Li Awarded $1.6 Million NIH Grant to Study Inner Ear Signal Processing

Geng-Lin Li, biology, recently was awarded a five-year, $1.6 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to study auditory signal processing in the inner ear. His findings will expand basic understanding of hearing and could lead to better hearing protection.

He says, “Our inner ear can process sensory signals with remarkable precision, but it comes with the cost of vulnerability, making it very easily damaged by noise and by aging. As we advance our basic understanding of hearing and satisfy our curiosity, new approaches could arise, allowing us to design better protection for people who work in a noisy environment.”

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Bezanilla appears in three iBiology videos

Magdalena Bezanilla appears in three iBiology videos . iBiology's mission is to convey, in the form of open-access free videos, the excitement of modern biology and the process by which scientific discoveries are made. iBiology aims to let you meet the leading scientists in biology, so that you can find out how they think about scientific questions and conduct their research, and can get a sense of their personalities, opinions, and perspectives. Bezanilla’s videos describe the research in her lab. The first video is a more general introduction to one of the major research topics in her lab: (video 1) polarized plant cell growth and the role of the cytoskeleton. The second and third videos dig deeper into two major findings: (video 2) using reverse genetics to functionally dissect an entire gene family, and (video 3) how plant cell division is steered.

Becoming Weeds

Ana Caicedo is an author on a new paper about a new resequencing analysis of weedy rice (Oryza sativa L.) biotypes illuminates distinct evolutionary paths and outcomes of de-domestication and ferality. This largest effort to date in weedy plant genomics gives a better understanding of weediness while also providing a promising source of alleles for rice breeding.

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Experts Say EU Commission Proposal Would Limit Ability to Protect Public from Endocrine Disruptors

University of Massachusetts Amherst biologist Thomas Zoeller, an internationally recognized expert in the health effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, with the Washington, D.C.-based Endocrine Society, this week expressed disappointment in the European Commission’s revised proposal on defining and identifying endocrine-disrupting chemicals, citing unnecessarily narrow criteria for identifying them.

The new move “will make it nearly impossible for regulatory agencies to meet the unrealistically high burden of proof and protect the public from dangerous chemicals,” the society stated. Zoeller adds, “The commission is known to be heavily influenced both by multinational chemical industries and their trade groups, as well as the U.S. State Department, in designing language that would dilute European regulations to be more consistent with those in the U.S.”

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Desert Songbirds May Face Expanding Threat of Lethal Dehydration

Alexander Gerson, Biology, is a co-author of a new study of songbird dehydration and survival risk during heat waves in the United States desert Southwest that suggests that some birds are at risk of lethal dehydration and mass die-offs when water is scarce, and the risk is expected to increase as climate change advances. Using physiological data, hourly temperature maps and modeling, Gerson, along with first author Tom Albright at the University of Nevada, Reno, and co-author Blair Wolf at the University of New Mexico, investigated how rates of evaporative water loss varied in five bird species with varied body mass. They mapped potential effects of current and future heat waves on lethal dehydration risk for songbirds in the Southwest and how rapidly this can occur in each species.

Read more at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Phys.org article