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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 29, 2020

Episode 385 - Understanding what makes water stick together

What seems simple but it's deceptively complex. What makes water molecules stick together, or ice to float on top? Water has many mysteries, like ice floating on liquid. The key lies in the energy distribution. Shooting super high frequency lasers at water can help figure out what makes ice float or water stick together. Cheap and efficient ways to clean water is essential for saving lives across the globe. How can cyrstaline sponges help soak up bad chemicals like hexavalent chromium.

  1. Martina Havenith-Newen, Raffael Schwan, Chen Qu, Devendra Mani, Nitish Pal, Gerhard Schwaab, Joel M. Bowman, Gregory Tschumper. Observation of the low frequency spectrum of water trimer as a sensitive test of the water trimer potential and the dipole moment surface. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/anie.202003851
  2. Bardiya Valizadeh, Tu N. Nguyen, Stavroula Kampouri, Daniel T. Sun, Mounir D. Mensi, Kyriakos Stylianou, Berend Smit, Wendy L. Queen. A novel integrated Cr(vi) adsorption–photoreduction system using MOF@polymer composite beads. Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2020; DOI: 10.1039/d0ta01046d
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
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 20, 2020

Episode 375 - Solar Panels that work at night and on greenhouses

From solar panels on greenhouses to ones that work at night. How can you use radiant heat to make a solar panel work at night? Is there a way to harness energy from the sun even at night? Can you cover a greenhouse with solar panels without destroying your crops? What's the tipping point for harvesting solar energy for your greenhouse? Balancing the light needs of solar panels and of crops in a greenhouse. How does the photosynthesis process know which path to take? Shinning a light on the photosynthetic process.

  1. Tristan Deppe, Jeremy N. Munday. Nighttime Photovoltaic Cells: Electrical Power Generation by Optically Coupling with Deep SpaceACS Photonics, 2019; 7 (1): 1 DOI: 10.1021/acsphotonics.9b00679
  2. Eshwar Ravishankar, Ronald E. Booth, Carole Saravitz, Heike Sederoff, Harald W. Ade, Brendan T. O’Connor. Achieving Net Zero Energy Greenhouses by Integrating Semitransparent Organic Solar CellsJoule, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2019.12.018
  3. Philip D. Laible, Deborah K. Hanson, James C. Buhrmaster, Gregory A. Tira, Kaitlyn M. Faries, Dewey Holten, Christine Kirmaier. Switching sides—Reengineered primary charge separation in the bacterial photosynthetic reaction centerProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2020; 117 (2): 865 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1916119117
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 30, 2020

Episode 372 - Flexible and wearable electronics

How can we make flexible electronics for our clothing? What does it take to make a screen that's flexible without relying on plastics? What aquatic by product can help make biodegradable, flexible electronics? Why do your towels go hard when you dry them in the sun? What happens on cotton fibres to make them stiffen up in the sun? How does fabric softener work - we're really not sure.

  1. Nara Kim, Samuel Lienemann, Ioannis Petsagkourakis, Desalegn Alemu Mengistie, Seyoung Kee, Thomas Ederth, Viktor Gueskine, Philippe Leclère, Roberto Lazzaroni, Xavier Crispin, Klas Tybrandt. Elastic conducting polymer composites in thermoelectric modulesNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-15135-w
  2. Xiaopan Zhang, Tengyang Ye, Xianghao Meng, Zhihui Tian, Lihua Pang, Yaojie Han, Hai Li, Gang Lu, Fei Xiu, Hai-Dong Yu, Juqing Liu, Wei Huang. Sustainable and Transparent Fish Gelatin Films for Flexible Electroluminescent DevicesACS Nano, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b09880
  3. Takako Igarashi, Masato Hoshi, Koichi Nakamura, Takeshi Kaharu, Ken-ichiro Murata. Direct Observation of Bound Water on Cotton Surfaces by Atomic Force Microscopy and Atomic Force Microscopy–Infrared SpectroscopyThe Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2020; 124 (7): 4196 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.0c00423
February 24, 2020

Episode 367 - Sustainable and green Chemistry

Making chemistry green and sustainable, from cheaper catalyst to sorting solvents. How can you make catalysts cheaper and re-usable? Is there a cheaper catalyst to breakdown CO2? How can we make a circular carbon economy? Solvents play an important role in chemistry so how do you greenly find the right match? Green chemistry can be made more efficient using CO2.

