what's the buzz

what's the buzz

Guppy fish can combat spread of dengue

A new trial study has suggested that larvae eating guppy fish can help fight the spread of a mosquito-borne illness- dengue.

The research by the governments of Cambodia and Laos found that there was a sharp decline in mosquito larvae in water storage tanks after the tiny fish were introduced, the Dawn reported.

Guppies eat larvae that grow into mosquitoes, which in turn bite humans and transmit dengue.

According to the study, the threat of exposure to dengue-carrying mosquitoes is rising with uncontrolled urbanisation and a surge in the use of non-biodegradable packaging, which can act as a water reservoir for dengue mosquito breeding.
Warm ocean water main culprit behind melting ice shelf

Researchers have said that warm ocean water, and not warm air, is melting the Pine Island Glacier’s floating ice shelf in Antarctica and could be blamed for increased melting of other ice shelves.

Sridhar Anandakrishnan, professor of geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, said that they’ve been dumping heat into the atmosphere for years and the oceans have been doing their job, taking it out of the air and into the ocean.

He said that eventually, with all that atmospheric heat, the oceans will heat up.
The researchers looked at the remote Pine Island Glacier, a major outlet of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, as it has rapidly thinned and accelerated in the recent past.

Pine Island Glacier or PIG lies far from McMurdo base, the usual location of American research in Antarctica.

The ice shelf is melting more rapidly from below for a number of reasons.

The oceans are warmer than they have been in the past and water can transfer more heat than air. More importantly, the terrain beneath the ice shelf is a series of channels. The floating ice in the channel has ample room beneath it for ocean water to flow in.

The water melts some of the ice beneath and cools. If the water remained in the channel, the water would eventually cool to a point where it was not melting much ice, but the channels allow the water to flow out to the open ocean and warmer water to flow in, again melting the ice shelf from beneath.

The researchers believe that the interaction of the ocean beneath the ice shelf and melting of the ice shelf is an important variable that should be incorporated into the sea level rise models of global warming.

Proteins vital to formation of long-term memories 

Scientists have discovered a group of proteins that are essential to long-term memory formation.

 The study focuses on a family of proteins called Wnts, which send signals from the outside to the inside of a cell, inducing a cellular response crucial for many aspects of embryonic development, including stem cell differentiation, as well as for normal functioning of the adult brain.

Ron Davis, chair of the The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) Department of Neuroscience, said that by removing the function of three proteins in the Wnt signaling pathway, they produced a deficit in long-term but not short-term memory.  He said that the pathway is clearly part of the conversion of short-term memory to the long-term stable form, which occurs through changes in gene expression.

In the new study, the scientists inactivated the expression of several Wnt signaling proteins in the mushroom bodies of adult flies—part of the fly brain that plays a role in learning and memory.  Davis said that the resulting memory disruption suggests that Wnt signaling participates actively in the formation of long-term memory, rather than having some general, non-specific effect on behaviour.