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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.

September 20, 2022

Episode 501 - The journey of the mandarin

Mandarin oranges are very closely related but also incredibly diverse. A quirk of cloning means we can accurately trace the journey of all mandarins back to their origins in Hunan province. Mandarins come in so many shapes and sizes and are used to celebrate by many cultures, but they all share a lot in common. Oregano and Thyme both produce some great smells, but these chemicals can carry a useful punch. How do Oregano and Thyme produce chemicals with antibacterial properties?

  1. Sandra T. Krause, Pan Liao, Christoph Crocoll, Benoît Boachon, Christiane Förster, Franziska Leidecker, Natalie Wiese, Dongyan Zhao, Joshua C. Wood, C. Robin Buell, Jonathan Gershenzon, Natalia Dudareva, Jörg Degenhardt. The biosynthesis of thymol, carvacrol, and thymohydroquinone in Lamiaceae proceeds via cytochrome P450s and a short-chain dehydrogenaseProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (52): e2110092118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2110092118
  2. Guohong Albert Wu, Chikatoshi Sugimoto, Hideyasu Kinjo, Chika Azama, Fumimasa Mitsube, Manuel Talon, Frederick G. Gmitter, Daniel S. Rokhsar. Diversification of mandarin citrus by hybrid speciation and apomixisNature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-24653-0
September 12, 2022

Episode 500 - Forest helping pump water and create rain

Plants harness the energy from the sun for so much more than photosynthesis. You have a beating hart to pump around your blood, but what do plants. Plants' vascular systems aren't pressurized so how do they power their circulation? Just how much energy do plants use globally each year to pump water out of the ground and into their leaves? Plants use incredible amounts of energy each year just to pump water out of the ground into their leaves. The fresh scents of plants are organic compounds that can reveal a lot about a plants condition. The scents of plants can play a role in influencing the climate around them. 

  1. Gregory R. Quetin, Leander D. L. Anderegg, Alexandra G. Konings, Anna T. Trugman. Quantifying the Global Power Needed for Sap Ascent in PlantsJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 2022; 127 (8) DOI: 10.1029/2022JG006922
  2. Joseph Byron, Juergen Kreuzwieser, Gemma Purser, Joost van Haren, S. Nemiah Ladd, Laura K. Meredith, Christiane Werner, Jonathan Williams. Chiral monoterpenes reveal forest emission mechanisms and drought responsesNature, 2022; 609 (7926): 307 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05020-5
September 5, 2022

Episode 499 - Air and atmospheres on exoplanets

CO2 gets a lot of bad press on earth, but in space, it could actually be incredibly helpful. On Mars, the Perseverance mission turned CO2 into Oxygen just like a tree. Making air on Mars requires a bit of Moxie and Perseverance. Mar's atmosphere may be thin, highly variable and full of CO2 but it can be harnessed to produce Oxygen. Could future mission to Mars make their own oxygen on the surface of Mars? Finding CO2 on exoplanets has been incredibly hard but the JWST helps shed light on this universal gas. Incredible hot, massive but not super dense, the Hot Jupiter WASP-39b becomes the latest target of the JWST. What can a hot Jupiter like WASP-39b teach us about exoplanet formation?

  1. The JWST Transiting Exoplanet Community Early Release Science Team et al. Identification of carbon dioxide in an exoplanet atmosphereNature (in press), 2022 [abstract]
  2. Jeffrey A. Hoffman, Michael H. Hecht, Donald Rapp, Joseph J. Hartvigsen, Jason G. Soohoo, Asad M. Aboobaker, John B. Mcclean, Andrew M. Liu, Eric D. Hinterman, Nasr, Shravan Hariharan, Kyle J. Horn, Forrest E. Meyen, Harald Okkels, Parker Steen, Singaravelu Elangovan, Christopher R. Graves, Piyush Khopkar, Morten B. Madsen, Gerald E. Voecks, Peter, H. Smith, Theis, L. Skafte, Koorosh R. Araghiand, David J. Eisenman. Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE)—Preparing for human Mars explorationScience Advances, 2022 DOI: DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abp8636
August 15, 2022

Episode 496 - Dwarf Planets and Massive collisions forming Moons

Dwarf planets are strange objects in our solar systems, but Ceres is unusual amongst that group. Why is Ceres' surface so strange and how could it have formed without a hot core? Ceres is too small to really have a molten core or large molten surfaces. How did Ceres end up with odd plateaus and continent like features without an active core? How could radiation cause Ceres to form in such an odd way? The Moon's relative size is puzzling but how can we prove that it was caused by a colossal collision?

