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Author: eshamilton

Potent new antifungal discovered in the microbiome of marine animals

New Scientist

A new antifungal compound that is effective against even multidrug-resistant fungi has been found in the microbiome of a marine animal.Fungal infections affect hundreds of millions of people globally each year. “They’re particularly a problem for people whose immune system is suppressed,” says David Andes at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. This includes people being treated for cancer, organ transplant recipients and premature babies.

Invasive jumping worms damage U.S. soil and threaten forests

Science News

Eventually, different plants come in, usually invasive, nonnative species, says Bradley Herrick, an ecologist and research program manager at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum. And now, new research shows the worms are also changing the soil chemistry and the fungi, bacteria and microbes that live in the soils.

As Summer Takes Hold, So Do the Jumping Worms

The New York Times

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, study of Asian jumping worms began after they were discovered on the grounds in 2013. “They may have a cascading, behind-the-scenes impact that might not happen tomorrow, but that will eventually affect other organisms at a higher trophic level,” said Bradley M. Herrick, a plant ecologist and the research program manager at the arboretum.

Jumping Worms Are Taking Over North American Forests

The Atlantic

Herrick and Johnston, both researchers at the UW arboretum, want to test one of the few promising weapons against jumping worms: a low-nitrogen fertilizer called Early Bird, commonly used on golf courses. To assess its effectiveness, they’ve been manually removing all the worms from each of 24 high-walled rings before adding back a known number of victims. (When I ask Herrick what they do with the evicted worms, he says, “We gently chuck them.”)

Jo Handelsman on the Surprising News That the Earth is Running Out of Dirt

Alda Communication Training

That’s Dr Jo Handelsman, who studies microbes at the University of Wisconsin – not only the vast array of microbes that live on and in us, but also the even greater number that lurk in the soil beneath our feet. I talked with Jo about why both the microbes within and below us are so important to our survival. But we began our conversation, which took place last fall, talking about the weather…which—these days—often leads to talk that’s far from small.

What Are PFAS And Why Are They A Problem?


Christy Remucal explains: A group of chemicals known as PFAS are prompting increasing attention and concern across Wisconsin, turning up in drinking water in Marinette and rivers in Madison and elsewhere around the state. What are these chemicals and why are they such a big deal?

Le maïs du futur


Researchers at the University of Wisconsin are developing a variety of corn that can draw nitrogen from the air rather than from the soil. This new corn from natural crosses could one day reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and create an agricultural and environmental revolution, reportsLa semaine verte. Microbiologist Jean-Michel Ané takes us to the experimental fields at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where rare specimens of ancient corn grow.

The corn of the future?

La semaine verte ICI Télé

UW–Madison agronomy and bacteriology professor Jean-Michel Ané and his partners on campus are growing a strain of corn that can acquire its own nitrogen from the air in partnership with bacteria. A report from La semaine verte.

News or ‘Trauma Porn’? Student Journalists Face Blowback on Campus

The New York Times

For Robyn Cawley, editor in chief of The Daily Cardinal at the University of Wisconsin, it was a small relief that the confrontation in Evanston had happened far away from her turf in Madison. Once, she said, the College Democrats urged her to take down an article, arguing that it presented them in an unflattering light. “I was like, of course you’re not going to like it,” she said. “Good for you. That’s the point of journalism.”

Jumping worms are the latest invasive species to hit Illinois. In Chicago, they’re basically everywhere.

Chicago Tribune

Noted: Not all earthworms are created equal when it comes to helping soil and gardens,” says Brad Herrick, a University of Wisconsin ecologist who studies the worms. “There are definitely worms that are beneficial for gardens and have been around a long time, but the difference is that the beneficial ones are the ones that work vertically in the soil, creating pore spaces and mixing the soil.”

Earth’s magnetic poles probably won’t flip within our lifetime

New Scientist

We appear to be safe from a catastrophic reversal of the north and south magnetic poles, according to evidence showing that the last swap took a lot longer, and was a lot messier, than scientists thought. The magnetic field shields Earth from the sun’s harmful radiation and cosmic rays, so a sudden polarity reversal could affect our power and communications systems, as well as our health.

When Earth’s magnetic field flips, it could take thousands of years

But a new study August 7 in Science Advances says we should probably calm down, since the last magnetic field reversal on Earth took quite a bit longer: at least 22,000 years. It’s one more piece in the puzzle of how and why our planet’s magnetic field operates, and slowly but surely researchers are figuring it out.

Craft Beer’s Quest For The Funky Flavors of Wild Yeast

Discovery Magazine

Chris Hittinger is a University of Wisconsin microbiologist who’s researched Saccharomyces for years. He says this wild yeast discovery was a big step forward for the field. Since then, his lab has been setting the groundwork that could set us up for some pretty sweet brews in the future.

