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Latest news on complex systems in life sciences, engineering, education and government
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Chemicals That Make Plants Defend Themselves Could Replace Pesticides - Elsevier (2015)

Chemical triggers that make plants defend themselves against insects could replace pesticides, causing less damage to the environment. New research... identifies five chemicals that trigger rice plants to fend off a common pest – the white-backed planthopper, Sogatella furcifera

 

Pesticides are used around the world to control insects that destroy crops... One of the problems with many pesticides is that they kill indiscriminately. For rice plants, this means pesticides kill the natural enemies of one of their biggest pests, the white-backed planthopper... This pest... causes the plants to wilt and can damage the grains. It also transmits a virus disease... which stunts the plants’ growth and stops them from “heading,” which is when pollination occurs.

 

Left untreated, many of the insects’ eggs would be eaten, but when pesticides are used these hatch, leading to even more insects on the plants. What’s more, in some areas as many as a third of the planthoppers are resistant to pesticides... “Therefore, developing safe and effective methods to control insect pests is highly desired”... 

 

Because of the problems of using pesticides, it’s vital to find new solutions to help protect rice plants from infestation. Plants have natural self-defense mechanisms that kick in when they are infested with pests like the planthopper. This defense mechanism can be switched on using chemicals that do not harm the environment and are not toxic to the insects or their natural enemies... 

 

Researchers... developed a new way of identifying these chemicals. Using a specially designed screening system, they determined to what extent different chemicals switched on the plants’ defense mechanism... The researchers used bioassays to show that these chemicals could trigger the plant defense mechanism and repel the white-backed planthopper. This suggests that these chemicals have the potential to be used in insect pest management... 

 

“This new approach to pest management could help protect the ecosystem while defending important crops against attack.”

The next step for the research will be to explore how effective the chemicals are at boosting the plants’ defenses and controlling planthoppers in the field.

 

https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/chemicals-that-make-plants-defend-themselves-could-replace-pesticides

 

Original article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmcl.2015.10.041

 


Via Alexander J. Stein
ComplexInsight's insight:

Its good to see more research in these areas - but it would be good if in parallel we looked at potential impact of activated and elevated triggers and response  in terms of ecosystems and human health.  Multi-systemic approaches are going to be increasingly needed, which is worrying given how limited funding in this area already is..

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A new threat to bees? Entomopathogenic nematodes used in biological pest control cause rapid mortality in Bombus terrestris - Dutka &al (2015) - PeerJ

A new threat to bees? Entomopathogenic nematodes used in biological pest control cause rapid mortality in Bombus terrestris - Dutka &al (2015) - PeerJ | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

There is currently a great deal of concern about population declines in pollinating insects. Many potential threats have been identified which may adversely affect the behaviour and health of both honey bees and bumble bees: these include pesticide exposure, and parasites and pathogens.

 

Whether biological pest control agents adversely affect bees has been much less well studied: it is generally assumed that biological agents are safer for wildlife than chemical pesticides. The aim of this study was to test whether... nematodes sold as biological pest control products could potentially have adverse effects on the bumble bee... One product was a broad spectrum pest control agent... the other product was specifically for weevil control...

 

Both nematode products caused ≥80% mortality within the 96 h test period when bees were exposed to soil containing... nematodes at the recommended field concentration... Of particular concern is the fact that nematodes from the broad spectrum product could proliferate in the carcasses of dead bees, and therefore potentially infect a whole bee colony or spread to the wider environment.

 

https://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1413

 


Via Alexander J. Stein
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Alexander J. Stein's curator insight, November 21, 2015 9:44 AM

Also see these two articles in The Times: 

 

Organic pesticide increases risk to bees, 20 November:  www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4618597.ece

 

Organic farms used pesticide lethal to bees, 17 June:  www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environment/article4472324.ece

 

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The Thermodynamic Theory of Ecology | Quanta Magazine

The Thermodynamic Theory of Ecology |  Quanta Magazine | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Nature’s large-scale patterns emerge from incomplete surveys, thanks to ideas borrowed from information theory.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Awesome article on the Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) theory proposed by John Harte, professor of ecology at University of California, Berkeley. MaxEnt is a key tool to help calculate the total number of species in ecosystem based on very limited information.

