Tag Archives: chemical

New Sustainable Production Method Could Advance Plastics and Pharmaceuticals

AUSTIN, Texas — A team of chemical engineers at The University of Texas at Austin has developed a new, cost-effective method for synthetically producing a biorenewable platform chemical called triacetic acid lactone (TAL) that can be used to produce innovative new drugs and sustainable plastics at an industrial scale, as described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (more…)

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‘Life as Research Scientist’: Carla Spence, Biologist

Carla Spence is graduating with a Ph.D in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Delaware in Summer 2014.  She entered graduate school after receiving her B.S. in biology from the same University.  She loves spending her leisure time with her husband, Sean, 2 years old son Trent, and her 8 months old daughter Callia.   

Recently we spoke with Miss Spence to know more about her research, especially regarding the study published in BMC Plant Biology (doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-130) and also about why it is important, how life as a research scientist is, and so on. So let’s go ahead:

Q. Let us start with your research topic. What is your research area? Will you please tell us a bit more on this? What did you find?

Carla Spence:  The focus of this project is using natural soil microbes to increase the resistance of rice to blast disease.  Rice blast is caused by the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae.  We isolated bacteria from the rice rhizosphere, which is the soil surrounding the roots, and found one bacterium, EA105, which can drastically inhibit the growth of M. oryzae.  What’s more interesting is that rice roots can be treated with EA105 and this triggers a defense response in the plant called Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR) which makes the rice plants more resistant to M. oryzae infection.  EA105 can protect rice from M. oryzae without physically coming into contact with the fungus.  (more…)

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Emotional attachment to robots could affect outcome on battlefield

Too busy to vacuum your living room? Let Roomba the robot do it. Don’t want to risk a soldier’s life to disable an explosive? Let a robot do it.

It’s becoming more common to have robots sub in for humans to do dirty or sometimes dangerous work. But researchers are finding that in some cases, people have started to treat robots like pets, friends, or even as an extension of themselves. That raises the question, if a soldier attaches human or animal-like characteristics to a field robot, can it affect how they use the robot? What if they “care” too much about the robot to send it into a dangerous situation? (more…)

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Monitoring concrete

UD professors study microbes as potential biomarkers for damaged concrete

Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world. However, many concrete roadways and bridges crack due to internal chemical reactions, temperature fluctuations or external chemical and physical stresses.

One internal chemical reaction is the Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR) that destroys the concrete from within.  (more…)

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Countering Brain Chemical Could Prevent Suicides

Researchers have found the first proof that a chemical in the brain called glutamate is linked to suicidal behavior, offering new hope for efforts to prevent people from taking their own lives.

Writing in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, Michigan State University’s Lena Brundin and an international team of co-investigators present the first evidence that glutamate is more active in the brains of people who attempt suicide. Glutamate is an amino acid that sends signals between nerve cells and has long been a suspect in the search for chemical causes of depression. (more…)

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New Noninvasive Tool Helps Target Parkinson’s Disease

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Health professionals may soon have a new method of diagnosing Parkinson’s disease, one that is noninvasive and inexpensive, and, in early testing, has proved to be effective more than 90 percent of the time.

In addition, this new method has the potential to track the progression of Parkinson’s, as well as measure the effectiveness of treatments for the disorder, said Rahul Shrivastav, professor and chairperson of Michigan State University’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders and a member of the team developing the new method.

It involves monitoring a patient’s speech patterns – specifically, movement patterns of the tongue and jaw. (more…)

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Importance of Gene-Gene Interactions Shown in Study

Gaining more insight into predicting how genes affect physical or behavioral traits by charting the genotype-phenotype map holds promise to speed discoveries in personalized medicine. But figuring out exactly how genes interact has left parts of the map invisible.

In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, North Carolina State University genetics researchers reveal some of the hidden portions of the map, showing that complicated networks of gene-gene interactions in fruit flies greatly influence the variance in quantitative traits, or characteristics that are influenced by multiple genes – like sensitivity to alcohol or aggression. (more…)

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Scientists Define New Limits of Microbial Life in Undersea Volcanoes

A third of Earth’s organisms live in rocks and sediments, but their lives have been a mystery

By some estimates, a third of Earth’s organisms live in our planet’s rocks and sediments, yet their lives are almost a complete mystery.

This week, the work of microbiologist James Holden of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and colleagues shines a light into this dark world.

In the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they report the first detailed data on methane-exhaling microbes that live deep in the cracks of hot undersea volcanoes. (more…)

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