Titanium alloy golf clubs can cause dangerous wildfires, UC Irvine scientists say. When a club coated with the lightweight metal is swung and strikes a rock, it creates sparks that can heat to more than 3,000 F for long enough to ignite dry foliage, according to findings published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Fire and Materials.
Orange County, Calif., fire investigators asked UC Irvine to determine whether such clubs could have caused blazes at Shady Canyon Golf Course in Irvine and Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo a few years ago.
Scientists at the Univ. of Liverpool have found that tropical grassy areas, which play a critical role in the world’s ecology, are under threat as a result of ineffective management.
According to research, published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, they are often misclassified and this leads to degradation of the land which has a detrimental effect on the plants and animals that are indigenous to these areas.
Researchers Explain Mysterious Circles in Baltic Sea
Are they bomb craters from World War II? Are they landing marks for aliens? Since the first images of the mysterious sea circles off the Baltic coast of Denmark were taken in 2008, people have tried to find a reason for them. Now researchers from the Univ. of Southern Denmark and Univ. of Copenhagen are finally presenting a scientific explanation.
The first pictures appeared in 2008, taken by a tourist and showing some strange circular formations in the shallow waters off the famous white cliffs of chalk on the island Møn in Denmark. In 2011, the circles came back, and this time there were so many that they made it to the media. Investigating biologists then concluded that the circles consisted of eelgrass plants growing on the bottom of the shallow water. But only now scientists can explain why the eelgrass grows in circles here – eelgrass usually grows as continuous meadows on the seabed.
A new look at the diets of ancient African hominids shows a “game changer” occurred about 3.5 million years ago when some members added grasses or sedges to their menus, according to a new study led by the Univ. of Colorado Boulder.
High-tech tests on tooth enamel by researchers indicate that prior to about four million years ago, Africa’s hominids were eating essentially chimpanzee style, likely dining on fruits and some leaves, says CU-Boulder anthropology Professor Matt Sponheimer, lead study author. Despite the fact that grasses and sedges were readily available back then, the hominids seem to have ignored them for an extended period, he says.
Evapotranspiration, or ET, is the amount of water a plant actively pulls from the soil. Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists are trying to utilize this basic measurement to help develop some simple formulas for watering lawns.
Operating on the principle that history is a good teacher, Charles Fontanier, AgriLife Research associate, and Richard White, AgriLife Research turfgrass physiologist, are conducting studies at the Texas A&M AgriLife Turfgrass Field Lab to determine if historical evapotranspiration data can be used to predict water needs when irrigating St. Augustine lawns.
Painted Grass Shows Notable Reduction in Photosynthesis
Professional athletic field managers maintain trimmed turfgrass with great precision, carefully painting crisp lines and colorful logos on their grass before each game. While these fields appear to be in perfect health, some field managers have noted deteriorating turfgrass beneath repeated paint applications.
New research now suggests why. In a study that appears in the September-October issue of Crop Science, three North Carolina State Univ. researchers found that grasses coated with latex paints show a notable reduction in photosynthesis.
Miscanthus grasses are used in gardens, burned for heat and energy, and converted into liquid fuels. They also belong to a prominent grass family that includes corn, sorghum and sugarcane. Two new, independently produced chromosome maps of Miscanthus sinensis (an ornamental that likely is a parent of Miscanthus giganteus, a biofuels crop) are a first step toward sequencing the M. sinensis genome. The studies reveal how a new plant species with distinctive traits can arise as a result of chromosome duplications and fusions.
About 250,000 children in the United States have high levels of lead in their systems, say the Centers for Disease Control. Children under the age of 6 are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal. Most people know that old paint (from before 1978) can contain high amounts of lead and that children can be poisoned by ingesting paint flakes. But that paint can also slough off into neighboring soils, creating a hazard for gardeners — and children playing in the dirt.
Now, a biologist at Michigan Technological Univ. is working on a way to remove lead from soil that is simple, inexpensive, and, quite literally, green.
Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have taken a major step in the ongoing effort to find sources of cleaner, renewable energy by mapping the genomes of two originator cells of Miscanthus x giganteus, a large perennial grass with promise as a source of ethanol and bioenergy. Changsoo Kim, a postdoctoral research associate in the UGA Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory, identified a set of approximately 600 bits of Miscanthus DNA that can serve as diagnostic tools. The next step is to determine which pieces of DNA are diagnostic of genes that can make the plant an even better biofuel crop.
Researchers from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC) have discovered a family of genes that could help breed grasses with improved properties for diet and bioenergy.
The genes are important in the development of the fibrous, woody parts of grasses, like rice and wheat. The team hopes that by understanding how these genes work, they might for example be able to breed varieties of cereals where the fibrous parts of the plants confer dietary benefits or crops whose straw requires less energy-intensive processing in order to produce biofuels.