At the June 9 Corvallis Science Pub, Cristina Eisenberg, an Oregon State University conservation biologist, will discuss why intact wilderness areas matter more today than they did in 1964.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Fifty years ago, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, which today protects nearly 110 million acres in the United States. At the June 9 Corvallis Science Pub, Cristina Eisenberg, an Oregon State University conservation biologist, will discuss why intact wilderness areas matter more today than they did in 1964.
The Science Pub presentation is free and open to the public and begins at 6 p.m. in the Majestic Theater, 115 S.W. Second St. in Corvallis.
Eisenberg’s intimate acquaintance with wilderness stems from 20 years of living with her family in a cabin adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana. At 1 million acres, it comprises the second-largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states.
In her research, she studies interactions among wolves, elk, aspen and fire. In Rocky Mountain ecosystems, she has shown that relatively intact, large tracts of land are essential to create ecologically resilient landscapes. Such landscapes typically consist of extensive protected wilderness.
She will also read and show images from her recently published book, The Carnivore Way, in which she profiles the Crown of the Continent ecosystem, a 28-million-acre wildlife corridor that runs along the mountainous spine of North America.Generic OSU Media Contact: Nick Houtman Source:
Cristina Eisenberg, 541-737-7524
CORVALLIS, Ore. – An Oregon State University researcher has helped discover a substance in blueberry leaves – which are usually wasted – that can be added to berry coatings, extending their shelf life while adding antioxidants.
Working with an international team of scientists in China, OSU food scientist Yanyun Zhao found that an edible coating containing blueberry leaf extracts helped delay decay and retain water, which slowed down their natural deterioration. The extra weight could also mean extra cash for growers, because blueberries are often sold by volume.
The natural coatings can allow fresh blueberries to be washed and prepared as ready-to-eat products. Most blueberries in stores are unwashed because rinsing them removes their natural waxy coating that preserves the fruit.
"Normally, blueberry leaves fall to the ground as waste," said Zhao, a food science and technology professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. “We've discovered a use that can change how the berries are stored, sold, as well as increasing their nutritional value.”
Blueberry leaves, which have been used as an herbal remedy, contain high levels of antioxidant phenolics – chemical compounds with antimicrobial properties that protect against fungi and bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella.
To create the coatings, researchers mixed these phenolic extracts with chitosan, a natural preservative that comes from crustacean shells. OSU tested coatings made from leaves that were picked at different stages of berry maturity, and leaf extracts were formulated into five different coating treatments based on varying levels of phenols.
Blueberries were dipped in the liquid coating and then dried at room temperature to form dried coatings. Nozzles can also spray the coatings on the surface of the berries as they pass by on a conveyor belt, according to Zhao, a value-added food products specialist with the OSU Extension Service.
Coating the blueberries will add to their cost, she said, although it's unclear how much.
The research was conducted in collaboration with scientists in China, including Yun Deng, at Shanghai Jiao Tong University at the school's Bor Luh Food Safety Center, and published in the journals of Food Control and Postharvest Biology and Technology.College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact: Daniel Robison Source:
Yanyun Zhao, 541-737-9151Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
OSU researchers have identified the Toluca Valley of central Mexico as the ancestral home of one of the world's most costly and deadly plant pathogens.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The cause of potato late blight and the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s has been tracked to a pretty, alpine valley in central Mexico, which is ringed by mountains and now known to be the ancestral home of one of the most costly and deadly plant diseases in human history.
Research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, by researchers from Oregon State University, the USDA Agricultural Research Service and five other institutions, concludes that Phytophthora infestans originated in this valley and co-evolved with potatoes over hundreds or maybe a few thousand years, and later spread repeatedly to much of the world.
Knowing the origin of the pathogen does more than just fill in a few facts in agricultural history, the scientists say. It provides new avenues to discover resistance genes, and helps explain the mechanisms of repeated emergence of this disease, which to this day is still the most costly potato pathogen in the world.
Potato late blight continues to be a major threat to global food security and at least $6 billion a year is spent to combat it, mostly due to the cost of fungicides and substantial yield losses. But P. infestans is now one of the few plant pathogens in the world with a well-characterized center of origin.