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The role of environmental biotechnology in exploring, exploiting, monitoring, preserving, protecting and decontaminating the marine environment - Kalogerakis &al (2014) - New Biotechnol

In light of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the EU Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources, environmental biotechnology could make significant contributions in the exploitation of marine resources and addressing key marine environmental problems. In this paper 14 propositions are presented focusing on (i) the contamination of the marine environment, and more particularly how to optimize the use of biotechnology-related tools and strategies for predicting and monitoring contamination and developing mitigation measures; (ii) the exploitation of the marine biological and genetic resources to progress with the sustainable, eco-compatible use of the maritime space (issues are very diversified and include, for example, waste treatment and recycling, anti-biofouling agents; bio-plastics); (iii) environmental/marine biotechnology as a driver for a sustainable economic growth.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nbt.2014.03.007

 


Via Alexander J. Stein
ComplexInsight's insight:

late publishing this - but been on track list for some time. Also worth looking at the 2015 report on protection zones - where some progress has been made. See http://ec.europa.eu/environment/marine/eu-coast-and-marine-policy/implementation/pdf/marine_protected_areas.pdf

 

 

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How Fisheries Affect Evolution

The extensive exploitation of marine resources by modern fisheries (...) has wide-ranging effects on marine ecosystems. Across the world's oceans, size-selective harvesting by commercial fisheries has been a key driving force behind changes in phenotypic traits such as body size and age at maturation (1–3). These changes have altered the trophic structure of the affected ecosystems, disturbed predatorprey relationships, and modified trophic cascade dynamics (3, 4). Phenotypic changes can involve both ecological and evolutionary reactions to the effect of fishing, and there has been much debate about the relative roles of these reactions. This is important because genetic changes could result in long-term reductions in catches. Recent work has provided evidence for fisheries-induced evolutionary changes, with important implications for the sustainability of fisheries.

 

How Fisheries Affect Evolution
Andrea Belgrano, Charles W. Fowler

Science 6 December 2013:
Vol. 342 no. 6163 pp. 1176-1177
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1245490


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Bill Gates: Here's My Plan to Improve Our World — And How You Can Help | Wired Business | Wired.com

Bill Gates: Here's My Plan to Improve Our World — And How You Can Help | Wired Business | Wired.com | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Bill Gates on how innovation is the key to a brighter future, and how we're only just getting started.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Who wouldnt want to talk about fertilizer with Bill Gates... or books, or education, vaccinations or development economics..for that matter. Worth reading.

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Biotech, farmer associations key for climate adaptation - panel - Reuters AlertNet (blog)

Biotech, farmer associations key for climate adaptation - panel - Reuters AlertNet (blog) | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Biotech, farmer associations key for climate adaptation - panel Reuters AlertNet (blog) LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - An increasingly extreme climate is presenting new challenges to farmers across the world, and biotechnology and greater...
ComplexInsight's insight:

The potential for genetically modified crops and relation to climate change - which recently helped drive Monsanto to acquire The Climate Corporation  is once again in the headlines. At the recent Iowa discussion, five farmers from Malawi, India, Portugal, Argentina and Kenya said they were strong believers in using biotech crops to survive and thrive in the face of a changing climate, and said that farmers needed to share ideas and help each other improve farming techniques.  Trust.org does a great job in summarizing the ideas discussed at the event. Worth reading.

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Bacteria 'have lessons for economy'

Bacteria 'have lessons for economy' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Colonies of bacteria balance growth against risk, just like financial investors, ecologists have found.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Almost half a century ago Richard Levins first suggested that trade-offs in organisms' investment decisions lead to them exploiting different niches, and this concept may apply both in biological ecology and in financial markets, but it has not previously been demonstrated as clearly by experimental observations. Using lab-based synthetic biology, experiments in bacterial evolution, and mathematical modelling a new study test Levins hypothesis and  finds links between behavioural patterns of micro-organisms and markets.  A research group from the UK and Australia used strains of the bacterium E. coli that were constrained in the amount of resource that they had for growth, but that were also subjected to varying degrees of biological stress. The work is described in a paper in the journal Ecology Letters and covered by the BBC Science team.

