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[前沿资讯] New therapeutic targets for treating memory impairment in Down syndrome 进入全文

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Barcelona, 4th May, 2020. A team of researchers led by Dr. Victoria Puig from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), which also involved the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), has studied the neural basis of intellectual disability in mice with Down syndrome and has discovered that the neural networks of brain circuits relevant to memory and learning are over-activated and that the connectivity of these circuits is poor. The researchers have also observed that neural activity during sleep is abnormal and probably interferes with memory consolidation. The study has even identified biomarkers in brain rhythms that can predict memory deficits in the mice which are corrected by chronic treatment with a natural component of green tea, epigallocatechin gallate, which other studies have already shown to improve executive function in adults with Down syndrome. "These results suggest that both hyperactivity of neuronal networks and deficiencies in the connectivity of specific brain circuits are possible dysfunctional mechanisms that contribute to memory deficits in Down syndrome and, therefore, offer new therapeutic possibilities for treating intellectual disability," explains Dr. Victoria Puig, researcher in the Integrated Pharmacology and Systems Neuroscience Research Group at the IMIM.

[前沿资讯] Market insight into moisture meters and a glimpse of the future 进入全文

Future Farming

As risk of drought increases in many parts of the planet, farmers are turning to irrigation to ensure an adequate harvest, but they need to minimise costs. We took a close look at the newest soil moisture sensors, what they cost and where the technology is headed in the years to come. In Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA in particular, increasing numbers of growers already have irrigation in place or are planning to use it. While it’s a substantial investment, it’s one that obviously mitigates against one of farming’s most serious annual risks, namely drought. Indeed, scientists are predicting that a ‘megadrought’ is already underway right now in the western USA. Costs of irrigation systems reduced However, the advent of better solar panels and batteries, Internet of Things (IoT), wide-ranging internet networks and cloud computing are reducing the costs of irrigation systems, while at the same time system capabilities are evolving. Accurate measurement of soil moisture is obviously key but, according to Jonathan Wisler (Sensoterra), developing world agriculture is still in the early stages of integrating soil moisture sensors into irrigation systems at scale. “For many, it is still a challenge to get the right soil moisture data from the field and into a digital farming system.” Soil moisture data Various irrigation systems now on the market use soil moisture data to provide differing levels of automation in the creation and implementation of irrigation scheduling. We contacted 19 companies (10 of which responded) to provide an overview of what they offer and also to get their sense of future directions. Enabling growers to control irrigation themselves Some companies such as Dynamax focus on enabling growers to control irrigation themselves. Dynamax provides soil water content as a percentage or water-by-volume data, along with typical soil type calibration curves. Similarly, Dacom provides soil moisture, temperature and precipitation pattern for each 10 cm layer in an online platform. Soil water tension Irrometer’s sensors measure soil water tension, “a real-time measurement,” says Brian Bourbonnais, “that allows growers to make decisions on the fly.” Sensoterra offers a soil moisture data platform that can be calibrated to soil type and integrated with other tools to combine data from weather forecasts, temperature and other readings, allowing growers to make ‘educated’ irrigation timing decisions. Sentek provides irrigation decision-making in real time, using measurements of soil moisture, root location, onset of plant stress and depth of irrigation application. Valley Irrigation (Valmont) takes information on applied irrigation (e.g. from pivots and linears, automatically collected from its system or entered manually) along with data from soil moisture probes and updated weather forecasts to provide recommended irrigation schedules. Meter Group offers the ability to sense plant water availability across varying soil conditions and crop types in order to schedule irrigation. Pessl Instruments provides as much automation as a client wants in order to make irrigation decisions and Gottfried Pessl says “technically, full automation is not a problem.” Physical soil-moisture sensors Looking ahead, there are differences in opinion as to how long physical soil moisture probes will be used, and what’s likely to come as soil moisture sensing and irrigation systems evolve. GroPoint’s David Illing, for example, believes soil moisture probes will be required “for some time”, but that their capabilities will advance along with advances in cloud computing and wireless technologies. He thinks that at this point, “it is time to engineer (versus retrofit) new sensors that leverage proven soil moisture-sensing methods/technologies,” but also focus on “simplicity of installation.” Need to collect quality hyper-local sensor data Similarly, those working at Meter Group feel that, while data from soil moisture probes is still critical, it’s important to embrace “the need to collect quality hyper-local sensor data and translate that to a holistic view of the field by combining it with remote sensing and modelling systems,” explains Kersten Campbell. Sentek’s Peter Buss also takes the view that the irrigation information system will be “multi-level.” Larissa Hendriks (Dacom) expects that in future, irrigation systems will integrate data from various sources to predict soil moisture content, but that data from soil moisture sensors will always play a role. Fewer soil sensors in future Wisler at Sensoterra believes growers will need fewer soil sensors in future and that it will be possible to estimate soil moisture “by using historical data about water penetration in your crop as well as soil type, combined with information from your irrigation controllers”. For his part, Andrew Olson(Valley) thinks “some emerging technologies could potentially be used in place of soil moisture probes, as growers become more accustomed to technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.” He reports that Valley is working on “a truly autonomous pivot” through a partnership with Prospera Technologies. Communication networking Pessl Instruments is currently using AI to analyse evapotranspiration, satellite pictures with NDVI indices, soil moisture and weather forecasts to create irrigation scheduling recommendations. Similarly, Bourbonnais at Irrometer thinks future soil moisture sensing technology for high-precision irrigation will be similar to tech in use today, but will evolve with advances in areas such as communication networking. It’s his view that newer non-contact methods so far only give a surface or very shallow penetration reference, which is not very useful for determining the irrigation requirements for a crop. ‘Full automation with IoT’ And while Vasudha Sharma believes that full automation of irrigation can be achieved with IoT and other technologies, “we are still short of research on validating the accuracy of suggestions/predictions”, as the “underlying fundamental relationships of soil water dynamics and crop response under various management systems, climates and soil types are not fully developed.” The irrigation specialist at the University of Minnesota is excited, however, about developments such as the ‘Internet of Underground Things’: IoT sensors and nodes beneath the soil communicate among themselves about soil moisture and other plant health aspects, and of course also to above the ground to optimise irrigation scheduling. As to whether soil moisture sensors as we know them could be superseded by new technologies, Sharma believe it is possible. Irrigation scheduling that involves no soil sensors Lindsay Corporation, however, already offers irrigation scheduling that involves no soil sensors. With information on for example soil type, crop type, planting date and weather, the company’s software can determine both daily crop water usage and irrigation requirements, explains Albert Maurin.

