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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 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 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/
October 4, 2021

Episode 451 - Microbes and Metals as allies and enemies

Microbes and metals as enemies and allies. Metals can have superb antimicrobial properties but they're not ideal for making sheets...unless. Using a melt in your hand melt, and some copper you can make antimicrobial sheets and masks. Metals are great at fighting microbes but are challenging to make comfortable to wear. Is it possible to get a bio drive fuel cell? Bacteria can be used to clean up waste, but can they also make electricity at the same time? Cleaning up pollution and producing renewable electricity, what's not to love about the bacteria Shenwanella. With metallic tinged skin, bacteria can be boosted into a garbage eating electricity producing machine.

  1. Ki Yoon Kwon, Samuel Cheeseman, Alba Frias‐De‐Diego, Haeleen Hong, Jiayi Yang, Woojin Jung, Hong Yin, Billy J. Murdoch, Frank Scholle, Nathan Crook, Elisa Crisci, Michael D. Dickey, Vi Khanh Truong, Tae‐il Kim. A Liquid Metal Mediated Metallic Coating for Antimicrobial and Antiviral FabricsAdvanced Materials, 2021; 2104298 DOI: 10.1002/adma.202104298
  2. Bocheng Cao, Zipeng Zhao, Lele Peng, Hui-Ying Shiu, Mengning Ding, Frank Song, Xun Guan, Calvin K. Lee, Jin Huang, Dan Zhu, Xiaoyang Fu, Gerard C. L. Wong, Chong Liu, Kenneth Nealson, Paul S. Weiss, Xiangfeng Duan, Yu Huang. Silver nanoparticles boost charge-extraction efficiency in Shewanella microbial fuel cellsScience, 2021; 373 (6561): 1336 DOI: 10.1126/science.abf3427
August 23, 2021

Episode 445 - De-carbonizing Transportation and Fertilizer

Can you really power a plane with enough batteries to fly across the world? How many batteries does a ship need to circumnavigate the globe? Is there an efficient way to stop relying on diesel and dirty jet fuel? How can we turn big CO2 emitters like ships and planes into CO2 negative systems? Can aviation and transport ever be carbon neutral? How can we make fertilizer without using so much energy? The Haber Bosch process helped feed the planet, but how can we replace it to save the planet?

 

References:

  1. Travis A. Schmauss, Scott A. Barnett. Viability of Vehicles Utilizing On-Board CO2 Capture. ACS Energy Letters, 2021; 3180 DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.1c01426
  2. Chade Lv, Lixiang Zhong, Hengjie Liu, Zhiwei Fang, Chunshuang Yan, Mengxin Chen, Yi Kong, Carmen Lee, Daobin Liu, Shuzhou Li, Jiawei Liu, Li Song, Gang Chen, Qingyu Yan, Guihua Yu. Selective electrocatalytic synthesis of urea with nitrate and carbon dioxide. Nature Sustainability, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00741-3
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
August 2, 2021

Episode 442 - Just what is a metal anyway

Just what is a metal anyway? It can be hard to classify things, no matter what you do there's always exceptions to the rules. Chemists, Physicists and Astrophysicists have wildly differing opinions on what a metal is. Although there is disagreement about what makes a metal, can you find new exceptions? What needs to happen to turn water into a metal? Can pure water be made to conduct electricity without needing a Jupiter sized planet? How do you turn water into a golden, shimmering, conducting metal? 
References:

  1. Philip E. Mason, H. Christian Schewe, Tillmann Buttersack, Vojtech Kostal, Marco Vitek, Ryan S. McMullen, Hebatallah Ali, Florian Trinter, Chin Lee, Daniel M. Neumark, Stephan Thürmer, Robert Seidel, Bernd Winter, Stephen E. Bradforth, Pavel Jungwirth. Spectroscopic evidence for a gold-coloured metallic water solution. Nature, 2021; 595 (7869): 673 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03646-5
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
June 21, 2021

Episode 436 - Squeezing and grinding to create next generation materials from humble begingings

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 bio-imaging.