  1. Scott D. King, Michael T. Bland, Simone Marchi, Carol A. Raymond, Christopher T. Russell, Jennifer E. C. Scully, Hanna G. Sizemore. Ceres’ Broad‐Scale Surface Geomorphology Largely Due To Asymmetric Internal Convection. AGU Advances, 2022; 3 (3) DOI: 10.1029/2021AV000571
  2. Patrizia Will, Henner Busemann, My E. I. Riebe, Colin Maden. Indigenous noble gases in the Moon’s interior. Science Advances, 2022; 8 (32) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abl4920
August 8, 2022

Episode 495 - Plants without sunlight and electricity from sweat

How can we take ideas from nature and turn them upside down like growing plants without sunlight. There are some plants that thrive in 'low light' but what if they needed no light? Is it possible to change photosynthesis to work even without sunlight? Photosynthesis is great and all, but it's only around 1% efficient, so can it be improved? IF you were to make artificial photosynthesis can it outperform good ol natural sunlight? Biofilms are often the scourge of wearable devices, but what if they could help generate power? Turning sweat into electricity with bacteria could power your wearable devices.

  1. Elizabeth C. Hann, Sean Overa, Marcus Harland-Dunaway, Andrés F. Narvaez, Dang N. Le, Martha L. Orozco-Cárdenas, Feng Jiao, Robert E. Jinkerson. A hybrid inorganic–biological artificial photosynthesis system for energy-efficient food production. Nature Food, 2022; 3 (6): 461 DOI: 10.1038/s43016-022-00530-x
  2. Elizabeth C. Hann, Sean Overa, Marcus Harland-Dunaway, Andrés F. Narvaez, Dang N. Le, Martha L. Orozco-Cárdenas, Feng Jiao, Robert E. Jinkerson. A hybrid inorganic–biological artificial photosynthesis system for energy-efficient food production. Nature Food, 2022; 3 (6): 461 DOI: 10.1038/s43016-022-00530-x
July 25, 2022

Episode 493 - Pleasant memories of sound and music relieving pain

There are plenty of tales of music soothing wild beasts, but is there actually a link between music and pain relief? How did researchers quantitatively study the soothing powers of music? What's better for blocking out pain ; Classical music, discordant arrangements or white noise? How does sound dull the effect of pain in mice? Just how good is a bat's auditory long term memory? can you train a bat to recognize the sound of a tasty treat? How do bats process and associate sounds with food?

  1. Wenjie Zhou, Chonghuan Ye, Haitao Wang, Yu Mao, Weijia Zhang, An Liu, Chen-Ling Yang, Tianming Li, Lauren Hayashi, Wan Zhao, Lin Chen, Yuanyuan Liu, Wenjuan Tao, Zhi Zhang. Sound induces analgesia through corticothalamic circuits. Science, 2022; 377 (6602): 198 DOI: 10.1126/science.abn4663
  2. M. May Dixon, Patricia L. Jones, Michael J. Ryan, Gerald G. Carter, Rachel A. Page. Long-term memory in frog-eating bats. Current Biology, 2022; 32 (12): R557 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.05.031
July 4, 2022

Episode 490 - The history of fire on Earth

The history of fire on earth from the first wildfires to the first use to cook. We all know you need fuel and oxygen for fire, but when did the first fires occur on Earth. When did the first wild fires occur on earth? What was there to burn on early Earth if there weren't any large trees or plants? Giant mushrooms and large fields of moss, early Earth was very different but it could still have wildfires. When did the first hominids use fire as a tool? How can we identify if something that was burn was done so deliberately or accidentally. We know at some point hominids used fire as a tool, but when exactly -  200,500 800 million years ago?

  1. Zane Stepka, Ido Azuri, Liora Kolska Horwitz, Michael Chazan, Filipe Natalio. Hidden signatures of early fire at Evron Quarry (1.0 to 0.8 Mya)Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022; 119 (25) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2123439119
  2. Ian J. Glasspool, Robert A. Gastaldo. Silurian wildfire proxies and atmospheric oxygenGeology, 2022; DOI: 10.1130/G50193.1
June 28, 2022

Episode 498 - Clean air, captured carbon and paper sensors

Where is the cleanest air on the planet? How do oceans help capture carbon from forest fires? Where does all that carbon go after a forest fire? How do you find the cleanest air, by measuring microbes. The southern ocean air is not polluted by aerosols or ice forming particles. The air above the Southern Ocean is clean and crisp with not much microbes in side it. How can you turn a paper into a simple carbon dioxide sensor?

