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Researchers create potatoes with higher levels of carotenoids

Researchers create potatoes with higher levels of carotenoids | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
Information Services for Seed Professionals - The Best Place on the Web for Seed Professionals

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PLOS Collections : Plant Translational Research

PLOS Collections : Plant Translational Research | WWWBiology | Scoop.it

As the world's human population continues to expand, and as water resources come under increasing pressure and pathogens that cause devastating crop losses continue to spread in the face of increased global commerce and climate change, there is a pressing need for plant research to contribute solutions to improving food security in a sustainable and safe way.

Plant translational research - the development of basic plant research discoveries into technologies or approaches that improve agriculture - has a vital role to play in meeting these challenges, and given the importance of research in this field, PLOS believes that such work should be published in open access journals, ensuring that it reaches the widest possible audience without any barriers to access.

The technical advances highlighted in this PLOS Collection exemplify how basic research discoveries are being translated into methods to develop and improve, both agriculturally and environmentally, important crop traits.

At PLOS, we are committed to supporting breakthroughs in both basic and translational plant science. We encourage plant researchers to submit their high quality plant research and, in particular, plant research that has clear translational possibilities.

The Collection was produced with the support of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Collection will be updated periodically with new Plant Translational Research.

www.ploscollections.org/planttranslationalresearch


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Single-Cell Genomics Reveals Hundreds of Coexisting Subpopulations in Ocean Microbes

Single-Cell Genomics Reveals Hundreds of Coexisting Subpopulations in Ocean Microbes | WWWBiology | Scoop.it

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live in the oceans, forming the base of the marine food chain and occupying a range of ecological niches based on temperature, light and chemical preferences, and interactions with other species. But the full extent and characteristics of diversity within this single species remains a puzzle.


To probe this question, scientists in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) recently performed a cell-by-cell genomic analysis on a wild population of Prochlorococcus living in a milliliter — less than a quarter teaspoon — of ocean water, and found hundreds of distinct genetic subpopulations.


Each subpopulation in those few drops of water is characterized by a set of core gene alleles linked to a few flexible genes — a combination the MIT scientists call the “genomic backbone” — that endows the subpopulation with a finely tuned suitability for a particular ecological niche. Diversity also exists within the backbone subpopulations; most individual cells in the samples they studied carried at least one set of flexible genes not found in any other cell in its subpopulation.


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The Billion Cell Construct: Will Three-Dimensional Printing Get Us There?

The Billion Cell Construct: Will Three-Dimensional Printing Get Us There? | WWWBiology | Scoop.it

In the 1960s field known as Bionics, many human tissue functions were considered analogous to basic mechanical and electrical systems, such as servomechanisms [1]. Researchers made rapid progress recapitulating components of systems found in the body, and forecasts were made as to when human–machine interfaces would become so completely integrated with our anatomy as to be essentially undetectable. This conceptual framework has proven useful in practice, with contemporary work applied to human patients through surgical implants such as knee, hip, and limb prostheses [2]; pacemakers; and cochlear and retinal devices [3]. Although these medical devices significantly improve the quality of life for patients today, there are many functions in living tissues which cannot be addressed with electromechanical systems. Shrewd utilization of our best materials simply cannot replace tissues in the body whose functions are intimately tied to their biochemistry. For example, we don't know how to make a plastic or a metal that can metabolize acetaminophen and alcohol like the liver can.


Since cells are the major functional unit responsible for biochemistry in the body, efforts to separate cells from their native environment in vivo and apply them therapeutically in extracorporeal devices have remained steadfast. In extracorporeal liver-assist devices, live cells can be loaded into bioreactor chambers outside the body and then connected in a closed loop with host blood circulation so that the biochemical benefit from cells in the device will positively affect the patient [4],[5]. But these strategies that are external to the body, including dialysis of blood during kidney failure, lead to their own morbidities and are not suitable long-term therapies [6].