  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
May 3, 2021

Episode 429 - Volcanic ash in our oceans and rafting in the air

Volcanic eruptions are incredibly powerful but not well understood. When a volcano erupts it can spread ash far and wide both in the ocean and in the air. What happens when a volcano erupts underwater? How much energy does an underwater volcano unleash? Where does all the energy in an underwater volcanic eruption go? Is it possible for volcanic ash to form and spread underwater? Just like jetstream currents in the air, volcanic ash can be carried far and wide in underwater eruptions. Volcanic ash can get held up by smaller particles, to raft long distances.

  1. T. Dürig, J. D. L. White, A. P. Murch, B. Zimanowski, R. Büttner, D. Mele, P. Dellino, R. J. Carey, L. S. Schmidt & N. Spitznagel. Deep-sea eruptions boosted by induced fuel-coolant explosions. Nature Geoscience, June 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41561-020-0603-4
  2. Samuel S. Pegler, David J. Ferguson. Rapid heat discharge during deep-sea eruptions generates megaplumes and disperses tephra. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22439-y
  3. Eduardo Rossi, Gholamhossein Bagheri, Frances Beckett, Costanza Bonadonna. The fate of volcanic ash: premature or delayed sedimentation? Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21568-8
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
April 12, 2021

Episode 426 - Tackling waste water and antibiotic resistance together

Hydrogen fuel promises a cleaner future, but the methods to make it are often dirty. A new approach recycles and treats waste water with sunlight to efficiently produce hydrogen. A new electrolysis approach turns waste antibiotics into hydrogen fuel cells. Removing antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals from waster water can be tricky, but a new technique turns that into green energy. Aquaculture is growing rapidly, but it is leading to antimicrobial resistance? What contributes more to antimicrobial resistance - fish farms or waste water? Incorrectly managed waster water can lead to superbugs.

 

References:

  1. Yaoyao Wu, Yuqiong Li, Hejing Hu, Guoshen Zeng, Chuanhao Li. Recovering Hydrogen Energy from Photocatalytic Treatment of Pharmaceutical-Contaminated Water Using Co3O4 Modified {001}/{101}-TiO2 NanosheetsACS ES&T Engineering, 2021; 1 (3): 603 DOI: 10.1021/acsestengg.1c00003
  2. Thunchanok Thongsamer, Rattikan Neamchan, Adrian Blackburn, Kishor Acharya, Sawannee Sutheeworapong, Bundit Tirachulee, Pavinee Pattanachan, Soydoa Vinitnantharat, Xin-Yuan Zhou, Jian-Qiang Su, Yong-Guan Zhu, David Graham, David Werner. Environmental antimicrobial resistance is associated with faecal pollution in Central Thailand’s coastal aquaculture regionJournal of Hazardous Materials, 2021; 125718 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2021.125718
April 5, 2021

Episode 425 - Tiny creatures with a huge impact on our oceans

Can you find fresh water in the middle of the ocean? What happens when a geyser of fresh water erupts from the sea floor into the ocean? A sudden freshwater spring can radically change the ocean floor. How do plankton shells and coral help us monitor a changing climate? Life in the oceans can help sequester carbon. We can track the way the climate has changed in the past by studying strontium isotopes in seawater. Changing climates can impact life in shallow and deep water, which can lead to changes in the carbon cycle. Tiny creatures like copepods can have a huge impact on our ocean food web. How do tiny creatures like copepods gather in ephemeral ocean zephyrs. Tiny vortexs can act as a gathering place for tiny but important sea creatures.