“This is immensely important,” said Niklaus Grunwald, who is a courtesy professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University, a researcher with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and lead author on the study.
“This is just a textbook example of a center of origin for a pathogen, and it’s a real treat,” Grunwald said. “I can’t think of another system so well understood. This should allow us to make significant headway in finding additional genes that provide resistance to P. infestans.”
Finding ways to genetically resist the potato late blight, scientists say, could help reduce the use of fungicides, and the expense and environmental concerns associated with them.
There had been competing theories about where P. infestans may have evolved, with the leading candidates being the Toluca Valley near Mexico City, or areas in South America where the potato itself actually evolved thousands of years ago.
Gene sequencing technology used by this research group helped pin down the Toluca Valley as the ancestral hot spot. The P. infestans pathogen co-evolved there hundreds of years ago with plants that were distant cousins of modern potatoes, which produced tubers but were more often thought of as a weed than a vegetable crop.
Today, the newly-confirmed home of this pathogen awaits researchers almost as a huge, natural laboratory, Grunwald said. Since different potato varieties, plants and pathogens have been co-evolving there for hundreds of years, it offers some of the best hope to discover genes that provide some type of resistance.
Along with other staple foods such as corn, rice and wheat, the potato forms a substantial portion of the modern human diet. A recent United Nations report indicated that every person on Earth eats, on average, more than 70 pounds of potatoes a year. Potatoes contain a range of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber and – for hungry populations – needed calories.
It’s believed that the potato was first domesticated more than 7,000 years ago in parts of what are now Peru and Bolivia, and it was brought to Europe by Spanish explorers in the late 1500s. A cheap and plentiful crop that can grow in many locations, the ability to increase food production with the potato eventually aided a European population boom in the 1800s.
But what the New World provided, it also took away - in the form of a potato late blight attack that originated from Mexico, caused multiple crop failures and led, among other things, to the Irish potato famine that began in 1845. Before it was over, 1 million people had died and another 1 million emigrated, many to the U.S.
That famine was exacerbated by lack of potato diversity, as some of the varieties most vulnerable to P. infestans were also the varieties most widely cultivated.
Collaborators on the research were from the University of Florida, the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, the University of the Andes in Colombia, Cornell University, and the International Potato Center in Beijing. It was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Scottish government.College of Agricultural Sciences Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Niklaus Grunwald, 541-738-4049Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
The exhibit featuring the artwork of graduating seniors will be on display in the Fairbanks Gallery from June 2 through June 13.
CORVALLIS, Ore. — “So Long, Suckers,” an exhibit featuring the artwork of graduating seniors, will be on display in the Fairbanks Gallery at Oregon State University from June 2 through June 13.
A reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 4. Exhibit awards, including the President’s Award for Excellence in Art, the Provost's Purchase Award and the College of Liberal Arts Dean's Purchase Award will be announced at the event, which is free and open to the public.
Seven graduating art students from different disciplines will participate in this year’s exhibit. They are:
- Savannah Youngquist, silk-screen printing. Using her family and friends as influences for her work, she has been working with patterning using foods that remind her of her family members.
- Allison Yano, ink drawings, painting and monotype printmaking. The driving force behind her work lies in the concept of spaces and their occupants and the forming of relationships between people and the impermanence of their presence.
- Alice Marshall, three-dimensional drawings. She emphasizes the relationship between human and nature, exploring what happens when the intention is to preserve a part of the natural world.
- Daniel Johnson, landscape painting. Working primarily in oil, he draws inspiration from his scenic hometown of Moab, Utah.
- Alyssa Elkins is exploring the connections between the human and our natural environment. She is interested in the way we alter our world to better fit our needs and the ways in which the world reacts and changes itself to compensate for our adjustments.
- Kusra Kapuler, sculpture and video addresses core human experiences. Focusing on emotions, reactions and thoughts, the work has different mediums. These include paper, bronze and fabric.
- Darlayne Buys, who is exploring the discarded nature of objects and the obsessive or emotional associations we make with objects through a series of paintings of wedding dresses.
At the reception, scholarships for the upcoming year will be announced and senior of distinction certificates will be presented to outstanding seniors. Community-sponsored awards acknowledging outstanding artwork in the exhibit will also be presented. Blick Art Materials, the OSU Bookstore and Peak Sports are sponsors.
