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Little Shop of Horrors: A Moving Plot of an other-world's unmanned land...
This post is a psy-optic pilot-projected plot to plant a farm on Mars.

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To Hell with Planetary-Protection.
Time for a new Mars resurrection.
With a massive life-form injection.
Biospheric total internal reflection.

Farm eye see and Pharmacy and Biofuel generator on wheels.
Follows the sun directly right in itz gaze the energy face reels.

It will supplant our biosphere directly where and when needed.
Considered Conceded concerning Mars / Earth like is re-seeded.

Quote:What is the difference between a farm, plot, and plant in the app?
By Elizabeth Schiller|April 16, 2017
Farm: Think of this space as the area that holds all of your plots and plants. If you are a comercial grower, you would likely name this your growing facility’s name. If you are a home-grower, you would likely call this your house. If you are an educator, you would call this your school. Each user account has one farm.
Plot: Think of this space as a specific area within your “farm” that holds some or all of your plants. If you have multiple growing rooms or garden beds, you would have multiple “plots”. Plot name examples include: Grow Room A, 5th Grade Garden Bed, etc.
Plant: Think of this as your cohort of plants that you’d like to monitor/track together – just like a testing group! This is a group that you treat the same way (e.g., this group of plants receives the same amount of water, light, nutrients, etc). When you log information about any of the plants within your cohort, this data represents that entire cohort of plants. The plants in a plant group are the same species. Examples could include Garlic Chives, Sunflowers, and Basil.
  • IMPORTANT: If you’d like to conduct tests/experiments with plants that are the same species, please separate them into various “testing groups/plants” so that you have properly segmented data. You could differentiate them by calling them slightly different group names, such as: Garlic Chives 1a, Garlic Chives 1b, etc.

Understanding how plants use sunlight
December 5, 2018 by Nancy W. Stauffer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Professor Gabriela S. Schlau-Cohen (center) and graduate students Raymundo Moya (left) and Wei Jia Chen worked with collaborators at the University of Verona, Italy, to develop a new understanding of the mechanisms by which plants reject …more
Plants rely on the energy in sunlight to produce the nutrients they need. But sometimes they absorb more energy than they can use, and that excess can damage critical proteins. To protect themselves, they convert the excess energy into heat and send it back out. Under some conditions, they may reject as much as 70 percent of all the solar energy they absorb.

"If plants didn't waste so much of the sun's energy unnecessarily, they could be producing more biomass," says Gabriela S. Schlau-Cohen, the Cabot Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemistry.

Quote:Arrow  or Fueling one of these on mars...

Indeed, scientists estimate that algae could grow as much as 30 percent more material for use as biofuel. More importantly, the world could increase crop yields—a change needed to prevent the significant shortfall between agricultural output and demand for food expected by 2050.

The challenge has been to figure out exactly how the photoprotection system in plants works at the molecular level, in the first 250 picoseconds of the photosynthesis process. (A picosecond is a trillionth of a second.)

"If we could understand how absorbed energy is converted to heat, we might be able to rewire that process to optimize the overall production of biomass and crops," says Schlau-Cohen. "We could control that switch to make plants less hesitant to shut off the protection. They could still be protected to some extent, and even if a few individuals died, there'd be an increase in the productivity of the remaining population."

First steps of photosynthesis

Critical to the first steps of photosynthesis are proteins called light-harvesting complexes, or LHCs. When sunlight strikes a leaf, each photon (particle of light) delivers energy that excites an LHC. That excitation passes from one LHC to another until it reaches a so-called reaction center, where it drives chemical reactions that split water into oxygen gas, which is released, and positively charged particles called protons, which remain. The protons activate the production of an enzyme that drives the formation of energy-rich carbohydrates needed to fuel the plant's metabolism.

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The left and middle figures illustrate fluorescence behavior of Vio-enriched and Zea-enriched LHCSR proteins These figures show probability distributions of fluorescence intensity and lifetime from experiments with hundreds of individual …more
But in bright sunlight, protons may form more quickly than the enzyme can use them, and the accumulating protons signal that excess energy is being absorbed and may damage critical components of the plant's molecular machinery. So some plants have a special type of LHC—called a light-harvesting complex stress-related, or LHCSR—whose job is to intervene. If proton buildup indicates that too much sunlight is being harvested, the LHCSR flips the switch, and some of the energy is dissipated as heat.

It's a highly effective form of sunscreen for plants—but the LHCSR is reluctant to switch off that quenching setting. When the sun is shining brightly, the LHCSR has quenching turned on. When a passing cloud or flock of birds blocks the sun, it could switch it off and soak up all the available sunlight. But instead, the LHCSR leaves it on—just in case the sun suddenly comes back. As a result, plants reject a lot of energy that they could be using to build more plant material.

An evolutionary success

Much research has focused on the quenching mechanism that regulates the flow of energy within a leaf to prevent damage. Optimized by 3.5 billion years of evolution, its capabilities are impressive. First, it can deal with wildly varying energy inputs. In a single day, the sun's intensity can increase and decrease by a factor of 100 or even 1,000. And it can react to changes that occur slowly over time—say, at sunrise—and those that happen in just seconds, for example, due to a passing cloud.

Researchers agree that one key to quenching is a pigment within the LHCSR—called a carotenoid—that can take two forms: violaxanthin (Vio) and zeaxanthin (Zea). They've observed that LHCSR samples are dominated by Vio molecules under low-light conditions and Zea molecules under high-light conditions. Conversion from Vio to Zea would change various electronic properties of the carotenoids, which could explain the activation of quenching. However, it doesn't happen quickly enough to respond to a passing cloud. That type of fast change could be a direct response to the buildup of protons, which causes a difference in pH from one region of the LHCSR to another.

Clarifying those photoprotection mechanisms experimentally has proved difficult. Examining the behavior of samples containing thousands of proteins doesn't provide insights into the molecular-level behavior because various quenching mechanisms occur simultaneously and on different time scales—and in some cases, so quickly that they're difficult or impossible to observe experimentally.

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This specially designed microscope is capable of detecting fluorescence from single LHCSR proteins attached to a glass coverslip. Credit: Stuart DarschTesting the behavior of proteins one at a time

Schlau-Cohen and her MIT chemistry colleagues, postdoc Toru Kondo and graduate student Wei Jia Chen, decided to take another tack. Focusing on the LHCSR found in green algae and moss, they examined what was different about the way that stress-related proteins rich in Vio and those rich in Zea respond to light—and they did it one protein at a time.

According to Schlau-Cohen, their approach was made possible by the work of her collaborator Roberto Bassi and his colleagues Alberta Pinnola and Luca Dall'Osto at the University of Verona, in Italy. In earlier research, they had figured out how to purify the individual proteins known to play key roles in quenching. They thus were able to provide samples of individual LHCSRs, some enriched with Vio carotenoids and some with Zea carotenoids.

To test the response to light exposure, Schlau-Cohen's team uses a laser to shine picosecond light pulses onto a single LHCSR. Using a highly sensitive microscope, they can then detect the fluorescence emitted in response. If the LHCSR is in quench-on mode, it will turn much of the incoming energy into heat and expel it. Little or no energy will be left to be reemitted as fluorescence. But if the LHCSR is in quench-off mode, all of the incoming light will come out as fluorescence.

"So we're not measuring the quenching directly," says Schlau-Cohen. "We're using decreases in fluorescence as a signature of quenching. As the fluorescence goes down, the quenching goes up."

Using that technique, the MIT researchers examined the two proposed quenching mechanisms: the conversion of Vio to Zea and a direct response to a high proton concentration.

To address the first mechanism, they characterized the response of the Vio-rich and Zea-rich LHCSRs to the pulsed laser light using two measures: the intensity of the fluorescence (based on how many photons they detect in one millisecond) and its lifetime (based on the arrival time of the individual photons).

Explore further: Study reveals the mechanisms of a protein that helps moss and green algae defend against too much light

More information: John I. Ogren et al. Impact of the lipid bilayer on energy transfer kinetics in the photosynthetic protein LH2, Chemical Science (2018). DOI: 10.1039/C7SC04814A

Toru Kondo et al. Single-molecule spectroscopy of LHCSR1 protein dynamics identifies two distinct states responsible for multi-timescale photosynthetic photoprotection, Nature Chemistry (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nchem.2818 

Journal reference: Chemical Science Nature Chemistry
Provided by: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Plant cyborg able to move itself to a preferred light source

by Bob Yirka , Tech Xplore
[Image: plantcyborga.jpg]Credit: Elbert Tiao, MIT Media Lab
A team of researchers at the MIT Media Lab built a cyborg that combines a plant with electronics and ultimately allows the plant to choose when it would like to move to a brighter spot. The cyborg is the brainchild of team leader Harpreet Sareen, and he has named it Elowan.

Plants have the ability to detect light—if you watch really carefully, for example, you can actually see a sunflower move to face directly into the sun as it moves across the sky. Prior research has shown that plants have many natural sensors and response systems—they respond to humidity and temperature levels, for example, or the amount of water in the soil in which they are planted. In this new effort, the researchers sought to give one plant more autonomy by putting its potted base on wheels fitted with electronics and an electric motor.
The idea is reasonably simple—place sensors that listen to the electrical signals generated by a plant and then convert those signals to commands carried out by the motorized wheels. The result is a plant that can respond to changes in light direction by moving itself closer to the source. The researchers proved this by placing the cyborg between two table lamps and then turned them on or off. The plant moved itself, with no prodding, toward the light that was turned on.
The work was not meant as a project to make plants "happier" by giving them more autonomy. Instead, it was geared toward harnessing the processing power of nature. For example,Elowan could be modified in a way that allows it to move solar panels on a house to make sure they get the most sunlight possible. Or office plants outfitted with sensors and controllers could ensure temperature and humidity levels are optimized not just for the plant, but for the workers sharing its space. The team plans to continue its research, hoping to capture the natural processing power of plants to create hybrid devices that might benefit humans in a variety of ways.

Microscopic 'sunflowers' for better solar panels
December 4, 2018 by Lindsay Brownell, Harvard University

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Liquid crystal elastomers deform in response to heat, and the shape they take depends on the alignment of their internal crystalline elements, which can be determined by exposing them to different magnetic fields during formation. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University
The pads of geckos' notoriously sticky feet are covered with setae—microscopic, hairlike structures whose chemical and physical composition and high flexibility allow the lizard to grip walls and ceilings with ease. Scientists have tried to replicate such dynamic microstructures in the lab with a variety of materials, including liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs), which are rubbery networks with attached liquid crystalline groups that dictate the directions in which the LCEs can move and stretch. So far, synthetic LCEs have mostly been able to deform in only one or two dimensions, limiting the structures' ability to move throughout space and take on different shapes.

Now, a group of scientists from Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has harnessed magnetic fields to control the molecular structure of LCEs and create microscopic three-dimensional polymer shapes that can be programmed to move in any direction in response to multiple types of stimuli. The work, reported in PNAS, could lead to the creation of a number of useful devices, including solar panels that turn to follow the sun for improved energy capture.

"What's critical about this project is that we are able to control the molecular structure by aligning liquid crystals in an arbitrary direction in 3-D space, allowing us to program nearly any shape into the geometry of the material itself," said first author Yuxing Yao, who is a graduate student in the lab of Wyss Founding Core Faculty Member Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D.

The microstructures created by Yao and Aizenberg's team are made of LCEs cast into arbitrary shapes that can deform in response to heat, light, and humidity, and whose specific reconfiguration is controlled by their own chemical and material properties.The researchers found that by exposing the LCE precursors to a magnetic field while they were being synthesized, all the liquid crystalline elements inside the LCEs lined up along the magnetic field and retained this molecular alignment after the polymer solidified. By varying the direction of the magnetic field during this process, the scientists could dictate how the resulting LCE shapes would deform when heated to a temperature that disrupted the orientation of their liquid crystalline structures. When returned to ambient temperature, the deformed structures resumed their initial, internally oriented shape.

Such programmed shape changes could be used to create encrypted messages that are only revealed when heated to a specific temperature, actuators for tiny soft robots, or adhesive materials whose stickiness can be switched on and off. The system can also cause shapes to autonomously bend in directions that would usually require the input of some energy to achieve. For example, an LCE plate was shown to not only undergo "traditional" out-of-plane bending, but also in-plane bending or twisting, elongation, and contraction. Additionally, unique motions could be achieved by exposing different regions of an LCE structure to multiple magnetic fields during polymerization, which then deformed in different directions when heated.

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Micropillars made of a light-responsive liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) re-orient themselves to follow light coming from different directions, which could lead to more efficient solar panels. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University
The team was also able to program their LCE shapes to reconfigure themselves in response to light by incorporating light-sensitive cross-linking molecules into the structure during polymerization. Then, when the structure was illuminated from a certain direction, the side facing the light contracted, causing the entire shapeto bend toward the light. This type of self-regulated motion allows LCEs to deform in response to their environment and continuously reorient themselves to autonomously follow the light.

Additionally, LCEs can be created with both heat- and light-responsive properties, such that a single-material structure is now capable of multiple forms of movement and response mechanisms.

One exciting application of these multiresponsive LCEs is the creation of solar panels covered with microstructures that turn to follow the sun as it moves across the sky like a sunflower, thus resulting in more efficient light capture. The technology could also form the basis of autonomous source-following radios, multilevel encryption, sensors, and smart buildings.

"Our lab currently has several ongoing projects in which we're working on controlling the chemistry of these LCEs to enable unique, previously unseen deformation behaviors, as we believe these dynamic bioinspired structures have the potential to find use in a number of fields," said Aizenberg, who is also the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Material Science at SEAS.

"Asking fundamental questions about how Nature works and whether it is possible to replicate biological structures and processes in the lab is at the core of the Wyss Institute's values, and can often lead to innovations that not only match Nature's abilities, but improve on them to create new materials and devices that would not exist otherwise," said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children's Hospital, as well as Professor of Bioengineering at SEAS.

Explore further: Shape-shifting material can morph, reverse itself using heat, light

More information: Yuxing Yao el al., "Multiresponsive polymeric microstructures with encoded predetermined and self-regulated deformability," PNAS (2018). 

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Provided by:  Harvard University

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A self propelled smart farm that could start with lichen and fungi  and later grasses herbs shrubs bushes trees etc.

Infecting mars with seeds and spores that will awake when we start geo-engineering and terra-forming.

CO2 and sunlight as well as condensation electrolysed fuels will make these Mars Seeders autonomous.

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Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Quote:The probe is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad.
They include low-frequency radio astronomical studies—aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side—as well as mineral and radiation tests, Xinhua cited the China National Space Administration as saying.

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The experiments also involve planting potato and other seeds, according to Chinese media reports.

Read more at:

China launches rover for first far side of the moon landing
December 7, 2018 by Ryan Mcmorrow

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No lander or rover has ever touched the surface of the far side of the moon, seen in this 1968 NASA file image
China launched a rover early Saturday destined to land on the far side of the moon, a global first that would boost Beijing's ambitions to become a space superpower, state media said.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission—named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology—launched on a Long March 3B rocket from the southwestern Xichang launch centre at 2:23 am (1823 GMT), according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The blast-off marked the start of a long journey to the far side of the moon for the Chang'e-4 mission, expected to land around the New Year to carry out experiments and survey the untrodden terrain.

Xinhua said the successful launch had opened "a new chapter in lunar exploration".

Unlike the near side of the moon that is "tidally locked" and always faces the earth, and offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.

It was not until 1959 that the Soviet Union captured the first images of the heavily cratered surface, uncloaking some of the mystery of the moon's "dark side".

No lander or rover has ever touched the surface there, positioning China as the first nation to explore the area.

"China over the past 10 or 20 years has been systematically ticking off the various firsts that America and the Soviet Union did in the 1960s and 1970s in space exploration," said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"This is one of the first times they've done something that no one else has done before."

Next up: humans

It is no easy technological feat—China has been preparing for this moment for years.

A major challenge for such a mission is communicating with the robotic lander: as the far side of the moon always points away from earth, there is no direct "line of sight" for signals.

As a solution, China in May blasted the Queqiao ("Magpie Bridge") satellite into the moon's orbit, positioning it so that it can relay data and commands between the lander and earth.

Adding to the difficulties, Chang'e-4 is being sent to the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole region—known for its craggy and complex terrain—state media has said.

The probe ROVER is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad.

They include low-frequency radio astronomical studies—aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side—as well as mineral and radiation tests, Xinhua cited the China National Space Administration as saying.
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The experiments also involve planting potato 
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and other seeds, 

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according to Chinese media reports.

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Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.

The Chang'e 4 mission is a step in that direction, significant for the engineering expertise needed to explore and settle the moon, McDowell said.

"The main thing about this mission is not science, this is a technology mission," he said.

'National pride'

Chang'e-4 will be the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the Yutu ("Jade Rabbit") rover mission in 2013.

Once on the moon's surface, the rover faces an array of extreme challenges.

During the lunar night—which lasts 14 earth days—temperatures will drop as low as minus 173 degrees Celsius (minus 279 Fahrenheit). During the lunar day, also lasting 14 earth days, temperatures soar as high as 127 C (261 F).

The rover's instruments must withstand those fluctuations and it must generate enough energy to sustain it during the long night.

Yutu conquered those challenges and, after initial setbacks, ultimately surveyed the moon's surface for 31 months. Its success provided a major boost to China's space programme.

Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang'e-5, next year to collect samples and bring them back to earth.

It is among a slew of ambitious Chinese targets, which include a reusable launcher by 2021, a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a moon base, a permanently crewed space station, and a Mars rover.