Cells loaded into extracorporeal devices or growing at the bottom of a Petri dish bear little resemblance to the exquisite anatomical complexity found in the human body. Organs like the lung, heart, brain, kidney, and liver are pervaded by incredibly elegant yet frighteningly complex vascular networks (carrying air, lymph, blood, urine, and bile), leaving us without a clear path toward physical recapitulation of these tissues in the laboratory (Figure 1). However, we don't need to fully understand tissue organization or all of developmental biology (e.g., spatiotemporal growth factor release) before we can improve the quality of life for patients suffering from damaged or diseased organs. Transplanting whole organs from a human donor into a recipient can provide lifelong benefit when accompanied with immunosuppressive therapy [7],[8]. Moreover, isolated cells have been shown to be able to provide biochemical benefit to the host, even when injected or placed at ectopic sites inside the recipient [9]–[11].

 

As we look toward the future, the prospect of using a patient's own cells to develop living models of their active biochemistry as well as functional, life-lasting cellular implants offers potentially revolutionary changes to research and healthcare. Stem cell biologists are uncovering exciting new ways to induce pluripotency [12] and direct lineage commitment [13]. But simple questions about cell number and cell types, their spatial arrangement, and local extracellular and microenvironmental considerations remain largely intractable because of difficulties in placing and culturing cells in three-dimensional (3D) space. For example, embryoid body aggregates containing thousands of cells change differentiation trajectory as a function of cell population and microenvironmental characteristics [14], while larger cell populations packed at physiologic densities rapidly die because of lack of adequate oxygen and nutrient transport.


Recent advances in 3D printing, a suite of technologies originally developed for plastic and metal manufacturing, are now being adapted to operate within the soft, wet environments where cells function best. Because 3D printing excels at producing heterogeneous physical objects of high complexity, biologists and bioengineers are gaining unprecedented access to a rich landscape of tissue architecture we've always wanted to explore.

 

Reference: Miller JS (2014) The Billion Cell Construct: Will Three-Dimensional Printing Get Us There? PLoS Biol 12(6): e1001882. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001882


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Sad statistics: 25 Alarming Global Warming Facts

Sad statistics: 25 Alarming Global Warming Facts | WWWBiology | Scoop.it

Global warming is among the most alarming environmental issues that the world faces today. This phenomenon does not simply involve the significant rise in the earth’s temperature but a lot more. The adverse effects of global warming have become more and more apparent since the dawn of the 20th century, with more hurricanes and tropical storms causing massive destruction in different areas around the world, more animal species losing their habitats and becoming extinct, and more people dying because of too much heat. Here are 25 alarming global warming statistics.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, June 20, 5:12 PM

Alarming numbers.

Jim Doyle's curator insight, June 23, 5:51 AM

Sad statistics: 25 Alarming Global Warming Facts

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Software Used for Facial Recognition Teases Out Secret Messages Hidden on Bird Eggs

Software Used for Facial Recognition Teases Out Secret Messages Hidden on Bird Eggs | WWWBiology | Scoop.it

Some bird eggs have visual signatures that help them distinguish they own clutch from impostor cuckoo .

 

For most honest bird species, brood parasites like the cuckoo are no joke. These sneaky free-loaders comprise about one percent of all bird species. Sniffing out false eggs is serious business for many birds. Brood parasites plant eggs in unsuspecting nests and leave the duped foster parents to care for their chicks—usually to the deadly detriment of the foster parents' own babies. 

 

Now, researchers from Harvard University and the University of Cambridge have discovered one way that bird parents likely keep an eye on their own eggs: with special visual signature. The researchers used the same kind of software that companies rely on for facial recognition and image stitching but applied that technology to hundreds of eggs of eight different parasitized bird species. They call the new program NaturePatternMatch.

 

The host birds, they found, have previously unrecognized egg "signatures"—essentially, secret visual cues that allow them to recognize their own among the imposters. The more intensely the bird species is targeted by cuckoos, the more complex and sophisticated their egg signatures. Some of the host birds, they found, produce exactly the same egg, whereas some show variation within their own clutch or between females within the same species. All of these methods, the team says, would likely be effective strategies for lessening the likelihood of being duped.

