Pesticides may cause bumble bees to lose their buzz, study finds

Pesticides significantly reduce the number of pollen grains a bumblebee is able to collect, a new University of Stirling study has found. The research, conducted by a team in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, found that field-realistic doses of a neonicotinoid pesticide affects the behaviour of bees ultimately interfering with the type of vibrations they produce while collecting pollen. Dr Penelope Whitehorn, the University of Stirling Research Fellow who led the research, said: “Our result is the first to demonstrate quantitative changes in the type of buzzes produced by bees…

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Disease-resistant apples perform better than old favorites

WineCrisp apples. New disease-resistant apples appear to perform better than some old favorites. Credit: David Riecks, University of Illinois You may not find them in the produce aisle yet, but it’s only a matter of time before new disease-resistant apple cultivars overtake favorites like Honeycrisp in popularity, according to a University of Illinois apple expert. “I know everyone wants Honeycrisp, but they’re notoriously hard to grow. There are so many issues in producing the fruit: the tree might produce a lot one year, but none the next; the fruit doesn’t…

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Flower attracts insects by pretending to be a mushroom

Aspidistra elatior flowers blooming half-buried in the earth. Credit: Image courtesy of Kobe University The mysterious flowers of Aspidistra elatior are found on the southern Japanese island of Kuroshima. Until recently, scientists thought that A. elatior has the most unusual pollination ecology among all flowering plants, being pollinated by slugs and amphipods. However, direct observation of their ecosystem has revealed that they are mainly pollinated by fungus gnats, probably thanks to their resemblance to mushrooms. This discovery was made by Project Associate Professor SUETSUGU Kenji (Kobe University Graduate School of…

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How to keep cows happy

Brazilian study shows how small changes on farms can lower stress levels of cattle   Story Source: Materials provided by Springer. Corrals are used on livestock farms around the world to round up the animals when they need to be weighed or vaccinated. New research now shows that removing splashes of colors, shadows or water puddles from corrals, keeping noise levels down and not using dogs and electric prods can dramatically reduce the stress cattle experience. Maria Lúcia Pereira Lima of the Instituto de Zootecnia Sertãozinho in Brazil is the…

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Mushrooms are full of antioxidants that may have antiaging potential

Robert Beelman is Professor Emeritus of Food Science at Penn State and Director of the Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health. Credit: Patrick Mansell Story Source: Materials provided by Penn State. Mushrooms may contain unusually high amounts of two antioxidants that some scientists suggest could help fight aging and bolster health, according to a team of Penn State researchers. In a study, researchers found that mushrooms have high amounts of the ergothioneine and glutathione, both important antioxidants, said Robert Beelman, professor emeritus of food science and director of…

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Where a leaf lands and lies influences carbon levels in soil for years to come

Detailed shot of a soil horizon studied to examine litter decay. Credit: Image courtesy of John Bryan Curtis In one of the few such studies, scientists examined how dead leaves, roots, and other plant litter decay over a decade. The team used stable isotope labels to trace plant litter-derived carbon and nitrogen as the litter decomposed and formed soil, specifically the fraction of soil called organic matter, which comes from plant inputs and microscopic animals. They found that the litter type (needles or roots) and the placement in the soil…

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Genomic study reveals clues to wild past of grapes

Humans may have gathered them for 15,000 years before cultivating the fruit as a crop “The data indicate that humans gathered grapes in the wild for centuries before cultivating them,” says study co-leader Brandon Gaut, UCI professor of ecology & evolutionary biology. The research also revealed key genetic alterations during domestication that are still evident today in the fruit, such as these grenache grapes grown in Southern France. Credit: Brandon Gaut / UCI About 22,000 years ago, as the ice sheets that consumed much of North America and Europe began…

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Discovery of 8,000-year-old wine production in ancient Middle East

Archaeologists find earliest evidence of wine-making This is base of Neolithic jar being prepared for sampling for residue analysis. Credit: Judyta Olszewski Excavations in the Republic of Georgia by the Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition (GRAPE), a joint undertaking between the University of Toronto (U of T) and the Georgian National Museum, have uncovered evidence of the earliest wine making anywhere in the world. The discovery dates the origin of the practice to the Neolithic period around 6000 BC, pushing it back 600-1,000 years from the previously accepted date.…

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In bee decline, fungicides emerge as improbable villain

Fungicides particularly chlorothalonil — appear to be impacting bee health. Credit: © Zacarias da Mata / Fotolia When a Cornell-led team of scientists analyzed two dozen environmental factors to understand bumblebee population declines and range contractions, they expected to find stressors like changes in land use, geography or insecticides. Instead, they found a shocker: fungicides, commonly thought to have no impact. “Insecticides work; they kill insects. Fungicides have been largely overlooked because they are not targeted for insects, but fungicides may not be quite as benign toward bumblebees as we…

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Rising inequality charted across millennia

Findings have profound implications for contemporary society Hunter-gatherer societies typically had low wealth disparities. Their mobility would make it hard to accumulate wealth. (stock image) Credit: © Rafal Cichawa / Fotolia Researchers at Washington State University and 13 other institutions have found that the arc of prehistory bends towards economic inequality. In the largest study of its kind, the researchers saw disparities in wealth mount with the rise of agriculture, specifically the domestication of plants and large animals, and increased social organization. Their findings, published this week in the journal…

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