[前沿资讯] XAG rice seeding drone to mitigate labour shortage in China 进入全文

Future Farming


[前沿资讯] Infection by cyst nematodes induces rapid remodelling of developing xylem vessels in wheat roots 进入全文


胞囊线虫诱导寄主植物根细胞形成合胞体,并以此为食。对这些取食部位进行全面的组织学研究,由于其形状的变化和在根组织深处的位置而变得复杂。利用组织清除和共聚焦显微镜,我们检测了受胞囊线虫(Heterodera avenae)感染的小麦根厚切片(高达150μm)。该方法可以清晰地观察到线虫的取食部位和周围组织,分辨率足以揭示线虫、合胞体和宿主维管组织在细胞水平上的空间关系。合胞体附近的元胞管区域被发现偏离了典型的发育模式。这些区域的木质部导管元素没有伸长,而是发生放射状扩张,变得短而丰满,而不是长而圆润。进一步的调查显示,血管元素在感染后不久就停止伸长,之后它们的外细胞壁的次生增厚(木质化)发生延迟,其中一些元素最终被合并到合胞体的喂养位点。通过干扰,正常情况下会导致程序性细胞死亡的发育,H. avenae可以使木质部导管元素存活下来,以便以后被寄生虫利用。

[前沿资讯] Coronavirus exposed fragility in our food system – it’s time to build something more resilient 进入全文

The conversation

Most people rely on supermarkets, and these megastoresdominate our food economy. They are part of a system that depends on large-scale agriculture and production, smooth-flowing international food trade and fast turnaround times. But what happens when system vulnerabilities are exposed and they break down? What catches our fall? We need a resilient food system. This means going beyond the ecological idea of resilience as merely survival during times of stress, and instead proactively building a food system that can both respond quickly to changing circumstances and act as a safety net.

[前沿资讯] Why it’s so critical to continuously monitor and manage plant diseases 进入全文

The conversation

Most of us understand the critical importance of monitoring the spread of diseases. And it is as important for plant diseases as it is for humans. Plant disease epidemics are often hidden from view, unlike human viral disease outbreaks. Yet food and forest production systems, as well as native environments around the world, are just as threatened by emerging epidemics. That is why the UN has made 2020 the International Year of Plant Health. It is estimated that pests and pathogens destroy between 10% and 40% of food production globally. There are ways to deal with this problem, starting with biosecurity and plant health management systems. But this is yet another system that’s been put under tremendous pressure by the emergence of COVID-19. Under restrictions on human movement – necessary to curb the virus’ spread – the field and laboratory work that are crucial for surveillance and management of plant diseases has been severely curtailed.



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