 

"The ability of Common Cuckoos to mimic the appearance of many of their hosts' eggs has been known for centuries," the researchers say in a statement. "The astonishing finding here is that hosts can fight back against cuckoo mimicry by evolving highly recognizable patterns on their own eggs, just like a bank might insert watermarks on its currency to deter counterfeiters."


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How a plant beckons the bacteria that will do it harm

How a plant beckons the bacteria that will do it harm | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
A common plant puts out a welcome mat to bacteria seeking to invade, and scientists have discovered the mat's molecular mix.

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Laser-assisted drug delivery is evolving

Laser-assisted drug delivery is evolving | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
(HealthDay)—Laser-assisted drug delivery can enhance the permeation of topically applied agents, according to a review published in the April issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

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Completely Surreal Photos Of America's Abandoned Malls (Rolling Acres & Randall Park)

Completely Surreal Photos Of America's Abandoned Malls (Rolling Acres & Randall Park) | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
An inside look at nine abandoned malls. There is nothing creepier and more fascinating.

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Linda Alexander's curator insight, April 2, 3:21 PM

It's sad that I am intimately familiar with two of the malls.  I remember when Rolling Acres in Akron, Ohio opened its doors.  When Randall Park Mall opened, at the time it was the largest mall in America.  I worked as a store manager at Things Remembered (Cole National Corporation) right at the top of the elevators (in the picture) in the late 70s--returning as a District Manager for a number of stores. For Things Remembered, it was their first real store (prior to Randall they only had kiosks). The store was one of the top performers in the country--if not the top performer---out of hundreds of stores. However, we had increasing issues with theft.  Nevertheless, it was likely the Targets and Walmart Stores, easier, cheaper, one-stop shopping that were the real culprits of the decline of many malls.   There were many folks that questioned this massive project right from the start--and the decline came swiftly.  RIP Randall Park...you're on the chopping block and will be an industrial park soon.

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Poachers Attack Beloved Elders of California, Its Redwoods

Poachers Attack Beloved Elders of California, Its Redwoods | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
Thieves who target burls, protrusions on trees that are valued for their intricately patterned wood, are driven by a sluggish economy and costly methamphetamine habits, officials said.

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Linda Alexander's curator insight, April 9, 4:09 PM

To say these trees are a national treasure is not a stretch by any means...

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Off the Grid: Ready to Pull the Plug on City Power? (Houzz)

Off the Grid: Ready to Pull the Plug on City Power? (Houzz) | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
What to consider if you want to stop relying on public utilities — or just have a more energy-efficient home

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Linda Alexander's curator insight, April 16, 7:09 AM

Interesting article and tips on how to be more energy efficient.

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10 Sustainable Houses That Will Have You Craving A Simpler Life -

10 Sustainable Houses That Will Have You Craving A Simpler Life - | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
Share the post "10 Sustainable Houses That Will Have You Craving A Simpler Life" Enlighten Somebody... Share Tweet + It! Pin Love Digg :) Stumble! E-mail While we often dream of purchasing giant houses and expensive cars, there is a movement brewing that aims to do the exact opposite – to downsize, and become more […]

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Whooping cough bounces back and replacement vaccine seems weak at protecting kids

Whooping cough bounces back and replacement vaccine seems weak at protecting kids | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
A new type of pertussis vaccine introduced in the late 1990s may have led to the return of a disease that was nearly eradicated 40 years ago. Public opposition to vaccination hasn’t helped matters.

 

Whooping cough has turned up in North America after decades of near absence, and we have only ourselves to blame. In the last several years, the highly contagious microbe that causes whooping cough has spawned a string of outbreaks, adeptly piercing the shield of vaccination that once afforded solid protection against it. The last time whooping cough was this pervasive in the United States, Dwight Eisenhower was president and newscasters were smoking cigarettes on TV.


Caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacterium, whooping cough is emerging from the shadows in response to a fateful switch of vaccines embraced in the 1990s, just when it seemed the disease was licked. The vaccine used today has proved less potent than its predecessor. Meanwhile, curious changes are appearing in the pertussis bacterium itself, possibly in response to the weaker vaccine, and they may further undermine its effect. To top it off, a phobia against vaccines has induced some parents to skip or delay their kids’ shots, contributing to the disease’s spread.

 

“The newer vaccine’s protection wanes over time, the pathogen is morphing and more patients aren’t getting vaccinated on time,” says Jason Glanz, an epidemiologist at the University of Colorado Denver and the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Research Colorado. “Put them together and you get greatly increased risk.”


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Infected Tasmanian devils reveal how cancer cells evolve in response to humans

Infected Tasmanian devils reveal how cancer cells evolve in response to humans | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) has ravaged the world's largest carnivorous marsupial since it emerged in 1996, resulting in a population decline of over 90%. Conservation work to defeat the disease has including removing infected individuals from the population and new research explains how this gives us a unique opportunity to understand how human selection alters the evolution of cancerous cells. DFTD is an asexually reproducing clonal cell line, which during the last 16 years has been exposed to negative effects as infected devils, approximately 33% of the population, have been removed from one site, the Forestier Peninsula, in Tasmania between 2006 and 2010.

 

However, this parasitical disease has been able survive and counteract the effect of deleterious mutation, genomic instability as well as being able to infect more than 100,000 devils.

 

"In this study, we focus on the evolutionary response of DFTD to a disease suppression trial," said Beata Ujvari, from the, The University of Sydney. "Tumors collected from devils subjected to the removal programme showed accelerated temporal evolution of tetraploidy compared with tumors from other populations where no increase of tetraploid tumors were observed."

 

The disease eradication trial provides a unique opportunity to discover the long-term effects of human selection on DFTD evolution and to explore this, the team collected tumour tissue samples between 2006 and 2011 at 11 sites within the DFTD affected areas of Tasmania.

 

"Our study clearly demonstrates that DFTD tumors are able to rapidly respond to increased selection and adapt to a selective regime," said Ujvari. "The results suggest that ploidization may offer yet another pathway to which DFTD is able to adapt to the ever-changing evolutionary landscape sculptured by the devils' immune system. Our study is the first to show that anthropogenic selection may enhance cancer evolution in the wild, and it therefore cautions about what measures we employ to try to halt the spread of this devastating disease."


Reference:

 

Beata Ujvari, Anne-Maree Pearse, Kate Swift, Pamela Hodson, Bobby Hua, Stephen Pyecroft, Robyn Taylor, Rodrigo Hamede, Menna Jones, Katherine Belov, Thomas Madsen. Anthropogenic selection enhances cancer evolution in Tasmanian devil tumours. Evolutionary Applications, 2014; 7 (2): 260 DOI: 10.1111/eva.12117
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nsf.gov - National Science Foundation (NSF) News - Learn the latest on synthetic biology at a June 26 Capitol Hill briefing - US National Science Foundation (NSF)

nsf.gov - National Science Foundation (NSF) News - Learn the latest on synthetic biology at a June 26 Capitol Hill briefing - US National Science Foundation (NSF) | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
NSF's mission is to advance the progress of science, a mission accomplished by funding proposals for research and education made by scientists, engineers, and educators from across the country.
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Learning ability in math and reading are tightly linked and highly genetic, scientists say

Learning ability in math and reading are tightly linked and highly genetic, scientists say | WWWBiology | Scoop.it

Around half of the genes that influence how well a child can read also play a role in their mathematics ability, say scientists from UCL, the University of Oxford and King’s College London who led a study into the genetic basis of cognitive traits.


While mathematics and reading ability are known to run in families, the complex system of genes affecting these traits is largely unknown. The finding deepens scientists’ understanding of how nature and nurture interact, highlighting the important role that a child’s learning environment may have on the development of reading and mathematics skills, and the complex, shared genetic basis of these cognitive traits.

 

The collaborative study, published today in Nature Communications as part of the Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium, used data from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) to analyse the influence of genetics on the reading and mathematics performance of 12-year-old children from nearly 2,800 British families.

 

Twins and unrelated children were tested for reading comprehension and fluency, and answered mathematics questions based on the UK national curriculum. The information collected from these tests was combined with DNA data, showing a substantial overlap in the genetic variants that influence mathematics and reading. 


Dr Chris Spencer (Oxford University), lead author said: “We’re moving into a world where analysing millions of DNA changes, in thousands of individuals, is a routine tool in helping scientists to understand aspects of human biology. This study used the technique to help investigate the overlap in the genetic component of reading and maths ability in children. Interestingly, the same method can be applied to pretty much any human trait, for example to identify new links between diseases and disorders, or the way in which people respond to treatments.”


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Rick Frank's curator insight, July 14, 2:27 AM

I can hear the protesters screaming already :)

Diane Johnson's curator insight, July 14, 9:24 AM

Really interesting - the more we know about our genetic underpinnings, the more we know there is to learn.

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Crossing the Interspecies Barrier: Opening the Door to Zoonotic Pathogens

Crossing the Interspecies Barrier: Opening the Door to Zoonotic Pathogens | WWWBiology | Scoop.it

The number of pathogens known to infect humans is ever increasing. Whether such increase reflects improved surveillance and detection or actual emergence of novel pathogens is unclear. Nonetheless, infectious diseases are the second leading cause of human mortality and disability-adjusted life years lost worldwide [1-2]. On average, three to four new pathogen species are detected in the human population every year [3]. Most of these emerging pathogens originate from nonhuman animal species.


Zoonotic pathogens represent approximately 60% of all known pathogens able to infect humans [4]. Their occurrence in humans relies on the human-animal interface, defined as the continuum of contacts between humans and animals, their environments, or their products. The human-animal interface has existed since the first footsteps of the human species and its hominin ancestors 6–7 million years ago, promoting the prehistoric emergence of now well-established human pathogens [5]. These presumably include pathogens with roles in the origin of chronic diseases, such as human T-lymphotropic viruses and Helicobacter pylori, as well as pathogens causing major crowd diseases, such as the smallpox and measles viruses and Bordetella pertussis [6]. Since prehistory, the human-animal interface has continued to evolve and expand, ever allowing new pathogens to access the human host and cross species barriers [5].


Species Barriers:

The suitability of any species to act as a host to a particular pathogen varies due to both host species– and pathogen-dependent factors, which define the species barriers. The species barriers separating nonhuman animal species from humans and thus of concern for zoonotic pathogens are the focus of this paper. However, the proposed conceptual framework is applicable to any host-pathogen system.


The species barriers separating nonhuman animal species from humans represent a major hurdle for effective exposure to, infection by, and subsequent spread of zoonotic pathogens among humans [7]. Accordingly, these species barriers can be divided into three largely complementary sets. First, the interspecies barrier determines the nature and level of human exposure to zoonotic pathogens. Second, the intrahuman barrier determines the ability of zoonotic pathogens to productively infect a human host and effectively cope with the immune response. Third, the interhuman barrier determines the ability of zoonotic pathogens to efficiently transmit among humans, causing outbreaks, epidemics, or pandemics. Zoonotic pathogens may cross, more or less efficiently, one or more of these sets of barriers. Only pathogens that cross all barriers have the potential to sustainably establish in the human population.


Via Mel Melendrez-Vallard, Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Not as random as thought: Modeling how neurons work together to perform complex movements

Not as random as thought: Modeling how neurons work together to perform complex movements | WWWBiology | Scoop.it

In a bid to better understand the brain and also to create robotics limbs that behave more realistically, a team of three European universities has developed a highly accurate new model of how neurons behave when performing complex movements.

 

The results from the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) are published in the June 18 edition of the journal Neuron.

