‘World’s oldest beer discovery in Israel’

This April 2016 video says about itself:

Israeli brewery make beer from Jesus’s time

A brewery in Jerusalem have resurrected a recipe for beer from Jesus’ time and discovered why the bible favoured wine. Report by Lydia Batham.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

‘Oldest brewery in the world’ discovered in Israel

In Israel, archaeologists have discovered a 13,000 years old brewery. According to Israeli and American scientists, this is the oldest known place where alcohol was produced.

The discovery was made in the Rakefet cave in Mount Carmel, south of Haifa city. That cave was used by the Natufians as a cemetery. The Natufians were a people of hunter-gatherers who lived in the Mediterranean region during the Stone Age.

In the cave archaeologists found a kind of mortars that had been carved into the rock. They have studied the mortars and it showed that two of the mortars were used to store grains. In the third one, the grains were ground and then fermented. Then a beer-like drink was made.

The fact that mortars were made in the cave indicates that the drink was used during the funeral ceremonies, says Dani Nadal, archeology professor at the University of Haifa. He speaks of an important discovery. “The finding shows that the production of alcohol did not necessarily come about because of the overproduction of grains that had to be processed.” Even before agriculture emerged [in the Neolithic], alcohol was apparently produced as part of a ritual process.”

According To History, We Can Thank Women For Beer: here.


Common blue butterflies mating on flower

This 11 September 2018 video shows a common blue butterfly couple mating on a thistle flower.

After the mating, the female will deposit her eggs on the upper leaves of bird’s-foot trefoil.

Harry Heuven in the Netherlands made this video.

Sex life of fungi

This 2016 video about fungi is called Sordaria Crossing Over.

From the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany:

Sexual development in fungi

September 4, 2018

Biologists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Georg-August-Universität Göttingen have gained new insights into specific enzymes that effect the specialisation of fungal cells. Analysing the microscopic fungus Sordaria macrospora, they demonstrated that the KIN3 enzyme connects different cellular signalling pathways that are involved in developmental processes. Thus, it is crucial for the sexual life cycle of the fungus.

The team headed by Dr. Daria Radchenko and Professor Ulrich Kück from the Chair of General and Molecular Botany published a report on their study in the journal Genetics; it is featured as the cover story in the September 2018 edition.

Similarities between fungi and animals

KIN3 is a so-called germinal center kinase; this group of enzymes occurs in all organisms with a cell nucleus. Kinases control essential developmental processes, such as cell growth and cell differentiation. “The kinases of different living organisms, for example animals and fungi, exhibit similar structural and functional properties”, says Daria Radchenko. “Consequently, analyses of simple microbial organisms also yield insights into the corresponding proteins in mammals.”

Mutants were sterile

In her PhD thesis, Radchenko analysed various processes that result in a specialisation of cells during the development of the ascomycete Sordaria macrospora. By generating mutants of the fungus that were unable to form the KIN3 enzyme, she demonstrated that KIN3 plays a vital role in the sexual development of the organism. Mutants lacking the enzyme remain sterile.

In follow-up studies with multiple mutants, it emerged that KIN3 connects several signal cascades that are essential for developmental processes in all living organisms with a cell nucleus. In experiments using fluorescence microscopy, the researchers detected that the cell structure in those mutants was drastically altered; they were unable to form cross-walls. This resulted in numerous developmental disorders.

Conclusions drawn for mammals

Coordinated development of organisms requires the correct temporal and spatial distribution of signalling molecules in the cell. In mutants that lack KIN3, as the study authors conclude, the correct distribution appears to be impaired; this results in malformations of the organism.

“Generally speaking, these scientific findings may be used to draw conclusions for cellular processes in mammals, in which the loss of the corresponding enzyme leads to neurodevelopmental disorders, leukaemia, or carcinomas”, says Ulrich Kück. “By providing an insight into the mechanistic principles of these disorders, our data may be used for developing new therapeutic approaches.”

Asian pitcher plants, American pitcher plants and mosquitoes

This January 2017 video says about itself:

While the carnivorous cravings of most flesh-eating plants are limited to small insects, one exception is the pitcher plant. It can consume anything that fits in its mouth–including a mouse!

From the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the USA:

An ocean apart, carnivorous pitcher plants create similar communities

August 29, 2018

After a six-hour ride over increasingly treacherous roads, it took a full day’s hike up almost 3,000 feet for Leonora Bittleston to reach Nepenthes Camp in the Maliau Basin, an elevated conservation area in Malaysian Borneo with a rich, isolated rainforest ecosystem.

After waiting three years for collecting permits, Bittleston, then a graduate student at Harvard University, entered the basin in search of one thing: pitcher plants. These carnivorous plants have evolved traps to lure, drown and digest animal prey to supplement nutrient-poor soils.

Bittleston needed samples of the liquid inside the pitchers to compare to pitcher plants from much closer to home in Massachusetts and along the Gulf Coast. Though unrelated, both plant families had converged on similar adaptations for trapping prey, and Bittleston wanted to know if the communities of microbes and small animals housed in each liquid-filled pitcher were as similar as the traps themselves.