"Our country's successful lunar exploration project not only vaults us to the top of the world's space power ranks, it also allows the exploration of the far side of the moon," said Niu Min, a booster and expert on China's space programme.

The project, he said in an interview with local website Netease, "greatly inspires everyone's national pride and self-confidence".

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: China prepares mission to land spacecraft on moon's far side

Read more at:
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
If a plant can be a bio-electric hybrid...what else can it be hacked with?
Cytologia 45: 149-155, 1980 

Fusion of Plant Protoplasts with Amoeba Induced by Polyethylene glycol 

E. W. Rajasekhar, S. Chatterjee' and Susan Eapen Bio-Medical Group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bombay 400 085, India Received June 24, 1978 Polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been used analogously in inducing fusion of plant protoplasts (Kao and Michayluk 1974, Wallin et al. 1974, Gosch et al. 1975, Smith et al. 1976) and animal cells (Ahkong et al. 1975 a, Pontecorvo et al. 1977). PEG is supposed to bind non-selectively to the polarized groups of surface mem branes and bring about cell adhesion (Kao and Michayluk 1974). This non specificity has been exploited in obtaining hybrids even between plant protoplasts and animal eclls (Ahkong et al. 1975b, Jones et al. 1976, Dudits et al. 1976, Willis et al. 1977). This communication describes, the occurrence of repeated nuclear divisions within the heterokaryocytes formed as a result of PEG-mediated interkingdom fusion of mung bean and belladonna protoplasts with amoeba cells.  Cry

Summary Interkingdom fusion of amoeba cells with belladonna and mung bean pro toplasts was accomplished with the use of polyethylene glycol . Heterocellular adhesion and subsequent formation of heterokaryons has been followed with light microscopy and confirmed by autoradiography. The fusion frequency , though varied, was as high as 85 % in some experiments. The plant nuclei divided repeated ly within the alien cytoplasm of amoeba. No synchrony in nuclear divisions could be detected but aberrations were observed that led to the formation of micronuclei and the latter increased numerically on prolonged culture. 
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Quote:In the future, the researchers plan to further improve the amoeba's computing abilities.
"We will investigate further how these complex spatiotemporal oscillatory dynamics enhance the computational performance in finding higher-quality solutions in shorter time," said coauthor Song-Ju Kim at Keio University. "If it could be clarified, the knowledge will contribute to create novel analogue computers that exploit the spatiotemporal dynamics of electric current in its circuit
Amoeba finds approximate solutions to NP-hard problem in linear time
December 20, 2018 by Lisa Zyga, feature

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TSP solutions obtained by the amoeba-based computing system for 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 cities. Credit: Zhu et al. ©2018 Royal Society Open Science
Researchers have demonstrated that an amoeba—a single-celled organism consisting mostly of gelatinous protoplasm—has unique computing abilities that may one day offer a competitive alternative to the methods used by conventional computers.

The researchers, led by Masashi Aono at Keio University, assigned an amoeba to solve the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP). The TSP is an optimization problem in which the goal is to find the shortest route between several cities, so that each city is visited exactly once, and the start and end points are the same.

The problem is NP-hard, meaning that as the number of cities increases, the time needed for a computer to solve it grows exponentially. The complexity is due to the large number of possible solutions. For example, for four cities, there are only three possible routes. But for eight cities, the number of possible routes increases to 2520.

In the new study, the researchers found that an amoeba can find reasonable (nearly optimal) solutions to the TSP in an amount of time that grows only linearly as the number of cities increases from four to eight. Although conventional computers can also find approximate solutions in linear time, the amoeba's approach is completely different than traditional doink-head. As the scientists explain, the amoeba explores the solution space by continuously redistributing the gel in its amorphous body at a constant rate, as well as by processing optical feedback in parallel instead of serially.

Although a conventional computer can still solve the TSP much faster than an amoeba, especially for small problem sizes, the new results are intriguing and may lead to the development of novel analogue computers that derive approximate solutions of computationally complex problems of much larger sizes in linear time.

How it works

The particular type of amoeba that the scientists used was a plasmodium or "true slime mold," which weighs about 12 mg and consumes oat flakes. This amoeba continually deforms its amorphous body by repeatedly supplying and withdrawing gel at a velocity of about 1 mm/second to create pseudopod-like appendages.

In their experiments, the researchers placed the amoeba in the center of a stellate chip, which is a round plate with 64 narrow channels projecting outwards, and then placed the chip on top of an agar plate. The amoeba is confined within the chip, but can still move into the 64 channels.

In order to maximize its nutrient absorption, the amoeba tries to expand inside the chip to come in contact with as much agar as possible. However, the amoeba does not like light. Since each channel can be selectively illuminated by light, it's possible to force the amoeba to retreat from the illuminated channels.

In order to model the TSP, each channel in the stellate chip represents an ordered city in the salesman's route. For example, in the case with four cities labeled A-D, if the amoeba occupies channels A4, B2, C1, and D3, then the corresponding solution to the TSP is C, B, D, A, C.

In order to guide the amoeba toward an optimal or nearly optimal solution, the key lies in controlling the light. To do this, the researchers use a neural network model in which every six seconds the system updates which channels are illuminated. The model incorporates information about the distance between each pair of cities, as well as feedback from the amoeba's current position in the channels.

The model ensures that the amoeba finds a valid solution to the TSP in a few ways. For example, once the amoeba has occupied a certain fraction of a particular channel, say A3, then channels A1, A2, and all other "A" channels are illuminated in order to prohibit city A from being visited twice. Also, B3, C3, D3, and all other "3" channels are illuminated to prohibit simultaneous visits to multiple cities.

The model accounts for the distances between cities by making it easier to illuminate channels that represent cities with longer distances than with shorter distances. For instance, say the amoeba occupies channel B2, and has begun to encroach into channels C3 and D3 in equal amounts, and the distance between cities B and C is 100 while the distance between cities B and D is 50. The longer distance between B and C eventually causes the system to illuminate channel C3, causing the amoeba to retreat from that channel but allowing it to continue moving into D3.

Overall, modeling the TSP with an amoeba harnesses the amoeba's natural tendency to seek out a stable equilibrium. As channels representing shorter routes are less likely to be illuminated, the amoeba may spread out in those channels and continue to explore other non-illuminated channels in order to maximize its surface area on the agar plate.

The researchers also developed a computer simulation called AmoebaTSP that mimics some of the main features of how the amoeba addresses the problem, including the continuous movement of gel as it is supplied at a constant rate and withdrawn from various channels.

"In our stellate chip for solving the n-city TSP, the total area of the body of the amoeba becomes n when the amoeba finally finds an approximate solution," Aono told "There seems to be a 'law' that the amoeba supplies its gelatinous resource to expand in the non-illuminated channels at a constant rate, say, x. This law would be kept even when some resources bounce back from illuminated channels. Then the time required to expand the body area n to represent the solution becomes n/x. This mechanism would be the origin of the linear time, and it was reproduced by our computer simulation model.

"But still, the mechanism by which how the amoeba maintains the quality of the approximate solution, that is, the short route length, remains a mystery. It seems that spatially and temporally correlated movements of the branched parts of the amoeba located at distant channels are the key. Each of these branches is oscillating its volume with some temporal 'memory' on illuminated experiences. Groups of the branches perform synchronization and desynchronization for sharing information even though they are spatially distant."

In the future, the researchers plan to further improve the amoeba's computing abilities.

"We will investigate further how these complex spatiotemporal oscillatory dynamics enhance the computational performance in finding higher-quality solutions in shorter time," said coauthor Song-Ju Kim at Keio University. "If it could be clarified, the knowledge will contribute to create novel analogue computers that exploit the spatiotemporal dynamics of electric current in its circuit.

"Of course, running some other doink-head on traditional digital computers for linear time, we can derive approximate solutions to TSP. On the other hand, when running our simulation models (AmoebaTSP or its developed versions) on the traditional computers as we did in this study, the analogue and parallel spatiotemporal dynamics require nonlinear time for simulating them as digital and serial processes. So we are trying to obtain much higher-quality solutions than those derived from the traditional ones by running our models on the analogue computers for linear time or shorter."

The researchers also expect that, by fabricating a larger chip, the amoeba will be able to solve TSP problems with hundreds of cities, although this would require tens of thousands of channels.

 Explore further: Health department says amoeba kills swimmer in Oklahoma lake

More information: Liping Zhu, Song-Ju Kim, Masahiko Hara, and Masashi Aono. "Remarkable problem-solving ability of unicellular amoeboid organism and its mechanism." Royal Society Open 

Journal reference:  Royal Society Open Science

Read more at:

Forget-me-not: Scientists pinpoint memory mechanism in plants
December 21, 2018, University of Birmingham

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Plant scientists at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham have unravelled a mechanism that enables flowering plants to sense and 'remember' changes in their environment.

Read more at: research, published in the Journal Nature Communications, reveals potential new targets that could support the development of new plant varieties, including cereals and vegetables, that can adapt to different environmental conditions.

Plants' memory function enables them to accurately coordinate their development in response to stress or to the changing seasons. For example, many plants remember the extended cold of winter, which ensures that they only flower in spring when warmer temperatures return. One way they do this is through a group of proteins called the PRC2. In the cold these proteins come together as a complex and switch the plant into flowering mode. Little is known about how the PRC2 detects environmental change to make sure it is only active when needed.

This new study, which was carried out in collaboration with scientists from the Universities of Oxford and Utrecht, provides new insight into the 'environment sensing' function of the PRC2.

Researchers discovered that a core component of the complex—a protein called VRN2—is extremely unstable. In warmer temperatures and when oxygen is plentiful, VRN2 protein continually breaks down. When environmental conditions become more challenging, for example when a plant is flooded and oxygen is low, VRN2 becomes stable and enhances survival. VRN2 protein also accumulates in the cold. This allows the PRC2 complex to trigger flowering once temperatures rise. The team investigated the reasons for this and found a surprising similarity between plant responses to cold and low oxygen experienced during flooding.

"Plants have a remarkable ability to sense and remember changes in their environment, which allows them to control their life cycle," explains lead author Dr. Daniel Gibbs, from the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham. "VRN2 is continually being broken down when it is not needed, but accumulates under the right environmental conditions. In this way, VRN2 directly senses and responds to signals from the environment, and the PRC2 remains inactive until required."

"It is possible that this mechanism could be targeted to help create plants that are better adapted to different envornmental scenarios, which will be important in the face of climate change."

Professor Michael Holdsworth, from the University of Nottingham, who co-led the study, said: "It will now be important to investigate how cold leads to increased VRN2 stability and why this response is similar to plant responses to flooding."

Interestingly, animals also have the PRC2 complex, but do not have an unstable VRN2 protein. "This system appears to have evolved specifically in flowering plants," added Prof. Holdsworth. "Perhaps it gives them more flexibility in their ability to adapt and respond to environmental change, which is important since they are fixed in the ground and can't move."

Explore further: Climate change drives tundras out of sync

Journal reference: Nature Communications
Provided by: University of Birmingham

Read more at:

Quote:"In the future, we plan to use this knowledge to create artificial electron transport chains that will enable new applications in the field of synthetic biology."

Structure and function of photosynthesis protein explained in detail
December 21, 2018, Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum

[Image: structureand.jpg]
Jacqueline Thiemann and Marc Nowaczyk are interested in protein complexes in cyanobacteria, which they keep in large tanks at RUB. Credit: RUB, Marquard
An international team of researchers has solved the structure and elucidated the function of photosynthetic complex I. This membrane protein complex plays a major role in dynamically rewiring photosynthesis. The team from the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Osaka University and Ruhr-Universität Bochum together with their collaboration partners report the work in the journal Science, published online on 20 December 2018.

"The results close one of the last major gaps in our understanding of photosynthetic electron transport pathways," says Associate Professor Dr. Marc Nowaczyk, who heads the Bochum project group "Cyanobacterial Membrane Protein Complexes."

Biology's electrical circuits

Complex I is found in most living organisms. In plant cells it is used in two places: one is in mitochondria, the cell's power plants, the other is in chloroplasts, where photosynthesis occurs. In both instances, it forms part of an electron transport chain, which can be thought of as biology's electrical circuit. These are used to drive the cells molecular machinesresponsible for energy production and storage. The structure and function of mitochondrial complex I as part of cellular respiration has been well investigated, whereas photosynthetic complex I has been little studied so far.

Short-circuiting photosynthesis

Using cryoelectron microscopy, the researchers were able to solve for the first time the molecular structure of photosynthetic complex I. They showed that it differs considerably from its respiratory relative. In particular, the part responsible for electron transport has a different structure, since it is optimised for cyclic electron transport in photosynthesis.

Cyclic electron transport represents a molecular short circuit in which electrons are reinjected into the photosynthetic electron transport chain instead of being stored. Marc Nowaczyk explains: "The molecular details of this process have been unknown and additional factors have not yet been unequivocally identified." The research team simulated the process in a test tube and showed that the protein ferredoxin plays a major role. Using spectroscopic methods, the scientists also demonstrated that the electron transport between ferredoxin and complex I is highly efficient.

Molecular fishing rod

In the next step, the group analysed at the molecular level which structural elements are responsible for the efficient interaction of complex I and ferredoxin. Further spectroscopic measurements showed that complex I has a particularly flexible part in its structure, which captures the protein ferredoxin like a fishing rod. This allows ferredoxin to reach the optimal binding position for electron transfer.

"This enabled us to bring the structure together with the function of the photosynthetic complex I and gain a detailed insight into the molecular basis of electron transport processes," summarises Marc Nowaczyk. "In the future, we plan to use this knowledge to create artificial electron transport chains that will enable new applications in the field of synthetic biology."

Explore further: Photosynthetic protein structure that harvests and traps infrared light

More information: Jan M. Schuller et al. Structural adaptations of photosynthetic complex I enable ferredoxin-dependent electron transfer, Science (2018). DOI: 10.1126/science.aau3613 

Journal reference: Science
Provided by: Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum

Read more at:

Itza pot plot.

Quote:Astronauts could grow CANNABIS on the Red Planet, hints British Mars One finalist
Ryan MacDonald suggests a system used to grow food could be used to cultivate cannabis
[Image: MAIN-Mars-marijuana.jpg]Take me to your dealer: Martians have long been depicted as cannabis smokers

Thursday, December 6th, 2018, 03:12 am (This post was last modified: Thursday, December 6th, 2018, 03:22 am by EA.)

This post is a psy-optic pilot-projected plot to plant a farm on Mars.

[Image: little-shop-of-horror-poster-1.jpg]

To Hell with Planetary-Protection.
Time for a new Mars resurrection.
With a massive life-form injection.
Biospheric total internal reflection.

Farm eye see and Pharmacy and Biofuel generator on wheels.
Follows the sun directly right in itz gaze the energy face reels.

It will supplant our biosphere directly where and when needed.
Considered Conceded concerning Mars / Earth like is re-seeded.

Robot Designed to Help Earth Plants Grow on Mars
Brian Merchant 
August 27, 2009

[Image: robot-plants-mars.jpg]

Images via Tuvie
Robot Will Help Colonize Mars After We've Ruined Earth
Well, it's good to know that in the event that our planet collapses under the weight of climate changeoverpopulation, a water crisis, nuclear holocaust or whatever, there are designers out there already preparing for life on Mars. If we do indeed set out to colonize Mars, the first thing we're going to need is ample breathable oxygen. Enter Le Petit Prince, a greenhouse robot designed to keep plants safe while scavenging for more nutrients. More pics and a video of the robot in action after the jump.
[Image: robot-plants-mars-real.jpg]

According to Tuvie:

Quote:Le Petit Prince or Little Prince is a robotic greenhouse concept that is specially designed to help the future exploration and expanding population in the Mars. This intelligent robot can carry and take well care of a plant inside its glass container, which is functionally mounted on its four-legged pod.

[Image: robot-plants-mars-design.jpg]

Quote:The robot is designed to learn the optimal process of searching for nutrients in order to keep the plant in a good condition. Moreover, it can send reports of its movements and developments to its fellow greenhouse robots through wireless communication, making it possible to learn from each other.

And here's the drone in (simulated) action: 

Le Petit Prince was designed by Martin Miklica, and is a finalist in the Electrolux Design Lab 2009.


This sun-chasing robot looks after the plant on its head
Good robot
By James Vincent@jjvincent  Jul 12, 2018, 6:50am EDT


[img=740x0][/img]The robot-plant hybrid, built by Vincross founder Sun Tianqi. Image: Sun Tianqi
Back in school, I remember learning that plants are “heliotropic,” meaning they grow toward light. I always found this oddly touching, as if those green tendrils stretching out to the sun proved the plant was yearning to live. And why not? That is why they do it.
But what if plants could do more than stretch? What if they could move like animals, independent of their roots? Evolution hasn’t got there yet, but it turns out, humans can help. Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has made it happen: modding a six-legged toy robot made by his company Vincross to carry a potted plant on its back.
The resulting plant-robot hybrid looks like a leafy crab or a robot Bulbasaur. It moves toward the sunshine when needed, and it retreats to shade when it’s had enough. It’ll “play” with a human if you tap its carapace, and it can even make its needs known by performing a little stompy dance when it’s out of water. It’s not clear from Tianqi’s post how the plant actually monitors its environment, but it wouldn’t be too hard to integrate these functions with some basic light, shade, and moisture sensors. We’ve emailed for more details.
[Image: f46ff5c99da69c6685868fc04be91947ffcee668.gif]The robo-plant hybrid can move into the sun when it needs to. Image: Tianqi Sun[Image: b6a61c6b5cb8024c2620db2fa32522a590e20c38.gif]It can retreat into the shade. Image: Tianqi Sun[Image: ead9473ded5a9c41b13cbc76910687845e74047a.gif]It can even “play” with humans (sort of). Image: Tianqi Sun[Image: 19394b9d1f6811ced2df2f0187a2c478a99b72e7.gif]And it does a little stomping dance when it needs watering. Image: Tianqi Sun
Tianqi described the project in a forum post last year (which we spotted via The Outline), saying it was a remake of an earlier installation he made in 2014 of a walking succulent (a “Hakuhou” echeveria). He called the project “Sharing Human Technology with Plants.”

