Tag Archives: environmental changes

Newly Discovered Receptors in Plants Help Them Recover from Environmental Changes, Pests, and Plant Wounds, MU Study Shows

Discovery could lead to herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides that naturally work with plants to make them stronger

COLUMBIA, Mo. – ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is the main energy source inside a cell and is considered to be the high energy molecule that drives all life processes in animals and humans. Outside the cell, membrane receptors that attract ATP drive muscle control, neurotransmission, inflammation and development.  Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found the same receptor in plants and believe it to be a vital component in the way plants respond to dangers, including pests, environmental changes and plant wounds. This discovery could lead to herbicides, fertilizers and insect repellants that naturally work with plants to make them stronger. (more…)

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NASA’S Mars Curiosity Debuts Autonomous Navigation

PASADENA, Calif. – NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has used autonomous navigation for the first time, a capability that lets the rover decide for itself how to drive safely on Mars.

This latest addition to Curiosity’s array of capabilities will help the rover cover the remaining ground en route to Mount Sharp, where geological layers hold information about environmental changes on ancient Mars. The capability uses software that engineers adapted to this larger and more complex vehicle from a similar capability used by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which is also currently active on Mars. (more…)

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Expressly Unfit for the Laboratory

Berkeley Lab Researchers Find Little Correlation Between Microbial Gene Expression and Environmental Conditions in the Laboratory

A new study challenges the orthodoxy of microbiology, which holds that in response to environmental changes, bacterial genes will boost production of needed proteins and decrease production of those that aren’t. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) found that for bacteria in the laboratory there was little evidence of adaptive genetic response. In fact, most bacterial genes appear to be regulated by signals unrelated to their function.

“Gene regulation in bacteria is usually described as an adaptive response to an environmental change so that genes are expressed only when they are required, but we’ve shown that in the laboratory gene regulation is often maladaptive,” says Adam Arkin, a systems and synthetic biologist and director of Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division. “From our results, we propose that most bacterial genes are under indirect control, which means their expression is a response to signals not directly related to their function, and that their regulatory mechanisms perform poorly in the artificial conditions of a laboratory.” (more…)

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The Black Sea is a Goldmine of Ancient Genetic Data

New Study Reconstructs the Past Ocean ‘Paleome’

When Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) marine paleoecologist Marco Coolen was mining through vast amounts of genetic data from the Black Sea sediment record, he was amazed about the variety of past plankton species that left behind their genetic makeup (i.e., the plankton paleome).

The semi-isolated Black Sea is highly sensitive to climate driven environmental changes, and the underlying sediments represent high-resolution archives of past continental climate and concurrent hydrologic changes in the basin. The brackish Black Sea is currently receiving salty Mediterranean waters via the narrow Strait of Bosphorus as well as freshwater from rivers and via precipitation. (more…)

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NASA’s HyspIRI Sees the Forest for the Trees and More

To Robert Green, light contains more than meets the eye: it contains fingerprints of materials that can be detected by sensors that capture the unique set of reflected wavelengths. Scientists have used the technique, called imaging spectroscopy, to learn about water on the moon, minerals on Mars and the composition of exoplanets. Green’s favorite place to apply the technique, however, is right here on the chemically rich Earth, which is just what he and colleagues achieved this spring during NASA’s Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) airborne campaign.

“We have ideas about what makes up Earth’s ecosystems and how they function,” said Green, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who is principal investigator of the campaign’s Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) instrument. “But a comprehensive understanding requires us to directly measure these things and how they change over landscapes and from season to season.” (more…)

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Mutant Champions Save Imperiled Species from Almost-Certain Extinction

Species facing widespread and rapid environmental changes can sometimes evolve quickly enough to dodge the extinction bullet. Populations of disease-causing bacteria evolve, for example, as doctors flood their “environment,” the human body, with antibiotics. Insects, animals and plants can make evolutionary adaptations in response to pesticides, heavy metals and overfishing.

Previous studies have shown that the more gradual the change, the better the chances for “evolutionary rescue” – the process of mutations occurring fast enough to allow a population to avoid extinction in changing environments. One obvious reason is that more individuals remain alive when change is gradual or moderate, meaning there are more opportunities for a winning mutation to emerge. (more…)

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In Conversation: Sir Peter Crane

Evolutionary biologist Sir Peter Crane has been dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) since 2009. A former director of Chicago’s Field Museum and chief executive of England’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, he recently spoke with Yale News about F&ES’ internationalism, the role of business in environmental management, and what it was like to be knighted at Buckingham Palace, among other topics. The following is an edited version of that conversation. (more…)

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NASA: Climate Change May Bring Big Ecosystem Changes

PASADENA, Calif. – By 2100, global climate change will modify plant communities covering almost half of Earth’s land surface and will drive the conversion of nearly 40 percent of land-based ecosystems from one major ecological community type – such as forest, grassland or tundra – toward another, according to a new NASA and university computer modeling study.

Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., investigated how Earth’s plant life is likely to react over the next three centuries as Earth’s climate changes in response to rising levels of human-produced greenhouse gases. Study results are published in the journal Climatic Change. (more…)

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