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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.

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.

  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
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 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.
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
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 8, 2021

Episode 421 - March Mammal Madness ‘21 and Bats tuning out the world

We find out about the outreach and impact of March Mammal Madness. What happens when 65 animals face off for bragging rights? Find out in #2021MMM . By sharing science with a dramatic flair, #2021MMM has brought attention to 1000s of scientific papers. From 1% of US High school classrooms, to a global audience of young and old, #2021MMM shows how science does not have to be boring. How do bats tune out the background noise and hunt tiny prey? Using acoustic tunnel vision, bats are able to hone in on their tiny prey. By echoing quietly, bats can detect the smallest of bugs.

  1. Hinde, K., Amorim, C. E., Brokaw, A. F., Burt, N., Casillas, M. C., Chen, A., . . . Anderson, C. N. (2021). March mammal madness and the power of narrative in science outreach. ELife, 10. doi:10.7554/elife.65066
  2. Hinde, K. (et al..). March mammal madness: How to play. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://libguides.asu.edu/MarchMammalMadness#s-lg-box-23314477
  3. Hinde, K, March mammal Madness 2021. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from http://mammalssuck.blogspot.com/2021/02/march-mammal-madness-2021.html
  4. Laura Stidsholt, Stefan Greif, Holger R. Goerlitz, Kristian Beedholm, Jamie Macaulay, Mark Johnson, Peter Teglberg Madsen. Hunting bats adjust their echolocation to receive weak prey echoes for clutter reduction. Science Advances, 2021; 7 (10): eabf1367 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf1367
September 28, 2020

Episode 398 - Ig Nobel Prize ‘20 - Alligators and Spiders

We find out more about two more Ig Nobel prizes, for Accoustics and Entomology. Spiders aren't insects, but they're pretty similar. So why do so many entomologists fear spiders? Lots of legs, moves suddenly, weird shape, are fine for entomologists but add 2 extra legs and it's right out. Extra legs are a deal breaker for entomologists with a fear of spiders. Helium, Alligators in a tank, and resonant frequencies won this group a Ig Nobel prize. You've heard of beard song, but what about Alligator on helium song? Alligators and Birds can help us understand the songs of Dinosaurs.

  1. A Chinese Alligator in Heliox: Formant Frequencies in a Crocodilian,” Stephan A. Reber, Takeshi Nishimura, Judith Janisch, Mark Robertson, and W. Tecumseh Fitch, Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 218, 2015, pp. 2442-2447.
  2. Arachnophobic Entomologists: When Two More Legs Makes a Big Difference,” Richard S. Vetter, American Entomologist, vol. 59, no. 3, 2013, pp. 168-175.
August 24, 2020

Episode 393 - Microbial life in a teaspoon of the ocean

Life in the ocean is more than just fish, whales and squid, it goes down to a microbial level. We can learn a lot about the health of a whole reef system by studying microbial life in the water. Just one teaspoon of the ocean contains thousands of unique microbes. The ocean currents carry and mix ocean microbes. What makes a healthy reef? Well take a look at the microbes. How can nutrient and soil runoff damage a reef?

  1. Maria G. Pachiadaki, Julia M. Brown, Joseph Brown, Oliver Bezuidt, Paul M. Berube, Steven J. Biller, Nicole J. Poulton, Michael D. Burkart, James J. La Clair, Sallie W. Chisholm, Ramunas Stepanauskas. Charting the Complexity of the Marine Microbiome through Single-Cell GenomicsCell, 2019; 179 (7): 1623 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.11.017
  2. Laura Weber, Patricia González‐Díaz, Maickel Armenteros, Víctor M. Ferrer, Fernando Bretos, Erich Bartels, Alyson E. Santoro, Amy Apprill. Microbial signatures of protected and impacted Northern Caribbean reefs: changes from Cuba to the Florida KeysEnvironmental Microbiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.14870
July 6, 2020

Episode 386 - T-rex, Raptors and Giant Squid go a hunting

How fast did T-Rex really go? Was it a sprinter or an endurance runner? Being chased by a T-Rex is scary, but you have to be ready for a marathon not a sprint. T-Rex's long legs helped it be efficient rather than speedy. Did raptors hunt in packs or just near each other? What links Komodo dragons and hunting raptors? Can we figure out if raptors hunted in packs by studying their teeth? Can Komodo dragons help bust Jurrassic Park myths? We also find out about an epic battle between Giant squid and a fish trapped for eternity as fossils.

  1. T. Alexander Dececchi, Aleksandra M. Mloszewska, Thomas R. Holtz, Michael B. Habib, Hans C. E. Larsson. The fast and the frugal: Divergent locomotory strategies drive limb lengthening in theropod dinosaursPLOS ONE, 2020; 15 (5): e0223698 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223698
  2. J.A. Frederickson, M.H. Engel, R.L. Cifelli. Ontogenetic dietary shifts in Deinonychus antirrhopus (Theropoda; Dromaeosauridae): Insights into the ecology and social behavior of raptorial dinosaurs through stable isotope analysisPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2020; 109780 DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.109780
  3. University of Plymouth. (2020, May 6). Fossil reveals evidence of 200-million-year-old 'squid' attack. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 15, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200506133625.htm
June 22, 2020