  1. Matthew W. Jones, Alysha I. Coppola, Cristina Santín, Thorsten Dittmar, Rudolf Jaffé, Stefan H. Doerr, Timothy A. Quine. Fires prime terrestrial organic carbon for riverine export to the global oceansNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16576-z
  2. Hui Wang, Sergei I. Vagin, Bernhard Rieger, Alkiviathes Meldrum. An Ultrasensitive Fluorescent Paper-Based CO2 SensorACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2020; 12 (18): 20507 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c03405
June 14, 2022

Episode 487 - Feeding the planet without damaging it

​As our climate changes, feeding the planet without making things worse is a big challenge. How do plants work together to survive extreme weather events? When there is a large drought or extreme weather event what works better, single species or mixed? Plant diversity can help plants weather the storm of climate change and come out stronger. How do cover crops help 'fix' nitrogen in the soil and reduce negative climate impacts. Excess fertiliser is not only expensive for farmers but damaging to the local and global environment. How can cover crops help soil recover and reduce negative climate change impacts of mono cropping. 

  1. Yuxin Chen, Anja Vogel, Cameron Wagg, Tianyang Xu, Maitane Iturrate-Garcia, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Alexandra Weigelt, Nico Eisenhauer, Bernhard Schmid. Drought-exposure history increases complementarity between plant species in response to a subsequent droughtNature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-30954-9
  2. Nakian Kim, Chance W. Riggins, María C. Zabaloy, Marco Allegrini, Sandra L. Rodriguez-Zas, María B. Villamil. High-Resolution Indicators of Soil Microbial Responses to N Fertilization and Cover Cropping in Corn MonoculturesAgronomy, 2022; 12 (4): 954 DOI: 10.3390/agronomy12040954
  3. Nakian Kim, Chance Riggins, María C. Zabaloy, Sandra Rodriguez-Zas and María B. Villamil. Limited impacts of cover cropping on soil N-cycling microbial communities of long-term corn monoculturesFrontiers in Microbiology, 2022 DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.926592
May 30, 2022

Episode 485 - Plants race against rising sea levels

How can plants adapt to a changing climate and strange volcanic soils. By tracking the divergent evolution of Thale Cress, scientists can track the genetic changes needed to thrive in weird soil. Volcanic soil can have benefits along with risks, but how can plants adapt quickly to odd soil types? How did plants learn to thrive on a volcanic island, Pico de Fogo. What can a long running study tell us about plants adapting to a changing climate. Extra CO2 is good for plants...to up to a point. For plants in wetlands its a race between rising sea levels and extra CO2. 

  1. Emmanuel Tergemina, Ahmed F. Elfarargi, Paulina Flis, Andrea Fulgione, Mehmet Göktay, Célia Neto, Marleen Scholle, Pádraic J. Flood, Sophie-Asako Xerri, Johan Zicola, Nina Döring, Herculano Dinis, Ute Krämer, David E. Salt, Angela M. Hancock. A two-step adaptive walk rewires nutrient transport in a challenging edaphic environmentScience Advances, 2022; 8 (20) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm9385
  2. Chunwu Zhu, J. Adam Langley, Lewis H. Ziska, Donald R. Cahoon, J. Patrick Megonigal. Accelerated sea-level rise is suppressing CO 2 stimulation of tidal marsh productivity: A 33-year studyScience Advances, 2022; 8 (20) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn0054
May 2, 2022

Episode 481 - Finding hidden life in our oceans with RNA and DNA

Using sequencing techniques we can find all kinds of hidden life in our oceans. RNA viruses are ancient, but their old genes can help us spot them in great numbers in our oceans. There are huge amounts of 'life' in our oceans that we don't know about. No matter if you think viruses are 'alive' or not, there are way more than we imagined in our oceans. RNA viruses are easier to spot in our oceans if you look for the right ancient gene. Using gene sequencing we can find fish that are hidden in our reefs. Visually spotting fish is helpful but can overlook sneak fish. Using environemtnal sequencing techniques way more diverse range of fish can be found.

  1. Ahmed A. Zayed, James M. Wainaina, Guillermo Dominguez-Huerta, Eric Pelletier, Jiarong Guo, Mohamed Mohssen, Funing Tian, Akbar Adjie Pratama, Benjamin Bolduc, Olivier Zablocki, Dylan Cronin, Lindsey Solden, Erwan Delage, Adriana Alberti, Jean-Marc Aury, Quentin Carradec, Corinne da Silva, Karine Labadie, Julie Poulain, Hans-Joachim Ruscheweyh, Guillem Salazar, Elan Shatoff, Ralf Bundschuh, Kurt Fredrick, Laura S. Kubatko, Samuel Chaffron, Alexander I. Culley, Shinichi Sunagawa, Jens H. Kuhn, Patrick Wincker, Matthew B. Sullivan, Silvia G. Acinas, Marcel Babin, Peer Bork, Emmanuel Boss, Chris Bowler, Guy Cochrane, Colomban de Vargas, Gabriel Gorsky, Lionel Guidi, Nigel Grimsley, Pascal Hingamp, Daniele Iudicone, Olivier Jaillon, Stefanie Kandels, Lee Karp-Boss, Eric Karsenti, Fabrice Not, Hiroyuki Ogata, Nicole Poulton, Stéphane Pesant, Christian Sardet, Sabrinia Speich, Lars Stemmann, Matthew B. Sullivan, Shinichi Sungawa, Patrick Wincker. Cryptic and abundant marine viruses at the evolutionary origins of Earth’s RNA viromeScience, 2022; 376 (6589): 156 DOI: 10.1126/science.abm5847
  2. Laetitia Mathon, Virginie Marques, David Mouillot, Camille Albouy, Marco Andrello, Florian Baletaud, Giomar H. Borrero-Pérez, Tony Dejean, Graham J. Edgar, Jonathan Grondin, Pierre-Edouard Guerin, Régis Hocdé, Jean-Baptiste Juhel, Kadarusman, Eva Maire, Gael Mariani, Matthew McLean, Andrea Polanco F., Laurent Pouyaud, Rick D. Stuart-Smith, Hagi Yulia Sugeha, Alice Valentini, Laurent Vigliola, Indra B. Vimono, Loïc Pellissier, Stéphanie Manel. Cross-ocean patterns and processes in fish biodiversity on coral reefs through the lens of eDNA metabarcodingProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2022; 289 (1973) DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2022.0162
April 25, 2022

Episode 480 - Bacteria turning methane into electricity, and corrupting corn

How can bacteria turn methane directly into electricity? Why waste time producing bio gas to burn when bacteria could produce electricity directly.  When bacteria take over corn, before they wreck the join they order in delivered food. Bacteria enjoy a huge feast when taking over maize, then they get to work wrecking the joint. Bacteria ends up in spots its not meant to be and redirects food away from plant cells. Redirected takeout food keeps bacteria alive as they settle into their corn host in preparation for taking over. When moving into a new house it helps to get food delivered at first, which is exactly what bacteria does.

  1. Heleen T. Ouboter, Tom Berben, Stefanie Berger, Mike S. M. Jetten, Tom Sleutels, Annemiek Ter Heijne, Cornelia U. Welte. Methane-Dependent Extracellular Electron Transfer at the Bioanode by the Anaerobic Archaeal Methanotroph “Candidatus Methanoperedens”. Frontiers in Microbiology, 2022; 13 DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.820989
  2. Irene Gentzel, Laura Giese, Gayani Ekanayake, Kelly Mikhail, Wanying Zhao, Jean-Christophe Cocuron, Ana Paula Alonso, David Mackey. Dynamic nutrient acquisition from a hydrated apoplast supports biotrophic proliferation of a bacterial pathogen of maize. Cell Host & Microbe, 2022; 30 (4): 502 DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2022.03.017
April 11, 2022

Episode 478 - Special properties of water from molecular to drinking water to deep into the earth

Water has some pretty amazing properties. We dive into some of the strange things water does from the molecular level all the way to planet scale water flows. We all know H2O but studying the way water molecules move around each other is very difficult to isolate. H2O molecules had to be taken to 0.4 Kelvin and shot with a powerful laser to shed light on the way they shake. The way H2O interacts between molecules by moving, rotating and shaking can help explain some of the weird properties. H2O has weird properties like being at its highest density at 4 degrees. Turning salt water into fresh water often involves a lot of electricity, but a new method using Ionic salts may get by with barely any heat. How can water make its way down towards the core of the earth? Water masqueraded inside minerals to migrate deep down beneath the surface of the earth.

