To breed or not to breed? Migratory female butterflies face a monsoonal dilemma

                This is an image of a Euploea sylvester. Credit: Dr. Krushnamegh Kunte, NCBS-TIFR   What do CPUs, stockbrokers, and butterflies have in common? They are good at investing their resources in the right place at the right time so as to maximize their returns! Trade-offs are a way of life for butterflies and other small insects that must budget their energy between numerous morphological features and activities during their short lifespans. Time, food, and space are always at a premium, and optimizing resource use is particularly important for…

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Brain study reveals how insects make beeline for home

Researchers have shed light on the complex navigation system that insects use to make their way home in a straight line following long, complex journeys. Credit: © duskojovic / Fotolia Story Source: Materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Scientists have discovered how the wiring of bees’ brains helps them plot the most direct route back to their hive. Researchers have shed light on the complex navigation system that insects use to make their way home in a straight line following long, complex journeys. They have revealed how a network of…

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An algorithm that explains how ants create and repair trail networks

Ants of the species C. goniodontus, painted so that researchers can track their movement through the network of vegetation that connects their nests and food sources. Credit: Deborah Gordon Story Source: Materials provided by Stanford University. Imagine you’re a member of the Cephalotes goniodontus species, an arboreal ant with a Darth Vader-like head that has inspired humans to call you “turtle ants.” You’re moving along a branch of the tangled tree canopy in Jalisco, Mexico, following a scent trail left by other ants from your colony, but you hit an…

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Scientists and farmers work together to wipe out African Love-Grass

Highly invasive African lovegrass is threatening pastures and native grasslands Australia-wide. Credit: QUT Marketing & Communication Story Source: Materials provided by Queensland University of Technology. A partnership between QUT, the NSW Government and farmers could lead to the eventual eradication of the highly invasive African lovegrass threatening pastures and native grasslands Australia-wide. What they discovered is that local knowledge is the key to a successful management approach. The results of a research project by Associate Professor Jennifer Firn from QUT’s School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences, Emma Ladouceur from…

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Toxins Entering Plants through Soil

Soil amendments for healthier spinach: Combo of biosolids, zinc, limestone prevents toxic uptake The 44 plants from the experiment on harvest day. Plants were grown with different combinations of soil additives to prevent cadmium uptake. Credit: Carrie Green Story Source: Materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Soils keep plants healthy by providing plants with water, helpful minerals, and microbes, among other benefits. But what if the soil also contains toxic elements? In areas like Salinas Valley, California, the soils are naturally rich in the element cadmium. Leafy vegetables grown…

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Massive projected increase in use of antimicrobials in animals by 2030

                                   Pigs in cages on truck. Credit: © Soonthorn / Fotolia  The amount of antimicrobials given to animals destined for human consumption is expected to rise by a staggering 52% and reach 200,000 tonnes by 2030 unless policies are implemented to limit their use, according to new research. The researchers, from ETH Zürich, Princeton, and the University of Cambridge, conducted the first global assessment of different intervention policies that could help limit the projected increase of antimicrobial use in food production. Their results, reported in the journal Science, represent an…

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Compound from oilseeds may be high-value product

Researchers at South Dakota State University are looking at the nonfood oilseed, carinata, as a potential biofuel feedstock. Credit: Image courtesy of South Dakota State University The oil extracted from ground seeds of camelina and carinata, oilseed plants from the mustard family, can be used as jet fuel. However, with oil prices at an all-time low, that is economically challenging. These promising biofuel sources may be one stop closer to reality due to extracting a substance called glucosinolate. Glucosinolate is one of the bioactive compounds that remains after the oil…

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Caribbean praying mantises have ancient African origin

Researchers uncover the lineage of three praying mantis groups A Greater Antilles adult female praying mantis from the genus Callimantis, in the wild. Credit: Gavin Svenson, Ph.D. Story Source: Materials provided by Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Three seemingly unrelated praying mantis groups inhabiting Cuba and the rest of the Greater Antilles actually share an ancient African ancestor and possibly form the oldest endemic animal lineage on the Caribbean islands, Cleveland Museum of Natural History researchers have determined. Mantises from the African lineage landed on the Greater Antilles islands more…

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Tree-dwelling, coconut-cracking giant rat discovered in Solomon Islands

Elusive 18-inch-long rodent finally found after years of searching This is an illustration of the new species, Uromys vika. Credit: Velizar Simeonovski, The Field Museum Story Source: Materials provided by Field Museum. Remember the movie The Princess Bride, when the characters debate the existence of R.O.U.S.es (Rodents of Unusual Size), only to be beset by enormous rats? That’s kind of what happened here. Mammalogist Tyrone Lavery heard rumors of a giant, possum-like rat that lived in trees and cracked open coconuts with its teeth on his first trip to the…

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Emerging infectious disease threatens Darwin’s frog with extinction

Darwin’s frog is likely to be wiped-out by amphibian fungus. Credit: Image courtesy of University of Zurich Story Source: Materials provided by University of Zurich. Iconic species likely to be wiped-out by amphibian fungus, despite lack of obvious short-term evidence. The Darwin’s frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) is the latest amphibian species to face extinction due to the global chytridiomycosis pandemic, according to an international study published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. The study has found that Darwin’s frogs are infected with the fungal pathogen…

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How plants measure temperature

How plants use a light receptor as a thermosensor The level of active phytochrome B is regulated by light and temperature. Phytochrome B is inactivated more strongly at higher temperatures, promoting elongation growth of plants. Credit: Cornelia Klose Story Source: Materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Plants respond very sensitive to temperature changes in their environment. At 22 degrees Celsius, for example, the model plant Arabidopsis shows compact growth. But if the temperature rises only a few degrees, plants exhibit an increased elongation growth in the shoot and leaves, enabling plant…

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Mystery behind earthworm digestion solved

Earthworms, however, are able to digest fallen leaves and other plant material, thanks to the ability of drilodefensins to counteract polyphenols. Dr Bundy and his team found that the more polyphenols present in the earthworm diet, the more drilodefensins they produce in their guts.Credit: © Kokhanchikov / Fotolia Story Source: Materials provided by Imperial College London. Original written by Nancy Wavell Mendoza. Scientists have discovered how earthworms can digest plant material, such as fallen leaves, that would defeat most other herbivores. Earthworms are responsible for returning the carbon locked inside…

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