Science Junkie
Africa’s farmers face ‘failed seasons’ risksBy Mark KinverMany small-scale farmers across Africa face the threat from “failed seasons”, a report has warned. The 2014 African Agriculture Status Report says the vital food producers face a risk of being overwhelmed by the pace and severity of climate change.[…]Dr Ameyaw [director of strategy monitoring and evaluation for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa] added that helping small-scale farmers adopt “climate-smart” farming techniques would “prepare the for even more serious challenges in the future”."An important factor of good land management is the effective and efficiency use of water - groundwater, surface water and rainwater," he said. "When we talk about small-holding farming in Africa, we are talking about a system in which 98% depend on rainfall. Therefore, in order to build a climate-smart system, we need to find a way to preserve the water via rain harvesting etc. What we need to help farmers do is to be able to adopt good land management practices and improve seed stocks, with drought-resistant varieties."A recent scientific workshop in Morocco heard how researchers were developing mathematical models to identify genetic material that could help improve food crops’ resilience to the impacts of climate change, such as drought, pests and diseases. The scientists hoped the models would speed up the process of identifying traits, such as drought resistance, allowing breeders to grow climate-proof crops.Dr Ameyaw warned: “Whether we like it or not, climate change is a phenomenon the continent is facing. So we have proposed five things that we would like policymakers to address.The five areas where the AGRA report authors wanted action were:
Climate smart agriculture
Strengthen national and local institutions
Build the technical and knowledge infrastructure for sustainable farming
Improve financial investment in agriculture
Improve access for “innovative” private investors, such as microfinance
The findings were presented to the African Green Revolution Forum, being held in Addis Ababa, which is focusing on delivering agriculture-led economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: BBC News
And here are my considerations about the Sahel region, a long strip of land —between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea— bordered to the north by the Sahara desert and to the south by the Sudanian Savanna.

Africa’s farmers face ‘failed seasons’ risks
By Mark Kinver

Many small-scale farmers across Africa face the threat from “failed seasons”, a report has warned. The 2014 African Agriculture Status Report says the vital food producers face a risk of being overwhelmed by the pace and severity of climate change.[…]

Dr Ameyaw [director of strategy monitoring and evaluation for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa] added that helping small-scale farmers adopt “climate-smart” farming techniques would “prepare the for even more serious challenges in the future”.

"An important factor of good land management is the effective and efficiency use of water - groundwater, surface water and rainwater," he said. "When we talk about small-holding farming in Africa, we are talking about a system in which 98% depend on rainfall. Therefore, in order to build a climate-smart system, we need to find a way to preserve the water via rain harvesting etc. What we need to help farmers do is to be able to adopt good land management practices and improve seed stocks, with drought-resistant varieties."

A recent scientific workshop in Morocco heard how researchers were developing mathematical models to identify genetic material that could help improve food crops’ resilience to the impacts of climate change, such as drought, pests and diseases. The scientists hoped the models would speed up the process of identifying traits, such as drought resistance, allowing breeders to grow climate-proof crops.

Dr Ameyaw warned: “Whether we like it or not, climate change is a phenomenon the continent is facing. So we have proposed five things that we would like policymakers to address.

The five areas where the AGRA report authors wanted action were:

  1. Climate smart agriculture
  2. Strengthen national and local institutions
  3. Build the technical and knowledge infrastructure for sustainable farming
  4. Improve financial investment in agriculture
  5. Improve access for “innovative” private investors, such as microfinance

The findings were presented to the African Green Revolution Forum, being held in Addis Ababa, which is focusing on delivering agriculture-led economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: BBC News

And here are my considerations about the Sahel region, a long strip of land —between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea— bordered to the north by the Sahara desert and to the south by the Sudanian Savanna.

compoundchem:

This year’s Longitude Prize is focused on the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria. They’ve put together a nice image, shown here, which showcases what they term ‘the ten most dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria’. You can read more detail on each of them here:http://www.nesta.org.uk/news/antibiotic-resistant-bacteriaThe prize offers a £10 million prize fund for the development of a cheap, accurate, and easy to use bacterial infection test kit, which will allow doctors to prescribe the correct antibiotics at the correct time for patients, to try to help minimise the development of antibiotic resistance.

