Earth & Climate 

Opportunity to restore abundance to Hawaiian reef fisheries

Unsustainable fishing has depleted coastal fisheries worldwide, threatening food security and cultural identity for many coastal and island communities, including in Hawai’i. A recently published study, led by researchers at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa (UH Manoa), identified areas in the Hawaiian Islands that would provide the greatest increase in coastal fishery stocks, if effectively managed.

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Plant symbioses — fragile partnerships

All plants require an adequate supply of inorganic nutrients, such as fixed nitrogen (usually in the form of ammonia or nitrate), for growth. A special group of flowering plants thus depend on close symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing bacteria as a source of fixed nitrogen. The plant provides specialized root nodules as ‘housing’ for its bacterial benefactors, which allows them to make use of energy-rich organic carbon compounds in return for the ammonia they generate from atmospheric nitrogen. Thus, both partners reap advantages from the relationship. Nevertheless, a comparative study of 37 plant genomes carried out by Munich molecular biologists based at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) in cooperation with French and Chinese colleagues, demonstrates that the capacity to form root-nodule partnerships has repeatedly been lost during the course of evolution. The new findings appear in the leading journal Science.

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Earth & Climate 

Imminent extinction of northern white rhinoceros motivates genetic recovery efforts

Earlier this year, the last remaining male Northern White Rhinoceros (NWR) died in captivity, nearly cementing the fate of this subspecies for extinction. In the wild, continuing threats of poaching, habitat destruction, and small population size have contributed to the rhinos’ status as critically endangered. Yet, novel conservation efforts that make use of cryopreserved genetic material could save the NWR, and other threatened species, from extinction.

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Determining effective methods of irrigation as water becomes increasingly scarce

A recent study out of Texas A&M University focused on the practical applications of the global concern that potable water will become less and less accessible in the future. Melinda Knuth and her team engaged an examination of how to most efficiently divide this diminishing resource into uses (and sometimes re-uses) for what is needed to sustain human life and plant life in landscaping and horticulture.

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Stricter approval procedures for plant protection products urged

The scientists call for more comprehensive approval procedures for pesticides to better control their environmental implications. The authors point out, that the current approval procedures for pesticides fail to reflect many of their ecological effects outdoors. They recommend adaptions to pesticide approval procedures in order to make their use more environmentally sustainable. With regard to the active ingredient Glyphosate and the pesticide group of Neonicotinoids, the group of experts exemplarily characterized their opinion of deficits in the approval procedures and how they could be revised.

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