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Category: Science

A fun take on the latest science news with enough data to sink your teeth into. Lagrange Point goes beyond the glossy summary and gets in depth with the research from across the world.

June 22, 2020

Episode 384 - Plants regenerating and fighting off invaders

How do plants manage to recover from damage or fungal attacks? What happens when you shoot a laser at some cress? Studying the way plants respond to damage helps us understand their regeneration methods. Plant cells can regenerate to recover from damage, but what controls this process? Fighting off a fungal invasion means an arms race between plants and fungus. Plants like cabbage use a special mustard oil bomb to fight back against fungal invaders. Fungal invaders like white mold can render even the most sophisticate plant defences useless.

  1. Lukas Hoermayer, Juan Carlos Montesinos, Petra Marhava, Eva Benková, Saiko Yoshida, Jiří Friml. Wounding-induced changes in cellular pressure and localized auxin signalling spatially coordinate restorative divisions in rootsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020; 202003346 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2003346117
  2. Jingyuan Chen, Chhana Ullah, Michael Reichelt, Franziska Beran, Zhi-Ling Yang, Jonathan Gershenzon, Almuth Hammerbacher, Daniel G. Vassão. The phytopathogenic fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum detoxifies plant glucosinolate hydrolysis products via an isothiocyanate hydrolaseNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16921-2
June 8, 2020

Episode 382 - Animals keeping watch on our environment

Animals can help us monitor our environment for pollution. From silicon dog tags to tiger snakes in wetlands, animals can help us monitor pollution. How can silicon dog tags help protect humans from environmental pollutants? Cleaning up an oil spill is tricky, but with the right materials it's easy as wringing a sponge. Water hating but Oil loving magnetic sponges can help clean up after oil spills. How do Tiger snakes help us find the cleanest wetlands? Just how clean are urban wetlands?

  1. Catherine F. Wise, Stephanie C. Hammel, Nicholas Herkert, Jun Ma, Alison Motsinger-Reif, Heather M. Stapleton, Matthew Breen. Comparative Exposure Assessment Using Silicone Passive Samplers Indicates That Domestic Dogs Are Sentinels To Support Human Health Research. Environmental Science & Technology, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b06605
  2. D. C. Lettoof, P. W. Bateman, F. Aubret, M. M. Gagnon. The Broad-Scale Analysis of Metals, Trace Elements, Organochlorine Pesticides and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Wetlands Along an Urban Gradient, and the Use of a High Trophic Snake as a Bioindicator. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 2020; 78 (4): 631 DOI: 10.1007/s00244-020-00724-z
  3. Vikas Nandwana, Stephanie M. Ribet, Roberto D. Reis, Yuyao Kuang, Yash More, Vinayak P. Dravid. OHM Sponge: A Versatile, Efficient, and Ecofriendly Environmental Remediation Platform. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.0c01493
June 1, 2020

Episode 381 - A good nights sleep and finding it hard to wake up in the morning

Finding it hard to wake up in the morning when it's cold? Don't worry you're not alone. What can we Fruit Flies teach us about wanting to stay in bed especially when it's cold outside? How do the cycles of temperature and light impact sleep? Is the right temperature key to a good night's rest? Is the optimum temperature hard coded in creatures brain or is it all relative? Getting a good night's sleep is important for keeping your brain healthy. What can zebrafish and fruit flies help us understand about getting a good night's sleep? Is there a connection between a good night's sleep and cleaning out unwanted proteins in your brain?

  1. Michael H. Alpert, Dominic D. Frank, Evan Kaspi, Matthieu Flourakis, Emanuela E. Zaharieva, Ravi Allada, Alessia Para, Marco Gallio. A Circuit Encoding Absolute Cold Temperature in Drosophila. Current Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.038
  2. Sarah Ly, Daniel A. Lee, Ewa Strus, David A. Prober, Nirinjini Naidoo. Evolutionarily Conserved Regulation of Sleep by the Protein Translational Regulator PERK. Current Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.02.030
May 18, 2020

Episode 379 - Colourful feathers on dinosaurs and birds today

Colourful feathers on dinosaurs and their descendants. Sleek, fast, with sharp claws and iridescent feathers, Cassowaries are almost like dinosaurs. How do the cassowaries manage to get that special sheen on their feathers? What gives cassowaries they're menacing iridescence? Long flowing rainbow feathers, all wrapped around a small creature the size of a duck, hardly a terrifying image of a dinosaur. What connects a small duck like dinosaur with a hummingbird? Their iridescent feathers. 