In new research published Aug. 28 in the journal eLife, Bittleston, University of Wisconsin-Madison botany and bacteriology professor Anne Pringle, and others, reveal that the communities created inside pitcher plants converge just as the shape and function of the plants themselves do. Despite being separated by continents and oceans, pitchers tend to house living communities more similar to one another than they are to their surrounding environments.

Asian pitchers transplanted to Massachusetts bogs can even mimic the natives so well that the pitcher plant mosquito — a specialized insect that evolved to complete its life cycle exclusively in North American pitchers — lays eggs in the impostors.

The researchers say this work provides a much richer picture of how convergence can extend well beyond relatively simple functional roles, like plant carnivory, to include a network of interactions among different species that evolve under related conditions. Bittleston and Pringle collaborated with Naomi Pierce at Harvard, as well as researchers at the Universiti Malaysia Sabah, University of Malaya and Jiangsu University.

Pitcher plants are classic examples of convergent evolution, where unrelated organisms nonetheless home in on similar adaptations to their environment. Along with Venus fly traps and other carnivorous plants, pitcher plants also capture the imagination by turning the tables on animals as they devour them.

But despite that gruesome image, pitcher plants serve as more than just death traps — they are also ecosystems unto their own. Each liquid-filled pitcher houses diverse microbial life and even living complex organisms and insects that escape digestion. It’s those communities that attracted the attention of Pringle and Bittleston.

“We spent hours talking about what a convergent ecosystem would look like”, says Pringle, who began the research while she was at Harvard. “We discussed the idea that similar interactions between species could evolve over and over again.”

Pitcher plants were a natural model to test these ideas. The traps are essentially sterile before they open. Yet during the lifespan of an individual pitcher, they seemed to curate predictable communities of microbes and small invertebrates. This suggested to Pringle and Bittleston that the pitchers created consistent conditions that repeatedly selected for similar communities. Since the Southeast Asian and North American pitchers were so outwardly similar, the researchers wondered if their miniature ecosystems would be as well.

It was a taxing research project that required collecting samples in dense, often inaccessible bogs. Bittleston traveled to state protected areas around the Gulf Coast and to bogs in the Harvard Forest to gather samples from the North American species. And in addition to the trek to the Maliau Basin, she collected fluid from pitchers in Singapore’s protected parks, a comparatively easy, but memorable, venture.

“There were times I was on this very clean Singaporean subway in my field clothes, super sweaty, with these big bags full of tubes with pitcher plant samples,” says Bittleston, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “So it was a funny scene.”

With more than 330 samples from 14 species in hand, the researchers used advanced gene sequencing technology to get a snapshot of the various species making a home inside the pitchers, as well as the species found in nearby soil and water samples. When analyzed for the number and type of species and similarities in community structure, some clear patterns emerged.

While environmental samples contained a large number of different species, the liquid in both groups of pitcher plants had a greatly reduced diversity, indicating a more specialized environment. And the species that pitchers housed tended to come from the same families. Both Southeast Asian and North American pitchers greatly enriched for bacterial organisms like the Actinomycetales or Enterobacteriaceae as well as insects in the fly order and microscopic, filter-feeding animals called rotifers.

The researchers also set up a field experiment, transporting potted Southeast Asian pitchers to bogs in the Harvard Forest and looking at how the pitcher communities developed.

“And in fact, the Southeast Asian species assembled communities that looked like the North American communities”, says Pringle. “That’s cool.”

One clear example of this similarity was the presence of pitcher plant mosquito larvae, normally found exclusively in North American pitchers, in the non-native Asian pitcher plants. Only the most acidic Asian pitchers were inhospitable to this specialized insect.

Alongside the pitcher plants, Bittleston set out test tubes that mimicked the cylindrical shape of the pitchers. Like the pitchers, these test tubes collected rain water and began to develop miniature ecosystems. But the biological communities in the test tubes assembled were off a bit from the natural pitchers, and the tubes never fooled the mosquitoes, which steered away from them.

“It’s not enough to be a passive receptacle that captures rain water and some drowned insects,” says Bittleston. “There really is something that’s different about being this convergently evolved organism that creates a particular environment that curates a particular community.”

The work lends support to ideas Bittleston and Pringle developed in previous work: that the interactions between different species can converge during evolution just as the forms and functions of individual species can.

“These pitchers are independently evolved, two very different families of plants, but they interact with the microbial communities that they’re assembling within them in some similar manner,” says Pringle. “And we’re finding that those interactions are predictable in some way.”

New truffle species discovery in Florida, USA

This 2014 video from the USA is called Truffles in Florida.

From the Florida Museum of Natural History in the USA:

Two new truffle species discovered in Florida pecan orchards

August 23, 2018

Two new species of truffles were recently discovered on the roots of pecan trees in Florida orchards. The good news is that you can eat them — the bad news is that you wouldn’t want to.

While Tuber brennemanii and Tuber floridanum are edible “true” truffles, in the same genus as the fragrant underground mushrooms prized by chefs, their unappealing odor and small size — about 1 inch wide — will likely discourage people from eating them, said Matthew Smith, an associate professor in the University of Florida department of plant pathology and an affiliate associate curator in the Florida Museum of Natural History Herbarium.

