Genetically engineering the perfect bee – in 1892

Black and white image of apiary in orchard.

(Scientific American) “It is said that there are at least two distinct races of stingless bees in South America, but these races have not much value as honey gatherers, and moreover they build combs with very thick-walled cells, and probably they would not be worth cultivating as compared with the European, Asiatic and African races. But if we can cross our bees with the giant bees of India and obtain a race with a long proboscis and perhaps increased size (if that should prove to be of any advantage), and cross this improved race with the South American stingless bees, we shall then have a race of bees which it will be difficult to improve.”

eDNA provides researchers with ‘more than meets the eye’

Image of woman collecting soil.

(Curtin University) Researchers from Curtin University have used next generation DNA sequencing to learn more about the different species of plants, insects and animals present in the Pilbara and Perth regions of Western Australia. As animals and organisms interact with their environment, they leave behind traces of their DNA through things like droppings, skin cells, saliva, and pollen. “This study was the first of its kind to systematically test terrestrial substrates for eDNA, and it also was the first time that some of these particular substrates were analyzed.”

What motivates sales of pollinator-friendly plants?

Image of urban garden.

(EurekAlert/American Society for Horticultural Science) An analysis out of the University of Georgia details the relationship between consumer awareness and the attentiveness and care given to pollinator-friendly plant purchases. The results show that information from the federal government, nursery/greenhouse industry associations, and environmental activist groups has the same impact on self-reported future pollinator-friendly plant purchasing as the no-information group. Only information from universities and major media outlets reportedly drives changes in consumer behavior.

Climatic-niche evolution strikingly similar in plants and animals

Image of scatter plot graphs.

(EurekAlert/Chinese Academy of Science Headquarters) Climatic niches describe where species can occur and are essential to determining how they will respond to climate change. Given the fundamental biological differences in plants and animals, previous research proposed that plants may have broader environmental tolerances than animals but are more sensitive to climate. However, a recent study has found that there are actually “general rules” of climatic-niche evolution that span plants and animals. “This is extremely important, because it warns us to pay more attention to the high extinction risks for both plant and animal species, if we cannot slow down climatic changes caused by humans.”