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462Episodes
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.

November 29, 2021

Episode 459 - Bees that eat meat, and Ants with a social stomach

Bees seem friendly and sweet, but what about a bee that eats meat? What has to happen to allow a bee to consume meat instead of pollen. What does honey produced by meat eating bees taste like? How do meat eating bees bite into their food? How different is the stomach of a meat eating bee from it's vegetarian cousins?Forget photos of food on social networks, ants have a whole social stomach for exchanging proteins. Ants carry and exchange all sorts of fluids to help parts of the colony at the right time. Ants second stomach does not contain food but is used to help process fluids for the colony.

  1. Laura L. Figueroa, Jessica J. Maccaro, Erin Krichilsky, Douglas Yanega, Quinn S. McFrederick. Why Did the Bee Eat the Chicken? Symbiont Gain, Loss, and Retention in the Vulture Bee MicrobiomemBio, 2021; DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02317-21
  2. Sanja M Hakala, Marie-Pierre Meurville, Michael Stumpe, Adria C LeBoeuf. Biomarkers in a socially exchanged fluid reflect colony maturity, behavior and distributed metabolismeLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.74005
November 22, 2021

Episode 458 - Molecular methods to fight fungi and bacteria

There's a public health crisis looming beyond the pandemic. Researchers across the world are working to stop the next public health disaster - the rise of antibiotic resistance. We rely on antibiotics to treat various disease but their effectiveness wanes as bacteria builds its resistance. How do we keep track of the changes in bacteria's resistance to antibiotics? What do bird droppings in Cambridge tell us about antibiotic resistance? Developing new antibiotics is tricky, what part of bacteria do you target? Is it better to have a simple molecule or a complex one when tackling bacteria? Bursting the bacteria cell is one way to defeat but its even better to break their building blocks. Fungal infections are growing more resistant to treatment. How can we devleop new categories of anti-fungal treatments?
References

  1. Joana G. C. Rodrigues, Harisree P. Nair, Christopher O'Kane, Caray A. Walker. Prevalence of multidrug resistance in Pseudomonas spp. isolated from wild bird feces in an urban aquatic environmentEcology and Evolution, 2021; 11 (20): 14303 DOI: 10.1002/ece3.8146
  2. Elisabeth Reithuber, Torbjörn Wixe, Kevin C. Ludwig, Anna Müller, Hanna Uvell, Fabian Grein, Anders E. G. Lindgren, Sandra Muschiol, Priyanka Nannapaneni, Anna Eriksson, Tanja Schneider, Staffan Normark, Birgitta Henriques-Normark, Fredrik Almqvist, Peter Mellroth. THCz: Small molecules with antimicrobial activity that block cell wall lipid intermediatesProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (47): e2108244118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2108244118
  3. Christian DeJarnette, Chris J. Meyer, Alexander R. Jenner, Arielle Butts, Tracy Peters, Martin N. Cheramie, Gregory A. Phelps, Nicole A. Vita, Victoria C. Loudon-Hossler, Richard E. Lee, Glen E. Palmer. Identification of Inhibitors of Fungal Fatty Acid BiosynthesisACS Infectious Diseases, 2021; DOI: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.1c00404
November 8, 2021

Episode 456 - Responding rapidly to bad smells

How does our brain filter and process all those smells? Our brain has a lot of dedicated space for smells, but knowing which is which is tricky. How does our brain respond so quickly to bad smells? We will move out of the way of a bad smell fast. In under half a second you brain can detect and move away from a bad smell. Why are our brains hard wired to detect and react to the smell of caramel? Furaneol gives off a caramel like smell and is found in fruits and even bread. Why does our brain dedicate space to it? What is better at waking you up - a good smell or a bad smell? How do brains process smells even whens sleeping?

