In the news / Insect and Microbe Systems

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Dr. Laura Meredith, rain forest science director for Biosphere 2 and BIO5 member, is one of the leaders of a four-month-long drought study. the aim of the research is to learn about how a hotter, drier future will alter tropical rain forest ecosystems. This European Research Council grant funded study will use Biosphere 2’s unique ability to control model ecosystems to collect data about multiple rain forest climates.
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Most studies have shown correlations between the microbiome and the effectiveness of drugs, but a recent study is one of the first to dig into how these associations work. Better understanding the causal links in drug responses may mean scientists are able to do more with our gut microbes.  BIO5 faculty and UA College of Medicine-Phoenix associate professor Dr. Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, thinks this may pave the way for doctors to choose the most effective drug for individual patients.
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If you’re seeing – or feeling, in the case of mosquitoes – more bugs this spring, you can thank the rainy winter. A few wet weeks in February resulted in an abundance of wildflowers and weeds and that has led to a healthy population of bugs, says UA Entomologist and BIO5 member Dr. Dawn Gouge.
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UA College of Medicine-Tucson professor and BIO5 Member Dr. Donata Vercelli, notes the discovery of the microbial world has just begun, but is already revolutionizing biology and medicine. Dr. Vercelli will present a lecture on the subject as part of the 2019 UA College of Science Lecture Series.
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The cost to society of childhood asthma is more than AIDS and tuberculosis combined, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The numbers are “staggering,” says BIO5's Dr. Donata Vercelli, UA Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and the Associate Director of the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center. Vercelli and collaborators have conducted groundbreaking research with children from Amish and Hutterite communities to find out what in the environment protects the Amish children from contracting asthma.
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BIO5 member Dr. Roger Miesfeld, a UA Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and researchers in his lab, have discovered a protein that prevents mosquitoes from hatching, opening the possibility of developing new drugs that could act as birth control for mosquito populations.
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After two years of chronic ear infections and countless antibiotics, BIO5 biosystems researcher Dr. Bonnie Hurwitz decided to take her daughter's health into her own hands. She took a DNA sample, sent it to a lab for sequencing, identified the problem, and took it to her daughter's doctor. Together they cured the infections.
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UA students study honey bees to find out how bacteria in their guts and the foods they eat are connected to life expectancy. They hope the insects can serve as model systems to discover clues about how genetics, gut bacteria and diet influence aging in humans. The study resulted from an interdisciplinary collaboration between the UA, the BIO5 Institute and the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center.
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UA researchers are working to re-engineer mosquitoes to resist infectious diseases. Associate professor in the UA's Department of Entomology Dr. Michael Riehle, is trying to engineer an insect that's resistant to malaria and other diseases.
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UA mushroom expert and BIO5 member Dr. Barry Pryor and his colleagues are teaching a workshop on how to raise mushrooms — a highly lucrative crop. Dr. Pryor's workshop will detail the variety of ways that mushroom production can provide big benefits for small, local farmers.
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The University of Arizona’s department of chemistry and biochemistry has long been a research powerhouse and is now a leading producer of intellectual property. Dr. Roger Miesfeld, head of the department and member of the BIO5 Institute, attributes their commercial successes to the entrepreneurial drive of his faculty.
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We have yet to find a cure for most human neurodegenerative disorders. However, because all of these diseases share a common underlying mechanism, BIO5 researcher Dr. Tricia Serio believes that we will soon be able to halt and reverse their progression — by way of baker’s yeast.
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Two BIO5 members were among those formally recognized as distinguished professors in UA honorary ceremony. Dr. Bruce Tabashnik, was appointed a Regents Professor by the AZ Board of Regents, for national and international recognition of his work. Dr. Frans Tax was named one of the University Distinguished Outreach Faculty for commitment to community outreach.
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There are a number of clinical trials focusing on cancer in dogs, aimed not just at curing man's best friend, but at finding answers in medical science's war on human cancer. At the UA, scientists are looking to gut bacteria to try to prove the adage that having a dog makes people healthier.
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In a special OP-ED written for the Daily Star, Dr. David Galbraith, researcher at the BIO5 Institute, touches on themes from the recent movie "The Martian", and suggests that life beyond earth's atmosphere is unlikely.
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Is there a better way to wash organic leafy greens before putting them in our salads or on our plates? The BIO5's Dr. Sadhna Ravishankar, a researcher and associate professor in the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, has been studying the issue and has found a natural solution.
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From mesquite bean pods to greasy pizza boxes, the UA's trash is being turned into something gourmet. The MycoCats program is a student-run organization funded by the UA Green Fund. It is directed by Dr. Barry Pryor, BIO5 member and professor of Plant Sciences.
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A thriller starring Ben Kingsley and Ryan Reynolds explores the idea of transferring consciousness from one body to another. Dr. Charles Higgins, one of the movie’s scientific consultants, and UA associate professor of neuroscience and electrical engineering, has a particularly interesting perspective on this topic, because he has been interfacing insect brains with robots.