New Insight Into Why Pierce’s Disease Is So Deadly to Grapevines

photo of grapeleaf

Symptoms of Pierce’s Disease on a grapevine.(Jack Kelly Clark / UCANR)

By Amy Quinton

Scientists are gaining a better understanding of Pierce’s disease and how it affects grapevines. The disease, which annually costs California more than $100 million, comes from a bacterium called Xylella fastidiosa. While the bacterium has been present in the state for more than 100 years, Pierce’s disease became a more serious threat to agriculture with the arrival of the glassy-winged sharpshooter insect, which can carry the bacterium from plant to plant.

Curiosity Finds Organic (Carbon-based) Material in Gale Crater, Mars

The Mars Curiosity rover team announced today (June 7) finding organic matter – carbon-based compounds – in three billion year old mudstone sediments from Gale Crater. They also found seasonal changes in the amount of methane in the local atmosphere.

Scientist and Mars rover

Dawn Sumner is a member of the Mars Curiosity team.

Dawn Sumner, professor of earth and planetary sciences at UC Davis, is a member of the Mars Curiosity team and coauthor on the first paper. She helps with sample selection and mission planning and was instrumental in promoting Gale Crater as a landing site for Curiosity.

Could Prison Studies End the Salt Wars?

Medical research studies involving prison inmates have a bad reputation, but now a group of nutrition researchers proposes to use prisoners to answer a long running question in nutrition: what is the connection between salt intake and health? They recently published their proposal in the journal Hypertension, reported by Gina Kolata in the New York Times.

Arguments over the role of dietary salt in heart health — the “Salt Wars” — have been raging for years. David McCarron, a nephrologist and former research affiliate with UC Davis’s Department of Nutrition is a prominent “Salt Skeptic,” arguing that Americans eat about the same amount of salt now as 40 years ago, and that salt intake in humans is regulated by the brain, not by how much is added to food.

Podcast: New Insight on Spinal Injuries

Spinal injuries are life-changing, and it used to be thought that recovery of limb movement below the injury was impossible. But new research is showing that with the right therapies, the body can find ways to work around spinal injuries. Professor Karen Moxon of the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering talks about her work with rats and how they can recover from injury.

Listen: Three Minute Egghead: New Insight on Spinal Injuries (Soundcloud)

More information

Working Around Spinal Injuries (News release)

Cortex-dependent recovery of unassisted hindlimb locomotion after complete spinal cord injury in adult rats (eLife)

 

Graphene Layered with Magnetic Materials Could Drive Ultrathin Spintronics

Scientists with instrument

UC Davis project scientist Gong Chen (right) and coauthor Andres Schmid of Lawrence Berkeley Lab with the SPLEEM instrument used for imaging magnetic fields inside materials. Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt/LBL.

Tiny swirling textures in the magnetic fields within layered materials could be a key to replacing disk drives and flash memory in computing devices. Physicists at UC Davis and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are exploring how these patterns form in materials layered with graphene, an ultrathin form of carbon. A paper on the work was published online May 28 in Nature Materials.

Of Mice and…Gorillas? Mouse Gene Catalog as a Conservation Tool

Gorilla

Mice share a similar set of genes to humans and gorillas. A catalog of the functions of all mouse genes could help in conservation efforts for endangered species.

A new study from the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium, which includes the UC Davis Mouse Biology Program, shows how the growing catalog of mouse genes could be applied to save endangered species. The paper was published May 24 in the journal Conservation Genetics.

Science in the Palm of Your Hand: How Citizen Science Transforms Passive Learners into Engaged Scientists

By Karen Nikos-Rose

Third-grader Jessica was quiet in group discussions and did not see herself as a strong science student. But after an eight-week unit in school where she was able to read, write about, collect data on and even draw and photograph ladybugs for a project, she began to see herself as scientist in her own right – explaining the life stages and lifestyles of ladybugs to grownups with conviction.

Citizen science projects can engage kids, a UC Davis study finds.

Jessica became a citizen scientist.

Data Dump: 11,000 Donate Stool Samples to Gut Microbiome Project

By Greg Watry

The American Gut Project has just produced the largest study yet of microbial diversity in human poop. With “contributions” from more than 11,000 citizen scientists, the team led by researchers at UC San Diego has compiled a public reference database on the human gut microbiome, published May 15 in the journal mSystems. The study is a step forward in understanding how factors such as diet, antibiotics and mental health relate to the microbes living in the human gut.

Biology Researchers Make Cell Metabolism “Best of 2017”           

Two different teams of researchers from the College of Biological Sciences are represented in the “Best of 2017” issue of the prominent journal Cell Metabolism. Their papers, on insulin-producing beta cells and on the effects of a low-carb diet on longevity in mice, are among just five research articles chosen to appear in the special issue along with two clinical reports and four review articles.

Pancreatic islet

Pancreatic islets make insulin in response to blood glucose. Mark Huising/UC Davis

Volcanologists Watch Kilauea Eruption

Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii continues to erupt, creating spectacular footage of lava shooting out of vents and eating cars. While the lava flows are slow moving, and so far no one has been hurt, U.S. Geological Survey scientists were today (May 10) warning that the volcano might erupt explosively, sending large rocks flying through the air.

This 8-10 ton boulder fell on a landing strip about a kilometer from Halema‘uma‘u crater during the eruption of May, 1924 (USGS photo collection).