  1. Chad M. Eliason, Julia A. Clarke. Cassowary gloss and a novel form of structural color in birdsScience Advances, 2020; 6 (20): eaba0187 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba0187
  2. Dongyu Hu, Julia A. Clarke, Chad M. Eliason, Rui Qiu, Quanguo Li, Matthew D. Shawkey, Cuilin Zhao, Liliana D’Alba, Jinkai Jiang, Xing Xu. A bony-crested Jurassic dinosaur with evidence of iridescent plumage highlights complexity in early paravian evolutionNature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-02515-y
May 11, 2020

Episode 378 - Maple Syrup Golden tongues and antioxidants

Taste testing maple syrup and long lasting antioxidants. How do you judge the taste of something as complex as maple syrup? How can a golden tongue help find gold, silver and bronze maple syrups? Antioxidants can keep food fresh and wounds safe, so how can they be made long lasting? Tannic acid often found in wines can make great antioxidants, but how to make their chemical effect long lasting? Fine woven meshes embedded with antioxidants can help flexible wrap food and wounds to keep them safe.

  1. Simon Forest, Trevor Théorêt, Julien Coutu, Jean-Francois Masson. A high-throughput plasmonic tongue using an aggregation assay and nonspecific interactions: classification of taste profiles in maple syrupAnalytical Methods, 2020; DOI: 10.1039/C9AY01942A
  2. Adwait Gaikwad, Hanna Hlushko, Parvin Karimineghlani, Victor Selin, Svetlana A. Sukhishvili. Hydrogen-Bonded, Mechanically Strong Nanofibers with Tunable Antioxidant ActivityACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2020; 12 (9): 11026 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b23212
April 27, 2020

Episode 376 - Learning from spider webs, venom and combs

What can we learn from spiders webs, venom and combs? How do spiders manage to weave intricate webs without getting tangled in them? How can spider's legs help develop next generation nano materials? How can spider venom help us fight back against the opioid crisis? Spider venom is dangerous but it can also help reduce harm in pain management.

  1. Akello J. Agwa, Poanna Tran, Alexander Mueller, Hue N. T. Tran, Jennifer R. Deuis, Mathilde R. Israel, Kirsten L. McMahon, David J. Craik, Irina Vetter, Christina I. Schroeder. Manipulation of a spider peptide toxin alters its affinity for lipid bilayers and potency and selectivity for voltage-gated sodium channel subtype 1.7Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2020; 295 (15): 5067 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.012281
  2. Anna-Christin Joel, Marco Meyer, Johannes Heitz, Alexander Heiss, Daesung Park, Hana Adamova, Werner Baumgartner. Biomimetic Combs as Antiadhesive Tools to Manipulate NanofibersACS Applied Nano Materials, 2020; 3 (4): 3395 DOI: 10.1021/acsanm.0c00130
  3. Po Peng, Devi Stuart‐Fox, Szu‐Wei Chen, Eunice J. Tan, Guan‐Lin Kuo, Sean J. Blamires, I‐Min Tso, Mark A. Elgar. High contrast yellow mosaic patterns are prey attractants for orb‐weaving spidersFunctional Ecology, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13532
April 13, 2020

Episode 374 - Lasers, Metal and Insect wings vs Bacteria

Taking the fight to bacteria with lasers, metal and insect wings. How can lasers help make a material into a bacteria destroyer? Metal in fantasy has demon slaying properties, but how can it help fight bacteria? What can we learn from insect wings to help make safer implants? What is it about silver that makes it good for killing bacteria (and werewolves). Why are metals so dangerous for bacteria? How can we treat and use metal to make medical devices safer from bacteria?

  1. Vidhya Selvamani, Amin Zareei, Ahmed Elkashif, Murali Kannan Maruthamuthu, Shirisha Chittiboyina, Davide Delisi, Zheng Li, Lirong Cai, Vilas G. Pol, Mohamed N. Seleem, Rahim Rahimi. Hierarchical Micro/Mesoporous Copper Structure with Enhanced Antimicrobial Property via Laser Surface Texturing. Advanced Materials Interfaces, 2020; 1901890 DOI: 10.1002/admi.201901890
  2. Asmaa A. Sadoon, Prabhat Khadka, Jack Freeland, Ravi Kumar Gundampati, Ryan H. Manso, Mason Ruiz, Venkata R. Krishnamurthi, Suresh Kumar Thallapuranam, Jingyi Chen, Yong Wang. Silver Ions Caused Faster Diffusive Dynamics of Histone-Like Nucleoid-Structuring Proteins in Live Bacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2020; 86 (6) DOI: 10.1128/AEM.02479-19
  3. J. Jenkins, J. Mantell, C. Neal, A. Gholinia, P. Verkade, A. H. Nobbs, B. Su. Antibacterial effects of nanopillar surfaces are mediated by cell impedance, penetration and induction of oxidative stress. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15471-x
April 6, 2020