Tianqi says that he was inspired by seeing a dead sunflower at an exhibition that was sitting in the shadows for some reason. Plants are usually “eternally, inexplicably passive,” he writes. You can cut them, burn them, and pull them out of the earth, and they do nothing. “They have the fewest degrees of freedom among all the creatures in nature,” he says. But, in the same way that humans have augmented our ability to move with bikes, trains, and planes, technology can give plants new freedom.
“With a robotic rover base, plants can experience mobility and interaction,” writes Tianqi. “I do hope that this project can bring some inspiration to the relationship between technology and natural default settings.”
It’s a beautiful little mod, one that raises all sorts of imaginative possibilities. Having mobile plants would be perfect for people like myself, with homes full of succulents and other plants, who need to move them about so they don’t get burned. But why not dream bigger? Imagine robot planters the size of small bears, lumbering slowly around gardens and parks, looking for a place to sun themselves. It would certainly make us think of vegetation in a new light, and it might even make gardening a bit easier.
Some good posts EA thank you.. Worship

You should forward these ideas on to Elon Musk, or this thread at least.

Wonderful way to start an ecosystem, from 1st landing.  He has to have 'SOME" kind of cargo when his first BFR takes off for 39 degree latitude and about 290-300 longitude.

Bob... Ninja Assimilated

PS Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
"The Morning Light, No sensation to compare to this, suspended animation, state of bliss, I keep my eyes on the circling sky, tongue tied and twisted just and Earth Bound Martian I" Learning to Fly Pink Floyd [Video:]

Merry solstice to you too!

Quote:Back in school, I remember learning that plants are “heliotropic,” meaning they grow toward light. I always found this oddly touching, as if those green tendrils stretching out to the sun proved the plant was yearning to live. And why not? That is why they do it.
On the Verge of earlier dawns.
Now that Dec 21 has passed the days get longer and the plants will re-activate in the Northern Hemisphere around here near spring equinox.

Mars seasons are another scenario to account for.

Mobile self planting units will be self supplying supplanters.  To koine a phrase:

[Image: f73d5820707394c98d0cb16498435bfa--sweet-...coleus.jpg]
Like a Vine on wheels.


Quote:If a plant can be a bio-electric hybrid...what else can it be hacked with?

A lung-inspired design turns water into fuel

December 20, 2018, Cell Press

[Image: alunginspire.jpg]
The similarities between the exchange of gases in mammalian lungs and a newly developed mechanism to turn water into fuel. Credit: Li et al. / Joule
Scientists at Stanford University have designed an electrocatalytic mechanism that works like a mammalian lung to convert water into fuel. Their research, published December 20 in the journal Joule, could help existing clean energy technologies run more efficiently.

The act of inhaling and exhaling is so automatic for most organisms that it could be mistaken as simple, but the mammalian breathing process is actually one of the most sophisticated systems for two-way gas exchangefound in nature. With each breath, air moves through the tiny, passage-like bronchioles of the lungs until it reaches diminutive sacs called alveoli. From there, the gas must pass into the bloodstream without simply diffusing, which would cause harmful bubbles to form. It's the unique structure of the alveoli—including a micron-thick membrane that repels water molecules on the inside while attracting them on the outer surface—that prevents those bubbles from forming and makes the gas exchange highly efficient.

Scientists in senior author Yi Cui's lab at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University drew inspiration from this process in order to develop better electrocatalysts: materials that increase the rate of a chemical reaction at an electrode. "Clean energy technologies have demonstrated the capability of fast gas reactant delivery to the reaction interface, but the reverse pathway—efficient gas product evolution from the catalyst/electrolyte interface—remains challenging," says Jun Li, the first author of the study.

The team's mechanism structurally mimics the alveolus and carries out two different processes to improve the reactions that drive sustainable technologies such as fuel cells and metal-air batteries.

The first process is analogous to exhalation. The mechanism splits water to produce hydrogen gas, a clean fuel, by oxidizing water molecules in the anode of a battery while reducing them in the cathode. Oxygen gas (along with the hydrogen gas) is rapidly produced and transported through a thin, alveolus-like membrane made from polyethylene—without the energy costs of forming bubbles.

The second process is more like inhalation and generates energy through a reaction that consumes oxygen. Oxygen gas is delivered to the catalyst at the electrode surface, so it can be used as reactant during electrochemical reactions.

Although it is still in the early phases of development, the design appears to be promising. The uncommonly thin nano-polyethylene membrane remains hydrophobic longer than conventional carbon-based gas diffusion layers, and this model is able to achieve higher current density rates and lower overpotential than conventional designs.

However, this lung-inspired design still has some room for improvement before it will be ready for commercial use. Since the nano-polyethylene membrane is a polymer-based film, it cannot tolerate temperatures higher than 100 degrees Celsius, which could limit its applications. The team believes this material may be replaced with similarly thin nanoporous hydrophobic membranes capable of withstanding greater heat. They are also interested in incorporating other electrocatalysts into the device design to fully explore their catalytic capabilities.

"The breathing-mimicking structure could be coupled with many other state-of-the-art electrocatalysts, and further exploration of the gas-liquid-solid three-phase electrode offers exciting opportunities for catalysis," says Jun Li.

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Laser technique may open door to more efficient clean fuels

More information: Joule, Li et al.: "Breathing-Mimicking Electrocatalysis for Oxygen Evolution and Reduction" 10.1016/j.joule.2018.11.015 

Journal reference: Joule [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: Cell Press

Read more at:

It supplies itself
It supplants itself
Itza plant itself
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
"We're in this exciting and terrifying time 

Scientists: 'Time is ripe' to use big data for planet-sized plant questions
January 1, 2019, Florida Museum of Natural History

[Image: scientiststi.jpg]
Data from millions of museum specimens, such as this Ziziphus celata or Florida jujube, are now available to scientists around the world via digital databases such as iDigBio. Credit: Florida Museum photo by Jeff Gage

A group of Florida Museum of Natural History scientists has issued a "call to action" to use big data to tackle longstanding questions about plant diversity and evolution and forecast how plant life will fare on an increasingly human-dominated planet.

In a commentary published today in Nature Plants, the scientists urged their colleagues to take advantage of massive, open-access data resources in their research and help grow these resources by filling in remaining data gaps.

"Using big data to address major biodiversity issues at the global scale has enormous practical implications, ranging from conservation efforts to predicting and buffering the impacts of climate change," said study author Doug Soltis, a Florida Museum curator and distinguished professor in the University of Florida department of biology. "The links between big data resources we see now were unimaginable just a decade ago. The time is ripe to leverage these tools and applications, not just for plants but for all groups of organisms."

Over several centuries, natural history museums have built collections of billions of specimens and their associated data, much of which is now available online. New technologies such as remote sensors and drones allow scientists to monitor plants and animals and transmit data in real time. And citizen scientists are contributing biological data by recording and reporting their observations via digital tools such as iNaturalist.

Together, these data resources provide scientists and conservationists with a wealth of information about the past, present and future of life on Earth. As these databases have grown, so have the computational tools needed not only to analyze but also link immense data sets.

Studies that previously focused on a handful of species or a single plant community can now expand to a global level, thanks to the development of databases such as GenBank, which stores DNA sequences, iDigBio, a University of Florida-led effort to digitize U.S. natural history collections, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, a repository of species' location information.

These resources can be valuable to a wide range of users, from scientists in pursuit of fundamental insights into plant evolution and ecology to land managers and policymakers looking to identify the regions most in need of conservation, said Julie Allen, co-lead author and an assistant professor in the University of Nevada-Reno department of biology.

If Earth's plant life were a medical patient, small-scale studies might examine the plant equivalent of a cold sore or an ingrown toenail. With big data, scientists can gain a clearer understanding of global plant health as a whole, make timely diagnoses and prescribe the right treatment plans.

Such plans are urgently needed, Allen said.

"We're in this exciting and terrifying time in which the unprecedented amount of data available to us intersects with global threats to biodiversity such as habitat loss and climate change," said Allen, a former Florida Museum postdoctoral researcher and UF doctoral graduate. "Understanding the processes that have shaped our world—how plants are doing, where they are now and why—can help us get a handle on how they might respond to future changes."

Why is it so vital to track these regional and global changes?

"We can't survive without plants," said co-lead author and museum research associate Ryan Folk. "A lot of groups evolved in the shadow of flowering plants. As these plants spread and diversified, so did ants, beetles, ferns and other organisms. They are the base layer to the diversity of life we see on the planet today."

In addition to using and growing plant data resources, the authors hope the scientific community will address one of the toughest remaining obstacles to using biological big data: getting databases to work smoothly with each other.

"This is still a huge limitation," Allen said. "The data in each system are often collected in completely different ways. Integrating these to connect in seamless ways is a major challenge."

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Local conditions shape plant communities

More information: Julie M. Allen et al, Biodiversity synthesis across the green branches of the tree of life, Nature Plants (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41477-018-0322-7 

Journal reference: Nature Plants [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: Florida Museum of Natural History

Read more at:

Plants have a plan for all seasons
December 28, 2018, John Innes Centre

[Image: plant.jpg]
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Many plants need to avoid flowering in the autumn – even if conditions are favourable – otherwise they would perish in winter.

To flower in the spring they need to sense and then remember winter, a process known as vernalisation. But how do plants sense vital information such as temperatures to align flowering with the seasons?

Until now, many researchers thought that fluctuations in monthly, daily, hourly temperatures were detected by a small number of dedicated sensors.

But new research by the John Innes Centre reveals that plants combine the temperature sensitivity of multiple processes to distinguish between the seasons.

"At first glance this might seem like a surprising finding, however in hindsight, it is very reasonable and it is also more likely as a mechanism to evolve," comments Dr. Rea Antoniou-Kourounioti, first author of the study which appears in the journal Cell Systems.

"Biochemical reactions are naturally temperature sensitive, so the alternative, a few specialised sensors, would suggest that the temperature sensitivity of everything else must be ignored or compensated for. On the other hand, taking inputs from multiple pathways that were already responding to temperature, and evolving to use this combined information is less complicated and can lead to a more robust system," she explains.

Credit: John Innes Centre
The team from the labs of Professors Martin Howard and Caroline Dean developed a predictive mathematical model of temperature sensing for the key flowering regulator FLC in Arabidopsis.

This vernalisation model can be used in combination with climate models to predict how plants will change their flowering in future climates. In this study, the team collaborated with groups from Sweden to test the model on patterns of data from plants grown in field sites in Sweden and Norwich – and the model matched these well.

Arabidopsis is a relative of many crop species, such as broccoli and oilseed rape, so the work could be extended to help breeders develop climate-resilient varieties.

Future work will involve adjusting the model in crop species and integrating it into current crop prediction models for farmers and breeders.

The team will work with climate modellers to more accurately predict the temperatures that plants will actually experience in future.

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Absence of warm temperature spikes revealed as driver for vernalisation

More information: Rea L. Antoniou-Kourounioti et al. Temperature Sensing Is Distributed throughout the Regulatory Network that Controls FLC Epigenetic Silencing in Vernalization, Cell Systems (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.cels.2018.10.011 

Journal reference: Cell Systems [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: John Innes Centre

Read more at:
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Arrow improv is as prescient was.
Quote:Over two years of replicated field studies, they found that these engineered plants developed faster, grew taller,
[Image: AudreyII.2.jpg]
and produced about 40 percent more biomass, most of which was found in 50-percent-larger stems
[Image: latest?cb=20170313125827]

Scientists engineer shortcut for photosynthetic glitch, boost crop growth by 40 percent
January 3, 2019, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

[Image: scientistsen.jpg]
Aerial view of the 2017 field trials where scientists studied how well their plants modified to shortcut photorespiration performed beside unmodified plants in real-world conditions. They found that plants engineered with a synthetic shortcut are about 40 percent more productive. Credit: James Baltz/College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Plants convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis; however, most crops on the planet are plagued by a photosynthetic glitch, and to deal with it, evolved an energy-expensive process called photorespiration that drastically suppresses their yield potential. Researchers from the University of Illinois and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service report in the journal Science that crops engineered with a photorespiratory shortcut are 40 percent more productive in real-world agronomic conditions.

"We could feed up to 200 million additional people with the calories lost to photorespiration in the Midwestern U.S. each year," said principal investigator Donald Ort, the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Science and Crop Sciences at Illinois' Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. "Reclaiming even a portion of these calories across the world would go a long way to meeting the 21st Century's rapidly expanding food demands—driven by population growth and more affluent high-calorie diets."

This landmark study is part of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE), an international research project that is engineering crops to photosynthesize more efficiently to sustainably increase worldwide food productivity with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), and the U.K. Government's Department for International Development (DFID).

Photosynthesis uses the enzyme Rubisco—the planet's most abundant protein—and sunlight energy to turn carbon dioxide and water into sugars that fuel plant growth and yield. Over millennia, Rubisco has become a victim of its own success, creating an oxygen-rich atmosphere. Unable to reliably distinguish between the two molecules, Rubisco grabs oxygen instead of carbon dioxide about 20 percent of the time, resulting in a plant-toxic compound that must be recycled through the process of photorespiration.

[Image: 1-scientistsen.jpg]
Four unmodified plants (left) grow beside four plants (right) engineered with alternate routes to bypass photorespiration -- an energy-expensive process that costs yield potential. The modified plants are able to reinvest their energy and resources to boost productivity by 40 percent. Credit: Claire Benjamin/RIPE Project"Photorespiration is anti-photosynthesis," said lead author Paul South, a research molecular biologist with the Agricultural Research Service, who works on the RIPE project at Illinois. "It costs the plant precious energy and resources that it could have invested in photosynthesis to produce more growth and yield."

Photorespiration normally takes a complicated route through three compartments in the plant cell. Scientists engineered alternate pathways to reroute the process, drastically shortening the trip and saving enough resources to boost plant growth by 40 percent. This is the first time that an engineered photorespiration fix has been tested in real-world agronomic conditions.

"Much like the Panama Canal was a feat of engineering that increased the efficiency of trade, these photorespiratory shortcuts are a feat of plant engineering that prove a unique means to greatly increase the efficiency of photosynthesis," said RIPE Director Stephen Long, the Ikenberry Endowed University Chair of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology at Illinois.

[Image: 2-scientistsen.jpg]
Scientists Don Ort (left), Paul South (center) and Amanda Cavanagh (right) study how well their plants modified to bypass photorespiration perform beside non-modified plants in real-world conditions. They found that plants engineered with a synthetic shortcut are about 40 percent more productive. Credit: Claire Benjamin/RIPE Project
The team engineered three alternate routes to replace the circuitous native pathway. To optimize the new routes, they designed genetic constructs using different sets of promoters and genes, essentially creating a suite of unique roadmaps. They stress tested these roadmaps in 1,700 plants to winnow down the top performers.

Over two years of replicated field studies, they found that these engineered plants developed faster, grew taller, and produced about 40 percent more biomass, most of which was found in 50-percent-larger stems.

The team tested their hypotheses in tobacco: an ideal model plant for crop research because it is easier to modify and test than food crops, yet unlike alternative plant models, it develops a leaf canopy and can be tested in the field. Now, the team is translating these findings to boost the yield of soybean, cowpea, rice, potato, tomato, and eggplant.

[Image: 5c2e2666d3e26.gif]
The red car represents unmodified plants who use a circuitous and energy-expensive process called photorespiration that costs yield potential. The blue car represents plants engineered with an alternate route to shortcut photorespiration, enabling these plants to save fuel and reinvest their energy to boost productivity by as much as 40 percent. Credit: RIPE Project"Rubisco has even more trouble picking out carbon dioxide from oxygen as it gets hotter, causing more photorespiration," said co-author Amanda Cavanagh, an Illinois postdoctoral researcher working on the RIPE project. "Our goal is to build better plants that can take the heat today and in the future, to help equip farmers with the technology they need to feed the world."

While it will likely take more than a decade for this technology to be translated into food crops and achieve regulatory approval, RIPE and its sponsors are committed to ensuring that smallholder farmers, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, will have royalty-free access to all of the project's breakthroughs.

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Scientists boost crop production by 47 percent by speeding up photorespiration

More information: P.F. South el al., "Synthetic glycolate metabolism pathways stimulate crop growth and productivity in the field," Science (2018). … 1126/science.aav8979 

Journal reference: Science [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Read more at:
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Plant Talk | The Scientist Magazine®

The Scientist Magazine
Plants communicate and interact with each other, both aboveground and below, in surprisingly subtle and sophisticated ways.

[Image: c56d5833-e2c6-4735-8b23-2ee920650357-planttalk1.jpg]
Quote:Their previous work analyzed robotic roots in a simulated environment, translating a set of biological rules into algorithmic solutions.

A mathematical approach for understanding intra-plant communication
January 4, 2019 by Ingrid Fadelli, feature

[Image: amathematica.jpg]
The model is composed by 11 non-linear equations: Credit: Tedone et al.
A team of researchers at the Gran Sasso Science Institute (GSSI) and Istituto Italiano di Technologia (IIT) have devised a mathematical approach for understanding intra-plant communication. In their paper, pre-published on bioRxiv, they propose a fully coupled system of non-linear, non-autonomous discontinuous and ordinary differential equations that can accurately describe the adapting behavior and growth of a single plant, by analyzing the main stimuli affecting plant behavior.