  1. Martina Havenith-Newen, Raffael Schwan, Chen Qu, Devendra Mani, Nitish Pal, Gerhard Schwaab, Lex van der Meer, Britta Redlich, Claude LeForestier, Joel Bowman. Observation of the low frequency spectrum of water dimer as a sensitive test of the water dimer potential and dipole moment surfaces. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2019; DOI: 10.1002/anie.201906048
  2. Hyungmook Kang, David E. Suich, James F. Davies, Aaron D. Wilson, Jeffrey J. Urban, Robert Kostecki. Molecular insight into the lower critical solution temperature transition of aqueous alkyl phosphonium benzene sulfonates. Communications Chemistry, 2019; 2 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42004-019-0151-2
  3. Jun Tsuchiya, Koichiro Umemoto. First‐Principles Determination of the Dissociation Phase Boundary of Phase H MgSiO 4 H 2. Geophysical Research Letters, 2019; DOI: 10.1029/2019GL083472
April 4, 2022

Episode 477 - Plants reacting and defending themselves

How can plants defend themselves from attack? Animals scatter when they hear an alarm cry or a predator, but how do plants defend themselves? Plants react to danger around them by detecting chemical signals. Plants emit warning through volatile chemicals and others detect these signals to raise their own defences. How do plants detect light and know where to head without eyes? How do the shape of proteins that bend a plant towards like change when exposed to different light?

  1. Haruki Onosato, Genya Fujimoto, Tomota Higami, Takuya Sakamoto, Ayaka Yamada, Takamasa Suzuki, Rika Ozawa, Sachihiro Matsunaga, Motoaki Seki, Minoru Ueda, Kaori Sako, Ivan Galis, Gen-ichiro Arimura. Sustained defense response via volatile signaling and its epigenetic transcriptional regulationPlant Physiology, 2022; DOI: 10.1093/plphys/kiac077
  2. Li, H., Burgie, E.S., Gannam, Z.T.K. et al. Plant phytochrome B is an asymmetric dimer with unique signalling potentialNature, 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04529-z
March 14, 2022

Episode 474 - Fossils changing the Planet and the planet changing Fossils

How can fossils change the planet and the planet change fossils? Forming fossils require specific set of circumstances. How can geological changes make the right conditions for fossils to be preserved? What happened 183 million years ago that made it possible to preserve even soft and delicate fossils? Preserving bones is comparatively easy compared to soft tissue and creatures like squid. So what has to happen to preserve these as fossils? How did fossils change the composition of rocks deep in the mantle? When life first emerged on our planet what change did it cause in the type of rocks found deep beneath the surface? life on the surface has changed the rocks we have deep in the earth.

  1. Sinjini Sinha, A. D. Muscente, James D. Schiffbauer, Matt Williams, Günter Schweigert, Rowan C. Martindale. Global controls on phosphatization of fossils during the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic EventScientific Reports, 2021; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-03482-7
  2. Alcott, L.J., Mills, B.J.W., Bekker, A. et al. Earth’s Great Oxidation Event facilitated by the rise of sedimentary phosphorus recyclingNat. Geosci., 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41561-022-00906-5
March 7, 2022

Episode 473 - Super materials from Molluscs and Scallops

Making super materials by learning the secrets of molluscs and scallops. How are scallops are able to survive the super-cool water in Antarctica. What makes Antarctic scallop shells able to simply brush aside ice? How do you shed a skin of ice from a scallop? What connects scallops with making airplanes more efficient? How do mussels manage to stick so well to things? Is it possible to replicate the stickiness of a mussel? Mussels make themselves near impossible to remove, so can you make them even stickier?