Episode 373 - Deep sea reefs, ocean vents and tiny life

This week we look at unlikely partnerships that help sea creatures survive and thrive. What plays a crucial role inside a reef's ecosystem that is often overlooked? What's inside fish guts that help keep a reef healthy? Just how do fish 1000s of kms away end up with the same colonies of microbes? Feel like a tasty snack but stuck in the deep ocean vents, why not methane? How do microbes help worms eat methane? 

  1. Shana Goffredi et al. Methanotrophic bacterial symbionts fuel dense populations of deep-sea feather duster worms (Sabellida, Annelida) and extend the spatial influence of methane seepageScience Advances, 2020 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay8562
  2. Jarrod J. Scott, Thomas C. Adam, Alain Duran, Deron E. Burkepile, Douglas B. Rasher. Intestinal microbes: an axis of functional diversity among large marine consumersProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2020; 287 (1924): 20192367 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2367
March 23, 2020

Episode 371 - Marine Mammals vs Parasites

Its a battle between Marine Mammals and Parasites. How does an opossum parasite start killing sea otters?  In #2020MMM unexpected combatants can ruin your day, just like how opossum parasites are taking out sea otters. How does a parasite make a long journey from land to end up out at sea? Inside raw fish, parasitic worm populations are booming. This is bad news for marine mammals. Conserving marine mammals can be a delicate balancing act as parasite populations can also start to thrive.

  1. Tristan L. Burgess, M. Tim Tinker, Melissa A. Miller, Woutrina A. Smith, James L. Bodkin, Michael J. Murray, Linda M. Nichol, Justin A. Saarinen, Shawn Larson, Joseph A. Tomoleoni, Patricia A. Conrad, Christine K. Johnson. Spatial epidemiological patterns suggest mechanisms of land-sea transmission for Sarcocystis neurona in a coastal marine mammaTlScientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-60254-5
  2. Evan A. Fiorenza, Catrin A. Wendt, Katie A. Dobkowski, Teri L. King, Marguerite Pappaionou, Peter Rabinowitz, Jameal F. Samhouri, Chelsea L. Wood. It’s a wormy world: Meta-analysis reveals several decades of change in the global abundance of the parasitic nematodes Anisakis spp. and Pseudoterranova spp. in marine fishes and invertebratesGlobal Change Biology, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15048
March 2, 2020

Episode 368 - Brain injuries, epilepsy and treatment options

How can we give better quality of life for those suffering from neurological conditions? Getting a concussion is bad enough, but why do people often develop epilepsy afterwards? What is the link between concussions and epilepsy? How can we effectively reduce the risk of epilepsy after a concussion? For certain epilepsy conditions in children, CBD can help reduce seizure risk, but what type is best? Is pharmaceutical or artisan CBD for children with epilepsy?

  1. Akshata A. Korgaonkar, Ying Li, Dipika Sekhar, Deepak Subramanian, Jenieve Guevarra, Bogumila Swietek, Alexandra Pallottie, Sukwinder Singh, Kruthi Kella, Stella Elkabes, Vijayalakshmi Santhakumar. Toll‐like Receptor 4 Signaling in Neurons Enhances Calcium‐Permeable α‐Amino‐3‐Hydroxy‐5‐Methyl‐4‐Isoxazolepropionic Acid Receptor Currents and Drives Post‐Traumatic EpileptogenesisAnnals of Neurology, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/ana.25698
  2. American Academy of Neurology. (2020, February 27). Artisanal CBD not as effective as pharmaceutical CBD for reducing seizures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 29, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200227160545.htm
February 10, 2020

Episode 365 - Wasps, Bees, tasty meals and pesticide.

From wasps to bees how are insects adapting to a changing world. What type of food do bees prefer? Can a bee be a fussy eater? What makes a tasty meal for a Bee and what would they avoid like the plague? What changes can be introduced into the microbiome by pesticides? How can pesticides change the microbiome of wasps and develop into resistance? Can pesticide actually make lives harder for themselves by building tolerance in insects? How does an Asian hornet end up in Northern Europe?