  1. Behzad Iravani, Martin Schaefer, Donald A. Wilson, Artin Arshamian, Johan N. Lundström. The human olfactory bulb processes odor valence representation and cues motor avoidance behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (42): e2101209118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2101209118
  2. Franziska Haag, Sandra Hoffmann, Dietmar Krautwurst. Key Food Furanones Furaneol and Sotolone Specifically Activate Distinct Odorant Receptors. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2021; 69 (37): 10999 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.1c03314
  3. Alice S. French, Quentin Geissmann, Esteban J. Beckwith, Giorgio F. Gilestro. Sensory processing during sleep in Drosophila melanogaster. Nature, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03954-w
November 1, 2021

Episode 455 - Growing rocket fuel on Mars and greener jet fuel on earth

Growing rocket fuel on the surface of Mars, and greener jet fuel here on earth. The problem with space travel is you have to take everything with you. Including fuel. Is there a way to grow your own fuel to make the load lighter on a rocket? A round trip to Mars needs billions of dollars of fuel. Is there a way we can reduce cost and energy by producing rocket fuel on the surface of Mars? How can you grow rocket fuel on mars using microbes? Would the same rocket fuel you use on Earth make sense to use on Mars? How can we clean up the aviation industry's carbon emissions? Are there alternative jet fuels that don't come at the expense of growing food? Bio-fuels are often produced at the expense of food, but are there alternatives that are win win? 
References:

  1. Nicholas S. Kruyer, Matthew J. Realff, Wenting Sun, Caroline L. Genzale, Pamela Peralta-Yahya. Designing the bioproduction of Martian rocket propellant via a biotechnology-enabled in situ resource utilization strategyNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26393-7
  2. Asiful Alam, Md Farhad Hossain Masum, Puneet Dwivedi. Break-even price and carbon emissions of carinata-based sustainable aviation fuel production in the Southeastern United StatesGCB Bioenergy, 2021 DOI: 10.1111/.1gcbb2888
October 25, 2021

Episode 454 - Evolution‘s strange journeys in crabs, snakes and lizards

Why does nature continually evolve crabs? What is so good about crabs that nature just cannot stop inventing it? How can you trap a crab inside amber? What can a fossilized crab, capture din amber tell us about the complex history of crabs? Just when did crabs invade land and how did they get stuck in tree sap? How do you preserve  fossil as delicate as a crab? How did lizards and snakes develop their complex teeth? Mammals weren't the only ones to evolve complex teeth with cusps. Evolution isn't necessarily a one way progression, sometimes complexity can be rolled back like in lizards. Lizards developed complex teeth to eat plants, but then some went back to their old ways.
References:

  1. Keiler, J., Wirkner, C., & Richter, S. (2017). One hundred years of carcinization – the evolution of the crab-like habitus in Anomura (Arthropoda: Crustacea). Biological Journal Of The Linnean Society121(1), 200-222. doi: 10.1093/biolinnean/blw031
  2. Watson, S. (2021). Why everything eventually becomes a crab. Retrieved 23 October 2021, from https://www.popsci.com/story/animals/why-everything-becomes-crab-meme-carcinization/
  3. Fabien Lafuma, Ian J. Corfe, Julien Clavel, Nicolas Di-Po�. Multiple evolutionary origins and losses of tooth complexity in squamatesNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26285-w
October 11, 2021

Episode 452 - Eureka Prizes 21 - Fighting back against viruses

We celebrate the winners of the Eureka Prizes in 2021. The top prizes in Aussie Science shows that it's possible for major science awards to not be male dominated.  Are humans just the collateral damage of the war between cholera and protozoa? How does getting eaten actually make cholera stronger? We celebrate the achievements of Australian scientists helping make rotavirus vaccines more accessible for all. Producing vaccines cheaply and locally, that are easy to roll out can save half a million lives each year. Whilst vaccines for rotavirus exist already they are complex and costly. Aussie researchers are helping make it simpler and widely available.

References:

  1. Gustavo Espinoza-Vergara, Parisa Noorian, Cecilia A. Silva-Valenzuela, Benjamin B. A. Raymond, Christopher Allen, M. Mozammel Hoque, Shuyang Sun, Michael S. Johnson, Mathieu Pernice, Staffan Kjelleberg, Steven P. Djordjevic, Maurizio Labbate, Andrew Camilli, Diane McDougald. Vibrio cholerae residing in food vacuoles expelled by protozoa are more infectious in vivoNature Microbiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41564-019-0563-x
  2. Bines, J., At Thobari, J., Satria, C., Handley, A., Watts, E., & Cowley, D. et al. (2018). Human Neonatal Rotavirus Vaccine (RV3-BB) to Target Rotavirus from Birth. New England Journal Of Medicine378(8), 719-730. doi: 10.1056/nejmoa1706804
  3. Mannix, L. (2021). Eureka science prizes go to childhood vaccine and microplastics hotspot hunt. Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://www.smh.com.au/national/childhood-vaccine-microplastics-hotspot-hunt-take-top-science-gongs-20211007-p58xyi.html
  4. Protozoans and pathogens make for an infectious mix. (2021). Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://www.uts.edu.au/news/health-science/protozoans-and-pathogens-make-infectious-mix
  5. Tu, J. (2021). Meet the women transforming science in Australia: Eureka Prize finalists. Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/meet-the-women-transforming-science-in-australia-eureka-prize-finalists/
October 11, 2021