compoundchem:

This year’s Longitude Prize is focused on the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacteria. They’ve put together a nice image, shown here, which showcases what they term ‘the ten most dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria’. You can read more detail on each of them here:http://www.nesta.org.uk/news/antibiotic-resistant-bacteria

The prize offers a £10 million prize fund for the development of a cheap, accurate, and easy to use bacterial infection test kit, which will allow doctors to prescribe the correct antibiotics at the correct time for patients, to try to help minimise the development of antibiotic resistance.

bbsrc:

Flower forces that bait our bees
Have you ever felt the hairs on your arm stand on end when you brush past an old television screen? Or stuck a balloon to the wall after rubbing it on your jumper? If so you’ve experienced part of the world of static electricity, but you probably haven’t felt the electrical pull of a bee’s wings or the charged electric advertisement of a flower. These tiny electric fields are sensed by bees and used to make important decisions in their lives, like which flowers to visit and which to ignore, and can even help them communicate with each-other inside their hive. 
In the top image you can see yellow electrically charged paint being sprayed on a Geranium flower to reveal the fine structure of their electric fields. 
In the bottom images you can see a computer simulation of the electric field arising from the interaction between a bumblebee and a petunia flower.
Make sure you get to the Great British Bioscience Festival in London in November to find out more about how electricity helps bees pollinate flowers.
To find out more, visit: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/society/exhibitions/gb-bioscience-festival/electrostatic-interactions-flowers-bees.aspx
Top images copyright: Dominic Clarke/Daniel Robert/Heather Whitney 
Bottom image copyright: Dominic Clarke/Julian Harris 
Zoom Info
bbsrc:

Flower forces that bait our bees
Have you ever felt the hairs on your arm stand on end when you brush past an old television screen? Or stuck a balloon to the wall after rubbing it on your jumper? If so you’ve experienced part of the world of static electricity, but you probably haven’t felt the electrical pull of a bee’s wings or the charged electric advertisement of a flower. These tiny electric fields are sensed by bees and used to make important decisions in their lives, like which flowers to visit and which to ignore, and can even help them communicate with each-other inside their hive. 
In the top image you can see yellow electrically charged paint being sprayed on a Geranium flower to reveal the fine structure of their electric fields. 
In the bottom images you can see a computer simulation of the electric field arising from the interaction between a bumblebee and a petunia flower.
Make sure you get to the Great British Bioscience Festival in London in November to find out more about how electricity helps bees pollinate flowers.
To find out more, visit: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/society/exhibitions/gb-bioscience-festival/electrostatic-interactions-flowers-bees.aspx
Top images copyright: Dominic Clarke/Daniel Robert/Heather Whitney 
Bottom image copyright: Dominic Clarke/Julian Harris 
Zoom Info

bbsrc:

Flower forces that bait our bees

Have you ever felt the hairs on your arm stand on end when you brush past an old television screen? Or stuck a balloon to the wall after rubbing it on your jumper? If so you’ve experienced part of the world of static electricity, but you probably haven’t felt the electrical pull of a bee’s wings or the charged electric advertisement of a flower. These tiny electric fields are sensed by bees and used to make important decisions in their lives, like which flowers to visit and which to ignore, and can even help them communicate with each-other inside their hive. 

In the top image you can see yellow electrically charged paint being sprayed on a Geranium flower to reveal the fine structure of their electric fields. 

In the bottom images you can see a computer simulation of the electric field arising from the interaction between a bumblebee and a petunia flower.

Make sure you get to the Great British Bioscience Festival in London in November to find out more about how electricity helps bees pollinate flowers.

