Berberis plants, then spread to wheat nearby the Berberis bushes and caused stripe rust infections on wheat at last. This study revealed a high heterozygosity of field isolate of P. striiformis f. sp. tritici for avirulence/virulence loci through sexual reproduction on alternate hosts.
(Yuan TIAN, Gangming ZHAN, Xia LU, Jie ZHAO, Lili HUANG, Zhensheng KANG, pp. 48–58)

Dec. 2016, Volume 3 Issue 4

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Banana (Musa acuminata) is becoming an excellent model for starch metabolism in fresh starchy fruits due to its relatively high starch content and large starch granules. This picture describes the banana fruits at 20 days after emerging from pseudostem, which represents the beginning of synthesizing starch. A total of 16 BAM genes were identified in the banana genome. Findings obtained from comprehensive transcriptomic analysis indicated that MaBAMs might be involved in regulating fruit development, ripening, and responses to abiotic stress.
(Hongxia MIAO, Peiguang SUN, Yulu MIAO, Juhua LIU, Jianbin ZHANG, Caihong JIA, Jingyi WANG, Zhuo WANG, Zhiqiang JIN, Biyu XU, pp. 346–356)

Sep. 2016, Volume 3 Issue 3

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As an important oil crop and a potential bioenergy crop, Brassica napusL. is becoming a model plant for basic research on seed oil content. This picture describes the regulation model of seed oil content in B. napus, including major organs or factors controlling the seed oil content and their relative regulating pathways.

Jun. 2016, Volume 3 Issue 2

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PTI and ETI are the two primary modes of plant immunity. This figure presents the methodological overview of exploring key genes/interactions involved in PTI and ETI. By inputting the PTI/ETI gene expression profiles and the plant gene network (i.e., AraONE), classification models to distinguish different microarray data were trained by using NGF algorithm. Key genes/interactions involved in plant immune response can be inferred based on the trained classification models, which providing insights into the gene network organizations of PTI and ETI.

Mar. 2016, Volume 3 Issue 1

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This picture describes the general procedures for producing genome modified animals with CRISPR/Cas9 system. In the system, Cas9 and sgRNA are used to make site-specific double strand breaks and the targeting donor template is used to bring specific mutations via homology-directed repair mechanism. The genome modified animals can either be produced by direct injection of plasmids into zygotes followed by embryo transfer or transfection and selection of somatic cells followed by somatic cell cloning
(Shaohua WANG, Kun ZHANG, Yunping DAI, pp. 1–10)

Dec. 2015, Volume 2 Issue 4

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Guodao 6, a super hybrid rice variety with late-stage vigor developed by China National Rice Research Institute. It is necessary to strengthen super hybrid rice breeding with high insect resistance, wide ecological adaption and mechanized production through the combination of molecular and crossing techniques.
(Shihua CHENG, Xiaodeng ZHAN, Liyong CAO, pp. 277–282)

Sep. 2015, Volume 2 Issue 3

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A PRV subunit vaccine based on gB protein can elicit specific antibody-mediated responses and protect pigs from virulent PRV HN1201 infection. This novel subunit vaccine can be applied as an effective vaccine candidate to control PRV variant in China. This picture shows non-suppurative meningoencephalitis induced by PRV infection (arrows) in pig brain. Hematoxylin and eosin staining; bar, 10 μm. (Yuzhou WANG, Tongyan WANG, He YAN, Fanli YANG, Linghua GUO, Qingyuan YANG, Xule HU, Feifei TAN, Yan XIAO, Xiangdong LI, Kegong TIAN, pp. 216-222)

Jun. 2015, Volume 2 Issue 2

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Improved lodging resistance is important for achieving high yield in irrigated environments. Higher planting density could be used to select genotypes with lodging resistance in irrigated environments. Cultivars carrying high plant density tolerance and high yield potential were recommended as leading cultivars for production as well as elite crossing parents for further increasing yield potential.
(Yonggui XIAO, Jianjun LIU, Haosheng LI, Xinyou CAO, Xianchun XIA, Zhonghu HE,

Mar. 2015, Volume 2 Issue 1

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Shoot branching is an important trait of crop and horticultural plants. It is jointly regulated by complex interactions among hormones, development, and environmental factors. In this paper, we reviewed current perspectives on shoot branching regulation. It is an overview of plant shoot branching regulatory network, involving long distance systemic signals and local gene response to external environmental factors, such as decapitation and shading (The background picture was photographed by Bo Hong).
(Cunquan YUAN, Lin XI, Yaping KOU, Yu ZHAO, Liangjun ZHAO, pp. 38-52)

Dec. 2014, Volume 1 Issue 4

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A model plant of cassava, a typical tropical crop with huge yield potential planted in the field of Guangxi Province, China (Shengkui ZHANG, Ping’an MA, Haiyan WANG, Cheng LU, Xin CHEN, Zhiqiang XIA, Meiling ZOU, Xinchen ZHOU, Wenquan WANG, pp. 259-266)

Sep. 2014, Volume 1 Issue 3

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The ecological adaptability of cloned sheep to free-grazing in the Tengger Desert of Inner Mongolia, China.The cloned sheep (indicated by blue circle) is free-grazing with a flock of Alashan sheep, equipped with a GPS collar (indicated by blue arrow). 
(Xinxin LI, Huijuan WANG, Guanghua SU, Zhuying WEI, Chunling BAI, Wuni-MENGHE, Yanhui HOU, Changqing YU, Shorgan BOU, Guangpeng LI, pp. 191-200)

Jun. 2014, Volume 1 Issue 2

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 Prevention and control of zoonoses at their source: from the Chinese perspective (a) Electron microscopic image of Ebola virus-like particles produced by co-expression of VP40 and GP from insect cells (Photographed by Xuexing ZHENG); (b) The surveillance of wild bird influenza in China (Photographed by Xiao YUAN); (c) Recovering Bacillus anthracis from samples (Photographed by Junfeng LIU); (d) The control of zoonoses in a cowhouse (Photographed by Junfeng LIU); (e) Strengthen international cooperation: Training African officials in China (Photographed by Mu YUAN). (Songtao YANG, Yuwei GAO, Jun QIAN, Quan LIU, Xuexing ZHENG, Hualei WANG, Zhiping XIA, Xianzhu XIA,pp.96-103)

Feb. 2014, Volume 1 Issue 1

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Gene targeting in large domestic animals has been considered an intractable task involving screening for gene-targeted cells and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), and it frequently results in abortion or unhealthy newborns due to abnormal epigenetic modifications. Here, we report the first successful generation of gene-knockout sheep using a one-step zygote injection of the CRISPR/Cas9 system. (Hongbing HAN, Yonghe MA, Tao WANG, Ling LIAN, Xiuzhi TIAN, Rui HU, Shoulong DENG, Kongpan LI, Feng WANG, Ning LI, Guoshi LIU, Yaofeng ZHAO, Zhengxing LIAN, pp. 2-5)