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Not yet gone, but effectively extinct

Not yet gone, but effectively extinct | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
A small drop in one species' population can drive others to actually die out.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Functional extinction is an important concept in ecological modeling and i suspect an increasingly important one in other systems modeling domains. Good overview article from arstechnica on why this is important.

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Didier Sornette: How we can predict the next financial crisis

The 2007-2008 financial crisis, you might think, was an unpredictable one-time crash. But Didier Sornette and his Financial Crisis Observatory have plotted a set of early warning signs for unstable, growing systems, tracking the moment when any bubble is about to pop. (And he's seeing it happen again, right now.)


Via Complexity Digest
ComplexInsight's insight:

Didier Sornette and team's work .- highlights role of how system feedback can drive a variety of systems through phase transition resulting in dramatic structural and behavioural change in system behaviour.  While many of the underpinning ideas presented have been discussed extensively in the fields of chaos and complex systems - his teams methods of  analysis and publication combined with the variety of systems he and his team study will hopefully help gain a wider acceptance of using these methods to understand, model and steer systems behaviour. A video well worth watching.

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Bernard Ryefield's curator insight, June 17, 2013 4:14 PM

 

Didier Sornette theory of Dragon-Kings vs Black Swans is supported by a number of concepts from complexity science and certainly needs close scrutinity.

 

The Illusion of the Perpetual Money Machine

D. Sornette, P. Cauwels

http://arxiv.org/abs/1212.2833

 

Dragon Kings, Black Swans and the Prediction of Crises

Didier Sornette

http://arxiv.org/abs/0907.4290

 

Predictability and suppression of extreme events in complex systems

Hugo L. D. de Souza Cavalcante, Marcos Oria, Didier Sornette, Edward Ott, Daniel J. Gauthier

http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.0244

 

Luciano Lampi's curator insight, June 18, 2013 3:30 PM

si non é vero...é ben trovato!

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How Do You Feed 9 Billion People?

How Do You Feed 9 Billion People? | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
EAST LANSING, Mich. — An international team of scientists has developed crop models to better forecast food production to feed a growing population – projected to reach 9 billion by mid-century – in the face of climate change.
ComplexInsight's insight:

 A recurrent and central theme for us at Complex Insight is how important simulations are to tackling major real world challenges.  In a paper appearing in Nature Climate Change, Bruno Basso, Michigan State University ecosystem scientist and other members of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project unveiled an all-encompassing modeling system that integrates multiple crop simulations with improved climate change models.The new simulation model better predicts global wheat yields while reducing political and socio-economic influences that can skew data and planning efforts..In engineering simulation there has long been a trend to model based design - hopefully other areas of public policy can leverage work such as this to follow in a similar direction. 

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Big Data for Conflict Prevention

Big Data for Conflict Prevention | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
I had the great pleasure of co-authoring the International Peace Institute's (IPI) unique report on "Big Data for Conflict Prevention" (PDF) with my two colleagues Emmanuel Letouzé and Patrick Vinc...
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PLOS ONE: Metagenomic Exploration of Viruses throughout the Indian Ocean

PLOS ONE: Metagenomic Exploration of Viruses throughout the Indian Ocean | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

The characterization of global marine microbial taxonomic and functional diversity is a primary goal of the Global Ocean Sampling Expedition. As part of this study, 19 water samples were collected aboard the Sorcerer II sailing vessel from the southern Indian Ocean in an effort to more thoroughly understand the lifestyle strategies of the microbial inhabitants of this ultra-oligotrophic region. No investigations of whole virioplankton assemblages have been conducted on waters collected from the Indian Ocean or across multiple size fractions thus far. Therefore, the goals of this study were to examine the effect of size fractionation on viral consortia structure and function and understand the diversity and functional potential of the Indian Ocean virome. Interesting paper - find more info on the findings of the study by clicking on the image or title.

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First CRISPR Gene Drive in Mosquitoes Aims to Eradicate Malaria

First CRISPR Gene Drive in Mosquitoes Aims to Eradicate Malaria | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
The students in Anthony James’s basement insectary at the University of California, Irvine, knew they’d broken the laws of evolution when they looked at the mosquitoes’ eyes.

By rights, the bugs, born from fathers with fluorescent red eyes and mothers with normal ones, should have come out only about half red. Instead, as they counted them, first a few and then by the hundreds, they found 99 percent had glowing eyes.

