What's the buzz...

What's the buzz...

Plants have an altruistic side: Study

Scientists have found that some plants like the humble corn display altruistic behaviour just like animals.

The study led by the University of Colorado Boulder looked at corn, in which each fertilised seed contained two “siblings” - an embryo and a corresponding bit of tissue known as endosperm that feeds the embryo as the seed grows.

They compared the growth and behaviour of the embryos and endosperm in seeds sharing the same mother and father with the growth and behaviour of embryos and endosperm that had genetically different parents.

“The results indicated embryos with the same mother and father as the endosperm in their seed weighed significantly more than embryos with the same mother but a different father,” said Professor Pamela Diggle, a faculty member in CU-Boulder’s ecology and evolutionary biology department. “We found that endosperm that does not share the same father as the embryo does not hand over as much food - it appears to be acting less cooperatively,” Diggle said in a statement.

Diggle said it is fairly clear from previous research that plants can preferentially withhold nutrients from inferior offspring when resources are limited.

Bio-electric signals can nip cancer in the bud

A bio-electric signal can identify cancer prone cells and  potentially suppress their growth by the manipulation of the electrical charge across their membranes, says a study.

“The discovery helps establish “a bio-electric basis for the early detection of cancer,” said Brook Chernet, doctoral student who co-authored the study with Michael Levin, professor of biology and director of the Centre for Regenerative and  Developmental Biology at the Tufts University.

“We’ve shown that electric events tell the cells what to do. The voltage changes are not merely a sign of cancer. They control and direct whether the cancer occurs or not,” Levin noted, the journal Disease Models and Mechanisms reports.
Bio-electric signals underlie an important set of control mechanisms that regulate how cells grow and multiply.

Moving around for extra 10 mins can cut heart disease

Moving around for an extra 10 minutes each day may reduce the risk of heart disease by 50 per cent for people who have a sedentary lifestyle, experts claim.

“When I tell people that almost 80 per cent of heart disease is preventable, they are surprised,” said Mayo cardiologist Martha Grogan.

“Better yet, there are daily things we all can do that can make a big difference in our effort to keep our hearts healthy,” Grogan said.

Grogan encourages people to move 10 extra minutes each day.

“Moving even 10 minutes a day for someone who’s been sedentary may reduce the risk for heart disease by 50 per cent,” Grogan said in a statement. A sedentary lifestyle may increase your risk of heart attack almost as much as smoking does, studies have shown.

Each day, make an effort to get up from your desk to go talk to a colleague instead of sending an email, or walk around the house as you are talking on the phone, she recommended.

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