Digital Life Project Uses 3D Technology to Document Endangered Frogs for Future Generations

The Digital Life team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst led by evolutionary biologist Duncan Irschick today unveiled an online set of 15 three-dimensional (3D) models of live frogs, including several endangered species, to promote conservation, education and science by showcasing their extraordinary beauty and vulnerability to ecological threats.

“Frogs of the World” represents the first-ever use of 3D technology to preserve accurate, high-resolution models of some of the most endangered frog species on the planet, say Irschick and members of the interdisciplinary Digital Life team.

Photo credit Daily Hampshire Gazette

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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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