To find out more, visit: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/society/exhibitions/gb-bioscience-festival/electrostatic-interactions-flowers-bees.aspx

Top images copyright: Dominic Clarke/Daniel Robert/Heather Whitney 

Bottom image copyright: Dominic Clarke/Julian Harris 

Parasitic Plant Strangleweed Injects Host With Thousands Of Its Own Expressed Genes
Virginia Tech professor and Fralin Life Institute affiliate Jim Westwood has made a discovery about plant-to-plant communication: enormous amounts of genetic messages in the form of mRNA transcripts are transmitted from the parasitic plant Cuscuta (known more commonly as dodder and strangleweed) to its hosts.
Using Illumina next generation sequencing technologies to sequence the tissues of the host and an attached parasite, the team found that the number of genes that gets passed into the host depends on the identity of the host.  The tomato plant received 347 of the strangleweed’s mRNAs, whereas the Arabidopsis received an astonishing 9514 mRNAs.  When Arabidopsis plant receives this many mRNAs, the total genetic material of tissues in contact with the strangleweed is about 45% from the parasite.
Read more

Parasitic Plant Strangleweed Injects Host With Thousands Of Its Own Expressed Genes

Virginia Tech professor and Fralin Life Institute affiliate Jim Westwood has made a discovery about plant-to-plant communication: enormous amounts of genetic messages in the form of mRNA transcripts are transmitted from the parasitic plant Cuscuta (known more commonly as dodder and strangleweed) to its hosts.

Using Illumina next generation sequencing technologies to sequence the tissues of the host and an attached parasite, the team found that the number of genes that gets passed into the host depends on the identity of the host.  The tomato plant received 347 of the strangleweed’s mRNAs, whereas the Arabidopsis received an astonishing 9514 mRNAs.  When Arabidopsis plant receives this many mRNAs, the total genetic material of tissues in contact with the strangleweed is about 45% from the parasite.

Read more

bbsrc:

Plants that fight cancer
This picture shows Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) alongside the structure of vinblastine, an alkaloid natural product.
This pretty plant makes hundreds of alkaloid natural products which are a rich resource for a wide range of applications, including the development of pharmaceuticals, insecticides and biomaterials.
Natural products from this plant have already given us some very important cancer-fighting medicines, for instance vinblastine is one of the compounds used in chemo-therapy.
Read more about BBSRC-funded scientists who are studying this plant and developing new industrial applications for the natural products.
Credit: Mr Andrew Davis

bbsrc:

Plants that fight cancer

This picture shows Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) alongside the structure of vinblastine, an alkaloid natural product.

This pretty plant makes hundreds of alkaloid natural products which are a rich resource for a wide range of applications, including the development of pharmaceuticals, insecticides and biomaterials.

Natural products from this plant have already given us some very important cancer-fighting medicines, for instance vinblastine is one of the compounds used in chemo-therapy.

Read more about BBSRC-funded scientists who are studying this plant and developing new industrial applications for the natural products.

Credit: Mr Andrew Davis

BGS releases Minecraft geology map 
The British Geological Survey (BGS) has turned to a novel new method for sharing information on the geology of Great Britain: Minecraft.The data, shared as a resource pack, covers mainland Britain and its smaller surrounding islands, and plonks the user down at the BGS Cardiff office as a starting location. The surface of the island is covered in Ordnance Survey mapping data, but it’s when you start digging that you discover what the BGS has brought to the table: real geology, recreated in Minecraft block types. […]"This work is an outstanding opportunity to get people using Minecraft, especially youngsters, to understand the geology beneath their feet and what it can be used for," claimed Professor John Ludden, executive director of the BGS.
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2D model  -  3D model

BGS releases Minecraft geology map

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has turned to a novel new method for sharing information on the geology of Great Britain: Minecraft.

The data, shared as a resource pack, covers mainland Britain and its smaller surrounding islands, and plonks the user down at the BGS Cardiff office as a starting location. The surface of the island is covered in Ordnance Survey mapping data, but it’s when you start digging that you discover what the BGS has brought to the table: real geology, recreated in Minecraft block types. […]

"This work is an outstanding opportunity to get people using Minecraft, especially youngsters, to understand the geology beneath their feet and what it can be used for," claimed Professor John Ludden, executive director of the BGS.

Read more

2D model  -  3D model