Episode 452 - Eureka Prizes 21 - Fighting back against viruses

We celebrate the winners of the Eureka Prizes in 2021. The top prizes in Aussie Science shows that it's possible for major science awards to not be male dominated.  Are humans just the collateral damage of the war between cholera and protozoa? How does getting eaten actually make cholera stronger? We celebrate the achievements of Australian scientists helping make rotavirus vaccines more accessible for all. Producing vaccines cheaply and locally, that are easy to roll out can save half a million lives each year. Whilst vaccines for rotavirus exist already they are complex and costly. Aussie researchers are helping make it simpler and widely available.

References:

  1. Gustavo Espinoza-Vergara, Parisa Noorian, Cecilia A. Silva-Valenzuela, Benjamin B. A. Raymond, Christopher Allen, M. Mozammel Hoque, Shuyang Sun, Michael S. Johnson, Mathieu Pernice, Staffan Kjelleberg, Steven P. Djordjevic, Maurizio Labbate, Andrew Camilli, Diane McDougald. Vibrio cholerae residing in food vacuoles expelled by protozoa are more infectious in vivoNature Microbiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41564-019-0563-x
  2. Bines, J., At Thobari, J., Satria, C., Handley, A., Watts, E., & Cowley, D. et al. (2018). Human Neonatal Rotavirus Vaccine (RV3-BB) to Target Rotavirus from Birth. New England Journal Of Medicine378(8), 719-730. doi: 10.1056/nejmoa1706804
  3. Mannix, L. (2021). Eureka science prizes go to childhood vaccine and microplastics hotspot hunt. Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://www.smh.com.au/national/childhood-vaccine-microplastics-hotspot-hunt-take-top-science-gongs-20211007-p58xyi.html
  4. Protozoans and pathogens make for an infectious mix. (2021). Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://www.uts.edu.au/news/health-science/protozoans-and-pathogens-make-infectious-mix
  5. Tu, J. (2021). Meet the women transforming science in Australia: Eureka Prize finalists. Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/meet-the-women-transforming-science-in-australia-eureka-prize-finalists/
September 27, 2021

Episode 450 - Dating lobsters and islands under the sea

Dating lobsters can be tricky and not just because they pinch. We think lobsters can live for decades or centuries, but we can't actually track their age. Just how do you find out a creatures age without dissecting them? Tracking a creatures age is tricky when they cast away alot of signs of physical growth. How can there tightly knit families spread across huge distances in the sea that are somehow connected? How do genetic islands form inside the oceans? What can chaos, larvae and Antarctica tell us about genetic diversity?

  1. Eleanor A. Fairfield, David S. Richardson, Carly L. Daniels, Christopher L. Butler, Ewen Bell, Martin I. Taylor. Ageing European lobsters ( Homarus gammarus ) using DNA methylation of evolutionarily conserved ribosomal DNAEvolutionary Applications, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/eva.13296
  2. David L. J. Vendrami, Lloyd S. Peck, Melody S. Clark, Bjarki Eldon, Michael Meredith, Joseph I. Hoffman. Sweepstake reproductive success and collective dispersal produce chaotic genetic patchiness in a broadcast spawnerScience Advances, 2021; 7 (37) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj4713
August 30, 2021

Episode 446 - Brains and Guts connected in surprising ways

Your brain and gut are connected in surprising ways. Inside your GI tract is a surprisingly complex nervous system. Your GI tract has it's own nervous system which is more like the spine than other organs. How does your GI tract differ from other soft hollow organs? The connection between gut microbiomes and brains is clear, but not well understood. Certain microbes can cause neurodegeneration in brains just as bad as a poor diet and no oxygen. How can we stop brains copy and pasting toxic byproducts across our brains? Proteins keep our brains in check and prevent build up of toxic byproducts, but this can be used to put the brakes on neurodegeneration.

 

References:

  1. Nick J. Spencer, Lee Travis, Lukasz Wiklendt, Marcello Costa, Timothy J. Hibberd, Simon J. Brookes, Phil Dinning, Hongzhen Hu, David A. Wattchow, Julian Sorensen. Long range synchronization within the enteric nervous system underlies propulsion along the large intestine in mice. Communications Biology, 2021; 4 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42003-021-02485-4
  2. Christine A. Olson, Alonso J. Iñiguez, Grace E. Yang, Ping Fang, Geoffrey N. Pronovost, Kelly G. Jameson, Tomiko K. Rendon, Jorge Paramo, Jacob T. Barlow, Rustem F. Ismagilov, Elaine Y. Hsiao. Alterations in the gut microbiota contribute to cognitive impairment induced by the ketogenic diet and hypoxia. Cell Host & Microbe, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2021.07.004
  3. Chingakham Ranjit Singh, M. Rebecca Glineburg, Chelsea Moore, Naoki Tani, Rahul Jaiswal, Ye Zou, Eric Aube, Sarah Gillaspie, Mackenzie Thornton, Ariana Cecil, Madelyn Hilgers, Azuma Takasu, Izumi Asano, Masayo Asano, Carlos R. Escalante, Akira Nakamura, Peter K. Todd, Katsura Asano. Human oncoprotein 5MP suppresses general and repeat-associated non-AUG translation via eIF3 by a common mechanism. Cell Reports, 2021; 36 (2): 109376 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109376
August 16, 2021

Episode 444 - Deadly Creatures in Australia for Nat. Sci Week

It's National Science Week in Australia so we celebrate with some Aussie Science. What's more Aussie than dangerous creatures? Queensland Museum researchers have found even more spiders in Brisbane. Golden Trapdoors sound like they contain treasure, but since it's Australia we're talking about, its just another scary creature. Your average Brisbane backyard may contain more types of spiders than you imagine.  How did snakes evolve their deadly fangs? What came first the venom or the tooth? Why have so many different snakes evolved venom where Lizards haven't? In Australia even the plants can be deadly. We know tobaccos is dangerous, but in WA scientists have found an insect eating wild tobacco plant. Wild tobacco plants can thrive in odd places in Australia and can even chow down on Insects. 

  1. Wilson, J. D., & Rix, M. G. (2021). Systematics of the AUSTRALIAN golden trapdoor spiders of the EUOPLOS VARIABILIS-GROUP (Mygalomorphae : IDIOPIDAE : Euoplini): Parapatry And Sympatry between closely related species in SUBTROPICAL QUEENSLAND. Invertebrate Systematics. https://doi.org/10.1071/is20055
  2. Chase, M. W., & Christenhusz, M. J. (2021). 994. NICOTIANA INSECTICIDA: Solanaceae. Curtis's Botanical Magazine. https://doi.org/10.1111/curt.12402
  3. Palci, A., LeBlanc, A., Panagiotopoulou, O., Cleuren, S., Mehari Abraha, H., Hutchinson, M., Evans, A., Caldwell, M. and Lee, M., 2021. Plicidentine and the repeated origins of snake venom fangs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1956), p.20211391.
August 9, 2021

Episode 443 - Strange chemistry, ice, life and moons

Moons across our solar system have rich chemistry that may harbor life. Ganymede may have more water in it's 'oceans' than Earth. The makeup of Ganymede may include layers of ice, oceans and even water vapor atmospheres. Piecing together data from Hubble, Galileo and Juno to help crack the mystery of Ganymede's atmosphere. Melting ice on Ganymede's surface could explain the odd atmosphere. Enceladus has great geysers but they contain more methane than we can explain...unless we consider biological systems. Enceladus has many mysteries beneath it's ice, but could geothermal vents help explain whats in it's geysers? Cassini did a daring flyby through Enceladus' geysers, but they were filled with many things we did not expect.

  1. Lorenz Roth, Nickolay Ivchenko, G. Randall Gladstone, Joachim Saur, Denis Grodent, Bertrand Bonfond, Philippa M. Molyneux, Kurt D. Retherford. A sublimated water atmosphere on Ganymede detected from Hubble Space Telescope observations. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01426-9
  2. Antonin Affholder, François Guyot, Boris Sauterey, Régis Ferrière, Stéphane Mazevet. Bayesian analysis of Enceladus’s plume data to assess methanogenesis. Nature Astronomy, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-021-01372-6
July 26, 2021

Episode 441 - Augmenting the human body to keep it safe

Using technology and tools to make the human body safer. How can we use exoskeletons to keep people safe? Does using a tool like an exoskeleton automatically make a task easier? How can technology that augments bodys hinder when trying to help? How can we keep our head safer during a collision. Countless people rely on bicycles for safe and green transport, but how do we make it safer? Bicycle helmets are a simple tool for helping save lives, but can they be made even safer with new materials? 

