CCNY biologists study rainforest host-plant associations

The widening of the Panama Canal currently underway has created a rare opportunity to study the insects that inhabit the plants of environmentally sensitive Central American rain forest habitats. Dr. Amy Berkov, Professor of Biology at The City Col…

Scientists Develop Colony of Mice That Fight Off Virulent Cancer

Scientists at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University have developed a colony of mice that successfully fight off virulent transplanted cancers. “The mice are healthy, cancer-free and have a normal life span,” the 10-member team reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online edition to be published the week of April 28. The transplantation of the cancer cells in these special mice provokes a massive infiltration of white blood cells that destroy the cancer, said Zheng Cui, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the lead scientist.

Forest fragmentation may increase Lyme disease risk

Patchy woods–common in cities and suburbia, and even in rural areas–may have more Lyme disease-carrying ticks, which could increase risk of the disease in these forest remnants, scientists have found. While forest fragments generally have fewer species than continuous habitat does, some species actually fare better in small patches, according to biologist Felicia Keesing of Bard College in Annandale, NY, and her colleagues. Lyme disease incidence is rising in the United States, and is in fact far more common than West Nile fever and other insect-borne diseases. Forest fragmentation could explain the increase.

I gotta be me: A giant, GIANT fungus among us

The world’s biggest fungus, discovered in Oregon’s Blue Mountains in 2001, is challenging traditional notions of what constitutes an individual. The underground fungus–estimated to be between 2000 and 8500 years old–is also deepening our understanding of the ecosystem, with possible implications for the management of Canadian forests, according to a paper by the discoverers. The clone of Armillaria ostoyae–the tree-killing fungus that causes Armillaria root disease–covers an area of 9.65 square kilometres, about the size of 6000 hockey rinks or 1600 football fields.

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