Recent studies have found that rather than being passive organisms, plants can actually exhibit complex behaviors in response to environmental stimuli, for instance, adapting their resource allocation, foraging strategies, and growth rates according to their surrounding environment. How plants process and manage this network of stimuli, however, is a complex biological question that remains unanswered.

Researchers have proposed several mathematical models to achieve a better understanding of plant behavior. Nonetheless, none of these models can effectively and clearly portray the complexity of the stimulus-signal-behavior chain in the context of a plant's internal communication network.

The team of researchers at GSSI and IIT who carried out the recent study had previously investigated the mechanisms behind intra-plant communication, with the aim to identify and exploit basic biological principles for the analysis of plant root behavior. Their previous work analyzed robotic roots in a simulated environment, translating a set of biological rules into algorithmic solutions.

[Image: 1-amathematica.jpg]
Photo by Alex Loup on
Even though each root acted independently from the others, the researchers observed the emergence of some self-organizing behavior, aimed at optimizing the internal equilibrium of nutrients at the whole-plant level. While this past study yielded interesting results, it merely considered a small part of the complexity of intra-plant communication, completely disregarding the analysis of above-ground organs, as well as photosynthesis-related processes.

"In this paper, we do not aspire to gain a complete description of the plant complexity, yet we want to identify the main cues influencing the growth of a plant with the aim of investigating the processes playing a role in the intra-communication for plant growth decisions," the researchers wrote in their recent paper. "We propose and explain here a system of ordinary differential equations (ODEs) that, differently from state of the art models, take into account the entire sequence of processes from nutrients uptake, photosynthesis and energy consumption and redistribution."

In the new study, therefore, the researchers set out to develop a mathematical model that describes the dynamics of intra-plant communication and analyses the possible cues that activate adaptive growth responses in a single plant. This model is based on formulations about biological evidence collected in laboratory experiments using state-of-the-art techniques.

Compared to existing models, their model covers a wider range of elements, including photosynthesis, starch degradation, multiple nutrients uptake and management, biomass allocation, and maintenance. These elements are analyzed in depth, considering their interactions and their effects on a plant's growth.

To validate their model and test its robustness, the researchers compared experimental observations of plant behavior with results obtained when applying their model in simulations, where they reproduced conditions of growth similar to those naturally occurring in plants. Their model attained high accuracy and minor errors, suggesting that it can effectively summarize the complex dynamics of intra-plant communication.

"The model is ultimately able to highlight the stimulus signal of the intra-communication in plants, and it can be expanded and adopted as a useful tool at the crossroads of disciplines such as mathematics, robotics and biology, for instance, for validation of biological hypotheses, translation of biological principles into control strategies or resolution of combinatorial problems," the researchers said in their paper.

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Hormone keys plant growth or stress tolerance, but not both

More information: Fabio Tedone et al. Plant behavior: A mathematical approach for understanding intra-plant communication. DOI: 10.1101/493999.

Read more at:
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Quote:The next step for the research, according to Utschig, involves incorporating the membrane-bound Z-scheme into a living system. "Once we have an in vivo system—one in which the process is happening in a living organism—we will really be able to see the rubber hitting the road in terms of hydrogen production," she said.

Discovery adapts natural membrane to make hydrogen fuel from water
January 11, 2019 by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory

[Image: discoveryada.jpg]
Two membrane-bound protein complexes that work together with a synthetic catalyst to produce hydrogen from water. Credit: Olivia Johnson and Lisa Utschig
A chemical reaction pathway central to plant biology have been adapted to form the backbone of a new process that converts water into hydrogen fuel using energy from the sun.

In a recent study from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, scientists have combined two membrane-bound protein complexes to perform a complete conversion of water molecules to hydrogen and oxygen.

The work builds on an earlier study that examined one of these protein complexes, called Photosystem I, a membrane protein that can use energy from light to feed electrons to an inorganic catalyst that makes hydrogen. This part of the reaction, however, represents only half of the overall process needed for hydrogen generation.

By using a second protein complex that uses energy from light to split water and take electrons from it, called Photosystem II, Argonne chemist Lisa Utschig and her colleagues were able to take electrons from water and feed them to Photosystem I.

"The beauty of this design is in its simplicity—you can self-assemble the catalyst with the natural membrane to do the chemistry you want"—Lisa Utschig, Argonne chemist

In an earlier experiment, the researchers provided Photosystem I with electrons from a sacrificial electron donor. "The trick was how to get two electrons to the catalyst in fast succession," Utschig said.

The two protein complexes are embedded in thylakoid membranes, like those found inside the oxygen-creating chloroplasts in higher plants. "The membrane, which we have taken directly from nature, is essential for pairing the two photosystems," Utschig said. "It structurally supports both of them simultaneously and provides a direct pathway for inter-protein electron transfer, but doesn't impede catalyst binding to Photosystem I."

According to Utschig, the Z-scheme—which is the technical name for the light-triggered electron transport chain of natural photosynthesis that occurs in the thylakoid membrane—and the synthetic catalyst come together quite elegantly. "The beauty of this design is in its simplicity—you can self-assemble the catalyst with the natural membrane to do the chemistry you want," she said.

One additional improvement involved the substitution of cobalt or nickel-containing catalysts for the expensive platinum catalyst that had been used in the earlier study. The new cobalt or nickel catalysts could dramatically reduce potential costs.

The next step for the research, according to Utschig, involves incorporating the membrane-bound Z-scheme into a living system. "Once we have an in vivo system—one in which the process is happening in a living organism—we will really be able to see the rubber hitting the road in terms of hydrogen production," she said.

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: New research sheds light on photosynthesis and creation of solar fuel

More information: Lisa M. Utschig et al, Z-scheme solar water splitting via self-assembly of photosystem I-catalyst hybrids in thylakoid membranes, Chemical Science (2018). DOI: 10.1039/c8sc02841a 

Journal reference: Chemical Science [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: Argonne National Laboratory

Read more at:
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
This could likely CLEAN toxic water and at least make hydrogen fuel anywhere, on Earth, Mars, Moon or simply in space.

A self-filling hydrogen gas station in space. Holycowsmile 

Kewl line of articles, keep em coming.   Worship

I hope to refuel my 8 quad likely another two weeks at this rate.

Bob... Ninja Assimilated
"The Morning Light, No sensation to compare to this, suspended animation, state of bliss, I keep my eyes on the circling sky, tongue tied and twisted just and Earth Bound Martian I" Learning to Fly Pink Floyd [Video:]
Quote:This could likely CLEAN toxic water and at least make hydrogen fuel anywhere, on Earth, Mars, Moon or simply in space.

A self-filling hydrogen gas station in space. 
Kewl line of articles, keep em coming.   
I hope to refuel my 8 quad likely another two weeks at this rate.

bio-punk or steam-punk ?

Steam-propelled spacecraft prototype can theoretically explore celestial objects "forever"
January 11, 2019 by Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala, University of Central Florida

[Image: steampropell.jpg]
Credit: NASA
Using steam to propel a spacecraft from asteroid to asteroid is now possible, thanks to a collaboration between a private space company and the University of Central Florida.

UCF planetary research scientist Phil Metzger worked with Honeybee Robotics of Pasadena, California, which developed the World Is Not Enough spacecraft prototype that extracts water from asteroids or other planetary bodies to generate steam and propel itself to its next mining target.

UCF provided the simulated asteroid material and Metzger did the computer modeling and simulation necessary before Honeybee created the prototype and tried out the idea in its facility Dec. 31. The team also partnered with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, to develop initial prototypes of steam-based rocket thrusters.

"It's awesome," Metzger says of the demonstration. "WINE successfully mined the soil, made rocket propellant, and launched itself on a jet of steam extracted from the simulant. We could potentially use this technology to hop on the Moon, Ceres, Europa, Titan, Pluto, the poles of Mercury, asteroids—anywhere there is water and sufficiently low gravity."

WINE, which is the size of a microwave oven, mines the water from the surface then makes it into steam to fly to a new location and repeat. Therefore, it is a rocket that never runs out of fuel and can theoretically explore "forever."

The process works in a variety of scenarios depending on the gravity of each object, Metzger says. The spacecraft uses deployable solar panels to get enough energy for mining and making steam, or it could use small radiosotopic decay units to extend the potential reach of these planetary hoppers to Pluto and other locations far from the sun.

Metzger spent three years developing technology necessary to turn the idea into reality. He developed new equations and a new method to do computer modeling of steam propulsion to come up with the novel approach and to verify that it would actually work beyond a computer screen.

[Image: 1-steampropell.jpg]
By using steam rather than fuel, the World Is Not Enough (WINE) spacecraft prototype can theoretically explore “forever,” as long as water and sufficiently low gravity is present. Credit: University of Central Florida

The development of this type of spacecraft could have a profound impact on future exploration. Currently, interplanetary missions stop exploring once the spacecraft runs out of propellant.

"Each time we lose our tremendous investment in time and money that we spent building and sending the spacecraft to its target," Metzger says. "WINE was designed to never run out of propellant so exploration will be less expensive. It also allows us to explore in a shorter amount of time, since we don't have to wait for years as a new spacecraft travels from Earth each time."

The project is a result of the NASA Small Business Technology Transfer program. The program is designed to encourage universities to partner with small businesses, injecting new scientific progress into marketable commercial products.

"The project has been a collaborative effort between NASA, academia and industry; and it has been a tremendous success," says Kris Zacny, vice president of Honeybee Robotics. "The WINE-like spacecrafts have the potential to change how we explore the universe."

The team is now seeking partners to continue developing small spacecraft.

Metzger is an associate in planetary science research at UCF's Florida Space Institute. Before joining UCF, he worked at NASA's Kennedy Space Center from 1985 to 2014. He earned both his master's (2000) and doctorate (2005) in physics from UCF. Metzger's work covers some of the most exciting and cutting-edge areas of space research and engineering. He has participated in developing a range of technologies advancing our understanding of how to explore the solar system. The technologies include: methods to extract water from lunar soil; 3-D printing methods for structures built from asteroid and Martian clay, and lunar soil mechanic testers for use by gloved astronauts.

Honeybee Robotics, a subsidiary of Ensign Bickford Industries, focuses on developing drilling tools and systems for finding life as well as for space mining for resources. Honeybee has previously deployed and operated Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) on Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), Icy Soil Acquisition Device (ISAD) on Mars Phoenix, and Sample Manipulation System (SMS) for the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). The MSL also has Honeybee's Dust Removal Tool. Current flight and R&D projects include systems for Mars, the Moon, Europa, Phobos, Titan, and others.

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Professor hopes key to deep-space exploration is the moon

Provided by: University of Central Florida

more wine?

Mobile self planting units will be self supplying supplanters.  To koine a phrase:

Inter-Planet "Plantagenet-Assists"
[Image: f73d5820707394c98d0cb16498435bfa--sweet-...coleus.jpg]
Like a Vine on wheels.,,only in space as well. Doh
If a plant can be a bio-electric hybrid...what else can it be hacked with?

JANUARY 11, 2019
Technique identifies electricity-producing bacteria
by Massachusetts Institute of Technology
[Image: techniqueide.jpg]A microfluidic technique quickly sorts bacteria based on their capability to generate electricity. Credit: Qianru Wang
Living in extreme conditions requires creative adaptations. For certain species of bacteria that exist in oxygen-deprived environments, this means finding a way to breathe that doesn't involve oxygen. These hardy microbes, which can be found deep within mines, at the bottom of lakes, and even in the human gut, have evolved a unique form of breathing that involves excreting and pumping out electrons. In other words, these microbes can actually produce electricity.

Scientists and engineers are exploring ways to harness these microbial power plants to run fuel cells and purify sewage water, among other uses. But pinning down a microbe's electrical properties has been a challenge: The cells are much smaller than mammalian cells and extremely difficult to grow in laboratory conditions.
Now MIT engineers have developed a microfluidic technique that can quickly process small samples of bacteria and gauge a specific property that's highly correlated with bacteria's ability to produce electricity. They say that this property, known as polarizability, can be used to assess a bacteria's electrochemical activity in a safer, more efficient manner compared to current techniques.
"The vision is to pick out those strongest candidates to do the desirable tasks that humans want the cells to do," says Qianru Wang, a postdoc in MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering.
"There is recent work suggesting there might be a much broader range of bacteria that have [electricity-producing] properties," adds Cullen Buie, associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. "Thus, a tool that allows you to probe those organisms could be much more important than we thought. It's not just a small handful of microbes that can do this."
Buie and Wang have published their results today in Science Advances.
Just between frogs
Bacteria that produce electricity do so by generating electrons within their cells, then transferring those electrons across their cell membranes via tiny channels formed by surface proteins, in a process known as extracellular electron transfer, or EET.
Existing techniques for probing bacteria's electrochemical activity involve growing large batches of cells and measuring the activity of EET proteins—a meticulous, time-consuming process. Other techniques require rupturing a cell in order to purify and probe the proteins. Buie looked for a faster, less destructive method to assess bacteria's electrical function.

For the past 10 years, his group has been building microfluidic chips etched with small channels, through which they flow microliter-samples of bacteria. Each channel is pinched in the middle to form an hourglass configuration. When a voltage is applied across a channel, the pinched section—about 100 times smaller than the rest of the channel—puts a squeeze on the electric field, making it 100 times stronger than the surrounding field. The gradient of the electric field creates a phenomenon known as dielectrophoresis, or a force that pushes the cell against its motion induced by the electric field. As a result, dielectrophoresis can repel a particle or stop it in its tracks at different applied voltages, depending on that particle's surface properties.
Researchers including Buie have used dielectrophoresis to quickly sort bacteria according to general properties, such as size and species. This time around, Buie wondered whether the technique could suss out bacteria's electrochemical activity—a far more subtle property.
"Basically, people were using dielectrophoresis to separate bacteria that were as different as, say, a frog from a bird, whereas we're trying to distinguish between frog siblings—tinier differences," Wang says.
An electric correlation
In their new study, the researchers used their microfluidic setup to compare various strains of bacteria, each with a different, known electrochemical activity. The strains included a "wild-type" or natural strain of bacteria that actively produces electricity in microbial fuel cells, and several strains that the researchers had genetically engineered. In general, the team aimed to see whether there was a correlation between a bacteria's electrical ability and how it behaves in a microfluidic device under a dielectrophoretic force.
The team flowed very small, microliter samples of each bacterial strain through the hourglass-shaped microfluidic channel and slowly amped up the voltage across the channel, one volt per second, from 0 to 80 volts. Through an imaging technique known as particle image velocimetry, they observed that the resulting electric field propelled bacterial cells through the channel until they approached the pinched section, where the much stronger field acted to push back on the bacteria via dielectrophoresis and trap them in place.
Some bacteria were trapped at lower applied voltages, and others at higher voltages. Wang took note of the "trapping voltage" for each bacterial cell, measured their cell sizes, and then used a computer simulation to calculate a cell's polarizability—how easy it is for a cell to form electric dipoles in response to an external electric field.
From her calculations, Wang discovered that bacteria that were more electrochemically active tended to have a higher polarizability. She observed this correlation across all species of bacteria that the group tested.
"We have the necessary evidence to see that there's a strong correlation between polarizability and electrochemical activity," Wang says. "In fact, polarizability might be something we could use as a proxy to select microorganisms with high electrochemical activity."
Wang says that, at least for the strains they measured, researchers can gauge their electricity production by measuring their polarizability—something that the group can easily, efficiently, and nondestructively track using their microfluidic technique.
Collaborators on the team are currently using the method to test new strains of bacteria that have recently been identified as potential electricity producers.
"If the same trend of correlation stands for those newer strains, then this technique can have a broader application, in clean energy generation, bioremediation, and biofuels production," Wang says.
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Cottoning on: Chinese seed sprouts on moon
January 15, 2019

[Image: thesprouthas.jpg]
The sprout has emerged inside a canister since the Chang'e-4 lander set down on the moon's surface earlier this month
A small green shoot is growing on the moon in an out-of-this-world first after a cotton seed germinated on board a Chinese lunar lander, scientists said Tuesday.

The sprout has emerged from a lattice-like structure inside a canister since the Chang'e-4 lander set down earlier this month, according to a series of photos released by the Advanced Technology Research Institute at Chongqing University.

"This is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface," said Xie Gengxin, who led the design of the experiment.

The Chang'e-4 probe—named after a Chinese moon goddess—made the world's first soft landing on the moon's "dark side" on January 3, a major step in China's ambitions to become a space superpower.

Scientists from Chongqing University —who designed the "mini lunar biosphere" experiment—sent an 18-centimetre (seven-inch) bucket-like container holding air, water and soil.

Inside are cotton, potato, and arabidopsis seeds—a plant of the mustard family—as well as fruit fly eggs and yeast.

Images sent back by the probe show a cotton sprout has grown well, but so far none of the other plants has taken, the university said.

Chang'e-4 is also equipped with instruments developed by scientists from Sweden, Germany and China to study the lunar environment, cosmic radiation and the interaction between solar wind and the moon's surface.

The lander released a rover, dubbed Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit), that will perform experiments in the Von Karman Crater.

The agency said four more lunar missions are planned, confirming the launch of a probe by the end of the year to bring back samples from the moon.

China wants to establish a lunar research base one day, possibly using 3D printing technology to build facilities, the Chinese space agency said Monday.