More important than the eye color is that James’s mosquitoes also carry genes that stop the malaria parasite from growing. If these insects were ever released in the wild, their “selfish” genetic cargo would spread inexorably through mosquito populations, and potentially stop the transmission of malaria.

The technology, called a “gene drive,” was built using the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR and is being reported by James, a specialist in mosquito biology, and a half dozen colleagues today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A functioning gene drive in mosquitoes has been anticipated for more than a decade by public health organizations as a revolutionary novel way to fight malaria. Now that it’s a reality, however, the work raises questions over whether the technology is safe enough to ever be released into the wild.

“This is a major advance because it shows that gene drives will likely be effective in mosquitoes,” says Kevin Esvelt, a gene drive researcher at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute. “Technology is no longer the limitation.”

Starting last summer, Esvelt and other scientists began warning that gene drives were about to jump from theory to reality (see “Protect Society from Our Inventions, Says Genome Editing Scientists”) and needed more attention by regulators and the public. The National Academy of Sciences is studying the science and ethics of the technology and plans to release recommendations next year on “responsible conduct” by scientists and companies.

Gene drives are just the latest example of the fantastic power of CRISPR editing to alter the DNA of living things, which has already set off a debate over the possibility that gene editing could be used to generate designer human babies (see “Engineering the Perfect Baby”). But Henry Greely, a law professor and bioethics specialist at Stanford, says environmental uses are more worrisome than a few modified people. “The possibility of remaking the biosphere is enormously significant, and a lot closer to realization,” he says.

Malaria is caused when a mosquito bite transmits plasmodium, a single-celled parasite. It’s treatable, yet every year, 670,000 people die from malaria, the majority of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

James says his mosquitoes are the culmination of decades of mostly obscure, unheralded work by a few insect specialists toward constructing a genetic solution to malaria. It finally became possible this year when scientists in the laboratory of Ethan Bier, a fly biologist at the University of California, San Diego, who is a coauthor of the paper, finally used CRISPR to perfect a molecular “motor” that could allow the anti-malaria genes to spread.

The mosquitoes have two important genetic additions. One is genes that manufacture antibodies whenever a female mosquito has a “blood meal.” Those antibodies bind to the parasite’s surface and halt its development. Yet normally, such an engineered mosquito would pass the genes only to exactly half its offspring, since there’s a 50 percent chance any chunk of DNA would come from its mate. And since the new genes probably don’t help a mosquito much, they’d quickly peter out in the wild.

That’s where CRISPR comes in. In a gene drive, components of the CRISPR system are added such that any normal gene gets edited and the genetic cargo is added to it as well. In James’s lab, practically all the mosquitoes ended up with the genetic addition, a result Esvelt calls “astounding.”

What worries Esvelt is that, in his opinion, the California researchers haven’t used strict enough safety measures. He says locked doors and closed cages aren’t enough. He wants them to install a genetic “reversal drive” so the change can be undone, if necessary. “An accidental release would be a disaster with potentially devastating consequences for public trust in science and especially gene-drive interventions,” he says. “No gene-drive intervention must ever be released without popular support.”

James says the experiment was safe since the mosquitoes are kept behind a series of locked, card-entry doors and because they aren’t native to California. If any escaped, they wouldn’t be able to reproduce.

In fact, the whole point of a gene drive is to release it into the wild, a concept that has long been accepted, at least in theory, by public health organizations including the Gates Foundation. Now that they’re actually possible, however, alarming news headlines have compared the technology to “the next weapon of mass destruction” and even raised the specter of insect terrorism, such as mosquitoes that kill people with a toxin.

Gene-drive terrorism is probably nonsense, at least for now. That’s because even if insect weapons were possible, in practice it’s unlikely a terrorist organization would invest millions in an advanced genetic-engineering program. “I have been thinking quite a bit about bad things you could do with it, and we haven’t come up with anything that would succeed,” says Bier. “There are so many bad things you could do that are easier.”

Instead, Bier and James say they are convinced that engineered mosquitoes should be released as soon as possible, something they hope to do if they can find a community affected by malaria that will agree to it. “Imagine we could design a mosquito that would magically cure cancer,” says Bier. “Well, the fear of getting malaria is the same fear we have of getting cancer. In my opinion the benefits outweigh the risks, and we should move forward as aggressively as we can.”