  1. Yibo Zhu, Eric B. Weston, Ranjana K. Mehta, William S. Marras. Neural and biomechanical tradeoffs associated with human-exoskeleton interactions. Applied Ergonomics, 2021; 96: 103494 DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2021.103494
  2. Karl A Zimmerman, Etienne Laverse, Ravjeet Samra, Maria Yanez Lopez, Amy E Jolly, Niall J Bourke, Neil S N Graham, Maneesh C Patel, John Hardy, Simon Kemp, Huw R Morris, David J Sharp. White matter abnormalities in active elite adult rugby players. Brain Communications, 2021; 3 (3) DOI: 10.1093/braincomms/fcab133
July 19, 2021

Episode 440 - Turning off plants with a switch of a light

Turning off plants with a switch of a light. How can optogenetics be used to turn off photosynthesis. Stomata cells help a plant from feasting too much in times of famine. Stomata cells regulate how much photosynthesis plants undertake, but can they be regulated with light? How can Yeast be used to help plants fight back against fungus. Fungal infections can devastate crops and plants, but can we avoid dangerous fungicides? How can we protect plants from, fungi without damaging the environment? Can yeast grown proteins help stop fungal infections without killing all fungi?

  1. Tiffany Chiu, Anita Behari, Justin W. Chartron, Alexander Putman, Yanran Li. Exploring the potential of engineering polygalacturonase‐inhibiting protein as an ecological, friendly, and nontoxic pest control agent. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/bit.27845
  2. Shouguang Huang, Meiqi Ding, M. Rob G. Roelfsema, Ingo Dreyer, Sönke Scherzer, Khaled A. S. Al-Rasheid, Shiqiang Gao, Georg Nagel, Rainer Hedrich, Kai R. Konrad. Optogenetic control of the guard cell membrane potential and stomatal movement by the light-gated anion channel GtACR1Science Advances, 2021; 7 (28): eabg4619 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg4619
July 12, 2021

Episode 439 - The journey of humanity and its closet cousins

What separates Homo Sapiens from our closest cousins? How do we piece together the journey of Homo Sapiens across the world? Neanderthals were capable of much more than what stereotypes suggest. How did Neanderthals produce complex art? How did Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens intermix? Was there a linking population that helped spread Homo Sapiens genes into Neanderthals long before mass migration? Neanderthals are often thought of as Europe based, but was there a larger progenitor population in the Levant?

  1. Mooallem, J. (2021). The Sunday Read: ‘Neanderthals Were People, Too’. Retrieved 11 July 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/23/podcasts/the-daily/neanderthals-were-people-too.html
  2. Dirk Leder, Raphael Hermann, Matthias Hüls, Gabriele Russo, Philipp Hoelzmann, Ralf Nielbock, Utz Böhner, Jens Lehmann, Michael Meier, Antje Schwalb, Andrea Tröller-Reimer, Tim Koddenberg, Thomas Terberger. A 51,000-year-old engraved bone reveals Neanderthals’ capacity for symbolic behaviourNature Ecology & Evolution, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-021-01487-z
  3. Israel Hershkovitz, Hila May, Rachel Sarig, Ariel Pokhojaev, Dominique Grimaud-Hervé, Emiliano Bruner, Cinzia Fornai, Rolf Quam, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Viktoria A. Krenn, Maria Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez De Castro, Laura Martín-Francés, Viviane Slon, Lou Albessard-Ball, Amélie Vialet, Tim Schüler, Giorgio Manzi, Antonio Profico, Fabio Di Vincenzo, Gerhard W. Weber, Yossi Zaidner. A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, IsraelScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1424-1428 DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3169
  4. Yossi Zaidner, Laura Centi, Marion Prévost, Norbert Mercier, Christophe Falguères, Gilles Guérin, Hélène Valladas, Maïlys Richard, Asmodée Galy, Christophe Pécheyran, Olivier Tombret, Edwige Pons-Branchu, Naomi Porat, Ruth Shahack-Gross, David E. Friesem, Reuven Yeshurun, Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe, Amos Frumkin, Gadi Herzlinger, Ravid Ekshtain, Maayan Shemer, Oz Varoner, Rachel Sarig, Hila May, Israel Hershkovitz. Middle Pleistocene Homo behavior and culture at 140,000 to 120,000 years ago and interactions with Homo sapiensScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1429-1433 DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3020
  5. Marta Mirazón Lahr. The complex landscape of recent human evolutionScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1395-1396 DOI: 10.1126/science.abj3077
June 28, 2021