UW Madison Scientists Discover Cancer Pathway Breakthrough

Spectrum News 1

A big cancer breakthrough, thanks to researchers at UW Madison.  A special team has solved the mystery behind the most studied protein in cancer biology.   ’Many pharmaceutical companies invest millions ..billions of dollars to target those mutant P-53 cancer cells — but it’s hard,’ UW Madison Post Doctoral Fellow Suyong Choi said.   So hard no one has ever unlocked the secrets of the cancer regulating protein.

Evolving Research Is Exposing How Flu Crosses The Species Barrier


Three of Wisconsin’s better-known flu scientists over the past half-century are Bernard Easterday, Christopher Olsen and Yoshihiro Kawaoka, all of whom are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. They spoke about their work at an Oct. 3, 2018 lecture for the Wednesday Nite @ the Lab series on the UW-Madison campus, recorded for Wisconsin Public Television’s University Place.

Monarch Butterflies: Spring Migration And Habitat Restoration

Wisconsin Public Radio

Monarch butterflies are getting ready for a big journey north to Wisconsin. We’ll talk with UW–Madison Arboretum director Karen Oberhauser about the life cycles of monarchs and why it matters to us. We also learn what we can do to help restore their habitat.

University of California boycotts publishing giant Elsevier over journal costs and open access

Science Magazine

The mammoth University of California (UC) system announced today it will stop paying to subscribe to journals published by Elsevier, the world’s largest scientific publisher, headquartered in Amsterdam. Talks to renew a collective contract broke down, the university said, because Elsevier refused to strike a package deal that would provide a break on subscription fees and make all articles published by UC authors immediately free for readers worldwide.

Yeasts stole bacteria genes to survive in insect stomachs


It is one of the clearest cases yet found, the researchers suggest, of the transfer of genes from the bacterial domain to organisms such as fungi: in essence, the arcing over of one branch on the tree of life to donate genetic material to an altogether separate one.The findings of the study, which involved collaborators from North America, The Netherlands and China and was led by Jacek Kominek and Drew Doering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US, are reported in the journal Cell.

How to catch neutrinos – Interview with IceCube Scientist Silvia Bravo Gallart

Science Over Everything

Neutrinos are as elusive as they are interesting – they hardly ever interact with mass and so are very challenging to observe. Which is why the ambitious $280 million experiment IceCube, located at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, was built. Buried in the ice nearly a mile below the surface are 60 detectors designed to look for neutrinos and explore the highest-energy phenomenon in our Universe.

UW-Madison building floods, forcing classes to be relocated


Weather-related water leaks have closed two UW-Madison buildings.Vilas Hall flooded Sunday morning. Officials asked students, staff and faculty to avoid it until further notice.Officials closed the Chemistry Building as well.Due to Sunday’s flooding, on Monday and Tuesday, the University has relocated classes held in Vilas Hall and the Chemistry building.

Flooding forces UW building closures, classes relocated

NBC 15

Due to recent flooding, two academic buildings at the University of Wisconsin will be closed on Monday and Tuesday.Classes held in Vilas Hall and the Chemistry Building will be relocated, according to Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor at the university.Vilas Hall began experiencing flooding Sunday morning, according to a tweet by the university’s official Twitter page.

Where Sloths Find These Branches, Their Family Trees Expand

New York Times

For almost ten years, Jonathan Pauli and M. Zachariah Peery, professors at the University of Wisconsin, and their colleagues have been tracking a group of sloths in Costa Rica. The animals are equipped with radio collars that transmit their location five or six times a month, so the team knows where each sloth’s usual territory is. The team has also taken DNA samples and figured out the sloths’ family tree, so they can tell which individuals are having the most babies.

What We Learned in 2018: Science

New York Times

One team of scientists visualized the threat communication systems within plants that help them fight back when under attack. Others presented the tantalizing suggestion of plant consciousness using anesthetic gas. And in rain forests, some plants’ fruits seem to send careful messages to specific animals, in order to spread their seeds.

Neutrino discovery launched a new type of astronomy

Science News

Before scientists are fully confident that blazars can blast out high-energy neutrinos, researchers need to spot more of the wily particles, Murase says. To improve detection, an upgrade to IceCube will make the detector 10 times bigger in volume and should be ready by the mid-2020s, says Francis Halzen, leader of IceCube and an astrophysicist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. If all goes well, the tiny particles may soon be revealing secrets from new corners of the cosmos.

Signal d’alarme chez les plantes


C’est en fait le calcium, un nutriment de la plante, qui produit un signal chimique et électrique pour donner l’alarme, comme vient de le montrer, dans une étude parue dans la revue Science du 14 septembre 2018, une équipe américano-japonaise dirigée par Silmon Gilroy, professeur de botanique à l’université du Wisconsin-Madison

Plants use blazes of light to communicate

Mother Nature Network

Science is just beginning to understand the subtle but intricate ways that plants — once thought of as an inert branch of life — can communicate and process information about the world around them. Now new research out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has revealed nervous system-like mechanisms within plants that might be our most stunning look yet into the communicative world of flora.