  1. Eric Attias, Steven Constable, Dallas Sherman, Khaira Ismail, Christopher Shuler, Henrietta Dulai. Marine Electromagnetic Imaging and Volumetric Estimation of Freshwater Plumes Offshore Hawai'i. Geophysical Research Letters, 2021; 48 (7) DOI: 10.1029/2020GL091249
  2. Adina Paytan, Elizabeth M. Griffith, Anton Eisenhauer, Mathis P. Hain, Klaus Wallmann, Andrew Ridgwell. A 35-million-year record of seawater stable Sr isotopes reveals a fluctuating global carbon cycle. Science, 2021; 371 (6536): 1346 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz9266
  3. Dorsa Elmi, Donald R. Webster, David M. Fields. Response of the copepod Acartia tonsa to the hydrodynamic cues of small-scale, dissipative eddies in turbulence. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 2021; 224 (3): jeb237297 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.237297
March 15, 2021

Episode 422 - Squid blending into starlight with Bio-luminescent bacteria

Squid can change colours, reflect light and blend in with their surroundings. How does the changing colours on squid skin work? What proteins and structures enable squid skin to reflect and amplify varying light? Squid can blend themselves into the starlight with the aid of bio-luminescence. The symbiotic relationship between bacteria and squid starts right after birth, and helps them shine to avoid predators and catch prey. A baby squid may not start out bioluminescent but a rapid spread of the right bacteria turns on the lights.

  1. Katherine E. Zink, Denise A. Ludvik, Phillip R. Lazzara, Terry W. Moore, Mark J. Mandel, Laura M. Sanchez. A Small Molecule Coordinates Symbiotic Behaviors in a Host OrganmBio, 2021; 12 (2) DOI: 10.1128/mBio.03637-20
  2. Daniel E. Morse, Esther Taxon. Reflectin needs its intensity amplifier: Realizing the potential of tunable structural biophotonicsApplied Physics Letters, 2020; 117 (22): 220501 DOI: 10.1063/5.0026546
March 1, 2021

Episode 420 - Slime with memories, and 3d printed materials to repair damaged neurons

Slime with memories, and 3d printed materials to repair damaged neurons. How can a slime form memories? Where does it store them? What is the largest single cell organism and how does it remember things? How can you store memories in an interconnected series of tubes? How can you use 3D printed self assembling materials to help regrow damaged neurons?

  1. Mirna Kramar, Karen Alim. Encoding memory in tube diameter hierarchy of living flow networkProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (10): e2007815118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2007815118
  2. Karen Alim, Natalie Andrew, Anne Pringle, Michael P. Brenner, Mechanism of signal propagation in P. polycephalum, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences May 2017, 114 (20) 5136-5141; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1618114114
  3. Alexandra N. Edelbrock, Tristan D. Clemons, Stacey M. Chin, Joshua J. W. Roan, Eric P. Bruckner, Zaida Álvarez, Jack F. Edelbrock, Kristen S. Wek, Samuel I. Stupp. Superstructured Biomaterials Formed by Exchange Dynamics and Host–Guest Interactions in Supramolecular PolymersAdvanced Science, 2021; 2004042 DOI: 10.1002/advs.202004042
February 22, 2021

Episode 419 - Testing life on Mars here on Earth

Perseverance has landed and begun it's long mission, but how can scientists on Earth help research on Mars? Can we study life on Mars here on Earth? Robotic missions aren't the only way Martian rock has made it's way to Earth. Rare meteorites from Mars can be used to test how life would grow in Martian soil. Just how old is the Jezero crater? Can you date a crater without doing detailed tests? How does measuring lunar craters help us put a date on the age of Martian craters like Jezero?

  1. T. Milojevic, M. Albu, D. Kölbl, G. Kothleitner, R. Bruner, M. Morgan. Chemolithotrophy on the Noachian Martian breccia NWA 7034 via experimental microbial biotransformationCommunications Earth & Environment, 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s43247-021-00105-x
  2. Cassata, W. S., Cohen, B. E., Mark, D. F., Trappitsch, R., Crow, C. A., Wimpenny, J., . . . Smith, C. L. (2018). Chronology of martian breccia nwa 7034 and the formation of the martian crustal dichotomyScience Advances, 4(5). doi:10.1126/sciadv.aap8306
  3. Simone Marchi. A new martian crater chronology: Implications for Jezero craterThe Astronomical Journal, 2021 [abstract]