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Dr. Sarah Hake and her colleagues, George Chuck, Hector Candela-Anton, Nathalie Bolduc, Jihyun Moon, Devin O'Connor, China Lunde, and Beth Thompson, have taken advantage of the information from sequenced grass genomes to study how the reproductive structures of maize are formed. Dr. Hake, of the Plant Gene Expression Center, USDA-ARS, who is the 2007 recipient of the Stephen Hales Prize, will be presenting this work at the opening Awards Symposium of the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists in Mérida, Mexico, June 27th.

Maize was first domesticated in the highlands of Mexico over 6,000 years ago and is now one of the most important crop plants in the world. It is a member of the grass family, which also hosts the world's other major crops including rice, wheat, barley, sorghum, and sugar cane.

Maize has a rich genetic history, which has resulted in thousands of varieties or landraces. Scientists at CIMMYT, Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, work to preserve the ancient varieties that represent adaptations to different environmental conditions such as different soils, temperature, altitude, and drought. These traits are expressions of different genes and groups of genes that scientists hope to utilize to keep up with changing climatic conditions and global food supply.

It seems pregnancy may confer some protection against bladder cancer - in mice. Female mice that had never become pregnant had approximately 15 times as much cancer in their bladders as their counterparts that had become pregnant, according to new findings by investigators at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The researchers led by Jay Reeder, Ph.D., are focusing on a fact that has puzzled doctors and scientists for decades: Why does bladder cancer, the fifth most common malignancy in the nation, affect about three times as many men as women?

Scientists long blamed men's historically higher rates of smoking and greater exposure to dangers in the workplace, but the gap has persisted even as women swelled the workforce and took up smoking in greater numbers.

Researchers at Bonn University and the ETH Zürich have discovered that oregano, with its active ingredient beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP, docks on specific receptor structures in the cell membrane - the so-called cannabinoid-CB2 receptors, and produces a change in cell behavior: for example, it will inhibit the cell´s production of phlogogenic signal substances.

E-BCP is a typical ingredient of many spices and food plants. Hence it is also found in plants such as basil, rosemary, cinnamon, and black pepper. Every day, we consume up to 200 milligrams of this annular molecule.

The researchers administered E-BCP to mice with inflamed paws and in seven out of ten cases there was a subsequent improvement in the symptoms. E-BCP might possibly be of use against disorders such as osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis.

People who are bicultural and speak two languages may actually shift their personalities when they switch from one language to another, according to new research in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Language can be a cue that activates different culture-specific frames," write David Luna (Baruch College), Torsten Ringberg, and Laura A. Peracchio (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).

The authors studied groups of Hispanic women, all of whom were bilingual, but with varying degrees of cultural identification. They found significant levels of "frame-shifting" (changes in self perception) in bicultural participants—those who participate in both Latino and Anglo culture. While frame-shifting has been studied before, the new research found that biculturals switched frames more quickly and easily than bilingual monoculturals.

New exquisitely preserved fossils from Latvia cast light on a key event in our own evolutionary history, when our ancestors left the water and ventured onto land. Swedish researchers Per Ahlberg and Henning Blom from Uppsala University have reconstructed parts of the animal and explain the transformation in the new issue of Nature.

It has long been known that the first backboned land animals or "tetrapods" - the ancestors of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, including ourselves - evolved from a group of fishes about 370 million years ago during the Devonian period. However, even though scientists had discovered fossils of tetrapod-like fishes and fish-like tetrapods from this period, these were still rather different from each other and did not give a complete picture of the intermediate steps in the transition.


A new analysis of Martian soil data led by University of California, Berkeley, geoscientists suggests that there was once enough water in the planet's atmosphere for a light drizzle or dew to hit the ground, leaving tell-tale signs of its interaction with the planet's surface.

The study's conclusion breaks from the more dominant view that the liquid water that once existed during the red planet's infancy came mainly in the form of upwelling groundwater rather than rain.

To come up with their conclusions, the UC Berkeley-led researchers used published measurements of soil from Mars that were taken by various NASA missions: Viking 1, Viking 2, Pathfinder, Spirit and Opportunity. These five missions provided information on soil from widely distant sites surveyed between 1976 and 2006.