The Fairbanks Gallery, 220 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis, is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The exhibit is free and open to the public.College of Liberal Arts Media Contact: Michelle Klampe Source:
Douglas Russell, 541-737-5009, email@example.com
Oregon State University Theatre’s annual Spring One-Act Festival will run June 4 through June 8 in the Lab Theatre in Withycombe Hall.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University Theatre’s annual Spring One-Act Festival will run June 4 through June 8 in the Lab Theatre in Withycombe Hall, 2901 S.W. Campus Way, Corvallis.
The festival includes ten one-act plays featuring an eclectic mix of comedy and drama directed by advanced directing students. The plays will be presented in two panels. Panel A runs June 4 and June 6 at 7:30 p.m., and June 7 at 2 p.m. Panel B will run June 5 and June 7 at 7:30 p.m., and June 8 at 2 p.m.
Plays in Panel A are:
- “Check Please!” directed by Deborah Shapiro, is a series of blind dinner dates that turn into comic chaos. It features Joe Hill, Caitlin Reichmann, Renee Zipp, Brice Amarasinghe, Mike Turner, Beth Kowal, Scott D. Shapton and Sarah Koonse.
- “Judgment Morning,” directed by Mark McIntyre, is the story of a trio of siblings facing judgment on the morning of a funeral. It features Reed Morris, Blair Bowmer and Elise Barberis.
- “Heart of Hearing,” directed by Sam Zinsli, is a classic “will-they-or-won’t-they” drama featuring Alex Graham and Bria Love Robertson.
- “The Worker,” directed by Troy Toyama, portrays a dystopian future and a man with a secret featuring Melissa Cozzi, Kolby Baethke and Joe Hill.
- “The Merchandise King,” directed by Teri Straley, is a comic parody of Disney’s “The Lion King,” featuring Mike Stephens, Kyle Stockdall, Erin Wallerstein, Alex Toner and Annie Parham.
Plays in Panel B are:
- “The Problem,” directed by Anna Mahaffey, features Chris Peterman and Arin Dooley as a married couple from the late 1960s.
- “Evanescence, or Shakespeare in the Ally,” directed by Ricky Zipp, is about a woman who faces an existential crisis after sudden life changes and features Sarah Clausen and Bryan Smith.
- “Murder by Midnight,” directed by Bryanna Rainwater, is a clever campy murder mystery featuring students J. Garrett Luna, Sarah Sutton and Kolby Baethke.
- “The Sign,” directed by Joseph Workman, is the poignant story of two childhood friends reunited at a funeral. It features Bryan Smith and Thoman Nath.
- “The Lifeboat is Sinking,” directed by Sam Thompson, is a quirky comedy about marriage and compromise featuring Elise Bareris and Alex Small.
Tickets are $8 for general admission, $6 for seniors, $5 for youths and students, and $4 for OSU students. For information or to purchase tickets, contact the OSU Theatre Box Office at 541-737-2784 or visit the website at http://bit.ly/1jdKUgy.College of Liberal Arts Media Contact: Michelle Klampe Source:
Elizabeth Helman, Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org
Researchers have discovered that lyme disease, once considered a fairly "new" disease only identified 40 years ago, has actually been around since long before humans existed.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Lyme disease is a stealthy, often misdiagnosed disease that was only recognized about 40 years ago, but new discoveries of ticks fossilized in amber show that the bacteria which cause it may have been lurking around for 15 million years – long before any humans walked on Earth.
The findings were made by researchers from Oregon State University, who studied 15-20 million-year-old amber from the Dominican Republic that offer the oldest fossil evidence ever found of Borrelia, a type of spirochete-like bacteria that to this day causes Lyme disease. They were published in the journal Historical Biology.
In a related study, published in Cretaceous Research, OSU scientists announced the first fossil record of Rickettsial-like cells, a bacteria that can cause various types of spotted fever. Those fossils from Myanmar were found in ticks about 100 million years old.
As summer arrives and millions of people head for the outdoors, it’s worth considering that these tick-borne diseases may be far more common than has been historically appreciated, and they’ve been around for a long, long time.
