X-ray Vision Puts Plants, Dirt on World Stage
A multidisciplinary team of scientists at The Univ. of Nottingham are using some of the most advanced X-ray micro Computed Tomography (CT) scanners to learn how to design plant roots so they can interact better with soil and capture water and nutrients more efficiently. This non-invasive technology will help Nottingham unearth some of the answers to one of the biggest challenges facing the world today — global food security.
Malcolm Bennett, professor of plant sciences, says, “For the first time in 10,000 years of plant breeding, we can see a plant’s root architecture directly in the soil, as it is in the field, and use this information to select the most efficient varieties for farmers to grow.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/x-ray-vision-puts-plants-dirt-world-stage
FDA to Tweak Food Safety Rules
The government said Friday it will rewrite sweeping new food safety rules after farmers complained that earlier proposals could hurt business. New proposals by the Food and Drug Administration would make it easier for farmers to meet water quality standards and allow farmers to harvest crops sooner after using raw manure as fertilizer.
The FDA proposed the revised rules Friday, and the final rules are due next fall. The FDA has been haggling over how to write them for four years since Congress passed a food safety law in 2010. Regulators say it has been a challenge to balance the need for tighter food safety standards in the wake of major outbreaks in spinach, eggs, peanuts and cantaloupe along with the needs of farmers who are new to such regulations.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/fda-tweak-food-safety-rules
Communal Nesting Confuses Paternity, Reduces Infanticide
It is a cruel world out there, particularly for young animals born into social groups where infanticide occurs. This dark side of evolution is revealed when adults – often males – kill offspring to promote their own genes being passed on, by reducing competition for resources or making females become sexually receptive more quickly.
This behavior proves expensive for females, who have evolved strategies to avoid this fate. One strategy is to join forces with other females to physically ward off killer males. A more interesting strategy is to mate with several males, known as “polyandry,” so fathers can’t distinguish their young from others’, which means they avoid killing pups so that they don’t accidently kill their own.
Now, researchers at the Univ. of Zurich have found a new type of infanticide counter-strategy: mothers can achieve paternity confusion even if they don’t mate with multiple males, through nesting with other females, which they call “socially mediated polyandry.” And such a strategy might be happening close to home, in the unassuming house mouse.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/communal-nesting-confuses-paternity-reduces
Science Classes Can Be Dazzling, Not Dangerous
A dazzling show of fire and color can make science come alive for young students, but it can also inflict serious and painful injuries, as flash fires in Nevada and Colorado showed this month.
Educators and investigators say some teachers lack the training required by law and don’t know about standard safety measures that can dramatically lower the inherent dangers of hands-on experiments — experiments they say are vital to science education.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/science-classes-can-be-dazzling-not-dangerous
Researchers Locate Rat’s Confidence in Brain
Our desire to persist along a chosen path is almost entirely determined by our confidence in the decision: when you are confident that your choice is correct, you are willing to stick it out for a lot longer.
Confidence determines much of our path through life, but what is it? Most people would describe it as an emotion or a feeling. In contrast, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have found that confidence is actually a measureable quantity, and not reserved just for humans. The team, led by CSHL Associate Prof. Adam Kepecs, has identified a brain region in rats whose function is required for the animals to express confidence in their decisions.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/researchers-locate-rats-confidence-brain
Teachers Fund to Aid Clean Energy
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.
CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes says the pension fund is seeing more opportunities in low-carbon projects and technologies. The fund is hoping also to help push for stronger policies aimed at fighting climate change, Ehnes says.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/teachers-fund-aid-clean-energy
Ig Nobel Prizes: Cats May Make You Sad, Pork Stops Nose Bleeds
There’s some truth to the effectiveness of folk remedies and old wives’ tales when it comes to serious medical issues, according to findings by a team from Detroit Medical Center.
Sonal Saraiya and her colleagues in Michigan found that packing strips of cured pork in the nose of a child who suffers from uncontrollable, life-threatening nosebleeds can stop the hemorrhaging, a discovery that won them a 2014 Ig Nobel prize, the annual award for sometimes inane, yet often surprisingly practical, scientific discoveries.
This year’s winners honored at Harvard Univ. by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine included a team of researchers who wondered if owning a cat was bad for your mental health; Japanese scientists who tested whether banana peels are really as slippery as cartoons would have us believe; and Norwegian biologists who tested whether reindeer on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard were frightened by humans dressed to resemble polar bears.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/ig-nobel-prizes-cats-may-make-you-sad-pork-stops-nose-bleeds
Stress Literally Tears You Apart
Chronic stress can lead to behavioral problems. A team from EPFL’s Brain Mind Institute has discovered an important synaptic mechanism: the activation of a cleaving enzyme, leading to these problems.
Why is it that when people are too stressed they are often grouchy, grumpy, nasty, distracted or forgetful? Researchers from the Brain Mind Institute (BMI) at EPFL have just highlighted a fundamental synaptic mechanism that explains the relationship between chronic stress and the loss of social skills and cognitive impairment. When triggered by stress, an enzyme attacks a synaptic regulatory molecule in the brain.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/stress-literally-tears-you-apart
Today in Lab History: September 19, 1915- Elizabeth Stern Shankman
Elizabeth Stern Shankman was a Canadian-born American, born Sept. 19, 1915, who was one of the first pathologists to work on the progression of a cell from normality to cancerous. Her breakthrough studies of cervical cancers changed the disease from fatal to one of the most easily diagnosed and treatable. Her studies showed that a normal cell advanced through 250 distinct stages before becoming cancerous and thus is the most easily diagnosed of all cancers.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2012/09/today-lab-history-elizabeth-stern-shankman
Unmown Areas Benefit Nature, Humans
Creating unmown areas in an urban park can significantly increase flowers and pollinating insects while also leading to a greater enjoyment of the space by people, according to a Univ. of Sussex study.
Researchers at the university’s Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) monitored areas of one of Brighton & Hove City Council’s managed parks to see what would happen if the grass was left uncut for different periods of time.
They found that, during the course of one year, the blocks of unmown land at Saltdean Oval saw a three-fold increase in the density of flowers, while the numbers of flower-visiting insects such as bees, butterflies and moths was up to five times higher in the least-mown areas compared with the areas mown regularly as normal, every two weeks.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/unmown-areas-benefit-nature-humans
Corn Yields Depend on Nutrient Balance
Ensuring that corn absorbs the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is crucial to increasing global yields, a Purdue and Kansas State Univ. study finds.
A review of data from more than 150 studies from the U.S. and other regions showed that high yields were linked to production systems in which corn plants took up key nutrients at specific ratios — nitrogen and phosphorus at a ratio of five to one and nitrogen and potassium at a ratio of one to one. These nutrient uptake ratios were associated with high yields regardless of the region where the corn was grown.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/corn-yields-depend-nutrient-balance
Nationwide Shutdown Aims to Slow Ebola
Shoppers in Sierra Leone rushed to stock up on food Thursday ahead of a three-day nationwide shutdown, during which the country’s 6 million people will be confined to their homes while volunteers search house-to-house for Ebola victims in hiding and hand out soap in a desperate bid to slow the accelerating outbreak.
The disease sweeping West Africa has also touched Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal and is believed to have sickened more than 5,300 people, the World Health Organization reported. In a sign the crisis is picking up steam, more than 700 of those cases were recorded in the last week for which data is available.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/nationwide-shutdown-aims-slow-ebola