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: China envisions moon base after far-side success

Read more at:

Researcher to send cotton into space to improve its growth on Earth

April 27, 2018 by Eric Hamilton, University of Wisconsin-Madison

[Image: researcherto.jpg]
Simon Gilroy, professor of botany at UW–Madison, meets with his graduate students in Birge Hall in March 2018. Credit: Bryce Richter
Jeans are thirsty. The fibers making up their denim come from water-guzzling cotton plants, and plant scientists are on the hunt for ways to make this vital fiber more sustainable.

So, naturally, they're sending cotton plants into space.

University of Wisconsin–Madison botanist Simon Gilroy will study cotton seedlings grown on the International Space Station in an effort to better understand the important crop's growth back on Earth. Gilroy's proposed experiment was one of three winners selected by a cotton sustainability research challenge sponsored by Target and organized by the nonprofit Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS.

"The goal is to understand root system growth to help understand how to generate cotton with roots that grow deep to scavenge water more efficiently and also sequester more carbon in the soil," says Gilroy.

"The project gives us an unprecedented opportunity to ask how gravity governs cotton root growth," he says.

Gilroy's team will study a cotton variety that, on Earth at least, resists stresses like drought better than most cotton. Researchers believe this drought resistance stems from roots that are better able to explore the soil for water and nutrients. Since root growth is affected by gravity, Gilroy's experiment will ask how the absence of gravity affects the cotton plant's growth, stress response and root behavior. That information may help researchers understand how to develop cotton plants that use water more efficiently.

[Image: 1-researcherto.jpg]
The Dragon Resupply Ship, pictured on a previous mission, will deliver Gilroy’s cotton seeds to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
Twenty-five million metric tons of cotton are grown around the world each year, and each kilogram requires thousands of liters of water to produce. CASIS developed the ISS Cotton Sustainability Challenge to address this environmental impact. The other winners are Marshall Moutenot of Upstream Tech in Alameda, California, and Christopher Saski of Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.

Launches are tentatively scheduled for early 2019.

Learn about more of UW–Madison botany professor Simon Gilroy’s experiments with plants in space. Credit: University Communications / UW–Madison
[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Zero gravity plant growth experiments delivered to space station

Provided by: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Read more at:

JANUARY 15, 2019
Engineers 3-D print smart objects with 'embodied logic'
by University of Pennsylvania
[Image: 5c3e2aaf84f5a.jpg]
Even without a brain or a nervous system, 

[Image: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSnSgFC6bsi_TEsCGPqtXd...x_4St8CM7H]
the Venus flytrap 
[Image: Venus_20Flytrap_20_WKRP_.png]
appears to make sophisticated decisions about when to snap shut on potential prey, as well as to open when it has  Doh accidentally caught something it can't eat.Cry

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science have taken inspiration from these sorts of systems. Using stimuli-responsive materials and geometric principles, they have designed structures that have "embodied logic." Through their physical and chemical makeup alone, they are able to determine which of multiple possible responses to make in response to their environment.
Despite having no motors, batteries, circuits or processors of any kind, they can switch between multiple configurations in response to pre-determined environmental cues, such as humidity or oil-based chemicals.
Using multi-material 3-D printers, the researchers can make these active structures with nested if/then logic gates, and can control the timing of each gate, allowing for complicated mechanical behaviors in response to simple changes in the environment. For example, by utilizing these principles an aquatic pollution-monitoring device could be designed to open and collect a sample only in the presence of an oil-based chemical and when the temperature is over a certain threshold.
The Penn Engineers published an open access study outlining their approach in the journal Nature Communications.

This artificial Venus flytrap only closes when a weight is inside and the actuator is exposed to a solvent. Structures with "embodied logic" can have even more complicated behaviors, all without motors or computers. Credit: University of Pennsylvania
The study was led by Jordan Raney, assistant professor in Penn Engineering's Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, and Yijie Jiang, a postdoctoral researcher in his lab. Lucia Korpas, a graduate student in Raney's lab, also contributed to the study.
Raney's lab is interested in structures that are bistable, meaning they can hold one of two configurations indefinitely. It is also interested in responsive materials, which can change their shape under the correct circumstances.
These abilities aren't intrinsically related to one another, but "embodied logic" draws on both.
"Bistability is determined by geometry, whereas responsiveness comes out of the material's chemical properties," Raney says. "Our approach uses multi-material 3-D printing to bridge across these separate fields so that we can harness material responsiveness to change our structures' geometric parameters in just the right ways."

In previous work, Raney and colleagues had demonstrated how to 3-D print bistable lattices of angled silicone beams. When pressed together, the beams stay locked in a buckled configuration, but can be easily pulled back into their expanded form.

Using sequential embodied logic and two types of actuators, this box has lock that is opened by the presence of water, and a lid that is opened by the presence of a solvent. Credit: University of Pennsylvania
This bistable behavior depends almost entirely on the angle of the beams and the ratio between their width and length," Raney says. "Compressing the lattice stores elastic energy in the material. If we could controllably use the environment to alter the geometry of the beams, the structure would stop being bistable and would necessarily release its stored strain energy. You'd have an actuator that doesn't need electronics to determine if and when actuation should occur."
Shape-changing materials are common, but fine-grained control over their transformation is harder to achieve.
"Lots of materials absorb water and expand, for example, but they expand in all directions. That doesn't help us, because it means the ratio between the beams' width and length stays the same," Raney says. "We needed a way to restrict expansion to one direction only."
The researchers' solution was to infuse their 3-D-printed structures with glass or cellulose fibers, running in parallel to the length of the beams. Like carbon fiber, this inelastic skeleton prevents the beams from elongating, but allows the space between the fibers to expand, increasing the beams' width.
With this geometric control in place, more sophisticated shape-changing responses can be achieved by altering the material the beams are made of. The researchers made active structures using silicone, which absorbs oil, and hydrogels, which absorb water. Heat- and light-sensitive materials could also be incorporated, and materials responsive to even more specific stimuli could be designed.

Embodied logic actuators store elastic energy and release it when exposed to the correct environmental stimuli. Credit: University of Pennsylvania
Changing the beams' starting length/width ratio, as well as the concentration of the stiff internal fibers, allows the researchers to produce actuators with different levels of sensitivity. And because the researchers' 3-D-printing technique allows for the use of different materials in the same print, a structure can have multiple shape-changing responses in different areas, or even arranged in a sequence.
"For example," Jiang says, "we demonstrated sequential logic by designing a box that, after exposure to a suitable solvent, can autonomously open and then close after a predefined time. We also designed an artificial Venus flytrap that can close only if a mechanical load is applied within a designated time interval, and a box that only opens if both oil and water are present."
Both the chemical and geometric elements of this embodied logic approach are scale-independent, meaning these principles could also be harnessed by structures at microscopic sizes.
"That could be useful for applications in microfluidics," Raney says. "Rather than using a solid-state sensor and microprocessor that are constantly reading what's flowing into a microfluidic chip, we could, for example, design a gate that shuts automatically if it detects a certain contaminant."
Other potential applications could include sensors in remote, harsh environments, such as deserts, mountains, or even other planets. Without a need for batteries or computers, these embodied logic sensors could remain dormant for years without human interaction, only springing into action when presented with the right environmental cue.


Explore further
Transmitting energy in soft materials[/size]


More information: Yijie Jiang et al, Bifurcation-based embodied logic and autonomous actuation, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-08055-3
Provided by University of Pennsylvania[/size]
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Another batch of excellent posts.

In the heat of the Moon, the plant is growing.  Be kewl if ALL of the seeds eggs grow on the Moon, then it "might" hit the NASA/JPL "purists" about ability for life off Earth would rip the duck-tape off the mouths of NASA/JPL and then have the tape shoved down their stomachs so when it comes out the other end, then they "might" keep being more OPEN and HONEST in future 'science'.

Good  ideas of 3D printing.   Applause

Bob... Ninja Assimilated
"The Morning Light, No sensation to compare to this, suspended animation, state of bliss, I keep my eyes on the circling sky, tongue tied and twisted just and Earth Bound Martian I" Learning to Fly Pink Floyd [Video:]
more vine?

Quote:If a plant can be a bio-electric hybrid...what else can it be hacked with?
Power stations driven by light
January 16, 2019, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

[Image: sunlight.jpg]
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Green plants, algae and some bacteria use sunlight to convert energy. The pigments in chlorophyll absorb electromagnetic radiation, which induces chemical reactions in electrons. These reactions take place in the nucleus of complex protein structures, referred to by experts as photosystems I and II. The processes that take place in these photosystems are induced by catalysts in a certain order. In the first step, oxygen is released from water. A subsequent reaction prepares the production of carbohydrates for which no further source of energy is needed.

The reaction centres of the photosystems are encircled by light-absorbing pigments grouped into consolidated complexes. These antennae increase the area available for light rays to hit and extend the spectrum of usable wavelengths, both prerequisites for a favourable energy balance. Each reactor core is surrounded by approximately 30 antennae. Experiments conducted by scientists are still far from replicating this natural complexity. In general, a ratio of 1:1 is the best that can be achieved: one light-absorbing molecule in combination with one catalyst for oxidising water. A group of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Dirk Guldi and his former employee Dr. Konstantin Dirian hope to revolutionise solar technology by synthesising modules based on the correlation between structure and function in photosystem II, and the latest results have been published in Nature Chemistry.

In the newly developed systems, light-absorbing crystals, such as those already used in LEDs, transistors and solar cells, are layered into a network of hexagonal honeycombs around a water-oxidising catalyst with four ruthenium metal atoms in the centre. When shown in a simplified manner, these compact, stable units, which are made up of two components with a common long axis, are reminiscent of cylindrical batteries. In the self-assembling chemical process, such 'miniature power stations' create two-dimensional slats. Like layers in a gateau, they form a common block that collects the energy won from the sun's rays.

This is not an entirely accurate reproduction of the ideal arrangement found in the natural photosystem, but the principle is the same. Five macromolecules in the shape of a honeycomb with the ability to capture light create a sheath around each reactor core, and it has been shown that these small power stations are efficient and successful at harvesting solar energy. They have an efficiency of over 40 percent, and losses are minimal. Wavelengths from the green portion of the colour spectrum, which plants reflect, can also be used. These research results foster the hope that solar technology can one day make use of the sun's energy as efficiently as nature.

 Explore further: Discovery adapts natural membrane to make hydrogen fuel from water

More information: Marcella Bonchio et al, Hierarchical organization of perylene bisimides and polyoxometalates for photo-assisted water oxidation, Nature Chemistry (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41557-018-0172-y 

Journal reference: Nature Chemistry    
Provided by: University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Read more at:

Quote:If a plant can be a bio-electric hybrid...what else can it be hacked with?

[Image: e96eec5641e022ca7a27eb55db6f1118.jpg]

Report: Pentagon Seeking Proposals on Using Insect Brains to Build Robots
[Image: 44981134194_6df61171b1_k-640x480.jpg]USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Matt Cardy/Getty

16 Jan 2019222
An advertisement for employment on the Federal Business Opportunities website lists a job at the
Department of Defense for scientists with ideas on how to use insect brains to develop “conscious robots.”
The ad, posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, says the Department for Defense seeks concepts exploring “new computational frameworks and strategies drawn from the impressive computational capabilities of very small flying insects for whom evolutionary pressures have forced scale/size/energy reduction without loss of performance.”
According to a document explaining the opportunity in more detail to interested companies, the proposal seeks to help engineer robots that are quicker, more energy-efficient, and easier to train.

[size=undefined]“Nature has forced on these small insects drastic miniaturization and energy efficiency, some having only a few hundred neurons in a compact form-factor while maintaining basic functionality,” the document reads. “Studying miniaturized insects may reveal fundamental innovations in architecture and computation analogous to their simultaneous simplicity, efficiency, and complex functionality.”
“Furthermore, these organisms are possibly able to display increased subjectivity of experience, which extends simple look-up table responses to potentially AI-relevant problem-solving,” it continues. “This research could lead to capability of inference, prediction, generalization and abstraction of problems in systematic or entirely news [sic] ways in order to find solutions to compelling problems.”
Proposals for the program, known as the Microscale Biomimetic Robust Artificial Intelligence Networks, or MicroBRAIN, must be submitted by February 4 while the program is scheduled to launch April 4. The winning company will receive $1 million.
The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is known to be at the cutting age of futuristic technology and helped fund projects that led to the rise of the Internet. Some technologies reportedly in development include bullets that never miss their targets, bodysuits that give their users extreme strength, and prosthetic limbs so effective they would allow soldiers to return to frontline combat.
The U.S.’s ability to lead the world in military technology is key to the future of its status as the preeminent superpower, a status challenged increasingly by China’s plans for its own military technology. On Tuesday, an assessment released by the Pentagon concluded that in recent years Beijing has made massive technological strides in every aspect of military strength, which will eventually “enable China to impose its will in the region.”


A comprehensive metabolic map for production of bio-based chemicals

January 16, 2019, The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

[Image: 5c3f1c4af3d22.jpg]
Bio-based chemicals production through biological and chemical routes. This metabolic map describes representative chemicals that can be produced either by biological and/or chemical means. Red arrows represent chemical routes and blue …more
A KAIST research team completed a metabolic map that charts all available strategies and pathways of chemical reactions that lead to the production of various industrial bio-based chemicals.

The team was led by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee, who has produced high-quality metabolic engineering and systems engineering research for decades, and made the hallmark chemicals map after seven years of studies.

The team presented a very detailed analysis on metabolic engineering for the production of a wide range of industrial chemicals, fuels, and materials. Surveying the current trends in the bio-based production of chemicals in industrial biotechnology, the team thoroughly examined the current status of industrial chemicals produced using biological and/or chemical reactions.

This comprehensive map is expected to serve as a blueprint for the visual and intuitive inspection of biological and/or chemical reactions for the production of interest from renewable resources. The team also compiled an accompanying poster to visually present the synthetic pathways of chemicals in the context of their microbial metabolism.

As metabolic engineering has become increasing powerful in addressing limited fossil resources, climate change, and other environmental issues, the number of microbially produced chemicals using biomass as a carbon source has increased substantially. The sustainable production of industrial chemicals and materials has been explored with micro-organisms as cell factories and renewable nonfood biomass as raw materials for alternative petroleum. The engineering of these micro-organism has increasingly become more efficient and effective with the help of metabolic engineering – a practice of engineering using the metabolism of living organisms to produce a desired metabolite.

With the establishment of systems metabolic engineering – the integration of metabolic engineering with tools and strategies from systems biology, synthetic biology and evolutionary engineering – the speed at which micro-organisms are being engineered has reached an unparalleled pace.

In order to evaluate the current state at which metabolically engineered micro-organisms can produce a large portfolio of industrial chemicals, the team conducted an extensive review of the literature and mapped them out on a poster. This resulting poster, termed the bio-based chemicals map, presents synthetic pathways for industrial chemicals, which consist of biological and/or chemical reactions.

Industrial chemicals and their production routes are presented in the context of central carbon metabolic pathways as these key metabolites serve as precursors for the chemicals to be produced. The resulting biochemical map allows the detection and analysis of optimal synthetic pathways for a given industrial chemical. In addition to the poster, the authors have compiled a list of chemicals that have successfully been produced using micro-organisms and a list of the corresponding companies producing them commercially. This thorough review of the literature and the accompanying analytical summary will be an important resource for researchers interested in the production of chemicals from renewable biomass sources.

Metabolically engineered micro-organisms have already made a huge contribution toward the sustainable production of chemicals using renewable resources. Professor Lee said he wanted a detailed survey of the current state and capacity of bio-based chemicals production.

"We are so excited that this review and poster will expand further discussion on the production of important chemicals through engineered micro-organisms and also combined biological and chemical means in a more sustainable manner," he explained.

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Strategies for producing natural and non-natural chemicals by microorganisms

More information: Sang Yup Lee et al. A comprehensive metabolic map for production of bio-based chemicals, Nature Catalysis (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41929-018-0212-4 

Journal reference: Nature Catalysis [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

Read more at:
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
"This study was not possible even a year ago," says Michael. "Nanopore sequencing, which some refer to as the 'holy grail' of DNA sequencing, has revolutionized the reading of even the most complex regions of the genome that were completely inaccessible and unknown until now."

Quote:If a plant can be a bio-electric hybrid...what else can it be hacked with?
New technologies enable better-than-ever details on genetically modified plants
January 19, 2019, Salk Institute

[Image: newtechnolog.jpg]
This image depicts an Arabidopsis plant overlaid on individual, labeled DNA molecules of the T-DNA-transformed Arabidopsis genome. Credit: Salk Institute
Salk researchers have mapped the genomes and epigenomes of genetically modified plant lines with the highest resolution ever to reveal exactly what happens at a molecular level when a piece of foreign DNA is inserted. Their findings, published in the journal PLOS Genetics on January 15, 2019, elucidate the routine methods used to modify plants, and offer new ways to more effectively minimize potential off-target effects.

"This was really a starting point for showing that it's possible to use the latest mapping and sequencing technologies to look at the impact of inserting genes into the plant genome," says Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Joseph Ecker, a professor in Salk's Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory and head of the Genomic Analysis Laboratory.

When a scientist wants to put a new gene into a plant—for basic research purposes or to boost the health or nutrition of a food crop—they usually rely on Agrobacterium tumefaciens to get the job done. Agrobacterium is the bacteria that causes crown gall tumors, large bulges on the trunks of trees. Decades ago, scientists discovered that when the bacteria infected a tree, it transferred some of its DNA to the tree's genome. Since then, researchers have co-opted this transfer ability of Agrobacteriumfor their own purposes, using its transfer-DNA (T-DNA) to move a desired gene into a plant.