  1. Wang et al. Changes in microbiome confer multigenerational host resistance after sub-toxic pesticide exposureCell Host & Microbe, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2020.01.009
  2. Martin Husemann, Andreas Sterr, Swen Mack, Rudolf Abraham. The northernmost record of the Asian hornet Vespa velutina nigrithorax (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)Evolutionary Systematics, 2020; 4 (1): 1 DOI: 10.3897/evolsyst.4.47358
  3. Fabian A. Ruedenauer, David Raubenheimer, Daniela Kessner‐Beierlein, Nils Grund‐Mueller, Lisa Noack, Johannes Spaethe, Sara D. Leonhardt. Best be(e) on low fat: linking nutrient perception, regulation and fitnessEcology Letters, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/ele.13454
February 3, 2020

Episode 364 - Coronavirus from SARS to MERs and nConv2019

The Coronavirus family is a dangerous lot from SARS to MERS and Novel Coronavirus 2019. This week we look at the history of Coronavirus outbreaks, research into past infections and public health strategy. We do some fact checking on Coronavirus myths and fears. What lessons were learnt from the SARS outbreak of '03 that can help today in '20? How can turning off the cells recycling plant stop Coronaviruses in their tracks? What role does cell autophagy play in spreading or stopping MERS? What can we learn from the sequenced genomes of coronaviruses? How can tracking the ACE2 gene help people monitor the mutation of the coronavirus strains?

  1. Lewis, D. (2020). Coronavirus outbreak: what’s next? Nature. doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00236-9
  2. Hollingsworth, J. (2020, January 30). The memory of SARS looms over the Wuhan virus. Here's how the outbreaks compare. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/29/china/sars-wuhan-virus-explainer-intl-hnk-scli/index.html
  3. Alerts - Novel coronavirus - Frequently asked questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/coronavirus-faqs.aspx#1-1
  4. Coronavirus latest: WHO declares global emergency. (2020, January 30). Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w
  5. Yushun Wan, Jian Shang, Rachel Graham, Ralph S. Baric, Fang Li. Receptor recognition by novel coronavirus from Wuhan: An analysis based on decade-long structural studies of SARSJournal of Virology, 2020; DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00127-20
  6. Nils C. Gassen, Daniela Niemeyer, Doreen Muth, Victor M. Corman, Silvia Martinelli, Alwine Gassen, Kathrin Hafner, Jan Papies, Kirstin Mösbauer, Andreas Zellner, Anthony S. Zannas, Alexander Herrmann, Florian Holsboer, Ruth Brack-Werner, Michael Boshart, Bertram Müller-Myhsok, Christian Drosten, Marcel A. Müller, Theo Rein. SKP2 attenuates autophagy through Beclin1-ubiquitination and its inhibition reduces MERS-Coronavirus infectionNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-13659-4
January 27, 2020

Episode 363 - Mysteries from underwater volcanoes

There are mysterious things lurking at the bottom of the ocean, from underwater volcanoes to mysterious graphite. Where did a pumice raft floating across the Pacific come from? Why is a raft of pumice larger than Manhattan heading to Australia? What can we learn by studying petit-spot volcanoes underneath the ocean? What connects young volcanoes with the motion of the tectonic plates? What roll do hydrothermal vents play in the carbon cycle? Where does all this graphite in the oceans come from?

  1. Philipp A. Brandl, Florian Schmid, Nico Augustin, Ingo Grevemeyer, Richard J. Arculus, Colin W. Devey, Sven Petersen, Margaret Stewart, Heidrun Kopp, Mark D. Hannington. The 6–8 Aug 2019 eruption of ‘Volcano F’ in the Tofua Arc, Tonga. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 2019; 106695 DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2019.106695
  2. Naoto Hirano, Shiki Machida, Hirochika Sumino, Kenji Shimizu, Akihiro Tamura, Taisei Morishita, Hideki Iwano, Shuhei Sakata, Teruaki Ishii, Shoji Arai, Shigekazu Yoneda, Tohru Danhara, Takafumi Hirata. Petit-spot volcanoes on the oldest portion of the Pacific plate. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 2019; 154: 103142 DOI: 10.1016/j.dsr.2019.103142
  3. Harry MacKay, C. Anthony Scott, Jack D. Duryea, Maria S. Baker, Eleonora Laritsky, Amanda E. Elson, Theodore Garland, Marta L. Fiorotto, Rui Chen, Yumei Li, Cristian Coarfa, Richard B. Simerly, Robert A. Waterland. DNA methylation in AgRP neurons regulates voluntary exercise behavior in mice. Nature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-13339-3
January 20, 2020

Episode 362 - Life after a disaster from Fukashima to Chernobyl

What happens next after disaster strikes and people flee for safety? How do wildlife move in when people move out of a disaster zone? How do animals moving into an evacuated area change with no humans around? What is the most effective thing to do if you live near a disaster area? How do we assess risk and life expectancy impact of living near a disaster zone? Is it more dangerous to live near a nuclear plant or in the diesel smog of the big city?

