UMBC Biology Council of Majors

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Breadfruit proponents hope to use it end world hunger

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on July 1, 2014 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Breadfruit hardly tastes like a tropical fruit at all, but rather...well, much like bread or some say like a baked potato. However, this not widely known “superfood” is being said to have the potential to end world hunger.

According to the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), more than 80% of the world’s hungry live in tropical or subtropical regions. This type of environment is perfect for the tall breadfruit trees to grow in abundance with little ma...

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The Azolla Genome Project

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on June 22, 2014 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Back in April, I posted a summary of how Fay-Wei Li, a PhD candidate at Duke University, uncovered how ferns survived in low levels of light. They utilized the neochrome gene obtained from the hornwort via horizontal gene transfer. This gene allowed the fern to essentially absorb more light by enabling it to absorb red light along with the blue light it normally absorbs.

The research lab that Fay-Wei is a part of has recently geared their focus on a different species of fern...

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IPCC states no option left but to suck CO2 out of the air

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on April 16, 2014 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)


Climate change is an ongoing threat that we face in this day of age. To fight this threat, scientists have proposed the idea to grow crops that suck carbon dioxide from the air, burn them to generate electricity, then bury the resulting CO2. The result is less CO2 in the air, and therefore less climate change. A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that the time has come to implement this idea. They say “widespread” use of bioenerg...

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How ferns survived in poor light conditions

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on April 15, 2014 at 11:55 PM Comments comments (0)


The arrival of flowering plants during the time of the dinosaurs could have meant the end for the fern. However, ferns developed a gene that helped them adapt to low-light environments. A team of scientists at Duke University have determined that precise gene and its origin. The findings show that that the gene was the long suspected neochrome gene which was transferred to ferns from a group of moss-like plants called hornworts.

“Neochrome is a ‘chi...

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Chile struck by powerful earthquake

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on April 2, 2014 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday, a magnitude 8.2 earthquake caused thousands of people in Chile and Peru to be evacuated. It also caused a tsunami that went towards the coasts of Hawaii, New Zealand, and Japan. It is estimated that at least five people have been killed. The earthquake is believed to be connected to 17 other “great earthquakes” (greater than 8.0 magnitude) that have been occuring since the turn of the 20th century. The rate is already an astonishing 1.8 a year compared to the 20th centu...

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Moss found to survive from being frozen for over 1500 years

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on March 19, 2014 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Researchers have revived moss that had been frozen for over 1,500 years in Antarctic ice. This has been the first instance that a multicellular organism has been found to survive the cold for such a long period of time. It also provides exciting new insight into the survival of life on Earth since moss has shown the ability to survive century to millennial scale ice ages.

Professor Peter Convey from the British Antarctic Survey explains, “What mosses do in the ecosyste...

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Four new ozone depleting gases detected

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on March 11, 2014 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Johannes Laube, at the University of East Angelia in the UK, and his team say they have detected four new ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere. They have all been identified as types of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The discovery was accomplished by comparing today’s air samples with air trapped in polar snow, which provides data of the atmosphere that is century-old. They also looked at air collected in Tasmania between 1978 and 2012. The measurements show that all four of the gases h...

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Alternate energy source: Ocean steam energy

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on March 5, 2014 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

A compelling candidate for renewable energy is ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). It is essentially, electricity from the sea. In theory, it could provide 4,000 times the world’s energy needs in any given year, without any pollution or greenhouse gases to show for it. However, it has long been deemed too impractical. But this year, numerous projects are underway in attempt to harness this energy such sites in Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, and the Caribbean.

The idea...

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30,000 year old virus "reawakened"

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on March 4, 2014 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

A virus that has been frozen for 30,000 years in Russian permafrost has been reactivated. The ancient pathogen, called Pithovirus sibericum, belongs to a class of giant viruses that were discovered 10 years ago. The pithovirus is now the largest of its kind beating the previous, the pandoravirus, by 30 percent (1.5 micrometers vs. 0.5 micrometers). Despite its size, it has only a fifth as many genes as the 2500 in the pandoravirus. In total, the viruses only share five genes.

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Update on the state of carbon emissions in Europe

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on February 27, 2014 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)

About a month ago, I posted an article on how the European Union planned to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. Despite this claim, the UK has not been during their part in the reduction. The European Commission (EC) is therefore suing the UK for the fact that they have been failing to cut back on nitrogen dioxide smog to meet limits set by the European Union.

Nitrogen dioxide mostly comes from diesel engines. It causes asthma and other breathing and lung pro...

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