  1. Youngdong Song, Ercan Ozdemir, Sreerangappa Ramesh, Aldiar Adishev, Saravanan Subramanian, Aadesh Harale, Mohammed Albuali, Bandar Abdullah Fadhel, Aqil Jamal, Dohyun Moon, Sun Hee Choi, Cafer T. Yavuz. Dry reforming of methane by stable Ni–Mo nanocatalysts on single-crystalline MgOScience, 2020; 367 (6479): 777 DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2412
  2. Suyong Han, Keshav Raghuvanshi, Milad Abolhasani. Accelerated Material-Efficient Investigation of Switchable Hydrophilicity Solvents for Energy-Efficient Solvent RecoveryACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b07304
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
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
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
October 28, 2019

Episode 350 - Developing, tracking, recycling new materials

Smart phones, computers, televisions and even children's toys are part of what makes our modern world so exciting. But these often rely on plastics and rare earth metals which are hard to recycle. Are there efficient ways to capture all those rare earth metals? How are rare earth metals in old phones recycled today, and can we make it better? Knowing which bin to put plastic in is difficult, so what if there was a more universal way to recycle plastics? How does turning plastic into a gas with the help of steam help create a circular plastic economy? How can some steam power help crack plastics back into their most basic forms? Is it possible to recycle plastics without to build whole new plastic refineries? Regulation is often playing catch up to making materials safe. Are the latest generation of 'safe' fire retardants any safer than those that came before? 



Robert F. Higgins, Thibault Cheisson, Bren E. Cole, Brian C. Manor, Patrick J. Carroll, Eric J Schelter. Magnetic Field Directed Rare-Earth Separations. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2019; DOI: 10.1002/anie.201911606

Arlene Blum, Mamta Behl, Linda S. Birnbaum, Miriam L. Diamond, Allison Phillips, Veena Singla, Nisha S. Sipes, Heather M. Stapleton, Marta Venier. Organophosphate Ester Flame Retardants: Are They a Regrettable Substitution for Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers? Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.9b00582

Henrik Thunman, Teresa Berdugo Vilches, Martin Seemann, Jelena Maric, Isabel Cañete Vela, Sébastien Pissot, Huong N.T. Nguyen. Circular use of plastics-transformation of existing petrochemical clusters into thermochemical recycling plants with 100% plastics recovery. Sustainable Materials and Technologies, 2019; 22: e00124 DOI: 10.1016/j.susmat.2019.e00124

October 21, 2019

Episode 349 - Domesticating fungus for our food

Humans have been using micro-organisms like fungus and bacteria to help improve our food for millennia. Can we tame new wild species of fungus to help create new types of our favourite foods like cheese? Penicillin is mostly known for antibiotics but it also helps give Camembert its particular taste. What causes cheese to rapidly tame wild strains of fungus? We are not the only ones who use microbes to help our food. Ants help stop disease from destroying plants by spreading their own antibiotics. Ant base antibiotics help stop plant pathogens. Sometimes bacteria don't fight against each other but rather team up and work together. Survival of kindest rules for bacteria, which helps different strains work together to survive.


  1. Bodinaku, I., Shaffer, J., Connors, A. B., Steenwyk, J. L., Biango-Daniels, M. N., Kastman, E. K., … Wolfe, B. E. (2019). Rapid Phenotypic and Metabolomic Domestication of Wild Penicillium Molds on Cheese. MBio, 10(5). doi: 10.1128/mbio.02445-19
  2. Joachim Offenberg, Christian Damgaard. Ants suppressing plant pathogens: a review. Oikos, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/oik.06744
  3. Wenzheng Liu, Samuel Jacquiod, Asker Brejnrod, Jakob Russel, Mette Burmølle, Søren J. Sørensen. Deciphering links between bacterial interactions and spatial organization in multispecies biofilms. The ISME Journal, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41396-019-0494-9
October 14, 2019

Episode 348 - More efficient Lithium-Ion batteries and Organic Batteries

We launch from the Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2019 into current battery research and development. Creating the ubiquitous Lithium Ion battery took decades of collaborative research across the globe. How are scientists working together today to make the new generation of batteries? Can we improve LI batteries with new electrolyte mixes? How can we use Silicon instead of graphite in our batteries to give them a boost? Is it possible to make an organic recyclable battery? How can we use proteins and peptides to make organic batteries? Can we make batteries without damaging the environment?


