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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Human transport has unpredictable genetic, evolutionary consequences for marine species

Human activities, such as shipping, are having a noticeable impact on marine species and their native habitats. New research says that human forms of transport can disrupt natural genetic patterns that have been shaped over long periods of time. This has unknown consequences for both native and invasive species.

Fungal infection that could help understand some allergies

Researchers reveal how mould from humidity caused by rotting fruits and vegetables unfolds a surprising strategy to infect plants. 

Could a 300-year old murder mystery finally be solved?

A skeleton was found during construction work at Leine castle in Niedersachsen, Germany in the summer of 2016. This is where Swedish count Philip Christoph Königsmarck disappeared 322 years ago – could it be him? New research follows the dangerous love story between Philip Königsmarck and Georg Ludwig’s wife Sophia Dorothea through the love letters they wrote to each other.

Rockcress for heavy-metal clean up

Rockcress of the Arabidopsis halleri species is known to possess the capability of settling on hostile, heavy metal-contaminated soil. It stores extraordinary high concentrations of certain toxic heavy metals in its leaves: a rare property. Researchers have analyzed approx. 2,000 specimens of this species from 165 locations throughout Europe. In this process, they identified overwhelming diversity that has arisen among plants of the same species over the course of evolution. Their findings help explore plants’ enormous potential for future technologies; in this case, they aid the detoxification of soil and the extraction of metals that are of economic interest. 

Small-scale agriculture threatens the rainforest

An extensive study has mapped the effects of small farmers on the rain forests of Southeast Asia for the first time. The findings are discouraging, with regard to environmental impact, biodiversity and the economy, over the long term.

Plant discovered that neither photosynthesizes nor blooms

A new species of plant has been discovered on the subtropical Japanese island of Kuroshima (located off the southern coast of Kyushu in Kagoshima prefecture) and named it Gastrodia kuroshimensis. The new flowering plant species is a very rare event as the flora of this region have been thoroughly investigated. However, G. kuroshimensis was a particularly special discovery because it is both completely mycoheterophic, deriving its nutrition not from photosynthesis but from host fungi, and completely cleistogamous, producing flowers that never bloom.

Diversified management provides multiple benefits in boreal forests

Forests provide multiple social and environmental benefits and play a key role in bioeconomy particularly in the Nordic countries. For example, the Finnish bioeconomy strategy aims to considerably increase the use of forest-based biomasses and forest harvesting by 2025. However, new research shows that there are strong conflicts between intensive timber harvesting and the provision of other benefits or the maintenance of biodiversity.

Wind patterns in lowest layers of supercell storms key to predicting tornadoes

Wind patterns in the lowest 500 meters of the atmosphere near supercell thunderstorms can help predict whether that storm will generate a tornado, report investigators.

What’s that? New study finds jumping spiders can hear more than you think

While jumping spiders are known to have great vision, a new study proves for the first time that spiders can hear at a distance. A study describes how researchers used metal microelectrodes in a jumping spider’s poppy-seed-sized brain to show that auditory neurons can sense far-field sounds, at distances up to 3 meters, or about 600 spider body lengths.

Extraterrestrial impact preceded ancient global warming event

A comet strike may have triggered the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a rapid warming of Earth caused by an accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide 56 million years ago, which offers analogs to global warming today.

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Urbanization changes shape of mosquitoes’ wings

Research shows that rapid urbanization in São Paulo City, Brazil, is influencing wing morphology in the mosquitoes that transmit dengue and malaria.

No-deal Brexit ‘means hard border’ – European Commission

No deal makes hard border obvious, says EC spokesman, but Irish government calls that unacceptable. Source: BBC

How sex pheromones diversify: Lessons from yeast

What happens to sex pheromones as new species emerge? New research studies sex pheromones in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, revealing an 'asymmetric' pheromone recognition system in which one pheromone operates extremely stringently whereas the other pheromone is free to undergo a certain degree of diversification, perhaps leading to a first step towards speciation.