The story of the fig and its wasp

Inside the rounded fruit of a fig tree is a maze of flowers. That is, a fig is not actually a fruit; it is an inflorescence—a cluster of many flowers and seeds contained inside a bulbous stem. Because of this unusual arrangement, the seeds—technically the ovaries of the fig—require a specialized pollinator that is adapted to navigate within these confined quarters. Here begins the story of the relationship between figs and fig wasps....

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The evolution of beer yeasts, seedy pants and vampire bat venom-turned medicine

Beer yeasts: Researchers at Lund University in Sweden tracked the history of two yeasts—Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Dekkera bruxellensis—used in alcohol fermentation to pinpoint their role in ethanol production. They found that, around 150 million years ago, competition with other microbes, and the overall increase in sugar-rich fruits, encouraged the yeasts to withstand high ethanol concentrations—an adaptation that would allow them...

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From the community: ESA annual meeting in the news

Last week at the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) 95th Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, scientists presented research on the foraging behavior of bushbabies, the effects of RoundUp herbicide on amphibians, the benefits of microbial communities inside the human body and the global issues surrounding invasive species, pollution, global warming, elevated nitrogen and hypoxia, among others. Here is just some of the research presented at...

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From the Community: ecological research in July

Resistance to Bt crops, chaotic red queen, balancing research near Mount Saint Helens, biodiversity and species coexistence and camouflage in polymorphic Pygmy grasshoppers. Here is open-access research from the first week in July. Cropping up: From the article “Managing resistance to Bt crops in a genetically variable insect herbivore, Ostrinia nubilalis” by Megan E. O’Rourke, Cornell University, in Ecological Applications:...

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Saliva from moth larva increases potato crop yields in Colombia

Many farmers throughout Latin America and around the world rely on pesticides to control pest invasions; this method is not only costly but has been shown to cause adverse health effects as well. Due to the risks involved in pesticide usage, and the ever-increasing demand for high-yield crops, new methods of controlling pest invasions are being explored by researchers regularly. And as counterintuitive as these new findings sound,...

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