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
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
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
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
Plant Engineered for Better Photosynthesis
A genetically engineered tobacco plant, developed with two genes from blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, holds promise for improving the yields of many food crops.
Plants photosynthesize – convert carbon dioxide, water and light into oxygen and sucrose, a sugar used for energy and for building new plant tissue – but cyanobacteria can perform photosynthesis significantly more quickly than many crops can.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/plant-engineered-better-photosynthesis
Wild Berry Extract May Boost Cancer Drug
A wild berry native to North America may strengthen the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer, reveals research published online in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.
The study by researchers at King’s College Hospital and the Univ. of Southampton suggests that adding nutraceuticals to chemotherapy cycles may improve the effectiveness of conventional drugs, particularly in hard to treat cancers, such as pancreatic cancer.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/wild-berry-extract-may-boost-cancer-drug
Activity Linked to White-matter Integrity in Older Brains
Like everything else in the body, the white-matter fibers that allow communication between brain regions also decline with age. In a new study, researchers found a strong association between the structural integrity of these white-matter tracts and an older person’s level of daily activity – not just the degree to which he or she engaged in moderate or vigorous exercise, but also whether the person was sedentary the rest of the time.
The study, reported in the journal PLOS ONE, tracked physical activity in 88 healthy but “low-fit” participants aged 60 to 78. The participants agreed to wear accelerometers during most of their waking hours over the course of a week, and also submitted to brain imaging.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/activity-linked-white-matter-integrity-older-brains
Europeans Descended from Three Groups
New studies of ancient DNA are shifting scientists’ ideas of how groups of people migrated across the globe and interacted with one another thousands of years ago. By comparing nine ancient genomes to those of modern humans, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists have shown that previously unrecognized groups contributed to the genetic mix now present in most modern-day Europeans.
“There are at least three major, highly differentiated populations that have contributed substantial amounts of ancestry to almost everybody that has European ancestry today,” says David Reich, an HHMI investigator at Harvard Medical School. Those include hunter-gatherers from Western Europe, the early farmers who brought agriculture to Europe from the Near East and a newly identified group of ancient north Eurasians who arrived in Europe sometime after the introduction of agriculture. That means there were major movements of people into Europe later than previously thought. The team, led by Reich and Johannes Krause at the Univ. of Tübingen in Germany, reported their findings in today’s issue of the journal Nature.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/europeans-descended-three-groups
Artificial Sweeteners May Increase Diabetes Risk
Using artificial sweeteners may set the stage for diabetes in some people by hampering the way their bodies handle sugar, suggests a preliminary study done mostly in mice.
The authors said they are not recommending any changes in how people use artificial sweeteners based on their study, which included some human experiments. The researchers and outside experts said more study is needed, while industry groups called the research limited and said other evidence shows sweeteners are safe and useful for weight control.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/artificial-sweeteners-may-increase-diabetes-risk
Meteorite Doomed Dinos, Altered Forests
The meteorite impact that spelled doom for the dinosaurs 66 million years ago decimated the evergreens among the flowering plants to a much greater extent than their deciduous peers, according to a study led by Univ. of Arizona researchers. The results are published in the journal PLOS Biology.
Applying biomechanical formulas to a treasure trove of thousands of fossilized leaves of angiosperms — flowering plants excluding conifers — the team was able to reconstruct the ecology of a diverse plant community thriving during a 2.2 million-year period spanning the cataclysmic impact event, believed to have wiped out more than half of plant species living at the time.
The researchers found evidence that, after the event, fast-growing, deciduous angiosperms had replaced their slow-growing, evergreen peers to a large extent. Living examples of evergreen angiosperms, such as holly and ivy, tend to prefer shade, don’t grow very fast and sport dark-colored leaves.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/meteorite-doomed-dinos-altered-forests
We Evolved Unique Faces for a Purpose
The amazing variety of human faces – far greater than that of most other animals – is the result of evolutionary pressure to make each of us unique and easily recognizable, according to a new study by UC Berkeley scientists.
Our highly visual social interactions are almost certainly the driver of this evolutionary trend, said behavioral ecologist Michael Sheehan, a postdoctoral fellow in UC Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Many animals use smell or vocalization to identify individuals, making distinctive facial features unimportant, especially for animals that roam after dark, he said. But humans are different.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/we-evolved-unique-faces-purpose
During cancer development, tumor cells decorate their surfaces with sugar compounds called glycans that are different from those found on normal, healthy cells. In PNAS, researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine report that sialic acids at the tips of these cancer cell glycans are capable of engaging with immune system cells and changing the latter’s response to the tumor – for good and bad.
“These cell surface glycans can promote or inhibit cancer progression, depending upon the stage of the disease,” said principal investigator Ajit Varki, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “Our findings underscore the complexity of cancer and the consequent challenges in conquering it. The immune system may be a double-edged sword in cancer, tumor-promoting or tumor-inhibiting, depending upon circumstances.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/09/sugars-can-promote-inhibit-cancer-depending-upon-stage