Episode 384 - Plants regenerating and fighting off invaders

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

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

Episode 382 - Animals keeping watch on our environment

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

  1. Catherine F. Wise, Stephanie C. Hammel, Nicholas Herkert, Jun Ma, Alison Motsinger-Reif, Heather M. Stapleton, Matthew Breen. Comparative Exposure Assessment Using Silicone Passive Samplers Indicates That Domestic Dogs Are Sentinels To Support Human Health Research. Environmental Science & Technology, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b06605
  2. D. C. Lettoof, P. W. Bateman, F. Aubret, M. M. Gagnon. The Broad-Scale Analysis of Metals, Trace Elements, Organochlorine Pesticides and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Wetlands Along an Urban Gradient, and the Use of a High Trophic Snake as a Bioindicator. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 2020; 78 (4): 631 DOI: 10.1007/s00244-020-00724-z
  3. Vikas Nandwana, Stephanie M. Ribet, Roberto D. Reis, Yuyao Kuang, Yash More, Vinayak P. Dravid. OHM Sponge: A Versatile, Efficient, and Ecofriendly Environmental Remediation Platform. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.0c01493
April 27, 2020

Episode 376 - Learning from spider webs, venom and combs

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

  1. Akello J. Agwa, Poanna Tran, Alexander Mueller, Hue N. T. Tran, Jennifer R. Deuis, Mathilde R. Israel, Kirsten L. McMahon, David J. Craik, Irina Vetter, Christina I. Schroeder. Manipulation of a spider peptide toxin alters its affinity for lipid bilayers and potency and selectivity for voltage-gated sodium channel subtype 1.7Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2020; 295 (15): 5067 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.012281
  2. Anna-Christin Joel, Marco Meyer, Johannes Heitz, Alexander Heiss, Daesung Park, Hana Adamova, Werner Baumgartner. Biomimetic Combs as Antiadhesive Tools to Manipulate NanofibersACS Applied Nano Materials, 2020; 3 (4): 3395 DOI: 10.1021/acsanm.0c00130
  3. Po Peng, Devi Stuart‐Fox, Szu‐Wei Chen, Eunice J. Tan, Guan‐Lin Kuo, Sean J. Blamires, I‐Min Tso, Mark A. Elgar. High contrast yellow mosaic patterns are prey attractants for orb‐weaving spidersFunctional Ecology, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13532
March 23, 2020

Episode 371 - Marine Mammals vs Parasites

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

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

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

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

  1. Wang et al. Changes in microbiome confer multigenerational host resistance after sub-toxic pesticide exposureCell Host & Microbe, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2020.01.009
  2. Martin Husemann, Andreas Sterr, Swen Mack, Rudolf Abraham. The northernmost record of the Asian hornet Vespa velutina nigrithorax (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)Evolutionary Systematics, 2020; 4 (1): 1 DOI: 10.3897/evolsyst.4.47358
  3. Fabian A. Ruedenauer, David Raubenheimer, Daniela Kessner‐Beierlein, Nils Grund‐Mueller, Lisa Noack, Johannes Spaethe, Sara D. Leonhardt. Best be(e) on low fat: linking nutrient perception, regulation and fitnessEcology Letters, 2020; DOI: 10.1111/ele.13454
January 20, 2020

Episode 362 - Life after a disaster from Fukashima to Chernobyl

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

  1. Phillip C Lyons, Kei Okuda, Matthew T Hamilton, Thomas G Hinton, James C Beasley. Rewilding of Fukushima's human evacuation zoneFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/fee.2149
  2. Philip Thomas, John May. Coping after a big nuclear accidentProcess Safety and Environmental Protection, 2017; 112: 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.psep.2017.09.013
December 9, 2019

Episode 356 - Responding to signs of danger

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

  1. Yingying Han, Rune Bruls, Efe Soyman, Rajat Mani Thomas, Vasiliki Pentaraki, Naomi Jelinek, Mirjam Heinemans, Iege Bassez, Sam Verschooren, Illanah Pruis, Thijs Van Lierde, Nathaly Carrillo, Valeria Gazzola, Maria Carrillo, Christian Keysers. Bidirectional cingulate-dependent danger information transfer across ratsPLOS Biology, 2019; 17 (12): e3000524 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000524
  2. Clare E. Howard, Chin-Lin Chen, Tanya Tabachnik, Rick Hormigo, Pavan Ramdya, Richard S. Mann. Serotonergic Modulation of Walking in DrosophilaCurrent Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.10.042
August 19, 2019

Episode 340 - Insects revolutionizing agriculture

Insects are often thought of as the enemy of farmers, but they can help improve farming. From helpful worm pheromones, to farming crickets and hungry termites. Worms can help boost the resilience of crops like wheat, corn and maize to common threats. Worm pheromones help plants fight back against bacteria, viral and fungal invaders. If insects are the super food of the future, how do you successfully farm them on a large scale? What nutrient rich feed do insect farms need to give their herds? If you are growing crickets and locusts do they need different food? What food is best for termites and how can they be used to help better manage forest?


  1. Daniel F. Klessig, Murli Manohar, Shine Baby, Aline Koch, Wiseborn B. Danquah, Emily Luna, Hee‐Jin Park, Judith M. Kolkman, B. Gillian Turgeon, Rebecca Nelson, Jan E. Leach, Valerie M. Williamson, Karl‐Heinz Kogel, Aardra Kachroo, Frank C. Schroeder. Nematode ascaroside enhances resistance in a broad spectrum of plant–pathogen systems. Journal of Phytopathology, 2019; 167 (5): 265 DOI: 10.1111/jph.12795
  2. P. Straub, C.M. Tanga, I. Osuga, W. Windisch, S. Subramanian. Experimental feeding studies with crickets and locusts on the use of feed mixtures composed of storable feed materials commonly used in livestock production. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 2019; 255: 114215 DOI: 10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2019.114215
  3. Martin F. Jurgensen, Chris A. Miller, Carl T. Trettin, Deborah S. Page-Dumroese. Bedding of Wetland Soil: Effects of Bed Height and Termite Activity on Wood Decomposition. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2019; 0 (0): 0 DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2018.12.0492