  1. Nobel Foundation. (2019, October 9). Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019: Lithium-ion batteries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 11, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191009082508.htm
  2. Binghong Han, Chen Liao, Fulya Dogan, Stephen E. Trask, Saul H. Lapidus, John T. Vaughey, Baris Key. Using Mixed Salt Electrolytes to Stabilize Silicon Anodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries via in Situ Formation of Li–M–Si Ternaries (M = Mg, Zn, Al, Ca)ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2019; 11 (33): 29780 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.9b07270
  3. American Chemical Society. (2019, August 26). Producing protein batteries for safer, environmentally friendly power storage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 12, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190826092322.htm5
October 7, 2019

Episode 347 - Capturing carbon with better farms and forests

Capturing carbon is important for helping offset CO2 emissions and tackling climate changes. Farming has an important role to play in improving CO2 sequestration with the use of cover crops and compost. Forests are important carbon sinks too, but they are at risk releasing a lot of the trapped carbon if care is not taken to stop invasive species. Plus fertilisers have helped feed the planet but can leech out nitrogen into the environment, so how do we better manage and improve the nitrogen cycle.

  1. Nicole E. Tautges, Jessica L. Chiartas, Amélie C. M. Gaudin, Anthony T. O'Geen, Israel Herrera, Kate M. Scow. Deep soil inventories reveal that impacts of cover crops and compost on soil carbon sequestration differ in surface and subsurface soilsGlobal Change Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14762
  2. Songlin Fei, Randall S. Morin, Christopher M. Oswalt, Andrew M. Liebhold. Biomass losses resulting from insect and disease invasions in US forestsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201820601 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1820601116
  3. Benjamin Z. Houlton, Maya Almaraz, Viney Aneja, Amy T. Austin, Edith Bai, Kenneth G. Cassman, Jana E. Compton, Eric A. Davidson, Jan Willem Erisman, James N. Galloway, Baojing Gu, Guolin Yao, Luiz A. Martinelli, Kate Scow, William H. Schlesinger, Thomas P. Tomich, Chao Wang, Xin Zhang. A World of Cobenefits: Solving the Global Nitrogen ChallengeEarth's Future, 2019; DOI: 10.1029/2019EF001222
September 23, 2019

Episode 345 - Overactive immune brain cells and brain cells failing to eat themselves

Is it possible to stop Alzheimer's in it's tracks? How does the formation of plaques on your brain cells lead to Alzheimer's. Does the your brain immune cells fighting back against plaques lead to Alzheimers? Amino acids in the brain tying themselves into knots, can lead to super strong sealed zippers forming which dry out proteins, damage neurons and eventually can lead to diseases like Alzheimer's. An enzyme missing a repair or two over 60 years can lead to build up of kinked amino acids chains which can lead to neuron-degenerative diseases. What causes a cell to eat itself? Well its actually a pretty healthy thing to do. If a brain cell doesn't eat itself at the right time, well it can lead to a whole bunch of diseases.

  1. Rebeccah A. Warmack, David R. Boyer, Chih-Te Zee, Logan S. Richards, Michael R. Sawaya, Duilio Cascio, Tamir Gonen, David S. Eisenberg, Steven G. Clarke. Structure of amyloid-β (20-34) with Alzheimer’s-associated isomerization at Asp23 reveals a distinct protofilament interfaceNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11183-z
  2. Elizabeth Spangenberg, Paul L. Severson, Lindsay A. Hohsfield, Joshua Crapser, Jiazhong Zhang, Elizabeth A. Burton, Ying Zhang, Wayne Spevak, Jack Lin, Nicole Y. Phan, Gaston Habets, Andrey Rymar, Garson Tsang, Jason Walters, Marika Nespi, Parmveer Singh, Stephanie Broome, Prabha Ibrahim, Chao Zhang, Gideon Bollag, Brian L. West, Kim N. Green. Sustained microglial depletion with CSF1R inhibitor impairs parenchymal plaque development in an Alzheimer’s disease modelNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11674-z
  3. Yi Yang, Thea L. Willis, Robert W. Button, Conor J. Strang, Yuhua Fu, Xue Wen, Portia R. C. Grayson, Tracey Evans, Rebecca J. Sipthorpe, Sheridan L. Roberts, Bing Hu, Jianke Zhang, Boxun Lu, Shouqing Luo. Cytoplasmic DAXX drives SQSTM1/p62 phase condensation to activate Nrf2-mediated stress responseNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11671-2
September 9, 2019

