Vitamin D protects against severe asthma attacks

Taking oral vitamin D supplements in addition to standard asthma medication could halve the risk of asthma attacks requiring hospital attendance, according to research led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). Asthma affects more than 300 million people worldwide and is estimated to cause almost 400,000 deaths annually. Asthma deaths arise primarily during episodes of acute worsening of symptoms, known as attacks or ‘exacerbations’, which are commonly triggered by viral upper respiratory infections. Vitamin D is thought to protect against such attacks by boosting immune responses to respiratory viruses…

Read More

Study reveals that “Eating nuts can reduce weight gain”

A study recently published in the online version of the European Journal of Nutrition has found that people who include nuts in their diet are more likely to reduce weight gain and lower the risk of overweight and obesity. The findings came to light after researchers at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated diet and lifestyle data from more than 373,000 individuals from 10 European countries between the ages of 25 and 70. Senior investigator Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH,…

Read More

Why take too much sugar? Even ‘Healthy People’ are at risk of developing Heart Disease

There are newfound cardiovascular risks associated with a high sugar diet, even in otherwise healthy people. Healthy people who consume high levels of sugar are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. A ground-breaking study from the University of Surrey found that a subject group of otherwise healthy men had increased levels of fat in their blood and fat stored in their livers after they had consumed a high sugar diet. The study, which has been published in Clinical Science, looked at two groups of men with either high…

Read More

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

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 migratory butterflies that must prepare for arduous journeys in uncertain environments. A new study by researchers…

Read More

Massive projected increase in use of antimicrobials in animals by 2030

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 alarming revision from already pessimistic estimates made in 2010, pushed up…

Read More

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. 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 has been extracted, according to bioprocessing engineer Zhengrong…

Read More

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

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 Solomon Islands in 2010. After years of searching and a race against deforestation destroying the rat’s would-be home, Lavery, along with John Vendi and Hikuna Judge, finally found it. “The new species,…

Read More

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. 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 organs to cool down more easily by evaporation. How plants…

Read More

Sheep gene insights could help farmers breed healthier animals

Fresh insights into the genetic code of sheep could aid breeding programmes to improve their health and productivity. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute have mapped which genes are turned on and off in the different tissues and organs in a sheep’s body. Their findings shed new light on the animal’s complex biology, including insight into the function of genes linked to immunity and meat quality.  Fresh insights into the genetic code of sheep could aid breeding programmes to improve their health and productivity. Scientists have mapped which…

Read More

Ants acting as ‘bodyguards’ for plants

Scientists show molecular basis for ants acting as ‘bodyguards’ for plants. Scientists at University of Toronto fed an enzyme activator to naturally occurring ants in the field to determine how it affects ant behavior. The swelling on this Cordia nodosa branch houses tiny, orange Allomerus octoarticulatus ants inside. Though you might not think of ants as formidable bodyguards, some do an impressive job protecting plants from enemies. Now, scientists at the University of Toronto (U of T) have determined what makes some better bodyguards than others. Examining the relationship between…

Read More