Via Gerd Moe-Behrens
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Information Dynamics in the Interaction between a Prey and a Predator Fish

Accessing information efficiently is vital for animals to make the optimal decisions, and it is particularly important when they are facing predators. Yet until now, very few quantitative conclusions have been drawn about the information dynamics in the interaction between animals due to the lack of appropriate theoretic measures. Here, we employ transfer entropy (TE), a new information-theoretic and model-free measure, to explore the information dynamics in the interaction between a predator and a prey fish. We conduct experiments in which a predator and a prey fish are confined in separate parts of an arena, but can communicate with each other visually and tactilely. TE is calculated on the pair’s coarse-grained state of the trajectories. We find that the prey’s TE is generally significantly bigger than the predator’s during trials, which indicates that the dominant information is transmitted from predator to prey. We then demonstrate that the direction of information flow is irrelevant to the parameters used in the coarse-grained procedures. We further calculate the prey’s TE at different distances between it and the predator. The resulted figure shows that there is a high plateau in the mid-range of the distance and that drops quickly at both the near and the far ends. This result reflects that there is a sensitive space zone where the prey is highly vigilant of the predator’s position.

 

Information Dynamics in the Interaction between a Prey and a Predator Fish
Feng Hu, Li-Juan Nie and Shi-Jian Fu

Entropy 2015, 17(10), 7230-7241; http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/e17107230 ;


Via Complexity Digest, ComplexInsight
ComplexInsight's insight:

Interesting use of entropy for information transfer in predator-prey interactions.  Good paper - worth reading and a lot worth thinking  further about.

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Artificial Life 14

Artificial Life 14 | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

ALIFE 14, the Fourteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, presents the current state of the art of Artificial Life—the highly interdisciplinary research area on artificially constructed living systems, including mathematical, computational, robotic, and biochemical ones. The understanding and application of such generalized forms of life, or “life as it could be,” have been producing significant contributions to various fields of science and engineering.
This volume contains papers that were accepted through rigorous peer reviews for presentations at the ALIFE 14 conference. The topics covered in this volume include: Evolutionary Dynamics; Artificial Evolutionary Ecosystems; Robot and Agent Behavior; Soft Robotics and Morphologies; Collective Robotics; Collective Behaviors; Social Dynamics and Evolution; Boolean Networks, Neural Networks and Machine Learning; Artificial Chemistries, Cellular Automata and Self-Organizing Systems; In-Vitro and In-Vivo Systems; Evolutionary Art, Philosophy and Entertainment; and Methodologies.

 

Artificial Life 14

Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems

Edited by Hiroki Sayama, John Rieffel, Sebastian Risi, René Doursat and Hod Lipson

http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/artificial-life-14


Via Complexity Digest
ComplexInsight's insight:

I remember reading the first one of these and my imagination being captured by Chris Langton's introduction. Look forward to reading this one.

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Viruses affect an African flamingo population by killing their bacterial food source

Viruses affect an African flamingo population by killing their bacterial food source | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Trophic cascade effects occur when a food web is disrupted by loss or significant reduction of one or more of its members. In East African Rift Valley lakes, the Lesser Flamingo is on top of a short food chain. At irregular intervals, the dominance of their most important food source, the cyanobacterium Arthrospira fusiformis, is interrupted. Bacteriophages are known as potentially controlling photoautotrophic bacterioplankton. In Lake Nakuru (Kenya), we found the highest abundance of suspended viruses ever recorded in a natural aquatic system. We document that cyanophage infection and the related breakdown of A. fusiformis biomass led to a dramatic reduction in flamingo abundance. This documents that virus infection at the very base of a food chain can affect, in a bottom-up cascade, the distribution of end consumers. We anticipate this as an important example for virus-mediated cascading effects, potentially occurring also in various other aquatic food webs.


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Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future — Medium

Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future — Medium | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
A few years ago, I started looking online to fill in chapters of my family history that no one had ever spoken of.
ComplexInsight's insight:

Maryn McKenna has been writing a number of articulate well informed and frankly terrifying articles in Wired on the rise of drug resistant antibiotics and their societal implications. This 4000 word essay on medium is certainly worth reading and explains her personal interest in the subject. 

