A pair of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, has used machine learning to understand what a chemical smells like -- a research breakthrough with potential applications in the food flavor and fragrance industries.
Crop yields for apples, cherries and blueberries across the United States are being reduced by a lack of pollinators, according to Rutgers-led research, the most comprehensive study of its kind to date. Most of the world's crops depend on honeybees and wild bees for pollination, so declines in both managed and wild bee populations raise concerns about food security, notes the study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
The biomass of small animals that decompose plants in the soil and thus maintain its fertility is declining both as a result of climate change and over-intensive cultivation. To their surprise, however, scientists from the UFZ have discovered that this effect occurs in two different ways: while the changing climate reduces the body size of the organisms, cultivation reduces their frequency. Even by farming organically, it is not possible to counteract all negative consequences of climate change.
Following a decade-long effort, scientists have mapped out the genome of an aphid-like pest capable of decimating vineyards. In so doing, they have discovered how it spreads -- and potentially how to stop it.
Cicadas infected with the parasitic fungus Massospora unknowingly engage in trickery with their fellow insects, resulting in effective disease transmission, according to West Virginia University-led research. Massospora manipulates male cicadas into flicking their wings like females - a mating invitation - which tempts unsuspecting male cicadas and infects them.
An endangered aquatic insect that lives in icy streams fed by glaciers might not mind if the water grows warmer due to climate change. A study published in Global Change Biology on July 22 found that mountain stoneflies can tolerate warmer water temperatures at least temporarily. In fact, they might even be stressed in their current extremely cold environments.
One in 11 flowers carries disease-causing parasites known to contribute to bee declines, according to a Cornell University study that identifies how flowers act as hubs for transmitting diseases to bees and other pollinators.
Princeton University researchers explored how patterns of protein activity direct fly embryonic development by using 'optogenetic' techniques to rapidly and precisely turn Ras/Erk signaling on and off. A paper published July 23 in Current Biology by Heath Johnson, Nareg Djabrayan, Stanislav Shvartsman and Jared Toettcher describes these findings.
Bzz! It's mosquito season in Greenland. June and July is when Arctic mosquitoes (Aedes nigripes) are in peak abundance, buzzing about the tundra. While Arctic mosquitoes serve as an important food source to other animals, they are notorious for their role as pests to humans and wildlife. Yet, these mosquitoes spend most of their lives in an aquatic environment in shallow, tundra ponds. A Dartmouth study finds that Arctic mosquito populations appear to be driven by food quality rather than predator density.
Researchers have confirmed that Heartland virus, an emerging pathogen with potentially dire consequences for those infected, is present in Lone Star ticks in two Illinois counties hundreds of miles apart. Lone Star ticks were first detected in Illinois in 1999 but had not been found to be infected with Heartland virus in the state.