“Ticks and the bacteria they carry are very opportunistic,” said George Poinar, Jr., a professor emeritus in the Department of Integrative Biology of the OSU College of Science, and one of the world’s leading experts on plant and animal life forms found preserved in amber. “They are very efficient at maintaining populations of microbes in their tissues, and can infect mammals, birds, reptiles and other animals.
“In the United States, Europe and Asia, ticks are a more important insect vector of disease than mosquitos,” Poinar said. “They can carry bacteria that cause a wide range of diseases, affect many different animal species, and often are not even understood or recognized by doctors.
“It’s likely that many ailments in human history for which doctors had no explanation have been caused by tick-borne disease.”
Lyme disease is a perfect example. It can cause problems with joints, the heart and central nervous system, but researchers didn’t even know it existed until 1975. If recognized early and treated with antibiotics, it can be cured. But it’s often mistaken for other health conditions. And surging deer populations in many areas are causing a rapid increase in Lyme disease – the confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease in Nova Scotia nearly tripled in 2013 over the previous year.
The new research shows these problems with tick-borne disease have been around for millions of years.
Bacteria are an ancient group that date back about 3.6 billion years, almost as old as the planet itself. As soft-bodied organisms they are rarely preserved in the fossil record, but an exception is amber, which begins as a free-flowing tree sap that traps and preserves material in exquisite detail as it slowly turns into a semi-precious mineral.
A series of four ticks from Dominican amber were analyzed in this study, revealing a large population of spirochete-like cells that most closely resemble those of the present-day Borrelia species. In a separate report, Poinar found cells that resemble Rickettsia bacteria, the cause of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and related illnesses. This is the oldest fossil evidence of ticks associated with such bacteria.
In 30 years of studying diseases revealed in the fossil record, Poinar has documented the ancient presence of such diseases as malaria, leishmania, and others. Evidence suggests that dinosaurs could have been infected with Rickettsial pathogens.
Humans have probably been getting diseases, including Lyme disease, from tick-borne bacteria as long as there have been humans, Poinar said. The oldest documented case is the Tyrolean iceman, a 5,300-year-old mummy found in a glacier in the Italian Alps.
“Before he was frozen in the glacier, the iceman was probably already in misery from Lyme disease,” Poinar said. “He had a lot of health problems and was really a mess.”College of Science Source:
Douglas Keszler, a distinguished professor in the OSU Department of Chemistry, has been named associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Science.
CORVALLIS, Ore. - The College of Science at Oregon State University has named Douglas Keszler as associate dean for research and graduate studies.
Keszler, a distinguished professor in the OSU Department of Chemistry and director of the Center for Sustainable Materials Chemistry, earned his doctorate from Northwestern University and in 1984 joined OSU.
He is an expert on the synthesis and study of inorganic molecules and materials that will enable next-generation electronic and energy devices, including high-efficiency solar cells. His pioneering science contributions are being commercialized by three start-up companies – Inpria, Amorphyx, and Beet.
“I am confident that Doug will have a tremendous impact on the college’s research excellence, collaborations across departments and colleges, mentorship of faculty, industry partnerships and start-ups,” said Sastry G. Pantula, dean of the college, “while increasing the quality, quantity, and diversity of our graduate programs.”
The associate dean supports graduate and faculty research, cultivates collaborative research and large-scale interdisciplinary projects, and helps to identify potential industry partners and start-ups.
“I look forward to enhancing a supportive and creative research environment, advancing high-quality graduate programs that support broad professional development of students, and enriching the scientific research community at OSU,” Keszler said.
Home to the life, statistical, physical and mathematical sciences, the College of Science has graduated more than 25,000 students since 1932 and is recognized for excellence in research and scholarship.College of Science Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Debbie Farris, 541-737-4862Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
The Antarctic Ice Sheet began melting about 5,000 years earlier than previously thought coming out of the last ice age – and that shrinkage of the vast ice sheet accelerated during eight episodes, causing rapid sea level rise.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study has found that the Antarctic Ice Sheet began melting about 5,000 years earlier than previously thought coming out of the last ice age – and that shrinkage of the vast ice sheet accelerated during eight distinct episodes, causing rapid sea level rise.
