News Scan Briefs; January 2008; Scientific American Magazine; by Charles Q. Choi, Nikhil Swaminathan, David Biello, JR Minkel; 2 Page(s)
Researchers have long worried that crop-munching insects could become resistant to Bt, a toxin naturally produced by the microbe Bacillus thuringiensis that is harmless to most other organisms. Bt use is common; crops with the pesticide cover more than 32 million hectares of land worldwide--an area slightly larger than Italy. Mario Soberon of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and his colleagues investigated the most commonly used Bt toxins, which work by binding to specific receptors in pest midguts. They found three insect species that had evolved altered toxin receptors, which apparently grant Bt resistance. But the good news is that the researchers also constructed modified toxins that can kill Bt-resistant pink bollworms. These new toxins are slightly less potent than the original versions against vulnerable insects, but further research might improve them. Chew on the findings reported online November 1 by Science.
Exercise takes energy, and presumably that is what combats obesity, but provocative experiments now suggest that jiggling might be enough. For 15 minutes almost every day for 15 weeks, scientists at Stony Brook University had mice sit on a buzzing platform that almost imperceptibly vibrated at 90 times per second, accelerating up and down at 20 percent the strength of the earth's gravitational pull. After this treatment, the mice had 27 percent less fat in their torso than mice kept on stationary platforms. They also had significantly reduced levels of fatty compounds linked with type 2 diabetes.