Recently, DNA sequencing technologies had started to hint that when the Agrobacterium T-DNA is used to insert new genes into a plant, it may cause additional changes to the structural and chemical properties of the native DNA.

"Biotech companies spend a lot of time and effort to characterize transgenic plants and disregard candidates with unwanted changes without understanding—from a basic biological perspective—why these changes may have occurred," says Ecker. "Our new approach offers a way to better understand these effects and may help to speed up the process."

"The biggest unknown was whether, and how many copies of, the T-DNA were inserted at the same time as the piece you wanted," says Florian Jupe, a former Salk research associate who now works at Bayer Crop Science. Jupe, Salk Staff Researcher Mark Zander and Research Assistant Angeline Rivkin are co-first authors of the new paper, along with Todd Michael of the J. Craig Venter Institute.

Since the T-DNA approach can lead to an integration of many copies of a desired gene into a plant, it can be difficult to study the final result with standard DNA sequencing, as most technologies struggle to sequence highly repetitive stretches of DNA. But Ecker and his colleagues turned to a new combination of approaches—including optical mapping and nanopore sequencing—to look at these long stretches in high resolution. They applied the technologies to four randomly selected T-DNA lines of Arabidopsis thaliana, a commonly used model plant in biology. (These plants are derived from a large population of T-DNA insertional mutants that were created using an Arabidopsis transformation method, called floral dip, to study gene function.)

Optical mapping revealed that the plants had between one and seven distinct insertions or rearrangements in their genomes, ranging in size by almost tenfold. Nanopore sequencing and reconstruction of the genomes of two lines confirmed the insertions to single-letter resolution, including whole segments of DNA that had been exchanged—or translocated—between chromosomes in one of the selected lines. Gene insertions themselves showed a variety of patterns, with the inserted DNA fragment sometimes scrambled, inverted or even silenced.

"This study was not possible even a year ago," says Michael. "Nanopore sequencing, which some refer to as the 'holy grail' of DNA sequencing, has revolutionized the reading of even the most complex regions of the genome that were completely inaccessible and unknown until now."

Finally, when the researchers studied packets of genetic material called histones they found additional changes. Histone proteins package DNA into structural units, and modifications of these histones mediate whether a gene can be accessed for use by a cell (a level of regulation called epigenetics). Depending on where T-DNA was integrated, certain nearby histone modifications appeared or disappeared potentially changing the regulation or activation of other nearby genes.

"Now we have the first high-resolution insights on how T-DNA insertions can shape the local epigenome environment," says Zander.

In an ideal world, the researchers say, T-DNA would insert one single, functional copy of a desired gene with no nearby side effects on a plant's genome. While their findings show this is rarely the case in Arabidopsis, their methods offer a path to a better understanding and surveillance of the effects.

"This technology is exciting because it gives us a much clearer look at what's going on in some of these transgenic Arabidopsis lines," says Rivkin.

"With Arabidopsis, it's relatively easy because it has such a small genome, but because of continued improvements in DNA sequencing technology, we expect this approach will also be possible for crop plants," adds Ecker, who holds the Salk International Council Chair in Genetics. "Current methods require screening of hundreds of transgenic lines to find good performing ones, such as those without extra insertions, so this technology could provide a more efficient approach."

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Extensive variation revealed in 1,001 genomes and epigenomes of Arabidopsis

More information: Florian Jupe et al, The complex architecture and epigenomic impact of plant T-DNA insertions, PLOS Genetics (2019). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007819 

Journal reference: PLoS Genetics [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: Salk Institute

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Why do Hydra end up with just a single head?

January 18, 2019, University of Geneva

[Image: whydohydraen.jpg]
A Hydra that produces too little Sp5 spontaneously develops multiple heads. Credit: Brigitte Galliot, UNIGE
Often considered immortal, the freshwater Hydra can regenerate any part of its body, a trait discovered by the Geneva naturalist Abraham Trembley nearly 300 years ago. Any fragment of its body containing a few thousands cells can regenerate the entire animal The one-centimeter polyp has a developmental organizer center located at the head level, and another located in the foot. The head organizer performs two opposite activities: activating, which causes the head to differentiate, and inhibiting, which prevents the formation of supernumerary heads.

[Image: maxresdefault.jpg]

Researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have discovered the identity of the inhibitor, a protein called Sp5, and deciphered the dialogue between these two antagonistic activities, which maintain a single-headed adult body and organize an appropriate regenerative response. Published in the journal Nature Communications, their study reports that this mechanism has been conserved throughout evolution, both in Hydra and in humans. Sp5 could therefore be an excellent candidate as an inhibitor of human tumors in which the activator pathway is the motor of proliferation.

"Regeneration of the head relies on the transformation of the stump into a tissue called the head organizing centre, which has developmental properties, and like an architect, it directs the construction of the future head," explains Brigitte Galliot, professor at the Department of Genetics and Evolution of the UNIGE Faculty of Science.

The head organizer carries out two opposite activities, one activating and the other inhibiting. The first induces the differentiation of stem cells into specialized head cells. The activator is a growth factor called Wnt3, whose action allows the initiation of a three-dimensional cell differentiation program that directs the construction of the head. Thus, in the absence of Wnt3, the head regeneration program cannot proceed. The inhibitory activity, produced under the control of the activator activity, prevents the formation of supernumerary heads. "These two antagonistic activities establish a dialogue between them, but we knew neither the identity of the inhibitor nor the nature of this dialogue," says the biologist.

Using the results of a study conducted by a German team on the planarian flatworm, the biologists developed a gene screening strategy to identify this inhibitor. "We started from 124 candidates that met specific criteria to single out a unique winner that met all of them. It is a gene that codes for a protein called Sp5," says Matthias Vogg, researcher at the Department of Genetics and Evolution of the UNIGE Faculty of Science and first author of the study. The scientists then demonstrated that Sp5 binds to the regulatory region of the gene that codes for Wnt3, blocks its expression and thus the formation of the head.

The seven heads of the freshwater Hydra

How does the dialogue between the activator pathway and the inhibitor work? "We have quantified the expression of the genes encoding Wnt3 and Sp5 in different parts of the body of intact or amputated Hydra, and discovered that a regulatory loop between the two activities is established according to the location and quantity of each gene expressed," notes Brigitte Galliot. Thus, in intact animals, the growth factor Wnt3 will be mainly present at the tip of the head, while Sp5 will be primarily active in the surrounding area, to prevent the appearance of other heads.

When researchers block the expression of Sp5, Hydra polyps, intact or regenerating, develop multiple heads, all perfectly functional. "We also replicated these results from Hydra polyps whose cells had been completely dissociated from each other, then reaggregated and left in culture—multi-headed Hydra re-formed completely in four to five days," explains Matthias Vogg.

In humans, the cell signaling pathway activated by Wnt3 is mainly active during embryonic development, as well as in different types of tumors in adults. If the inhibitory effect of Sp5 is confirmed in our species, this protein could be a candidate treatment targeting cancer cells that use the Wnt3 pathway to proliferate.

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Hydra can modify its genetic program

More information: Matthias C. Vogg et al, An evolutionarily-conserved Wnt3/β-catenin/Sp5 feedback loop restricts head organizer activity in Hydra, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-08242-2 

Journal reference: Nature Communications [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: University of Geneva

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Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Quote:Unhooking the pressurized carbon dioxide supply from these leaves means that they must have a way to collect and concentrate carbon dioxide from the air to drive their artificial photosynthetic reactions.

Arrow  Send it to Mars you Genius  Gangup

[Image: researcherto.jpg]
*satire 'plant-dude' scientist!

singh and his colleague Aditya Prajapati, a graduate student in his lab, proposed solving this problem by encapsulating a traditional artificial leaf inside a transparent capsule made of a semi-permeable membrane of quaternary ammonium resin and filled with water.  Doh  The membrane allows water from inside to evaporate out when warmed by sunlight. As water passes out through the membrane, it selectively pulls in carbon dioxide from the air.
If a plant can be a bio-electric hybrid...what else can it be hacked with?

To Supplant.
Sending life back home to Cydonia.

With a sentient natural/artificial A.I. self sustaining weeder seeder that can edit itz own genome as easily as it edits itz software.
Self Replicating Bio-hardware that can change the atmosphere to oxygen and can use sunlight or the frozen night to power anu biosphere.
That will end the planet's torpor.

Moving artificial leaves out of the lab and into the air

February 12, 2019, University of Illinois at Chicago

[Image: movingartifi.jpg]
An artificial, bio-inspired leaf. Carbon dioxide (red and black balls) enter the leaf as water (white and red balls) evaporates from the bottom of the leaf. An artificial photosystem (purple circle at the center of the leaf) made of a light absorber coated with catalysts converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide and converts water to oxygen (shown as double red balls) using sunlight. Credit: Meenesh Singh
Artificial leaves mimic photosynthesis—the process whereby plants use water and carbon dioxide from the air to produce carbohydrates using energy from the sun. But even state-of-the-art artificial leaves, which hold promise in reducing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, only work in the laboratory because they use pure, pressurized carbon dioxide from tanks.

Mars atmosphere basically. Pennywise

But now, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have proposed a design solution that could bring artificial leaves out of the lab and into the environment. Their improved leaf, which would use carbon dioxide—a potent greenhouse gas—from the air, would be at least 10 times more efficient than natural leaves at converting carbon dioxide to fuel. Their findings are reported in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

"So far, all designs for artificial leaves that have been tested in the lab use carbon dioxide from pressurized tanks. In order to implement successfully in the real world, these devices need to be able to draw carbon dioxide from much more dilute sources, such as air and flue gas, which is the gas given off by coal-burning power plants," said Meenesh Singh, assistant professor of chemical engineering in the UIC College of Engineering and corresponding author on the paper.

Unhooking the pressurized carbon dioxide supply from these leaves means that they must have a way to collect and concentrate carbon dioxide from the air to drive their artificial photosynthetic reactions.

Singh and his colleague Aditya Prajapati, a graduate student in his lab, proposed solving this problem by encapsulating a traditional artificial leaf inside a transparent capsule made of a semi-permeable membrane of quaternary ammonium resin and filled with water. The membrane allows water from inside to evaporate out when warmed by sunlight. As water passes out through the membrane, it selectively pulls in carbon dioxide from the air. The artificial photosynthetic unit inside the capsule is made up of a light absorber coated with catalysts that convert the carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, which can be siphoned off and used as a basis for the creation of various synthetic fuels. Oxygen is also produced and can either be collected or released into the surrounding environment.

"By enveloping traditional artificial leaf technology inside this specialized membrane, the whole unit is able to function outside, like a natural leaf," Singh said.

According to their calculations, 360 leaves, each 1.7 meters long and 0.2 meters wide, would produce close to a half-ton of carbon monoxide per day that could be used as the basis for synthetic fuels. Three hundred and sixty of these artificial leaves covering a 500-meter square area would be able to reduce carbon dioxide levels by 10 percent in the surrounding air within 100 meters of the array in one day.

"Our conceptual design uses readily available materials and technology, that when combined can produce an artificial leaf that is ready to be deployed outside the lab where it can play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," Singh said.

Explore further: Converting carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide using water, electricity

More information: Aditya Prajapati et al, Assessment of Artificial Photosynthetic Systems for Integrated Carbon Capture and Conversion, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (2019). DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b04969 

Provided by: University of Illinois at Chicago

Read more at:

The optical compass developed by the scientists is sensitive to the sky's polarized ultraviolet radiation. Using this "celestial compass," AntBot measures its heading with 0.4 degrees of precision in clear or cloudy weather. The navigation precision achieved with these minimal sensors proves that bio-inspired robotics has immense capacity for innovation.

FEBRUARY 13, 2019

The first walking robot that moves without GPS


[Image: thefirstwalk.jpg]Antbot, the first walking robot that moves without GPS. Credit: Julien Dupeyroux, ISM (CNRS/AMU)
Desert ants are extraordinary solitary navigators. Researchers at CNRS and Aix-Marseille University, in the Institut des Sciences du Mouvement—Étienne Jules Marey (ISM), were inspired by ants as they designed AntBot, the first walking robot that can explore its environment randomly and navigate home automatically without GPS or mapping. This work, published in Science Robotics, opens up new strategies for navigation in autonomous vehicles and robotics.

Human eyes are insensitive to polarized light and ultraviolet radiation, but that is not the case for ants, who use it to locate themselves in space. Cataglyphis desert ants in particular can cover several hundreds of meters in direct sunlightin the desert to find food, then return in a straight line to the nest without getting lost. And they are most active during times of day when heat would make pheromone trails evaporate. Their extraordinary navigation talent relies on orienting themselves using the sky's polarized light, and measuring the distancecovered by counting steps and incorporating the rate of movement relative to the sun measured optically by their eyes. Distance and heading are the two combined pieces of information that allow them to return directly to the nest.
AntBot, the new robot designed by CNRS and Aix-Marseille University (AMU) researchers at ISM, copies the desert ants' exceptional navigation capacities. It is equipped with an optical compass to determine its heading by means of polarized light, and an optical movement sensor directed to the sun to measure the distance covered. Armed with this information, AntBot can explore its environment and to return on its own to its base with precision of up to one centimeter after having covered a total distance of 14 meters. Weighing only 2.3 kg, this robot has six feet for increased mobility, allowing it to move in complex environments where deploying wheeled robots and drones can be complicated, including disaster areas and rugged terrain.
The optical compass developed by the scientists is sensitive to the sky's polarized ultraviolet radiation. Using this "celestial compass," AntBot measures its heading with 0.4 degrees of precision in clear or cloudy weather. The navigation precision achieved with these minimal sensors proves that bio-inspired robotics has immense capacity for innovation.

Desert ants found to have dual navigation systems

Concept gains motility.
Ant-bot plant-pot-bot future suture fusion allusion. LilD
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
If a plant can be a bio-electric hybrid...what else can it be hacked with?

Quote:Since Darwin, much of the theory of evolution has been based on common descent, where natural selection acts on the genes passed from parent to offspring. However, researchers from the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield have found that grasses are breaking these rules. Lateral gene transfer allows organisms to bypass evolution and skip to the front of the queue by using genes that they acquire from distantly related species.
"Grasses are simply stealing genes and taking an evolutionary shortcut," said Dr. Luke Dunning.
"They are acting as a sponge, absorbing useful genetic information from their neighbours to out compete their relatives and survive in hostile habitats without putting in the millions of years it usually takes to evolve these adaptations."
Looks like plants can hack themselves!!!

How our plants have turned into thieves to survive

February 18, 2019, University of Sheffield

[Image: gene.jpg]
Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Scientists have discovered that grasses are able to short cut evolution by taking genes from their neighbours. The findings suggest wild grasses are naturally genetically modifying themselves to gain a competitive advantage.

Understanding how this is happening may also help scientists reduce the risk of genes escaping from GM crops and creating so called "super-weeds—which can happen when genes from GM crops transfer into local wild plants, making them herbicide resistant.

Since Darwin, much of the theory of evolution has been based on common descent, where natural selection acts on the genes passed from parent to offspring. However, researchers from the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield have found that grasses are breaking these rules. Lateral gene transfer allows organisms to bypass evolution and skip to the front of the queue by using genes that they acquire from distantly related species.

"Grasses are simply stealing genes and taking an evolutionary shortcut," said Dr. Luke Dunning.

"They are acting as a sponge, absorbing useful genetic information from their neighbours to out compete their relatives and survive in hostile habitats without putting in the millions of years it usually takes to evolve these adaptations."

Scientists looked at grasses—some of the most economically and ecologically important plants on Earth including many of the most cultivated crops worldwide such as: wheat, maize, rice, barley, sorghum and sugar cane.

The paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explains how scientists sequenced and assembled the genome of the grass Alloteropsis semialata.

Studying the genome of the grass Alloteropsis semialata - which is found across Africa, Asia and Australia—researchers were able to compare it with approximately 150 other grasses (including rice, maize, millets, barley, bamboo etc.). They identified genes in Alloteropsis semialata that were laterally acquired by comparing the similarity of the DNA sequences that make up the genes.

"We also collected samples of Alloteropsis semialata from tropical and subtropical places in Asia, Africa and Australia so that we could track down when and where the transfers happened," said Dr. Dunning.

"Counterfeiting genes is giving the grasses huge advantages and helping them to adapt to their surrounding environment and survive—and this research also shows that it is not just restricted to Alloteropsis semialata as we detected it in a wide range of other grass species"

Arrow  ...other grass species???  Gangup
[Image: researcherto.jpg]
Spiccolli scientist surfer dude
RE: Little Shop of Horrors: A Moving Plot of an other-world's unmanned land...
"This research may make us as a society reconsider how we view GM technology as grasses have naturally exploited a similar process.

"Eventually, this research may also help us to understand how genes can escape from GM crops to wild species or other non-GM crops, and provide solutions to reduce the likelihood of this happening."

"The next step is to understand the biological mechanism behind this phenomenon and we will carry out further studies to answer this."

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Scientists move a step closer to understanding species distributions in the face of climate change

More information: Luke T. Dunning el al., "Lateral transfers of large DNA fragments spread functional genes among grasses," PNAS (2019). 

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: University of Sheffield

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Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...

Little Shop of Horrors: A Moving Plot of an other-world's unmanned land...

1 hour ago
Last PostEA
[/size]...quantum incoherence is Sheep  as improv was...

Quote:Associate Professor Levi Yant said: "Understanding how that strange state of having 'too much DNA', which clearly causes initial problems, can be overcome – and even turned into an evolutionary positive – is a big scientific question.
 It's almost always a bad thing to have too much DNA,
but we think that sometimes it makes for a 'hopeful monster' that just might flourish.

