Nature & Biology

The world needs new, smart bananas

The world needs new, smart bananas

Millions of people depend on bananas, but cultivation is very vulnerable to diseases and the effects of climate change. There is a need for new banana varieties that are more resistant to this.

The quest to save the banana from extinction

The quest to save the banana from extinction

Panama disease, an infection that ravages banana plants, has been sweeping across Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. The impact has been devastating. In the Philippines alone, losses have totalled US$400m. And the disease threatens not only the livelihoods of everyone in this US$44 billion industry but also the 400m people in developing countries who depend on bananas for a substantial proportion of their calorie intake.

Want to save millions of migratory birds? Turn off your outdoor lights in spring and fall

Want to save millions of migratory birds? Turn off your outdoor lights in spring and fall

Billions of migratory birds pass through the night sky each spring and fall. Birds use stars to orient their journey between summer breeding grounds and winter feeding grounds. The artificial lights produced by humans disrupt the migration of birds, often with fatal consequences.

Research provides a new scenario for the origin of complex life

How did complex life arise on Earth about two billion years ago? Research by an international team of scientists from Sweden, the United States, Australia and the Netherlands now provides a new perspective on the matter. In a study published this week in Nature Microbiology, the team presents a new model about the first complex cell types that make up plants, fungi, but also animals and people. They describe how complex cellular life forms developed in evolution through the metabolic integration of simpler cell types.

Eurasian lynx: how our computer model highlighted the best site for restoring this wild cat to Scotland

Eurasian lynx: how our computer model highlighted the best site for restoring this wild cat to Scotland

Though it can still be found in the forests of Europe, the Eurasian lynx has not been seen in the UK for more than 1,000 years. This medium-sized wild cat with its distinctive pointy ears was driven to extinction during the medieval period, thanks to low numbers of its preferred prey, roe deer, as well as a disappearing habitat and excessive hunting. But recently the Lynx UK Trust has argued strongly for its reintroduction.

Marine life typically thrives in the tropics – so why do whales prefer the poles?

Marine life typically thrives in the tropics – so why do whales prefer the poles?

Life in the sea isn’t easy. Talk to most people about the ocean and they are likely to imagine a tropical scene with a stretch of golden sand and warm, clear water. The reality is often quite different – the marine environment can be a surprisingly cold place.

Live cargo: How scientists pack butterflies, frogs and sea turtles for safe travels

 Live cargo: How scientists pack butterflies, frogs and sea turtles for safe travels

Scientists who work with live organisms often have to move them between locations. This requires knowing what conditions creatures can tolerate well, and also can involve some unusual packing challenges. Here three researchers explain how they transport butterflies, sea turtles and endangered frogs safely between labs and the outdoors.

Cool Tech: Internet of Trees maps the health of trees online

Cool Tech: Internet of Trees maps the health of trees online

Industrial engineers from ‘Technologiecampus Gent ‘(KU Leuven) have developed a module that allows them to map the health of trees online. Using this module trees in a city or park can be monitored online.

Carcasses of tiny animals sealed off by a one kilometer thick ice layer found on Antarctica

Carcasses of tiny animals sealed off by a one kilometer thick ice layer found on Antarctica

Scientists have found remnants of small creatures in Antarctica under a deep layer of ice. The remains were found in mud that was brought up through a borehole. The findings might tell us something about the possibility of life on icy planets or moons