  1. Phillip C Lyons, Kei Okuda, Matthew T Hamilton, Thomas G Hinton, James C Beasley. Rewilding of Fukushima's human evacuation zoneFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/fee.2149
  2. Philip Thomas, John May. Coping after a big nuclear accidentProcess Safety and Environmental Protection, 2017; 112: 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.psep.2017.09.013
January 6, 2020

Episode 360 - Imaging hard-working Cells keeping you alive during illness

How do we peer into the inner workings of our cells, especially during their response to a medical emergency? What role does fibroblasts play to protect your heart after a heart attack? When is your body hardest at work repairing damage after a heart attack? What stem cells control your blood cells? How can we get a picture of the complex 3D shape of blood stem cells in your bone marrow? What role does bone marrow play in blood regulation?

  1. Chiara Baccin, Jude Al-Sabah, Lars Velten, Patrick M. Helbling, Florian Grünschläger, Pablo Hernández-Malmierca, César Nombela-Arrieta, Lars M. Steinmetz, Andreas Trumpp, Simon Haas. Combined single-cell and spatial transcriptomics reveal the molecular, cellular and spatial bone marrow niche organizationNature Cell Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41556-019-0439-6
  2. Zohreh Varasteh, Sarajo Mohanta, Stephanie Robu, Miriam Braeuer, Yuanfang Li, Negar Omidvari, Geoffrey Topping, Ting Sun, Stephan G. Nekolla, Antonia Richter, Christian Weber, Andreas Habenicht, Uwe A. Haberkorn, Wolfgang A. Weber. Molecular Imaging of Fibroblast Activity After Myocardial Infarction Using a 68Ga-Labeled Fibroblast Activation Protein Inhibitor, FAPI-04Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 2019; 60 (12): 1743 DOI: 10.2967/jnumed.119.226993
December 30, 2019

Episode 359 - Life surviving on freezing planets, faint suns and meteorites

What can bacteria from an iron ore rich lake tell us about life on early earth? Have scientists finally solved a Carl Sagan paradox about life on early earth? When the earth was young, so was the sun, and that meant less light and heat. How did early life on earth survive if there was not enough sunlight to keep it warm? How did iron ore eating and secreting bacteria help lead to widespread life on our planet? How did micro organisms get enough oxygen to survive when the entire planet was frozen over? What can iron ore deposits tell us about life surviving when the entire planet was frozen over? Can life survive on a meteorite, the answer is surprising. How can a microbe be more suited to life on a meteorite than on earth?

  1. Katharine J. Thompson, Paul A. Kenward, Kohen W. Bauer, Tyler Warchola, Tina Gauger, Raul Martinez, Rachel L. Simister, Céline C. Michiels, Marc Llirós, Christopher T. Reinhard, Andreas Kappler, Kurt O. Konhauser, Sean A. Crowe. Photoferrotrophy, deposition of banded iron formations, and methane production in Archean oceansScience Advances, 2019; 5 (11): eaav2869 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav2869
  2. Maxwell A. Lechte, Malcolm W. Wallace, Ashleigh van Smeerdijk Hood, Weiqiang Li, Ganqing Jiang, Galen P. Halverson, Dan Asael, Stephanie L. McColl, Noah J. Planavsky. Subglacial meltwater supported aerobic marine habitats during Snowball EarthProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201909165 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1909165116
  3. Tetyana Milojevic, Denise Kölbl, Ludovic Ferrière, Mihaela Albu, Adrienne Kish, Roberta L. Flemming, Christian Koeberl, Amir Blazevic, Ziga Zebec, Simon K.-M. R. Rittmann, Christa Schleper, Marc Pignitter, Veronika Somoza, Mario P. Schimak, Alexandra N. Rupert. Exploring the microbial biotransformation of extraterrestrial material on nanometer scaleScientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-54482-7
December 23, 2019

Episode 358 - Wildfires, climate change, smog and charcoal

As the climate changes, wildfires become more common and more dangerous. Smoke clouds from wildfires can linger for weeks, but what chemistry changes inside the smog? Aerosols amongst other particles lurk inside wildfire smoke. How do we study the changes in wildfire smoke; by flying planes through the plumes. How do wildfires impact the CO2 emissions of a region?  Can wildfires help store carbon through charcoal? What can charred biomass to do help capture carbon?