 

The new theory was inspired by recent experiments carried out at Stanford University, which had uncovered some key aspects of the signals that neurons emit before, during, and after a movement. “There is a remarkable synergy in the activity recorded simultaneously in hundreds of neurons,” said Guillaume Hennequin, PhD, of EPFL’s Department of Engineering, who led the research. “In contrast, previous models of cortical circuit dynamics predict a lot of redundancy, and therefore poorly explain what happens in the motor cortex during movements.”

 

I addition to helping us better understand the brain, better models of how neurons behave will aid in designing prosthetic limbs controlled via electrodes implanted in the brain. “Our theory could provide a more accurate guess of how neurons would want to signal both movement intention and execution to the robotic limb,” said Hennequin.

 

References:

Guillaume Hennequin, Tim P. Vogels, Wulfram Gerstner, Optimal Control of Transient Dynamics in Balanced Networks Supports Generation of Complex Movements, Neuron, 2014, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.04.045
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World's smallest pair of 3D glasses for praying mantis

World's smallest pair of 3D glasses for praying mantis | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
Scientists from Newcastle University created the tiny glasses to investigate the 3D vision of the praying mantis and think their experiment could lead to new technologies.

Via Philippe Smelty, Jocelyn Stoller
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Quantifying Phytogeographical Regions of Australia Using Geospatial Turnover in Species Composition

Quantifying Phytogeographical Regions of Australia Using Geospatial Turnover in Species Composition | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
PLOS ONE: an inclusive, peer-reviewed, open-access resource from the PUBLIC LIBRARY OF SCIENCE. Reports of well-performed scientific studies from all disciplines freely available to the whole world.

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'Chameleon' crystals could camouflage clothing and cars

'Chameleon' crystals could camouflage clothing and cars | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
The latex paint microparticles rearrange themselves according to the pattern of light they're exposed to, but only when in a liquid.

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Diane Johnson's curator insight, April 29, 7:38 PM

Engineering implications

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22 Interactive Lessons to Bring Earth Day to Life

22 Interactive Lessons to Bring Earth Day to Life | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
Some great resources to bring environmental science alive in the classroom.

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Character Minutes's curator insight, April 7, 5:45 PM

Several will emphasize character traits of thriftiness and/or resourcefulness.

Diane Johnson's curator insight, April 9, 5:28 AM

Nice range of topics to be used for Earth Day or with many topics aligned to the NGSS.

El Futuro deWaukesha's curator insight, April 17, 9:04 PM

Some great ideas

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Can You Identify These Cities From Their Light Signatures? (QUIZ)

Can You Identify These Cities From Their Light Signatures? (QUIZ) | WWWBiology | Scoop.it

"The light that a city emits is like its glowing fingerprint. From the orderly grid of Manhattan, to the sprawling, snaking streets of Milan, to the bright contrast of Kuwait’s ring-roads, each city leaves its own pattern of tiny glowing dots. See if you can ID these cities based on the way they shine."


Via Seth Dixon, Linda Alexander
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Seth Dixon's curator insight, April 12, 6:59 PM

This short quiz of 16 cities combines several analytic components of geography that you won't see in more standard map quizzes for regional geography;  this draws on some similar skills similar to the map quiz that was based on identifying the city based on Starbucks locations.  Some recognition of local spatial patterns from previous map analysis can make this quiz easier but there are still some cities that you haven't ever looked at from space before.  Things to consider as you attempt this quiz:  Which of the four possible selections can you rule out out?  What enabled you to eliminate those selections (e.g.-coastal, scale, size, grid pattern, transportation systems, density, etc.)?  What does to layout of the city tell us about the planning and historical origins of the city?  Is there one urban model that best helps us explain the configuration of this city?     


Tags: urbanmodels, planning, density, urbanism, unit 7 citiestrivia.