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Dino impact 'also destroyed bees'

Dino impact 'also destroyed bees' | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Scientists say there was a widespread extinction of bees 66 million years ago, at the same time as the event that killed off the dinosaurs.

The demise of the dinosaurs was almost certainly the result of an asteroid or comet hitting Earth. But the extinction event was selective, affecting some groups more than others. Writing in Plos One journal, the team used fossils and DNA analysis to show that one bee group suffered a serious decline at the time of this collision.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Any study explaining why a species went extinct 65 million years ago will at first glance seem disconnected from current events. However bees are critical to  agriculture and ensuring biodiversity. Understanding extinction events that impacted different species of Bees in the past  help us better understand what could happen in the future as Bee's are currently being severely impacted by diesel pollution, modern farming practises (especially insecticides), changing ecosystems and new pests.

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Microsoft's virtual ecosystem aims to simulate the entire world - NBC News.com

Microsoft's virtual ecosystem aims to simulate the entire world - NBC News.com | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

Microsoft Research and UN scientists are embarking on a highly ambitious project: A computational model of an entire ecosystem, from the soil to the creatures that live on it and interact with it...

ComplexInsight's insight:

This is a research topic very close to home for the team at complex insight since we work on related developments. Microsoft Research are aiming to accurately simulate an entire ecosystem.  Drew Purves at Microsoft Research in Cambridge thinks the time has come for what the company describes as a General Ecosystem Model (also known as GEM) — capable of simulating just about any ecosystem in the world. Purves wrote an article for the journal Nature announcing the team's intentions, and calling for others to help out — because it's not a small project. Microsoft have developed a prototype called the Madingley Model -see http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/gef/madingley.aspx ; and work is now underway with the Untied Nations Environment Programe to refine the developments.

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EU to ban fipronil to protect honeybees

EU to ban fipronil to protect honeybees | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it
Farmers will not be allowed to spray widely used insecticide blamed for declining bee population A widely used insect nerve agent will be banned from use on corn and sunflowers in Europe from the end of 2013 as part of an effort to protect bees,...
ComplexInsight's insight:

If you have been following any agricultural news in recent years - you may have seen titles such as Honey Bees's Disapearing or Bee Population Collapse. After several researchers linked the declining Bee population to fipronil insecticide useage- the EU has finally implemented a ban. Hopefully similar actions will follow elsewhere worldwide and Bee populations can begin to recover.  Bees are an essential natural component to most agricultural systems and fipronil usuage and its impact and endangering of ecosystem it was supposed to help preserve needs to become a lesson we take to heart.

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Complexity Economics: A Different Framework for Economic Thought

This paper provides a logical framework for complexity economics. Complexity economics builds from the proposition that the economy is not necessarily in equilibrium: economic agents (firms, consumers, investors) constantly change their actions and strategies in response to the outcome they mutually create. This further changes the outcome, which requires them to adjust afresh. Agents thus live in a world where their beliefs and strategies are constantly being “tested” for survival within an outcome or “ecology” these beliefs and strategies together create. Economics has largely avoided this nonequilibrium view in the past, but if we allow it, we see patterns or phenomena not visible to equilibrium analysis. These emerge probabilistically, last for some time and dissipate, and they correspond to complex structures in other fields. We also see the economy not as something given and existing but forming from a constantly developing set of technological innovations, institutions, and arrangements that draw forth further innovations, institutions and arrangements.(...) 

 

Complexity Economics: A Different Framework for Economic Thought
W. Brian Arthur
SFI WP 13-04-012

http://www.santafe.edu/research/working-papers/abstract/36df2f7d8ecd8941d8fab92ded2c4547/


Via Complexity Digest, Ashish Umre
ComplexInsight's insight:

Brian Arthur was an early pioneer of applying concepts of complex systems to economic systems and its good to see an update publication that builds on his earlier work and other work in this area. Certainly worth reading.

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Bill Aukett's curator insight, July 16, 2013 10:24 PM

If you've read Waldrop's account of the development of the complexity paradigm at the Sante Fe Institute (Waldrop, M, (1992) Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Chaos, Simon & Schuster, New York), the name Brian Arthur will be familiar.