  1. Kouji Adachi, Arthur J. Sedlacek, Lawrence Kleinman, Stephen R. Springston, Jian Wang, Duli Chand, John M. Hubbe, John E. Shilling, Timothy B. Onasch, Takeshi Kinase, Kohei Sakata, Yoshio Takahashi, Peter R. Buseck. Spherical tarball particles form through rapid chemical and physical changes of organic matter in biomass-burning smokeProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201900129 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1900129116
  2. Matthew W. Jones, Cristina Santín, Guido R. van der Werf, Stefan H. Doerr. Global fire emissions buffered by the production of pyrogenic carbonNature Geoscience, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-019-0403-x
December 16, 2019

Episode 357 - Microbiology vs Macro climate challenges

Scientist are turning to microbiology to fight global climate challenges. How do you change a microbe from consumer to producer? Can you teach old e-coli new tricks, and make it consume CO2? How can a gut bacteria start to behave like a plant? Can we use enzymes to produce Hydrogen gas efficiently? What is the missing step in hydrogen fuel cell production? Can synthesised enzyme engines help us produce hydrogen without complex processes?


  1.   Gleizer et al. Conversion of Escherichia coli to Generate All Biomass Carbon from CO2Cell, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.11.009
  2. The binuclear cluster of [FeFe] hydrogenase is formed with sulfur donated by cysteine of an [Fe(Cys)(CO)2(CN)] organometallic precursorProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 116 (42): 20850 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1913324116


December 9, 2019

Episode 356 - Responding to signs of danger

How do animals communicate information about danger? When a threat is detected by one animal, how do they pass it along to others? Does empathy play a role in how a create responds to a threat? Does the reaction of others around you change your response to threats? What chemical causes you to freeze in response to danger? How does serotonin cause deer in the headlights moments? What's the link between serotonin and slowing down in response to danger?

  1. Yingying Han, Rune Bruls, Efe Soyman, Rajat Mani Thomas, Vasiliki Pentaraki, Naomi Jelinek, Mirjam Heinemans, Iege Bassez, Sam Verschooren, Illanah Pruis, Thijs Van Lierde, Nathaly Carrillo, Valeria Gazzola, Maria Carrillo, Christian Keysers. Bidirectional cingulate-dependent danger information transfer across ratsPLOS Biology, 2019; 17 (12): e3000524 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000524
  2. Clare E. Howard, Chin-Lin Chen, Tanya Tabachnik, Rick Hormigo, Pavan Ramdya, Richard S. Mann. Serotonergic Modulation of Walking in DrosophilaCurrent Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.10.042
November 18, 2019

Episode 353 - Mysteries of plants, from using rare metals to boosting photosynthesis

Plants play an important role in our environment, yet there is still so much more to understand. We often think of nature as a zero sum game, but older and younger plants can collaborate. When surviving in a harsh environment, the best results occur when old and young plants grow together. Photosynthesis seems simple, but understanding the intricacies of the mechanisms can help us boost crop yields. Regulating the amount of photosynthesis can help plants survive or thrive in changing climates. How do boreal forests help capture nitrogen from the air? What does an odd metal have to do with forests in Canada storing nitrogen? 

  1. Alicia Montesinos-Navarro, Isabelle Storer, Rocío Perez-Barrales. Benefits for nurse and facilitated plants emerge when interactions are considered along the entire life-spanPerspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 2019; 41: 125483 DOI: 10.1016/j.ppees.2019.125483
  2. Lorna A. Malone, Pu Qian, Guy E. Mayneord, Andrew Hitchcock, David A. Farmer, Rebecca F. Thompson, David J. K. Swainsbury, Neil A. Ranson, C. Neil Hunter, Matthew P. Johnson. Cryo-EM structure of the spinach cytochrome b6 f complex at 3.6 Å resolutionNature, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1746-6
  3. Princeton University. (2019, November 11). Nature's backup plan for converting nitrogen into plant nutrients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 15, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191111180100.htm