[Image: Finale+Theater+68.jpg]
Two genomes can be better than one for evolutionary adaptation, study finds
March 4, 2019 by Emma Rayner, University of Nottingham

[Image: 5c7d1da2198ce.jpg]
Thale cress. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Scientists have revealed how certain wild plants with naturally doubled 'supergenomes' can stay ahead of the game when it comes to adapting to climate volatility and hostile environments.

This world-first study, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution,could have significant implications for plant and crop sustainability in the face of climate change.

The research team used a close relative of the native UK plant Arabidopsis, or thale cress, which can have either a single or a double genome. The findings provide the most solid evidence to date of the pervasive evolutionary effects of a doubled genome across an entire species range.

The study is also the first to comprehensively test a century of evolutionary theory using new technologies to sequence hundreds of genomes. The work was led by Associate Professor of Evolutionary Genomics Levi Yant, from the University of Nottingham's School of Life Sciences and Future Food Beacon.

Whole genome duplication (genome doubling or polyploidy) happens in all kingdoms of life and is most common in plants. It can occur during a type of cell division called 'meiosis' and is very common in crops that we eat including, wheat, apples, bananas, oats, strawberries, sugar and brassicas like cauliflower. It can also occur in the most aggressive cancers and is associated with cancer progression, so it is important to understand what factors stabilise genome duplication as well as how genome doubled populations evolve.

Associate Professor Levi Yant said: "Understanding how that strange state of having 'too much DNA', which clearly causes initial problems, can be overcome – and even turned into an evolutionary positive – is a big scientific question. It's almost always a bad thing to have too much DNA, but we think that sometimes it makes for a 'hopeful monster' that just might flourish.

"Our previous work over the past five years has been to figure out how these doubled genome populations stabilise in the first place. The initial issue is that when genome duplication first occurs, suddenly there are too many chromosomes for the cell machinery. These chromosomes literally become entangled and break when they separate during cell division. It can be a proper mess! This can also become a problem in some crops, especially in the elevated temperatures, and so global warming makes this problem worse.

"We figured out a few years ago how naturally-occurring whole genome duplications successfully evolve to be stable. We then wanted to follow this up with a broader-scale study looking at adaptations across an entire species range because we know that some of the genome doubled populations successfully invaded very hostile habitats such as toxic mines, railways and beach environments which are not generally plant-friendly. In fact, one of the species we are working on has a full six genome copies and is the most rapidly spreading plant in the U.K., growing specifically in salted roadsides since the practice became common in the 1970s!

"These tough little plants can become little genetic adaptation machines which allows them to invade hostile environments and even thrive where others can't. In fact, a large proportion of the most invasive plant species in the world are genome doubled, so we hypothesised that there are adaptations that occur as a result of genome duplication that we can focus on and find the genes responsible for the adaptations. To test this hypothesis in this study, we resequenced about 300 genomes of this little plant Arabidopsis arenosa,collected from 39 geographical areas across Europe, and looked for the little footprints of selection, a particular gene, that appeared helpful for adaptation to a particular area."

"In addition to particular genes, we found something even more significant – that in the genome doubled variants the fundamental processes governing how Darwinian selection operates appear a bit different to how they are in the single genome species. That is, we found broader reasons why genome doubled populations may adapt better that go beyond the fact that they simply have more DNA or might harbour new gene variants."

They found that in doubled genome versions of a species the linkages between neighbouring genes on the same strand of DNA are less strict. It was more common for two genes near one another on a particular piece of DNA to have different combinations of mutations than it was in single genome versions of the species. It may be that this process of 'linkage breaking' between neighbouring genes is more efficient in the doubled genome speciesbecause a greater variety of different combinations are present and the DNA recombines with additional partners, generating novel combinations of genes. This means that good versions of one gene can escape from bad versions of another genes in its 'DNA neighbourhood', allowing Darwinian selection to occur more efficiently, purging from a population the bad versions and selecting the good.

The recent results from their unique and large population-wide assessment add weight to the theory that these special plants with 'too much DNA' have a broad range of weapons to adapt to climate change and evolve to become even more hardy in the future. However, the researchers say a lot of work still needs to be done to understand what is driving the successful establishment and spread of newly-formed double genome lineages.

Explore further: Genome duplication drives evolution of species

More information: Patrick Monnahan et al. Pervasive population genomic consequences of genome duplication in Arabidopsis arenosa, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0807-4 

Journal reference: Nature Ecology & Evolution
Provided by: University of Nottingham

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To Hell with Planetary-Protection.

Time for a new Mars resurrection.
With a massive life-form injection.
Biospheric total internal reflection.

Farm eye see and Pharmacy and Biofuel generator on wheels.
Follows the sun directly right in itz gaze the energy face reels.

It will supplant our biosphere directly where and when needed.
Considered Conceded concerning Mars / Earth like is re-seeded.

[i]'...and Biofuel generator on wheels.'[/i]
[i]Engineers develop fast method to convert algae to biocrude

March 4, 2019, University of Utah

[Image: turningalgae.jpg]
University of Utah chemical engineering assistant professor Swomitra Mohanty, pictured with beakers of algae, is part of a team that has developed a new kind of jet mixer for turning algae into biomass that extracts the lipids with much …more

Biofuel experts have long sought a more economically-viable way to turn algae into biocrude oil to power vehicles, ships and even jets. University of Utah researchers believe they have found an answer. They have developed an unusually rapid method to deliver cost-effective algal biocrude in large quantities using a specially-designed jet mixer.

Packed inside the microorganisms growing in ponds, lakes and rivers are lipids, which are fatty acid molecules containing oil that can be extracted to power diesel engines. When extracted the lipids are called biocrude. That makes organisms such as microalgae an attractive form of biomass, organic matter that can be used as a sustainable fuel source. These lipids are also found in a variety of other single-cell organisms such as yeasts used in cheese processing. But the problem with using algae for biomass has always been the amount of energy it takes to pull the lipids or biocrude from the watery plants. Under current methods, it takes more energy to turn algae into biocrude than the amount of energy you get back out of it.

A team of University of Utah chemical engineers have developed a new kind of jet mixer that extracts the lipids with much less energy than the older extraction method, a key discovery that now puts this form of energy closer to becoming a viable, cost-effective alternative fuel. The new mixer is fast, too, extracting lipids in seconds.

The team's results were published in a new peer-reviewed journal, Chemical Engineering Science X. The article, "Algal Lipid Extraction Using Confined Impinging Jet Mixers," can be downloaded here.

"The key piece here is trying to get energy parity. We're not there yet, but this is a really important step toward accomplishing it," says Dr. Leonard Pease, a co-author of the paper. "We have removed a significant development barrier to make algal biofuel production more efficient and smarter. Our method puts us much closer to creating biofuels energy parity than we were before."

Right now, in order to extract the oil-rich lipids from the algae, scientists have to pull the water from the algae first, leaving either a slurry or dry powder of the biomass. That is the most energy-intensive part of the process. That residue is then mixed with a solvent where the lipids are separated from the biomass. What's left is a precursor, the biocrude, used to produce algae-based biofuel. That fuel is then mixed with diesel fuel to power long-haul trucks, tractors and other large diesel-powered machinery. But because it requires so much energy to extract the water from the plants at the beginning of the process, turning algae into biofuel has thus far not been a practical, efficient or economical process.

"There have been many laudable research efforts to advance algal biofuel, but nothing has yet produced a price point capable of attracting commercial development. Our designs may change that equation and put algal biofuel back in play," says University of Utah chemical engineering assistant professor Swomitra "Bobby" Mohanty, a co-author on the paper. Other co-authors are former U chemical engineering doctoral student Yen-Hsun "Robert" Tseng and U chemical engineering associate professor John McLennan.

The team has created a new mixing extractor, a reactor that shoots jets of the solvent at jets of algae, creating a localized turbulence in which the lipids "jump" a short distance into the stream of solvent. The solvent then is taken out and can be recycled to be used again in the process. "Our designs ensure you don't have to expend all that energy in drying the algae and are much more rapid than competing technologies," notes Mohanty.

This technology could also be applied beyond algae and include a variety of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, or any microbial-derived oil, says Mohanty.

In 2017, about 5 percent of total primary energy use in the United States came from biomass, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Other forms of biomass include burning wood for electricity, ethanol that is made from crops such as corn and sugar cane, and food and yard waste in garbage that is converted to biogas. The benefit of algae is that it can be grown in ponds, raceways or custom-designed bioreactors and then harvested to produce an abundance of fuel. Growing algae in such mass quantities also could positively affect the atmosphere by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

"This is game-changing," Pease says of their work on algae research. "The breakthrough technologies we are creating could drive a revolution in algae and other cell-derived biofuels development. The dream may soon be within reach."

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Feeding plants to this algae could fuel your car

Provided by: University of Utah

[i]Read more at:[/i]
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Here is link to the PDF for the jet mixture sometimes rare to actually to get the PDF with ALL the bells n whistles along with the process:

Just right click and save then open.

Sounds like we could use this method in a variety of plants species.

Kewl articles as always

Bob... Ninja Assimilated
"The Morning Light, No sensation to compare to this, suspended animation, state of bliss, I keep my eyes on the circling sky, tongue tied and twisted just and Earth Bound Martian I" Learning to Fly Pink Floyd [Video:]

Think of a pot plant, just for arguments sake.
For improv's sake it could be any and all plants at once superimposed in quantum entanglement.
Itz on wheels... Goldwing_smilie and on Mars.
Equipped with the latest AI and update-ables, yet self instructing.
The biomass within is stoned with every conceivable plant essence.
It Eats Mars Air like itz got the munchies.
Prime Directive: Improvise a garden-world.

The secret behind maximum plant height—water
March 6, 2019, Chinese Academy of Sciences

[Image: 3-thesecretbeh.jpg]
Trees grow in Dinghushan National Nature Reserve (SCBG), Guangdong, China Credit: YE Qing

Physiological coordination between plant height and xylem hydraulic traits is aligned with habitat water availability across Earth's terrestrial biomes, according to a new study. Ecologists from the South China Botanical Garden (SCBG), Chinese Academy of Sciences, conclude that such coordination plays an important role in determining global sorting of plant species, and can be useful in predicting future species distribution under climate change scenarios.

Plants grow taller in wetter places, but what factors set their maximum height? Through previous experiments on tall trees, scientists have revealed that increasing hydraulic resistance associated with increasing plant height limits the distance water can be transported through xylem to the top leaves. This hydraulic resistance thus sets the maximum height of a species in a given habitat.

However, scientists didn't understand how this physiological coordination varied across a broad range of species and environments. Based on a huge dataset of 1,281 species from 369 sites worldwide, the researchers built multiple models linking height, hydraulic traits and water to find general rules. They found that taller species from wet habitats exhibited greater xylem efficiency and lower hydraulic safety, wider conduits, lower conduit density, and lower sapwood density, all of which were associated with habitat water availability.

"People used to think that taller plants might transport water less efficiently because of the longer distances," said Dr. Liu Hui, the first author of this study. "Instead, we found that taller plants had higher hydraulic conductivity across species, which was a main strategy they employ to compensate for the high evaporative demand by leaves and the increased height.
[Image: giphy.gif]
It is called Darcy's Law."

Until now, most of the hydraulic theories such as Darcy's Law were based on data within species, Dr. Liu said. In contrast, this study distinguished and explained different hydraulic patterns between within and across species.

"Simply put, patterns found within species are based on short-term adaptive responses and are largely shaped by physiological trade-offs or constraints, while patterns across species reflect intrinsic evolutionary differences, which may be formed over millions of years, and are mainly constrained by their environmental niches," Dr. Liu said.

"Our findings greatly extend human knowledge about the relationship between xylem hydraulic traits and plant height from local studies to biomes across the globe," said the corresponding author Prof. Ye Qing, director of the Ecology and Environmental Sciences Center of SCBG. "We highlighted that hydraulic traits can serve as important predictors of global maximum plant height and species distribution patterns."

[Image: 1x1.gif] Explore further: Root water transport measured with hydraulic conductance flow meter

More information: Hui Liu et al, Hydraulic traits are coordinated with maximum plant height at the global scale, Science Advances (2019). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav1332 

Journal reference: Science Advances [Image: img-dot.gif] [Image: img-dot.gif]
Provided by: Chinese Academy of Sciences

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With a forked tongue the snake singsss...

OCTOBER 15, 2019
Soil on moon and Mars likely to support crops
by De Gruyter
[Image: 3-moonlanding.jpg]Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Researchers at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands have produced crops in Mars and Moon soil simulant developed by NASA. The research supports the idea that it would not only be possible to grow food on Mars and the Moon to feed future settlers, but also to obtain viable seed from crops grown there.
Wieger Wamelink and his colleagues at Wageningen University & Research, cultivated ten different crops: garden cress, rocket, tomato, radish, rye, quinoa, spinach, chives, peas and leek. The researchers simulated the properties of Lunar and Martian regolith and "normal" soil (potting soil from Earth) as a control.
Nine of the ten crops sown grew well and edible parts were harvested from them. Spinach was the exception. Total biomass production per tray was the highest for the Earth control and Mars soil simulant that differed significantly from Moon soil simulant. The seeds produced by three species (radish, rye and garden cress) were tested successfully for germination.
The article, "Crop growth and viability of seeds on Mars and Moon soil simulants", by Wieger Wamelink and colleagues has been published in De Gruyter's open access journal, Open Agriculture.
"We were thrilled when we saw the first tomatoes ever grown on Mars soil simulant turning red. It meant that the next step towards a sustainable closed agricultural ecosystem had been taken," said Wieger Wamelink.

Explore further
First tomatoes and peas harvested on Mars and moon soil simulant

[b]More information:[/b] G.W.W. Wamelink et al, Crop growth and viability of seeds on Mars and Moon soil simulants, Open Agriculture (2019). DOI: 10.1515/opag-2019-0051
Provided by De Gruyter


[Image: f46ff5c99da69c6685868fc04be91947ffcee668.gif]The robo-plant hybrid can move into the sun when it needs to. Image: Tianqi Sun[Image: b6a61c6b5cb8024c2620db2fa32522a590e20c38.gif]It can retreat into the shade. Image: Tianqi Sun[Image: ead9473ded5a9c41b13cbc76910687845e74047a.gif]It can even “play” with humans (sort of). Image: Tianqi Sun[Image: 19394b9d1f6811ced2df2f0187a2c478a99b72e7.gif]And it does a little stomping dance when it needs watering. Image: Tianqi Sun

[*]Robotic spiders to explore the moon

[*]by Matt Williams, Universe Today

[*][Image: roboticspide.jpg]Credit: Spacebit
There is no doubt that one of the hallmarks of the modern space age is that it is becoming increasingly democratic. In addition to more space agencies entering the fray, private aerospace companies are contributing like never before. It is no surprise, then, that there are innovators and entrepreneurs that want to increase public access and participation in space exploration.

This is what U.K. startup Spacebit and its founder, Pavlo Tanasyuk, hope to accomplish with their decentralized aerospace company. Central to their vision is the Walking Rover, a four-legged robotic explorer that they plan to deploy to the lunar surface in the coming years. This rover will represent a number of firsts for space exploration, which includes being the first commercial lunar mission sent by the U.K.
Tanasyuk announced this mission last Thursday (Oct. 10th) at the recent New Scientist Live festival, which was held from Oct. 10th to 13th at London's ExCeL Centre. During the course of his presentation, he said the Walking Rover will be consistent with NASA's technical standards and specifications, and will have a number of unusual features.
First of all, it will be the first lunar robotic explorer to rely on four legs rather than wheels to get around. These legs will allow the rover to explore lunar lava tubes, something that has never before been possible. With a sensor and two cameras, the rover will be able to gather exploration data and measurements on these tubes and other features on the lunar surface.


[*][Image: 1-roboticspide.jpg]

[*]Spacebit’s ultimate goal is to democratize space exploration by sending missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Credit: Spacebit

[*]The Walking Rover's design calls for a lightweight vehicle that weighs between 1 and 1.3 kg (2.2—2.85 lbs), relies on a combination of solar and battery power, and is operated by swarm intelligence. It will also be built to withstand the massive temperature variations that regularly occur on the lunar surface—from 130 degrees C during the day to -130 degrees C at night.
The mission will make the U.K. the fourth nation to deploy a rover to the moon, behind China, Russia and the U.S. Best of all, the data it gathers will be made available for public, commercial or scientific purposes. The rover is scheduled for launch to the moon in the summer of 2021 as part of a three-step process that relies on multiple commercial partnerships.
Step one will consist of launch aboard the United Launch Alliance's (ULA) Vulcan Centaur Rocket. This will be the maiden flight of the Vulcan Centaur, a heavy-launch system that relies on a series of Blue Origin BE-4 engines, up to six solid rocket boosters, and a core booster to send payloads to low earth orbit (LEO), the moon and beyond.


[*][Image: 2-roboticspide.jpg]

[*]Artist’s impression of the ULA Vulcan Centaur launching. Credit: ULA

[*]Step two involves delivering the rover to the surface aboard the Peregrine Lander, which will be provided by Pittsburg-based aerospace company Astrobotic. This company was recently selected by NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) to fulfill a contract to deliver 14 payloads to the moon by 2021.

