University of Florida

Research on insect hibernation may lead to new control measures, UF scientists say

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To beat summer heat, winter cold and other harsh environmental conditions, many insects temporarily drop into a state similar to hibernation to conserve energy and reduce stress, and University of Florida researchers say this phenomenon could lead to new pest control methods.

A UF study published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that different organisms use different mechanisms to reach that resting state, known as diapause.

Scientists are exploring the biochemical processes behind diapause as a first step toward manipulating when and how diapause occurs in pest insect species, said Dan Hahn, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“If you can disrupt diapause, you can change the chances an insect population survives,” Hahn said.

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Study: Climate change results in larger, more numerous mountain rodents

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Research

In this file photo released by the University of Florida, ecologist Arpat Ozgul holds a yellow bellied marmot during research on the animals in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The research revealed that climate change has contributed to a substantial increase in the size and number of the mountain-dwelling rodents.(University of Florida/IFAS/Arpat Ozgul)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In what researchers say is one of the most direct illustrations of global climate change’s impact on animals, a new study shows that longer summers and milder winters have allowed yellow-bellied marmots to grow larger and increase in numbers.

For more than four decades, researchers have trekked out to the Colorado Rocky Mountains to study the population of marmots — considered an ideal species to observe and measure because the rodents live in groups, don’t stray far from their burrows and are relatively easy to handle, said Madan Oli, a population ecologist in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)

Children’s gut bacteria linked to type 1 diabetes

Topic(s): Nutrition, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have found that the variety of bacteria in a child’s digestive tract is strongly linked to whether that child develops type 1 diabetes. The connection could eventually give doctors an early test for the condition and a new way to treat the disease that afflicts more than 3 million Americans.

The cause of type 1 diabetes, formerly dubbed juvenile diabetes, has long been a baffling medical mystery. There seems to be little or no genetic element — only 15 percent of those who develop the form of diabetes have an immediate family member with the condition, meaning there is likely a trigger somewhere in the patient’s environment.

According to the UF research, that trigger may be linked to bacteria that live in our digestive tracts. At birth, our digestive tracts are relatively sterile. Even as we take our first breaths, however, we begin to ingest the microbes around us.

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