Plants Have A Secret Code For Signaling Danger To One Another


A new study just published in the journal Science uncovered that plants can feel any tactile stimuli that touch their leaves, including the imperceptible movement of a caterpillar’s tiny toes. What’s more, they have a unique system of passing on the message to other leaves, warning them when an assailant is on the prowl and alerting them to brace for an imminent attack.

Watch the Awesome Way in Which Plants Defend Themselves Against Threats


New research published today in Science is providing an unprecedented view of the signaling action that happens within plants when they’re under attack. A second or two after a plant receives an injury, like a chomp from a caterpillar, a warning signal radiates from the location of the wound, spreading out through the entire plant in a process that takes fewer than 120 seconds.

Watch a Mutant Plant Burst Into Action When Attacked

National Geographic

“Plants look like they are just so intelligent—they do the right thing at the right time, they sense a huge amount of environmental information, and they process it”, says Simon Gilroy, who runs the botany lab that at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “But they don’t have the brain, the information processing unit that we think should be necessary to make those really elegant calculations”.

Under attack from caterpillars, plants flash a warning signal


When plants are under attack from a very hungry caterpillar, a warning signal flashes through the plant to the other leaves, revealed for the first time in the video above.The video, captured by Masatsugu Toyota at the University of Wisconsin was created using a plant modified to fluoresce in response to calcium signals. The details were published in Science.

Blazes Of Light Show Plant’s Response To Being Eaten


“[For] the first time, it’s been shown that glutamate leakage at a wound site triggers a system-wide wound response, and the first time we’ve been able to visualize this process happening ,” says Simon Gilroy, professor of botany at the Gilroy Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and senior author on the paper out today in the journal Science.

Watch Plants Light Up When They Get Attacked

New York Times

Plants have no eyes, no ears, no mouth and no hands. They do not have a brain or a nervous system. Muscles? Forget them. They’re stuck where they started, soaking up the sun and sucking up nutrients from the soil. And yet, when something comes around to eat them, they sense it. And they fight back.How is this possible?“You’ve got to think like a vegetable now,” says Simon Gilroy, a botanist who studies how plants sense and respond to their environments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

University of Wisconsin researchers unearth nitrogen-fixing corn

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In recent days, we learned that UW-Madison scientists in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, along with their colleagues at the University of California, Davis and Mars Inc., discovered indigenous varieties of corn capable of cooperating with bacteria to fix up to 80% of the nitrogen that the crop needs.

New Research On Tropical Corn Could Help Reduce Fertilizer Used By Farmers

Wisconsin Public Radio

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have helped discover a corn variety that could reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer farmers need to spread.The tropical variety of corn has been grown in Oaxaca, Mexico for thousands of years. Because the area’s soils have little nitrogen, the corn has adapted over the years, developing a system for taking nitrogen out of the air.

Mexican Maize Variety Reduces Fertilizer Use

Latin American Herald Tribune

A recent international study found that a variety of maize native to southern Mexico’s Sierra Mixe region can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, the Mexican government said on Thursday.

Wisconsin researcher studies nitrogen-fixing corn

Brownfield Ag News

A University of Wisconsin researcher is hoping to use the traits from a variety of corn found in the Mexican mountains to reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer.Jean-Michel Ané tells Brownfield the giant corn can stand more than 16 feet tall and unlike most corn, it can fix much of its own nitrogen similar to legumes.  “Right before tasseling, that corn gets 40-50 percent of its nitrogen from the air.”

The Corn of the Future Is Hundreds of Years Old and Makes Its Own Mucus


Now, after over a decade of field research and genetic analysis, the team has published their work in the journal PLOS Biology. If the nitrogen-fixing trait could be bred into conventional corn, allowing it to produce even a portion of its own nitrogen, it could reduce the cost of farming, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt one of the major pollutants in lakes, rivers and the ocean. In other words, it could lead to a second nitrogen revolution.

Scientists Find Possibility of Nitrogen-Fixing Corn


At a towering 16’ tall, corn native to Oaxaca, Mexico grows up to 10 aerial roots [compared to two in a typical plant] that secrete gel to help nitrogen-fixing bacteria survive. If scientists find a way to make this commercially available, it could be a game-changer for corn grown for grain and silage.

Beer + oddball fruits


Collaboration between a beer producer and a university garden is not your typical pairing, but Levi Funk and David Stevens have been determined to make it work.Funk, proprietor of Funk Factory Geuzeria, has become a bit of a Wisconsin beer superstar over the last few years, but Stevens is most likely unknown to beer people. He’s the curator of the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens at the UW Arboretum.

Asian jumping worms: What we know, with UW-Madison’s Brad Herrick

A Way to Garden

Brad Herrick is Arboretum Ecologist and Research Program Manager at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, where the staff first noticed the destructive handiwork of Asian jumping worms in 2013. He’s been studying them ever since. Though our understanding of these organisms is in the very early stages, we talked about their biology, their impact, and what control tactics are being explored by scientists seeking a solution.