IVF corals have their first babies
In 2016, the first IVF coral babies were released at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Now, they are all grown up and having babies of their own.
This is the very first population of IVF coral in the Great Barrier Reef that have successfully reproduced at a mass spawning event – a massive win for conservation efforts.
The 22 tenacious coral colonies survived a bleaching event and have grown to maturity. Researchers found they were filled with eggs and sperm, all ready to spawn. There are also some smaller colonies that are not quite ready to spawn but might be large enough next year.
“Coral IVF is the first project of its kind to re-establish coral on damaged reefs by collecting millions of coral eggs and sperm during the spawning season, growing them into baby corals and releasing them directly onto degraded areas of the reef,” says Southern Cross University Distinguished Professor Peter Harrison, who led the program.
“The ultimate aim of this process is to produce new breeding populations of corals in areas of the reef that no longer have enough live corals present due to being damaged by the effects of climate change.
“This is a thrilling result to see these colonies we settled during the first small-scale pilot study on Heron Island grow over five years and become sexually reproductive.”
Congratulations, coral! Will there be a baby shower?
Aussie supermarket wars
Woolies vs Coles. It’s a long-standing debate in Australia. Which of the two major supermarkets is best?
According to a report by the George Institute for Global Health, Woolies has the healthiest home brands, but Coles has more products with the iconic “Aussie Made” kangaroo logo.
But not all Aussie-made goods are healthy – even if people perceive that to be the case.
“This might be due to historical links between country of origin labelling and food-safety scares but can no longer be justified given that consumers now want information about the origins of their shopping to help them make more sustainable choices,” says public health lawyer Dr Alexandra Jones from the George Institute for Global Health.
“For example, Arnott’s is as Aussie as they come, but with biscuits classed as ‘non-priority’ foods, the company has chosen not to give consumers the benefit of the full detail of the updated country of origin design.
“While they state that their biscuits are made in Australia, we have no idea about how much of what goes into them is actually locally sourced.”
How to REALLY stick to your New Year gym resolution
Don’t let 2022 be another failed attempt at a New Year gym resolution – you just need to learn the right way to ease yourself in.
A new mega study of 61,000 American gym-goers, published in Nature, found that four-week digital programs with reminders and incentives might be the most effective way to build a gym habit.
Don’t get too excited though. While the incentives made a significant difference, it still only increased the number of new gym members who returned weekly from 9% to 27%.
Well, that’s it, folks. Science just confirmed that I am as lazy as the other 73% of people.
Now that our gym dreams have been (marginally) improved, let’s turn to another important health matter – good food!
According to a study published in the International Dairy Journal, a dollop of yoghurt could be effective at combating elevated blood pressure for those with hypertension.
“High blood pressure is the number-one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so it’s important that we continue to find ways to reduce and regulate it,” says Dr Alexandra Wade of the University of South Australia.
“Dairy foods, especially yoghurt, may be capable of reducing blood pressure.
“This is because dairy foods contain a range of micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium and potassium, all of which are involved in the regulation of blood pressure.
“Yoghurt is especially interesting because it also contains bacteria that promote the release of proteins, which lowers blood pressure.
“This study showed for people with elevated blood pressure, even small amounts of yoghurt were associated with lower blood pressure.
“And for those who consumed yoghurt regularly, the results were even stronger, with blood-pressure readings nearly seven points lower than those who did not consume yoghurt.”
Let’s watch grass grow
Have you ever noticed how grass grows back super-fast after mowing?
The secret, according to a study published in Science, lies in the shape of its leaves and how they develop.
“The grass leaf has been a conundrum,” says study author Professor Enrico Coen of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England.
“By formulating and testing different models for its evolution and development, we’ve shown that current theories are likely incorrect and that a discarded idea proposed in the 19th century is much nearer the mark.”
This hypothesis suggested the grass leaves grow similarly to the stalks – called petioles – that attach tree leaves to branches, even though the two evolutionary groups diverged more than 200 million years ago.
The researchers modelled different ways the grass could possibly grow, and found, to their surprise, that the 19th-century hypothesis proved to be the most accurate. The grass leaves had tiny parallel ‘veins’ like a petiole, suggesting they grow more like a stalk than traditional tree leaves.
It just goes to show that watching grass grow can be fun.
Deborah Devis is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science (Honours) in biology and philosophy from the University of Sydney, and a PhD in plant molecular genetics from the University of Adelaide.
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