Biology Citizen Science Connected Blog Oceanography 

Ocean Conservation and Citizen Science at the Long Beach Scuba Show

by Kristin Butler Each year, the Long Beach Scuba Show brings together divers from around the world for seminars and exhibits on all things scuba, with topics ranging from dive gear to scuba vacations. Though the show mostly showcases the business side of diving, visitors can also learn about nonprofits that use diving to fight cancer, promote ocean conservation, and collect citizen science data. Two of the nonprofits that attended this year’s show in May developed and currently run citizen science projects I wrote about in 2017: Reef Check and…

Read More
Biology Botany 

This Bug’s Bacteria Helps Rice Plants Boost Immunity

By Radhika Desikan Rice is the most widely consumed staple cereal crop for about half of the world’s human population, but its cultivation comes with inherent challenges, such as crop attacks by herbivorous pests. Brown planthopper (BPH) is an insect pest which feeds on rice plants and causes extensive damage to crops. However, there are some rice varieties that are resistant to BPH; increasing research in this area is aimed at understanding the mechanisms of this resistance. Moreover, although there are about 800 insect herbivores that feed on rice, the…

Read More
Biology Citizen Science Connected Blog Oceanography 

Why Citizen Scientists Study Phytoplankton in Antarctica

By Allison Cusick and Verena Meraldi Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography are working with Antarctic tour operators like Hurtigurten to enable vacationers to serve as citizen scientists with the FjordPhyto citizen science project. Travelers collect samples of phytoplankton from Antarctic fjords in an effort to understand the base of the food web, helping scientists learn how one of the most fertile ocean regions in the world may be changing. Human Impact in Remote Areas You would think that the most remote continent on Earth, Antarctica, would be the least…

Read More
Biology Botany 

Plants Can Win a Battle against Aphids

By Radhika Desikan Being sessile, plants are faced with constant pressures from their environment, such as extreme climates, microbes, and herbivores including insects and animals. To cope with these challenges, some plants have evolved the ability to tolerate particular stresses or defend themselves against insect pests. For decades, scientists have been trying to understand how some plants tolerate these challenges, with the aim of improving overall plant health and increasing crop yields. Aphids are a problem Aphids are common pests of most cultivated plants. They belong to a family of…

Read More
Biology Environment Science Policy 

Does Habitat Fragmentation Affect Biodiversity?

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) Most scientists used to believe that habitat fragmentation was a real threat to biodiversity, but some controversial ideas have made this a potential topic for further discussion. Iconic experiments in the Brazilian Amazon, for example, have shown the edge effects on the ability of small patches to retain species. Edge effects relate to the possible outcomes of having too much border on chopped forests, which creates a boundary between two habitats. Where there is deforestation, patches are the remaining pieces of natural vegetation among other human-affected…

Read More
Biology Botany Chemistry 

Microbes Help Plants Survive Heavy Metal Stress

By Radhika Desikan When you hear the term heavy metal, what do you think of? Music or chemistry? Exposure to heavy metal music can cause stress in some humans. But what about chemical heavy metals? Are they good or bad for the environment and living organisms? In chemical terms, heavy metals are elements in earth’s crust that have a high density (weight), and they include zinc, copper, iron, silver, gold, arsenic, lead, and cobalt, to name a few. While trace amounts of heavy metals such as copper, iron, cobalt, and…

Read More
Anthropology Biology Botany Chemistry 

Leaf Age Matters for Plant Survival

By Radhika Desikan Does age really matter? For us humans, age seems to be a very sensitive issue relevant to how we live our lives. And while it also matters to plants, it does so at a different level. Some of our tissues, like skin, have cells that are constantly dividing (to replace dead cells) and therefore differ in age, but what defines our age as an organism is not the life span of individual cells in our body, but rather the length of time that has passed since our…

Read More
Biology Biota Project Ecology 

The Millions of Microbes Beneath our Feet

By Nicholas Dove (@nicholascdove), for The Biota Project Microorganisms are everywhere on planet earth—on every surface, in the air, in the ground, and inside you. The good news is that many of these benefit you. Recent findings have shown that having a healthy gut microbiome (community of microorganisms) is important for proper digestion and even disease prevention (Penicillin is an antibacterial fungus that is used to treat many types of infections). Similarly, having a healthy soil microbiome is important to support plants and properly functioning ecosystems. Soil microbes play a…

Read More
Biology Botany 

Plants Communicate with Neighbors in Response to Touch

By Radhika Desikan How well do you and your neighbour know each other? Chances are, very little these days. But some living things, including plants, know their neighbours well. According to new research, it appears that what one plant “feels” can also be sensed by its neighbouring plant. Isn’t that remarkable? It is a fact of life that plants do not move from one place to another. Therefore plants, unlike humans, cannot move away from any impending danger, be it a herbivore, a disease-causing microbe, or even the cold and…

Read More
Biology Botany Chemistry 

To Grow or Not to Grow? Bacteria Make Seeds Think!

By Radhika Desikan A seed is the beginning of new life for most flowering plants. It has all the potential to develop into a new plant, with its own stored food used for germination (the sprouting of a seed). However, if you have done any gardening, you might know that not all seeds always germinate. Whether or not a seed grows into a plant is determined by a number of factors, such as the presence of oxygen, water, and the right temperature. Seeds have a remarkable ability to detect whether…

Read More
error: