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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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ScienceShot: Amoeba 'Farmer' Uses Organic Pesticide
29 July 2013 6:30 pm
The world’s smallest farmer also uses pesticides. That’s the conclusion of a new study on Dictyostelium discoideum, or “Dicty,” an amoeba with an unusual life cycle. Dicty spends most of its life as a single cell, but when food resources get tight, the cells clump together and transform into a sluglike creature half a centimeter long that heads for greener pastures; there it morphs into a so-called fruiting body with a long stalk and a spore-filled head (pictured). It also takes bacteria with it, which it harvests like crops after they burst out with the spores. Now, reporting online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have found that Dicty carries a second set of bacteria, which are not food but produce pyrrolnitrin, a chemical that kills other bacteria and fungi. Surprisingly, pyrrolnitrin doesn’t destroy Dicty’s “crops,” but it does keep competing bacteria away, functioning a bit like an organic pesticide. The successful harvest allows Dicty to live as single cells until the food runs out once again.