Episode 437 - Dark Fish hiding in the ocean depths

Squeezing and grinding to create next generation materials from humble beginnings. Changing magnetic field by changing shape could open the door for more efficient computers. Magnetostriction causes that 'hum' you hear from electronics but it can be harnessed for good. Large electrical devices like transformers or fluorescent tubes shape influences their magnetic field. The next generation of computers may harness the way magnetic fields and physical shape can be linked. Forget rare earth metals, there is a more efficient way to make high powered computer chips out of humble iron and gallium. Luminescent polymers can be found in fancy OLED screens but are complex to produce. How can you make fancy luminescent polymers from generic polymers? By grinding them. A unique way of grinding and rolling basic generic polymers could create powerful luminescent polymers for use in high end screens, lasers and bioimaging.

  1. P. B. Meisenheimer, R. A. Steinhardt, S. H. Sung, L. D. Williams, S. Zhuang, M. E. Nowakowski, S. Novakov, M. M. Torunbalci, B. Prasad, C. J. Zollner, Z. Wang, N. M. Dawley, J. Schubert, A. H. Hunter, S. Manipatruni, D. E. Nikonov, I. A. Young, L. Q. Chen, J. Bokor, S. A. Bhave, R. Ramesh, J.-M. Hu, E. Kioupakis, R. Hovden, D. G. Schlom, J. T. Heron. Engineering new limits to magnetostriction through metastability in iron-gallium alloys. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22793-x
  2. Koji Kubota, Naoki Toyoshima, Daiyo Miura, Julong Jiang, Satoshi Maeda, Mingoo Jin, Hajime Ito. Introduction of a Luminophore into Generic Polymers via Mechanoradical Coupling with a Prefluorescent Reagent. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/anie.202105381
June 14, 2021

Episode 435 - Cold war secrets and reanimating frozen life

Cold war secrets buried deep in the ice and forgotten, plus reanimating frozen life from Siberia. How could some frozen dirt, forgotten in a freezer for decades help us understand a future of rising sea levels? Greenland's name was a marketing stunt by Erik the Red, but it was once truly covered in greenery. Although Greenland is so close to the North Pole, all it's thick sheets of ice have completely melted (geologically) recently. How did scientists reanimate ancient animals buried in the Siberian Tundra? Rotifers can live in some unusual places, but they can also survive being frozen and brought back to life. Ancient animals have been 'unfrozen' and brought back to life though they are very small.

  1. Lyubov Shmakova, Stas Malavin, Nataliia Iakovenko, Tatiana Vishnivetskaya, Daniel Shain, Michael Plewka, Elizaveta Rivkina. A living bdelloid rotifer from 24,000-year-old Arctic permafrost. Current Biology, 2021; 31 (11): R712 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.077
  2. Baqai, A., Guruswamy, V., Liu, J., & Rizki, G. (2000). Introduction to the Rotifera. Retrieved 10 June 2021, from https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/phyla/rotifera/rotifera.html
  3. Andrew J. Christ, Paul R. Bierman, Joerg M. Schaefer, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Jørgen P. Steffensen, Lee B. Corbett, Dorothy M. Peteet, Elizabeth K. Thomas, Eric J. Steig, Tammy M. Rittenour, Jean-Louis Tison, Pierre-Henri Blard, Nicolas Perdrial, David P. Dethier, Andrea Lini, Alan J. Hidy, Marc W. Caffee, John Southon. A multimillion-year-old record of Greenland vegetation and glacial history preserved in sediment beneath 1.4 km of ice at Camp Century. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (13): e2021442118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2021442118
June 7, 2021

Episode 434 - Parasites and Symbiotic relationships

Insects and plants are locked into an arms race until something breaks the stalemate. How can a tag team attack of bacteria and insect larvae help crush through a leaf's defenses? WOrkign together as a team, larvae and bacteria can make a tasty meal out of a leaf. Plants can fight back against insets, so insects need to call out for help. A parasitic infection is bad for the host, but some ants gain an odd boost. How are tapeworms boosting the life expectancy of ants? When an ant gets infected with parasites, it's colony mates care for it boosting it's lifespan.