Episode 343 - The circadian rhythm of plants, and fighting back against fungus

Growing enough food to feed the planet is a challenge that will only get harder as the climate changes. So how do farmers and scientists work together to make crops more sustainable, more resilient to disease, and use less herbicides? With genetic engineering, one of the worlds most important crops, rice, can be made even tougher. Using a two type bait gene, rice can be engineered to fight off fungus like rice blast. If you have to spray with herbicides, when should you do it? Well you need to pay attention to the circadian rhythm of the plants.

  1. Freya A Varden, Hiromasa Saitoh, Kae Yoshino, Marina Franceschetti, Sophien Kamoun, Ryohei Terauchi, Mark J. Banfield. Cross-reactivity of a rice NLR immune receptor to distinct effectors from the rice blast pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae provides partial disease resistanceJournal of Biological Chemistry, 2019; jbc.RA119.007730 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.007730
  2. Fiona E. Belbin, Gavin J. Hall, Amelia B. Jackson, Florence E. Schanschieff, George Archibald, Carl Formstone, Antony N. Dodd. Plant circadian rhythms regulate the effectiveness of a glyphosate-based herbicideNature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11709-5
September 2, 2019

Episode 342 - Better chemistry and physics in everyday objects

How can we use physics and chemistry to help improve our everyday objects? Melting ice is very important for airplanes and air-conditioners. How can you melt unwanted on objects ice more efficiently? Ice on an airplane wing can be dangerous, so how do we melt it more efficiently. Flame retardants are important to stop fire spreading, but how do we make them safer and environmentally friendly? Flame retardants often rely on petroleum which are not environmental friendly. How can we stop flame retardants leeching into the environment or into our households? How do you get white paint without relying on environmentally intensive additives. What can beetles and recycle plastic teach us about making whiter paint.


  1. S. Chavan, T. Foulkes, Y. Gurumukhi, K. Boyina, K. F. Rabbi, N. Miljkovic. Pulse interfacial defrosting. Applied Physics Letters, 2019; 115 (7): 071601 DOI: 10.1063/1.5113845
  2. Stephanie L. Burg, Adam Washington, David M. Coles, Antonino Bianco, Daragh McLoughlin, Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk, Julie Villanova, Andrew J. C. Dennison, Christopher J. Hill, Pete Vukusic, Scott Doak, Simon J. Martin, Mark Hutchings, Steven R. Parnell, Cvetelin Vasilev, Nigel Clarke, Anthony J. Ryan, Will Furnass, Mike Croucher, Robert M. Dalgliesh, Sylvain Prevost, Rajeev Dattani, Andrew Parker, Richard A. L. Jones, J. Patrick A. Fairclough, Andrew J. Parnell. Liquid–liquid phase separation morphologies in ultra-white beetle scales and a synthetic equivalent. Communications Chemistry, 2019; 2 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42004-019-0202-8
  3. American Chemical Society. (2019, August 26). Flame retardants -- from plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190826092330.htm
August 26, 2019

Episode 341 - Forming, Saving and preserving new memories

Your brain uses proteins synthesis and redundancy to help form and keep memories. Intricate biochemistry helps your neurons connect to each other to form new memories. Forming new memories is a sticky situation.  Keeping them stuck together over time in a long lasting memory relies on protein synthesis. Its important not just to have strong connections between neurons to form memories, you also need spares. By having redundancy and backups it means that you can still remember a key memory if one of those connections fails.


  1. Lenzie Ford et al. CPEB3 inhibits translation of mRNA targets by localizing them to P bodiesPNAS, 2019 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1815275116
  2. Walter G. Gonzalez, Hanwen Zhang, Anna Harutyunyan, Carlos Lois. Persistence of neuronal representations through time and damage in the hippocampusScience, 2019: Vol. 365, Issue 6455, pp. 821-825 DOI: 10.1126/science.aav9199