  1. William S. Y. Wong, Lukas Hauer, Paul A. Cziko, Konrad Meister. Cryofouling avoidance in the Antarctic scallop Adamussium colbecki. Communications Biology, 2022; 5 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-03023-6
  2. Or Berger, Claudia Battistella, Yusu Chen, Julia Oktawiec, Zofia E. Siwicka, Danielle Tullman-Ercek, Muzhou Wang, Nathan C. Gianneschi. Mussel Adhesive-Inspired Proteomimetic Polymer. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2022; DOI: 10.1021/jacs.1c10936
January 10, 2022

Episode 465 - Hedgehogs to mouthwash - Strange tales of the war against bacteria

From Hedgehogs to mouthwash, we check in on the arms race against bacteria. MRSA super-bugs are a super problem for humans, but some pre-date the modern era. MRSA super-bugs have been around since the Industrial revolution, at least on hedgehogs. The skin of hedgehogs is a battlefield between Fungus and Bacteria, and whoever wins, we loose. We often focus on Humans vs Bacteria, but it's actually a triple threat with Fungus. The fight Fungus vs Bacteria can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance. The mouth is the gate in the castle like defenses of the human immune system, so what defends it from bacteria attackers? If you have periodontal disease, it can make it easier for other viruses to get into your body. Keeping your mouth free of bacteria plaque can keep your defense against other infections high.

  1. Jesper Larsen, Claire L. Raisen, Xiaoliang Ba, Nicholas J. Sadgrove, Guillermo F. Padilla-González, Monique S. J. Simmonds, Igor Loncaric, Heidrun Kerschner, Petra Apfalter, Rainer Hartl, Ariane Deplano, Stien Vandendriessche, Barbora Černá Bolfíková, Pavel Hulva, Maiken C. Arendrup, Rasmus K. Hare, Céline Barnadas, Marc Stegger, Raphael N. Sieber, Robert L. Skov, Andreas Petersen, Øystein Angen, Sophie L. Rasmussen, Carmen Espinosa-Gongora, Frank M. Aarestrup, Laura J. Lindholm, Suvi M. Nykäsenoja, Frederic Laurent, Karsten Becker, Birgit Walther, Corinna Kehrenberg, Christiane Cuny, Franziska Layer, Guido Werner, Wolfgang Witte, Ivonne Stamm, Paolo Moroni, Hannah J. Jørgensen, Hermínia de Lencastre, Emilia Cercenado, Fernando García-Garrote, Stefan Börjesson, Sara Hæggman, Vincent Perreten, Christopher J. Teale, Andrew S. Waller, Bruno Pichon, Martin D. Curran, Matthew J. Ellington, John J. Welch, Sharon J. Peacock, David J. Seilly, Fiona J. E. Morgan, Julian Parkhill, Nazreen F. Hadjirin, Jodi A. Lindsay, Matthew T. G. Holden, Giles F. Edwards, Geoffrey Foster, Gavin K. Paterson, Xavier Didelot, Mark A. Holmes, Ewan M. Harrison, Anders R. Larsen. Emergence of methicillin resistance predates the clinical use of antibioticsNature, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04265-w
  2. Carlos J. Rodriguez-Hernandez, Kevin J. Sokoloski, Kendall S. Stocke, Himabindu Dukka, Shunying Jin, Melissa A. Metzler, Konstantin Zaitsev, Boris Shpak, Daonan Shen, Daniel P. Miller, Maxim N. Artyomov, Richard J. Lamont, Juhi Bagaitkar. Microbiome-mediated incapacitation of interferon lambda production in the oral mucosaProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (51): e2105170118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2105170118
December 27, 2021

Episode 463 - Unlocking former junk DNA in Rice to feed the planet

How was rice turned from a wild grass into a staple crop for over 3 billion people? What secrets are lurking in the 'junk' DNA of rice that can explain it's transformation? What parts of the rice genome have been long overlooked? Can non protein coding parts of a genome help define important traits for plants and animals? Proteins aren't everything; unlocking the secrets of the rice genome.  How can we boost rice yields and rice bran oil content?

  1. X. M. Zheng, J. Chen, H. B. Pang, S. Liu, Q. Gao, J. R. Wang, W. H. Qiao, H. Wang, J. Liu, K. M. Olsen, and Q. W. Yang. Genome-wide analyses reveal the role of noncoding variation in complex traits during rice domestication. Science Advances, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax3619
  2. Ze‐Hua Guo, Richard P. Haslam, Louise V Michaelson, Edward C. Yeung, Shiu‐Cheung Lung, Johnathan A. Napier, Mee‐Len Chye. The overexpression of rice ACYL ‐ CoA ‐ BINDING PROTEIN 2 increases grain size and bran oil content in transgenic rice. The Plant Journal, 2019; 100 (6): 1132 DOI: 10.1111/tpj.14503
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?

  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