Betty Cares's curator insight, July 17, 2013 9:39 AM

Another interesting paper from one of our great complexity thinkers, Brian Arthur, author of the El Farol Problem.  I will publish that here soon too!

Luciano Lampi's curator insight, July 18, 2013 8:11 AM

does democracy represent the best tool to face non-equilibrium states and emergence? 

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Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows

Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function, UCLA study shows | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

UCLA researchers now have the first evidence that bacteria ingested in food can affect brain function in humans. In an early proof-of-concept study of healthy women, they found that women who regularly consumed beneficial bacteria known as probiotics through yogurt showed altered brain function, both while in a resting state and in response to an emotion-recognition task.

ComplexInsight's insight:

Gut instinct and trust your gut are expressions we use often - researchers at UCLA have now shown there is more to it that simply vernacular expression. Understanding the role of bacteria and human health ecology is becoming far more important to human health than our initial approach of bombing them with anti-biotics first suggested. The new study from UCLA has implications for use of anti-biotics with neonatal care, diet and development and potentially areas such as depression. Much more research following these initial findings will be needed but we are only just starting to discover just how complex we actually are.

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Origin and diversity of novel avian influenza A H7N9 viruses causing human infection: phylogenetic, structural, and coalescent analyses : The Lancet

BackgroundOn March 30, 2013, a novel avian influenza A H7N9 virus that infects human beings was identified. This virus had been detected in six provinces and municipal cities in China as of April 18, 2013. We correlated genomic sequences from avian influenza viruses with ecological information and did phylogenetic and coalescent analyses to extrapolate the potential origins of the virus and possible routes of reassortment events.MethodsWe downloaded H7N9 virus genome sequences from the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) database and public sequences used from the Influenza Virus Resource. We constructed phylogenetic trees and did 1000 bootstrap replicates for each tree. Two rounds of phylogenetic analyses were done. We used at least 100 closely related sequences for each gene to infer the overall topology, removed suspicious sequences from the trees, and focused on the closest clades to the novel H7N9 viruses. We compared our tree topologies with those from a bayesian evolutionary analysis by sampling trees (BEAST) analysis. We used the bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo method to jointly estimate phylogenies, divergence times, and other evolutionary parameters for all eight gene fragments. We used sequence alignment and homology-modelling methods to study specific mutations regarding phenotypes, specifically addressing the human receptor binding properties.FindingsThe novel avian influenza A H7N9 virus originated from multiple reassortment events. The HA gene might have originated from avian influenza viruses of duck origin, and the NA gene might have transferred from migratory birds infected with avian influenza viruses along the east Asian flyway. The six internal genes of this virus probably originated from two different groups of H9N2 avian influenza viruses, which were isolated from chickens. Detailed analyses also showed that ducks and chickens probably acted as the intermediate hosts leading to the emergence of this virulent H7N9 virus. Genotypic and potential phenotypic differences imply that the isolates causing this outbreak form two separate subclades.InterpretationThe novel avian influenza A H7N9 virus might have evolved from at least four origins. Diversity among isolates implies that the H7N9 virus has evolved into at least two different lineages. Unknown intermediate hosts involved might be implicated, extensive global surveillance is needed, and domestic-poultry-to-person transmission should be closely watched in the future.FundingChina Ministry of Science and Technology Project 973, National Natural Science Foundation of China, China Health and Family Planning Commission, Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Via burkesquires
ComplexInsight's insight:

Firstly sidestepping the important findings for H7N9 virus, this paper illustrates the importance of rgorous methodology and  key research methods for understanding disease evolution and contagence pathways. the paper details  correlated genomic sequences and ecological information using phylogenetic and coalescent analyses to extrapolate the potential originsand  possible routes of reassortment events in H7N9 virus.  As for the findings - novel avian influenza viruses are a major concern for world wide public health - the research work in this paper raises the need for understanding intermediate hosts, viral evolution pathways and domestic poultry wild animation contact on a global scale for future health policy. Worth reading.

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It's time to redesign our economic system

It's time to redesign our economic system | Complex Insight  - Understanding our world | Scoop.it

John Fullerton asks what it will take for mainstream economists and financial theorists to understand the vital connection between economics and ecosystem. Click on the image or title to learn more.

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