The third and final step will consist of the rover walking for 10 meters (33 ft) from the Peregrine Lander and using its sensors and camera to obtain 3-D LIDAR data and HD video, which will be transmitted home. After launching from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the rover will arrive a day later (Oct. 22) and will spend the next 10 days exploring the lunar surface.
As Tanasyuk loves to say, "We have to explore and research the environments and resources of other planets to help us create sustainability on Earth." Initially, the entrepreneur ran a successful payment system company called MoneXy, which he later sold so he could invest in space projects like Spacebit. In this respect, Tanasyuk is following the same path as Elon Musk.


[*][Image: 3-roboticspide.jpg]
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*] Artist’s impression of Astrobiotic’s Peregrine lander on the Moon. Credit: Astrobiotic
 Beyond the Walking Rover, Spacebit is also looking to develop the ground-based elements for space missions. This includes radio communications, ground networks, and someday, components for mission control. To this end, they have partnered with Goonhilly Earth Station and will use its network of 60 radio antennas to run their pilot projects.
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]There's also their Blockchain 4 Space Alliance, which aims to apply disruptive blockchain technologies to the space industry. These range from smart contracts and data tokenization to data storage and communication protocols, in keeping with the company's vision of opening up space to the public.
As they indicate on their website, their goal is to "democratize access to space by tokenizing all of our commercial space missions around the Earth, the moon and beyond." In so doing, they hope to see the day when people (not just space agencies and major corporations) can play a direct role in space programs and benefit from them.

Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
I saw all those stories in your last post and YES they could ALL work on Mars and WITH Cannabis plants.  Beside male and female plants there are two other Cannabinoids that could grow and supplement the food, fuel, and also material that would NOT need metal to make HARD SAFE and RELIABLE building material.

Time to get the 11 leaf plant to Cydonia !!!

Bob... Ninja Assimilated
"The Morning Light, No sensation to compare to this, suspended animation, state of bliss, I keep my eyes on the circling sky, tongue tied and twisted just and Earth Bound Martian I" Learning to Fly Pink Floyd [Video:]
That is the aim of this improv.
An artificial sunflower that bends toward the sun
by Bob Yirka ,
[Image: 5dc1564383e60.jpg]
A team of researchers from the University of California and Arizona State University has found a way to create a material that demonstrates tropistic behavior. In their paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the group describes their material and how well it worked when tested. Mingming Ma with University of Science and Technology of China, has published a News & Views piece outlining the work by the team in the same journal issue.

Many people have noticed that some flowers are able to keep their faces pointed at the sun even as the sun moves across the sky over the course of a day—an example of phototropism. Sunflowers are likely the most well-known example. Scientists have developed similar technology, but it involves nastic behavior—what they would prefer is to be able to create a synthetic material that follows a light source by simply bending toward it, unaided, in real time. In this new effort, the researchers claim to have achieved that goal. They created a polymer material that bends toward a light source with no other contributing factors.
The researchers created the polymer by combining a photo-responsive nanomaterial with a thermo-responsive material. The first absorbs light and converts it to heat, while the second contracts when exposed to heat. The researchers fashioned their polymer into the shape of a flower stem and then fired a beam of light at it from different angles. They report that the stem bent to point directly at the light source. This happened due to the light being absorbed at a given location on the stem, at a given angle, which was converted to heat. The heat forced the material on the side of the light to contract, resulting in the stem bending towards the beam of light. This continued until the stem bent to such a degree that its top and length partially obscured the beam of light—at that point, the stem became fixed in place. The team then placed a "bloom" onto the tip of the stem, filling out the flower form. In their case, the flower was a small solar panel. The researchers suggest their device could be used to keep solar cells pointed at the sun, improving their efficiency.
SunBOTs can adaptively reconfigure to follow and to orient themselves perpendicular to the incident light from arbitrary and constantly varying directions (−150 to 150° zenith, 360° azimuth) at room temperature. Credit: Ximin He

SunBOTs can adaptively reconfigure to follow and to orient themselves perpendicular to the incident light from arbitrary and constantly varying directions (−150 to 150° zenith, 360° azimuth) at room temperature. Credit: Ximin He

Explore further
New kind of material able to convert near-infrared beam into visible light

[b]More information:[/b] Xiaoshi Qian et al. Artificial phototropism for omnidirectional tracking and harvesting of light, Nature Nanotechnology (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41565-019-0562-3
[b]Journal information:[/b] Nature Nanotechnology 
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
NOVEMBER 7, 2019
Flexible yet sturdy robot is designed to 'grow' like a plant
[Image: flexibleyets.jpg]The new “growing robot” can be programmed to grow, or extend, in different directions, based on the sequence of chain units that are locked and fed out from the “growing tip,” or gearbox. Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In today's factories and warehouses, it's not uncommon to see robots whizzing about, shuttling items or tools from one station to another. For the most part, robots navigate pretty easily across open layouts. But they have a much harder time winding through narrow spaces to carry out tasks such as reaching for a product at the back of a cluttered shelf, or snaking around a car's engine parts to unscrew an oil cap.

Now MIT engineers have developed a robot designed to extend a chain-like appendage flexible enough to twist and turn in any necessary configuration, yet rigid enough to support heavy loads or apply torque to assemble parts in tight spaces. When the task is complete, the robot can retract the appendage and extend it again, at a different length and shape, to suit the next task.
The appendage design is inspired by the way plants grow, which involves the transport of nutrients, in a fluidized form, up to the plant's tip. There, they are converted into solid material to produce, bit by bit, a supportive stem.
Likewise, the robot consists of a "growing point," or gearbox, that pulls a loose chain of interlocking blocks into the box. Gears in the box then lock the chain units together and feed the chain out, unit by unit, as a rigid appendage.
The researchers presented the plant-inspired "growing robot" this week at the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Macau. They envision that grippers, cameras, and other sensors could be mounted onto the robot's gearbox, enabling it to meander through an aircraft's propulsion system and tighten a loose screw, or to reach into a shelf and grab a product without disturbing the organization of surrounding inventory, among other tasks.
"Think about changing the oil in your car," says Harry Asada, professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. "After you open the engine roof, you have to be flexible enough to make sharp turns, left and right, to get to the oil filter, and then you have to be strong enough to twist the oil filter cap to remove it."
"Now we have a robot that can potentially accomplish such tasks," says Tongxi Yan, a former graduate student in Asada's lab, who led the work. "It can grow, retract, and grow again to a different shape, to adapt to its environment."
The team also includes MIT graduate student Emily Kamienski and visiting scholar Seiichi Teshigawara, who presented the results at the conference.

[b]The last foot[/b]
The design of the new robot is an offshoot of Asada's work in addressing the "last one-foot problem"—an engineering term referring to the last step, or foot, of a robot's task or exploratory mission. While a robot may spend most of its time traversing open space, the last foot of its mission may involve more nimble navigation through tighter, more complex spaces to complete a task.

Engineers have devised various concepts and prototypes to address the last one-foot problem, including robots made from soft, balloon-like materials that grow like vines to squeeze through narrow crevices. But Asada says such soft extendable robots aren't sturdy enough to support "end effectors," or add-ons such as grippers, cameras, and other sensors that would be necessary in carrying out a task, once the robot has wormed its way to its destination.
"Our solution is not actually soft, but a clever use of rigid materials," says Asada, who is the Ford Foundation Professor of Engineering.
[b]Chain links[/b]
Once the team defined the general functional elements of plant growth, they looked to mimic this in a general sense, in an extendable robot.
"The realization of the robot is totally different from a real plant, but it exhibits the same kind of functionality, at a certain abstract level," Asada says.
The researchers designed a gearbox to represent the robot's "growing tip," akin to the bud of a plant, where, as more nutrients flow up to the site, the tip feeds out more rigid stem. Within the box, they fit a system of gears and motors, which works to pull up a fluidized material—in this case, a bendy sequence of 3-D-printed plastic units interlocked with each other, similar to a bicycle chain.
As the chain is fed into the box, it turns around a winch, which feeds it through a second set of motors programmed to lock certain units in the chain to their neighboring units, creating a rigid appendage as it is fed out of the box.
The researchers can program the robot to lock certain units together while leaving others unlocked, to form specific shapes, or to "grow" in certain directions. In experiments, they were able to program the robot to turn around an obstacle as it extended or grew out from its base.
"It can be locked in different places to be curved in different ways, and have a wide range of motions," Yan says.
When the chain is locked and rigid, it is strong enough to support a heavy, one-pound weight. If a gripper were attached to the robot's growing tip, or gearbox, the researchers say the robot could potentially grow long enough to meander through a narrow space, then apply enough torque to loosen a bolt or unscrew a cap.
Auto maintenance is a good example of tasks the robot could assist with, according to Kamienski. "The space under the hood is relatively open, but it's that last bit where you have to navigate around an engine block or something to get to the oil filter, that a fixed arm wouldn't be able to navigate around. This robot could do something like that."

Explore further
AR platform for improving the efficiency of automated tasks

Provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Quote:Front Range CEO Jonathan Vaught said: "There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations.

"This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to Earth and if there are new commercial applications."
Hemp is a strain of cannabis that is grown for industrial uses.

Elon Musk is sending marijuana to astronauts on the ISS – and could create new ‘mutant’ weed
  • 12 Dec 2019, 11:35

  • Updated: 12 Dec 2019, 12:09
ELON Musk's Space X will be sending cannabis to the astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).
The space dwellers can expect their delivery to be on a Space X Dragon capsule, which is scheduled to make its next trip in March 2020.
A Space X capsule will make the weed delivery next year 

[Image: NINTCHDBPICT000531211609.jpg?strip=all&w=960]Credit: Getty - Contributor
Musk himself may be the man behind Space X but he's not the brains behind these weed plans.
It's actually agri-tech company Front Range Biosciences.
The firm recently announced its intentions to send plant cultures of hemp, the legal cannabis strain with low levels of the THC compound, to space.
Once there, the cultures are intended to remain in an ISS incubator for 30 days.

[Image: NINTCHDBPICT000538163641.jpg?strip=all&w=960]Hemp is commonly grown for industrial purposesCredit: Reuters
During the 30 day period, the hemp will be monitored remotely from the University of Colorado, Boulder by BioServe Space Technologies.
The cannabis cultures will then be sent home to Earth.
Once home, Front Range Biosciences will be observing what effect, if any, space radiation and micro-gravity has had on the gene expression of hemp.
Front Range CEO Jonathan Vaught said: "There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations.

"This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to Earth and if there are new commercial applications."
Hemp is a strain of cannabis that is grown for industrial uses.
It can be refined and turned into a number of items including paper, clothing, biodegradable plastics and even animal feed.
It's low concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD) mean it can have little to no psychoactive effect.
[Image: jo-4.png?strip=all&w=960]Elon Musk smoked a joint during his podcast chat with Joe Rogan
Musk has been connected to cannabis before.
The eccentric billionaire was famously captured smoking a marijuana roll up on the Los Angeles-based Joe Rogan experience podcast because the drug is legal in the state of California.
He came under fire for this because weed is prohibited for people with government security clearance, which Musk was given in 2015 when SpaceX began launching satellites for the Pentagon.

Shortly after smoking, 

Musk dressed in a black T-shirt that said 
"Occupy Mars" told comedian Rogan: “I'm not a regular smoker of weed.”
[Image: tumblr_owy6qfc90x1qe6vjyo1_540.gifv]

He added: "I don't find that it is very good for productivity.”  Cry
Along the vines of the Vineyard.
With a forked tongue the snake singsss...
Jeff bezos and Blue Origin/NASA too!  LilD

Space Tech

Dec. 6, 2019

Inner to Outer Space: Studying Biological Changes with Plants on Rockets
Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket at the company’s West Texas Launch Site in January 2019.
Credits: Blue Origin

The University of Florida’s “space plants” experiment studies include Arabidopsis thaliana plants, as seen here, engineered with fluorescence signaling molecules for precise imaging using advanced cameras and sensors.
Credits: University of Florida

What happens to the genes of organisms as they travel from the ground, through Earth’s atmosphere and into space? Does their expression change? Are the changes subtle or dramatic? Do they happen quickly or gradually?

Answering such fundamental research questions is essential to our understanding of the impact of space travel on humans and other organisms. Two researchers from the University of Florida in Gainesville have been chipping away at the answers since the 1990s—using plants.

Soon, co-principal investigators Robert Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul will launch their “space plants”—Arabidopsis thaliana to be exact—along with advanced cameras and sensors for imaging them on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. The flight test, facilitated by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, is the latest suborbital experiment to help the investigators further examine the cornerstone questions of two decades of biological research.

“About half of the genes in our bodies encode the exact same proteins in plants,” explained Paul. “And that’s very exciting because it means that as we look at how plants behave in the absence of gravity, we can translate many of those basic biological processes to humans.”

And it turns out that plants behave quite differently in space compared to on the ground. 

[Image: tumblr_ojp2ovgEy91t0x810o1_500.gifv]
In particular, plant growth is distinctly unique, with roots branching in skewed or random patterns rather than extending down from the shoots like they typically do on Earth.

Ferl and Paul began studying how plants respond to microgravity on the molecular level with space shuttle experiments in the late ‘90s, the findings from which they later applied to longer term observations with nine experiments on the International Space Station.

“What we learned from those early experiments was certain notions of how plants adapt to space. And then we compared that with how they behave on the ground,” said Ferl. “That’s monumental, but it doesn’t tell us what happens in the transition. Essentially nowhere in the history of space biology have scientists had the opportunity to fully examine the transition from 1 to 0 and back.”

Enter parabolic flights, many of which were facilitated by NASA, where Ferl and Paul were able to start examining that transition during 30-second periods of microgravity.
“Those flights gave us the first hints that plant adaptation happens very rapidly,” said Paul. “We could get small glimpses into the transition using fluorescent imaging to study different types of molecule signaling and look at what genes are turned off, what genes are turned on and when that happens.”
With NASA’s help, researchers Robert Ferl (left) and Anna-Lisa Paul (right) have leveraged several parabolic flights to test the thermal imaging hardware that enables precise views of plants, looking for clues on the molecular level to explain gene behavior during different phases of microgravity.
Credits: University of Florida

Ferl and Paul have now adapted their fluorescent imaging hardware to suborbital vehicles, where they continue studying the transition phase—the new frontier of their work. Of particular interest is calcium signaling, which is known to flip the switch on or off for specific genes in response to external stimuli, such as wind blowing across the leaves, the hungry bite of a caterpillar, or something more dramatic—like a change in gravity.

“Our very first spaceflight experiment indicated that being in space changes some aspects of calcium signaling,” explained Ferl. “And calcium signaling in particular is very similar between plants and animals, so we want to better understand that role in response to transitions in gravity.”

Suborbital flights are now enabling imaging of molecular changes during gravity transitions in real time—and with longer durations of microgravity than possible on parabolic flights. A suborbital flight on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo in [url=]December 2018 and a launch on New Shepard in January 2019 have hinted at some surprising findings.

“Our early suborbital data about how genes are responding is telling us that the calcium signaling during the transitions in gravity is working in ways we did not anticipate,” noted Paul. “And that, of course, is very exciting because it means there is much to learn.”

While Paul and Ferl can’t say just yet what this means for their findings, data from the upcoming flight, which is scheduled to launch from Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site no earlier than Dec. 10, 2019, will help confirm earlier suborbital findings, potentially leading to a new breakthrough in their research with significant implications for human space exploration.

“Understanding the biological processes of plants in space can give us insight into those processes in humans, but the plants are important in and of themselves,” said Paul. 
[Image: tumblr_ojlbpkcKTN1t0x810o1_r1_1280.gifv]
Ferl added that while they and other scientists have grown successful plant harvests in sustained microgravity in space station experiments, their ongoing work is helping to understand the underlying metabolic changes that allow those plants to adapt to spaceflight. 

“Understanding what it takes to help plants thrive in space—as a food and oxygen source and for other needs—is crucial to any exploration initiative where the goal is a long-term habitat,” said Paul.

[b]More Tech Aboard New Shepard: A Method for Managing Trash in Space[/b]

NASA researcher Gino Carro prepares a prototype of NASA’s Orbital Syngas Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR) for a drop tower 2.2 second microgravity test at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in November 2018.
Credits: NASA

Seven other Flight Opportunities-supported payloads will also be tested on New Shepard, including the Orbital Syngas Commodity Augmentation Reactor—OSCAR for short. OSCAR, just like the Grouch, loves trash. The system uses two chemical processes, oxidation and steam reforming, to turn things like food packaging, old clothing and even human waste into water and a mixture of gases that include hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and methane. OSCAR is one of several logistics reduction technologies NASA is investigating that could be useful for long-duration space exploration.
A multi-disciplinary team made up of early career researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is working on the project to help manage trash and waste in space and transform it into useful resources. The project is an Early Career Initiative funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
NASA estimates that a crew of four astronauts will generate approximately 5,500 pounds of waste during a one-year mission. Future long-duration missions, such as sending humans to Mars, will require new methods for trash handling and disposal. If OSCAR can turn trash into gases that a crew can use, it would greatly reduce the space needed for waste storage, while also making it biologically safe.

“Trash management should be a primary consideration for long-duration deep space human spaceflight,” said Anne Meier, OSCAR’s principal investigator at Kennedy. “OSCAR will be the first time we look at some of the engineering operations and science involved in the design for such a system to work in microgravity.”

OSCAR’s launch on New Shepard will enable researchers to add to data from previous lab and drop tests, evaluate the performance of the reactor, and inform future designs. The instrument will use trash simulants for this suborbital test flight.

[b]About Flight Opportunities[/b]

The Flight Opportunities program is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and managed at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley manages the solicitation and evaluation of technologies to be tested and demonstrated on commercial flight vehicles.

[b]By Nicole Quenelle
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center
Last Updated: Dec. 11, 2019
Editor: Loura Hall
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