Getting Plants ‘Drunk’ Insulates them Against Drought, According to New Research:
Main crop plants thrived when their soil was soaked in ethanol alcohols even after two weeks without water, report scientists. Many efforts have been tried to conserve staple plants including genetic modification of root systems and leaf stomata (pores). While these methods are effective to some extent it is too expensive. However, plants are known to produce ethanol when they are water-deprived and research done by the RIKEN Centre for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan has found that supplementing the soil with the compound can increase crop yields during drought. The results were quite staggering as they found that survival rates for plants increased by around 70% for rice and wheat in particular. The method is also extremely cheap compared to other options and provides a way for countries without proper capital to maintain staple crops.
Axolotls can regenerate their brains, revealing secrets of brain evolution and regeneration:
The axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is an aquatic salamander renowned for its ability to regenerate its spinal cord, heart, and limbs. These amphibians also readily make new neurons throughout their lives. In 1964, researchers observed that adult axolotls could regenerate parts of their brains, even if a large section was completely removed. But one study found that axolotl brain regeneration has a limited ability to rebuild original tissue structure. A more comprehensive study by the Truetin Lab and Tanaka Lab team found that there were three key stages to brain regeneration. The first phase involves the creation of progenitor cells which initiate the wound healing process which then leads to the second phase where they turn into neuroblasts which are made to replace damaged neurons. The last stage then repairs the tissue with the progenitor cells and neuroblasts then repair the connections in the axolotl’s brain, allowing it to completely regenerate. These findings if all causes for the process itself are found, can give more insight into human brain regeneration due to the similarity in cell composition in the process.
This bizarre ancient critter has been kicked out of a group that includes humans:
Fossil imaging used to create this 3-D reconstruction of the extinct, roughly half-millimeter-long Saccorhytus coronarius — seen from its front (left) and back (right) — helped lead to the reclassification of the critter. Y. LIU ET AL/NATURE 2022
A teeny roughly 530-million-year-old critter that lacks an anus is not, as previously thought, the oldest member of a wide-ranging animal group that includes everything from starfish to humans. Despite its absent anus, Saccorhytus coronarius had no shortage of holes on its wrinkly potato-shaped body, including a ring of small openings around its gaping mouth. Previously, those holes had been identified as an early version of gill slits, typically used for respiration (SN: 2/3/17). Gill slits are commonly found in deuterostomes, so their presence seemingly nailed the critter’s spot on the animal family tree. But a new 3-D reconstruction of the half-millimeter-long species based on fossil imaging shows those holes are instead remnants of broken spines, researchers report August 17 in Nature. The identification of the spines helped shift the creature into a group with arthropods and nematodes, called Ecdysozoa.