  1. Yukiyo Yamasaki, Hiroka Sumioka, Mayu Takiguchi, Takuya Uemura, Yuka Kihara, Tomonori Shinya, Ivan Galis, Gen‐ichiro Arimura. Phytohormone‐dependent plant defense signaling orchestrated by oral bacteria of the herbivore Spodoptera lituraNew Phytologist, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/nph.17444
  2. Sara Beros, Anna Lenhart, Inon Scharf, Matteo Antoine Negroni, Florian Menzel, Susanne Foitzik. Extreme lifespan extension in tapeworm-infected ant workersRoyal Society Open Science, 2021; 8 (5): 202118 DOI: 10.1098/rsos.202118
May 31, 2021

Episode 433 - Prioritizing memories and filtering noise

How does your brain decide what's important to remember? You're constantly bombarded with info so how does your brain filter it all? Do memories change over time? Do certain details stand out more in our memories over time? What details can get lost in our memories over time? How does you brain know if it's worth 'saving' that picture you've seen. How does your brain filter out and only store the important stuff.

  1. Julia Lifanov, Juan Linde-Domingo, Maria Wimber. Feature-specific reaction times reveal a semanticisation of memories over time and with repeated rememberingNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-23288-5
  2. Vahid Mehrpour, Travis Meyer, Eero P. Simoncelli, Nicole C. Rust. Pinpointing the neural signatures of single-exposure visual recognition memoryProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (18): e2021660118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2021660118
April 26, 2021

Episode 428 - Lightning and Early life on earth

What kicked off early life on earth? Organic chemistry and early life need the right minerals to be present and accessible. What helped unlock early minerals on earth like phosphorous to kick start life? Lightning strikes seem rare, but they're much more frequent than meteorites. Early life on Earth could have been helped along through lightning strikes and meteorites. DNA, RNA and Proteins are locked in a complex dance, but which came first. DNA can't replicate without the help of protein and RNA, so how did we develop DNA in the first place? Is it possible for RNA to replicate on it's own?
References:

  1. Benjamin L. Hess, Sandra Piazolo, Jason Harvey. Lightning strikes as a major facilitator of prebiotic phosphorus reduction on early EarthNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21849-2
  2. Alexandra Kühnlein, Simon A Lanzmich, Dieter Braun. tRNA sequences can assemble into a replicatoreLife, 2021; 10 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.63431
April 19, 2021

Episode 427 - RNA protecting your brain

How does RNA work to protect your brain and keep it safe after a traumatic event? Micro RNA can play an important role in healthy brain development. Without key micro RNA, the development of the brain can run out of control. Without key microRNA, your can develop neurodevelopmental disordersWithout oxygen your neurons starve, so how can you protect them?  How can you use mRNA to make neurons more resilient and recover after a lack of oxygen? Getting proteins across the blood brain barrier is tricky, so can they be snuck in via mRNA? Using mRNA, you can produce proteins to add brain recovery right where they're needed most.
Reference:

  1. Vijay Swahari, Ayumi Nakamura, Emilie Hollville, Hume Stroud, Jeremy M. Simon, Travis S. Ptacek, Matthew V. Beck, Cornelius Flowers, Jiami Guo, Charlotte Plestant, Jie Liang, C. Lisa Kurtz, Matt Kanke, Scott M. Hammond, You-Wen He, E.S. Anton, Praveen Sethupathy, Sheryl S. Moy, Michael E. Greenberg, Mohanish Deshmukh. MicroRNA-29 is an essential regulator of brain maturation through regulation of CH methylationCell Reports, 2021; 35 (1): 108946 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.108946
  2. Merlin Crossley,Dean of Science and Professor of Molecular Biology. (2021, April 09). Explainer: What is rna? Retrieved April 13, 2021, from https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-rna-15169
  3. Yuta Fukushima, Satoshi Uchida, Hideaki Imai, Hirofumi Nakatomi, Kazunori Kataoka, Nobuhito Saito, Keiji Itaka. Treatment of ischemic neuronal death by introducing brain-derived neurotrophic factor mRNA using polyplex nanomicelleBiomaterials, 2021; 270: 120681 DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2021.120681