Research News – 7

My research work focuses on first and second generation ethanol. The scientific community are large are bioprospecting for better cellulases and lignocellulose decontructors. Termites, although a nuisance when it shares its space with humans, could be a welcome guest for others.

Termite mounds can increase the robustness of dryland ecosystems to climatic change

Spotty vegetation patterns in tropical savannas and grasslands can be a warning sign of imminent desertification. However, Bonachela et al. find that termites can also produce spotty patterns. Their theoretical study, confirmed by field data from Kenya, shows that patterns produced by termite mounds are not harbingers of desertification. Indeed, the presence of termites buffers these ecosystems against climate change.

Editor’s summary, Science magazine.

The oldest society on earth was first created some 200 million years ago.

A long, long time before the evolution of humankind, and long before even that of ants. It originated with the appearance of the termites, the first social insects, which began to set a few basic ground rules for their behavior, organising themselves into different roles, each insect contributing something to the greater good. Read more on BBC

Drought resistance plants

Plant biologists report that drought tolerance in plants can be improved by engineering them to activate water-conserving processes in response to an agrochemical already in use — an approach that could be broadly applied to other parts of the same drought-response pathway and a range of other agrochemicals. The finding illustrates the power of synthetic biological approaches for manipulating crops, opening new doors for crop improvement. Read more

Read also Nature News and Views.

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