A world-first completed clinical study by an Australian team has found Kava, a medicinal South Pacific plant, significantly reduced the symptoms of people suffering anxiety. During the eight-week study, 75 patients with clinically diagnosed Generalised Anxiety Disorder were given Kava or placebo, and anxiety levels were regularly assessed. Results showed a significant reduction in anxiety for the Kava group compared to the placebo group at the end of the study.
A material designed to mimic the hooked hairs found on the underside of leaves could help trap and control bedbugs, the Journal of the Royal Society Interface reports. The researchers were inspired by an age-old remedy formerly used in Bulgaria and Serbia where kidney-bean leaves were strewn on the floor next to beds to trap the bugs. The greenery was burned the next day. Bedbugs have no evolutionary link with bean plants - although the general idea that plants have developed to trap insects like aphids and spider mites is known.
They conclude that whereas competition for light favours rapid growth in light-demanding trees native to environments with warm, frost-free growing seasons, frost resistance may be an equally important determinant of the fitness of light-demanders in cool-temperate rainforests, as seedlings establishing in large openings are exposed to sub-zero temperatures that can occur throughout most of the year.
Medieval legend in Europe spoke of a strange animal that could supposedly be found far off in central Asia: the vegetable lamb. According to legend, this was an animal much like an ordinary sheep except that it grew directly from a plant, to which it remained attached by the umbilical cord. The vegetable lamb would sustain itself by grazing on nearby vegetation but when this was depleted, as the lamb could not move away from the plant to which it was attached, the lamb would die. How such a pointlessly self-defeating organism was supposed to persist does not appear to have concerned the medieval lexicographers; presumably it was supposed to be allegorical of something.
An insect-eating pitcher plant teams up with ants to prevent mosquito larvae from stealing its nutrients.In this new study, researchers demonstrated a flow of nutrients from ants to their plant hosts, and found that plants colonized by insects received more nitrogen than those that did not host ants. Ants appeared to increase the pitchers’ capture efficiency by keeping traps clean, and also protected the plants by actively hunting mosquito larvae that otherwise bred in pitcher fluids and sucked up plant nutrients.
Historically, ‘physical dormancy’, or ‘hard seededness’, where seeds are prevented from germinating by a water-impermeable seed coat, is viewed as a dormancy mechanism. However, upon water uptake, resumption of metabolism leads to the unavoidable release of volatile by-products, olfactory cues that are perceived by seed predators. Here, we examine the hypothesis that hard seeds are an anti-predator trait that evolved in response to powerful selection by small mammal seed predators.Seeds of two legume species with dimorphic seeds (‘hard’ and ‘soft’), Robinia pseudoacacia and Vicia sativa, were offered to desert hamsters (Phodopus roborovskii) in a series of seed removal studies examining the differences in seed harvest between hard and soft seeds. Volatile compounds emitted by dry and imbibed soft seeds were identified by headspace gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS).Fourteen main volatile compounds were identified, and hamsters readily detected both buried imbibed seeds and an artificial ‘volatile cocktail’ that mimicked the scent of imbibed seeds, but could not detect buried hard or dry soft seeds.We argue that physical dormancy has evolved to hide seeds from mammalian predators. This hypothesis also helps to explain some otherwise puzzling features of hard seeds and has implications for seed dispersal.
In past centuries it was common practice for some of the European scientific societies to invite essays on particular topics and offer prizes. For its prizes of 1786 the Académie des Sciences, Belles-Lettres et Arts of Lyon invited essays on the subject of the lichens that could be used in medicine and the arts. Prizes were awarded to three essays by Pierre Joseph Amoreux, Georg Franz Hoffmann and Pierre Rémy Willemet.
The study only found an association, and cannot prove that low melatonin levels cause Type 2 diabetes. But the findings raise the question of whether increasing people's melatonin levels, through supplements or prolonged exposure to darkness, could decrease diabetes risk, said study researcher Dr. Ciaran McMullan, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston..
They found tremendous quantities of a root crop (malanga, a relative of taro) that previously had not been associated with Maya agriculture. They found another "invisible" crop of manioc alongside the more anticipated fields of maize, and they found grasses no longer in existence on the modern-day El Salvador landscape.
Salad is not just a food; it's home to a flourishing community of mostly benign microbes. A new inventory finds surprising differences in the bacteria growing on popular fruits and vegetables.
But understanding the microbiomes of fruits and vegetables, he says, may ultimately make it possible to figure out ways to delay spoilage in fresh produce, or to learn how the food bacteria interact with each other and with the millions of bacteria in the human gut.
Japan’s herbal medicine industry is making efforts to ensure that there is no shortage of licorice supply as import prices have increased 50% for the past five years. This is due to China’s tightened regulations on harvesting and exporting licorice to protect their own supply.
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