Research Roundup (Spring ’15, Week 8)

Every week our Research Editors highlight a few of the latest headlines in science news and explain why these pieces are interesting and applicable to our classes at UC San Diego. If you find an engaging science article, share it with us on our Facebook page and your highlight may just be featured!

Eat More Plants to Improve Health, Combat Climate Change | Scientific American

Researchers have found that eating more fruits and vegetables is not only healthier, but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 40 percent. Switching to a vegetarian diet can increase the lifespan of men by twelve months and of women by four months. Eating less meat, sugar, and processed food and eating fewer calories overall helps reduce the carbon footprint of the food industry.

If you are interested in a healthier lifestyle, consider taking Nutrition (BIBC 120).

Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

New Type of Stem Cell Could Make It Easier to Grow Human Organs | Scientific American

Scientists have discovered a new type of stem cell that has the potential to grow into human organs in animal models more easily than other types of pluripotent stem cells. Called region-selective pluripotent stem cells (rsPSCs), these cells grow more easily and quickly in vitro and in an embryo when injected into the right location. These cells’ DNA is also easily cut with restriction enzymes, allowing scientists to edit the cell genome. This new discovery has the potential for new therapies.

If you are interested in stem cell grafts and growing human organs, consider taking Introduction to Bioengineering (BENG 1).

Jasmine Chau | Sr. Research Editor

Genome-wide DNA study shows lasting impact of malnutrition in early pregnancy | Science Daily

Researchers found that children whose mothers were severely malnourished during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy had changes in their levels of DNA methylation. This resulted in the suppression of genes involved in growth, development, and metabolism when reevaluated at the age of 59. It is known that the first 10 weeks of pregnancy are a very sensitive period for the prenatal environment, and accordingly, the findings show a correlation between DNA modifications and famine exposure during weeks 1—10 of gestation, but not later in pregnancy.

If you’re interested in pregnancy and the human reproductive system, consider taking Human Physiology II (BIPN 102).

Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor

Nicotinoid, fungal disease team up to break down termites’ tough defenses | Science Daily

Researchers at Purdue University discovered that a small amount of imidacloprid, a nicotinoid pesticide, can greatly weaken the ability of termites to fight off fungal diseases. After treatment with imidacloprid, the termites became very vulnerable to a fungal pathogen that is normally not a threat. The combination of pesticide and pathogen wiped out laboratory colonies within only seven days. This discovery could lead to far better techniques for pest control in the future.

If you’re interested in termites and other insects, consider taking Insect Ecology (BIEB 128).

Neil Srinivas | Jr. Research Editor