The international study, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, is particularly important coming on the heels of recent studies that suggest destabilization of part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has begun.
Results of this latest study are being published this week in the journal Nature. It was conducted by researchers at University of Cologne, Oregon State University, the Alfred-Wegener-Institute, University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Lapland, University of New South Wales, and University of Bonn.
The researchers examined two sediment cores from the Scotia Sea between Antarctica and South America that contained “iceberg-rafted debris” that had been scraped off Antarctica by moving ice and deposited via icebergs into the sea. As the icebergs melted, they dropped the minerals into the seafloor sediments, giving scientists a glimpse at the past behavior of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Periods of rapid increases in iceberg-rafted debris suggest that more icebergs were being released by the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The researchers discovered increased amounts of debris during eight separate episodes beginning as early as 20,000 years ago, and continuing until 9,000 years ago.
The melting of the Antarctic Ice Sheet wasn’t thought to have started, however, until 14,000 years ago.
“Conventional thinking based on past research is that the Antarctic Ice Sheet has been relatively stable since the last ice age, that it began to melt relatively late during the deglaciation process, and that its decline was slow and steady until it reached its present size,” said lead author Michael Weber, a scientist from the University of Cologne in Germany.
“The sediment record suggests a different pattern – one that is more episodic and suggests that parts of the ice sheet repeatedly became unstable during the last deglaciation,” Weber added.
The research also provides the first solid evidence that the Antarctic Ice Sheet contributed to what is known as meltwater pulse 1A, a period of very rapid sea level rise that began some 14,500 years ago, according to Peter Clark, an Oregon State University paleoclimatologist and co-author on the study.
The largest of the eight episodic pulses outlined in the new Nature study coincides with meltwater pulse 1A.
“During that time, the sea level on a global basis rose about 50 feet in just 350 years – or about 20 times faster than sea level rise over the last century,” noted Clark, a professor in Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “We don’t yet know what triggered these eight episodes or pulses, but it appears that once the melting of the ice sheet began it was amplified by physical processes.”
The researchers suspect that a feedback mechanism may have accelerated the melting, possibly by changing ocean circulation that brought warmer water to the Antarctic subsurface, according to co-author Axel Timmermann, a climate researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
“This positive feedback is a perfect recipe for rapid sea level rise,” Timmermann said.
Some 9,000 years ago, the episodic pulses of melting stopped, the researchers say.
“Just as we are unsure of what triggered these eight pulses,” Clark said, “we don’t know why they stopped. Perhaps the sheet ran out of ice that was vulnerable to the physical changes that were taking place. However, our new results suggest that the Antarctic Ice Sheet is more unstable than previously considered.”
Today, the annual calving of icebergs from Antarctic represents more than half of the annual loss of mass of the Antarctic Ice Sheet – an estimated 1,300 to 2,000 gigatons (a gigaton is a billion tons). Some of these giant icebergs are longer than 18 kilometers.College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Peter Clark, 541-740-5237Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
New research suggests that wild coho salmon that choose mates with disease-resistant genes different from their own are more likely to produce greater numbers of adult offspring returning to the river.
The study this story is based upon is available online, at http://bit.ly/1is9ydT
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study by researchers at Oregon State University suggests that wild coho salmon that choose mates with disease-resistant genes different from their own are more likely to produce greater numbers of adult offspring returning to the river some three years later.
The researchers also found that hatchery-reared coho – for some unknown reason – do not appear to have the same ability to select mates that are genetically diverse, which may, in part, explain their comparative lower reproductive success.
Results of the study have been published in this month’s Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Funding was provided by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, The Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, Oregon Sea Grant, and the Oregon legislature.
“This is the first study to examine mate choice among wild-spawning fish of both hatchery and wild origin, and the results suggest that greater diversity of immune genes between wild-born pairs of coho salmon may increase offspring survival,” said Amelia Whitcomb, who did the research as a master’s student at OSU and is lead author on the publication.
“These findings, along with future research, may have important implications for hatchery supplementation programs,” added Whitcomb, who now works for the Washington Department of Fish &Wildlife.