Nevermore Sithole's curator insight, April 14, 8:00 AM

Geography education

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10 Sustainable Houses That Will Have You Craving A Simpler Life -

10 Sustainable Houses That Will Have You Craving A Simpler Life - | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
Share the post "10 Sustainable Houses That Will Have You Craving A Simpler Life" Enlighten Somebody... Share Tweet + It! Pin Love Digg :) Stumble! E-mail While we often dream of purchasing giant houses and expensive cars, there is a movement brewing that aims to do the exact opposite – to downsize, and become more […]

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New treatment for hepatitis C "cured" 90% of patients with the infection in 12 weeks, scientists said

New treatment for hepatitis C "cured" 90% of patients with the infection in 12 weeks, scientists said | WWWBiology | Scoop.it

An international study involving 380 patients has seen 90% of patients "cured" of Hepatitis C in the course of 12 weeks. Experts are calling the treatment a turning point in the treatment of the pernicious disease, which wreaks havoc on the livers of those it infects. Too bad it costs over $80,000 for a course of treatment.


The treatment goes by the name of Sovaldi and was created by Gilead Sciences. The BBC has a good rundown of the study:  Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Centre tested the new oral drug in 380 patients at 78 centres in Spain, Germany, England and the US in 2013. Two studies were carried out, one in patients for 12 weeks, and another, for 24 weeks. The patients had liver cirrhosis, indicating an advanced form of the virus.


After 12 weeks, 191 of 208 patients no longer had hepatitis C, which increased to 165 of 172 patients, or 96%, after 24 weeks. Lead researcher, Dr Fred Poordad said: "It is fantastic. I am so excited for the patients. There is finally hope for their future." He said the drug worked by targeting the protein that makes hepatitis C and stopping it from replicating. "Eventually the virus is extinguished," he said.


All excellent news, of course. The bad news is that the treatment is ridiculously expensive. Gilead has proposed a global, tiered pricing system that is based on each country's per capita gross national income. According to Reuters, the cost for a full course of treatment in the U.K. is about $57,000; the price in Germany around $66,000; and the price in America around $84,000. That's close to $1,000 a pill for U.S. residents. And in Egypt and other developing countries, the bill amounts to $900 - a whooping 99 percent less than in the U.S.

 

The company's price scheme has been called "unreasonably high" and "obscene" by care providers like Kaiser Permanente and Molina Healthcare, respectively. Even Congress asked Gilead to justify the price of their drug.

 

But Gilead has stood firm on its price plan, arguing that their drug is worth the cost because it works faster and more effectively than anything else. Fortunately, it looks like they'll finally have some competition in the coming months.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Ahmed Atef's comment, April 14, 2:43 AM
Is there any technical information for this drug. What is the technology for targeting.
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World's rarest primate faces extinction

World's rarest primate faces extinction | WWWBiology | Scoop.it
Rescue bid launched to save Hainan gibbon from becoming first ape driven to extinction by humans.

 

China’s wildlife conservation efforts are under scrutiny as scientists battle to save a species found only in a tiny corner of an island in the South China Sea. The Hainan gibbon is the world’s rarest primate and its long-term survival is in jeopardy, according to an analysis.


Only 23 to 25 of the animals are thought to remain, clustered in less than 20 square kilometers of forest in China’s Hainan Island. The species (Nomascus hainanus), which numbered more than 2,000 in the late 1950s, has been devastated through the destruction of habitat from logging, and by poaching. Extinction would give the gibbon the unwelcome distinction of being the first ape to be wiped out because of human actions. To hammer out a plan to save it, international primate researchers convened an emergency summit in Hainan last month.


“With the right conservation management, it is still possible to conserve and recover the Hainan gibbon population,” says meeting co-chair Samuel Turvey, who studies animal extinctions at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). “But given the current highly perilous state of the species, we cannot afford to wait any longer before initiating a more proactive and coordinated recovery programme.” He adds that the meeting was a successful first step towards saving the animal and that a plan of action is being finalized.

 

The plan will be based in part on a ‘population viability analysis’ that models the potential size of the gibbon population in coming decades for a range of different scenarios. It is being drawn up by Kathy Traylor Holzer, a conservation planner at the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group in Apple Valley, Minnesota. “It’s one of the smallest populations I’ve ever worked with,” says Traylor Holzer. “That number — in one place — is extremely scary.”



Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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