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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Future of Frankincense Not So Sweet
21 December 2011 10:50 am
The mythical gifts of the Magi—gold, frankincense, and myrrh—represented the rarest and most precious tributes one could give a king. Unfortunately, frankincense, a sweet-scented resin from the desert tree Boswellia, has become even rarer and will continue to do so, researchers report today in the Journal of Applied Ecology. Boswellia trees have had trouble reproducing in recent years, and ecologists believed that they were weakened when traders tapped them for resin. Working in Ethiopia over a period of 2 years, the researchers monitored 12 copses of B. papyrifera: six that had been tapped and six that had not. They found that the tapped trees were able to reproduce as well as the untapped, ruling out human interference as the major killer. Instead, the biggest threats seemed to be grazing livestock, fires, and the longhorn beetle, which burrows into trees' bark, kills them, and leaves them as ready fuel for forest fires. If these problems aren't remedied soon, the team's models suggest that frankincense production could drop by 50% in the next 15 years: a tough blow to the economies of Ethiopia and Eritrea who export it.
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