“At least one of the species was pretty stinky and not in a good way, so you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat it”, Smith said. “These guys are small, and they don’t have these really great odors, but the animals love them.”

Smith and his team were studying pecan truffles when they found the new species.

“One of the things we wanted to do is identify the communities we find in these pecan orchards because those are the things that are going to be there naturally and those are the ones that are going to be in direct competition with the species we’re interested in trying to grow”, he said.

Arthur Grupe, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in UF’s department of plant pathology, said the team is researching another, more common pecan truffle, Tuber lyonii, potentially an important economic crop in Florida.

Valued for their pleasant aroma and taste, pecan truffles sell for $160 to $300 per pound. Pecan orchards with a high density of pecan truffles might increase farmers’ per acre profit by up to 20 percent, Grupe said.

Even though the two new truffle species might lack the appetizing qualities of more commonly known truffle species, Smith said their discovery is important and points to the significance of conservation, especially in forest habitats. “Just because you don’t see diversity easily doesn’t mean that it’s not there,” Smith said. “I guess to me it speaks to the fact that there’s really a lot we don’t know about the natural world, and it’s worth preserving so we can try to understand it.”

Smith said the newly described truffle species had likely gone undetected because animals — such as squirrels, wild pigs and other small mammals — were eating them or because they occur earlier in the year than pecan truffles.

The researchers plan to study the new species to learn more about their relationship to pecan truffles and how they compete with other truffle species for resources.

“So far, we have found these truffles mostly in Florida and Georgia”, Grupe said. “Interestingly, a collaborator in Brazil found one of these species in a pecan orchard. We suspect that it hitched a ride on pecan seedlings shipped from the U.S. I think it is a great example of hidden biodiversity.”

Smith said people tend to be more afraid of mushrooms than curious and don’t take the time to learn about them — even though new species are right under our feet.

“Fungi are understudied in general, and things that fruit below ground that are hard to see are even more understudied”, Smith said. “It’s interesting to know these things are out there. You’re walking on them all the time and they still don’t have a name — no one has formally recognized them before. I think that’s kind of cool.”

How plant roots originated

This 2014 video from India says about itself:

Rhynia by (B.Sc, M.Sc) Dr. Ruby Singh Parmar

In this video, Dr. Ruby Singh, HOD Science, Biyani Group of Colleges explains the morphological and anatomical structure of “Rhynia“. It is a fossil plant. In this video characters and structure of sporangia are discussed.

From the University of Oxford in England:

Getting to the root of plant evolution

August 22, 2018

Despite plants and vegetation being key to the Earth’s ecosystem, little is known about the origin of their roots. However in new research, published in Nature, Oxford University scientists describe a transitional root fossils from the earliest land ecosystem that sheds light on how roots have evolved.

The findings suggest that plant roots have evolved more than once, and that the characteristics of roots developed in a step-wise manner — with the central root organ evolving first. And the root cap subsequently coming later.

Dr Sandy Hetherington and Professor Liam Dolan — both of Oxford’s Department of Plant Sciences and Magdalen College Oxford, conducted a microscopic study of the oldest known plant ecosystem — the 407 million-year-old Rhynie chert.

Dr Hetherington said: ‘The level of preservation in the Rhynie chert is truly remarkable — it never ceases to amaze me that I am able to examine the cellular organisation of plants that were growing 407 million years ago. It provides an exceptional window into life on the terrestrial surface at that time.’

The defining feature of modern-day plant roots is the meristem — a self-renewing structure that is covered by a cap at its apex. Root meristems are hard to spot in the fragmentary fossil record, which can make it challenging to unearth the evolutionary origin of roots.

The authors found evidence of root meristems belonging to the lycopsid plant Asteroxylon mackiei. Lycopsids — commonly known as club mosses, are vascular plants (those with tissues that internally move resources) whose lineage branched off early, before the other higher plants (the euphyllophytes).

The team were able to build a 3D reconstruction of the fossil meristem.

The fossil analysis reveals that the meristems of A. mackiei lack both root hairs and caps — they are covered instead by a continuous layer of surface tissue. This structure makes these roots unique among the vascular plants.

The paper’s conclusion suggests that these roots are a transitional step towards modern-style, rooted vascular plants. The findings support the idea that, as this cap-less transitional structure appears in a plant that is already a lycopsid, roots with caps evolved separately in lycopsids and euphyllophytes from their common, root-less ancestors.

Discussing plans to expand on this work, Professor Dolan said: ‘Our discovery suggests that plant organs were built up step-by-step during the course of plant evolution.

‘The evolution of roots was a critical time in Earth’s history and resulted in a dramatic reduction of atmospheric carbon. Now that we know that roots evolved in a step by step manner, we can go back to ancient rocks looking for structures that are missing “parts” that are present in extant roots.

‘I really want to find out where root caps came from. They seemed to have appeared out of thin air. They are very important in extant roots; the root cap is important to protect the root as it pushes through the soil and it is the site where roots detect gravity. How did these ancient roots manage without a cap to provide these functions?’