The key appears to be a suite of genes that include the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which initiates immune response and ultimately provides disease resistance. Other factors, including size and timing of return to fresh water, also determined mate pair reproductive success. MHC genes are well-studied in many organisms, including humans, and have been shown to play a role in how individuals choose mates.
The researchers used genetic parentage analysis to study mating events among adult coho salmon – both wild-born and hatchery-reared – that returned and spawned in a natural context in the Umpqua River in southern Oregon. Adult coho salmon were fin-clipped for genetic identification so they could be linked to their offspring, which returned as adults three years later.
The researchers then compared reproductive success, defined as the number of adult offspring returns, from three different categories of naturally spawning mate pairs: two wild parents, two hatchery-reared parents, and a hatchery-reared/wild parent pair.
The study found that wild fish that bred with other wild fish that had dissimilar MHC profiles had an increased success rate compared to wild fish pairings of similar MHC diversity. In addition, wild fish that mated with hatchery fish that had intermediate rates of dissimilarity also had greater reproductive success than wild fish mated with hatchery fish that had little MHC diversity, or the greatest MHC diversity.
However, the mate selection of hatchery-raised fish with other hatchery-raised fish appeared to be totally random, according to Michael Banks, director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resource Studies at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, and co-author on the study. In other words, hatchery-raised fish didn’t appear to select mates based on any kind of genetic profile, “an indiscretion that may ultimately be lowering their reproduction success.”
“Evidence that the MHC is associated with mate choice is common in many species through chemical cues detected by olfaction,” Banks said, “so it isn’t necessarily surprising that selecting for MHC diversity would increase reproductive success in salmon as well. What is puzzling is why hatchery-raised fish appear to have lost that ability.”
Kathleen O’Malley, an assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife at OSU and co-author on the study, cautioned that genetic diversity is just one factor in mate selection and reproductive success.
“The ocean is like a black box for salmon and many factors can play a role in their survival,” said O’Malley, a geneticist with the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station at OSU’s Hatfield Center. “But the strength of this study is that it looks at the bottom line, which is what creates the best chance of success for salmon to produce offspring that survive to return as adults.”
O’Malley said the next logical step in the research is to develop selective breeding strategies that better emulate mating strategies that occur in the wild and to learn whether new strategies can reduce the difference in reproductive success among hatchery-raised and wild fish.Hatfield Marine Science Center Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Michael Banks, 541-867-0420Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
Researchers at OSU are using the "eyespots" on butterfly wings to answer some fundamental questions about evolution.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study of the colorful “eyespots” on the wings of some butterfly species is helping to address fundamental questions about evolution that are conceptually similar to the quandary Aristotle wrestled with about 330 B.C. – “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”
After consideration, Aristotle decided that both the egg and the chicken had always existed, which was not the right answer. The new Oregon State University research is providing a little more detail.
The study, published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, actually attempts to explain the existence of what scientists call “serial homologues,” or patterns in nature that are repetitive, serve a function and are so important they are often retained through millions of years and across vast numbers of species.
Repeated vertebra that form a spinal column, rows of teeth, and groups of eyespots on butterfly wings are all examples of serial homologues. Researchers have tracked the similarities and changes of these serial features through much time and many species, but it’s remained a question about how they originally evolved.
Put another way, it’s easier to see how one breed of chicken evolved into a different breed, rather than where chickens – or their eggs - came from to begin with.
Butterfly wings are helping to answer that question. These eyespots, common to the butterfly family Nymphalidae, now serve many butterflies in dual roles of both predator avoidance and mate identification. One theory of their origin is that they evolved from simpler, single spots; another theory is that they evolved from a “band” of color which later separated into spots.
“What we basically conclude is that neither of the existing theories about butterfly eyespots is correct,” said Jeffrey Oliver, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Integrative Biology of the OSU College of Science. “The evidence suggests that a few eyespots evolved as a group at about the same time, but behaved somewhat as individual entities.”
Having appeared as a result of some genetic mutation, however, the eyespots then had the capability to move, acquire a function that had evolutionary value, and because of that value were retained by future generations of butterflies. And at all times, they retained the biological capacity for positional awareness – the eyespots formed in the same place until a new mutation came along.
“At first, it appears the eyespots helped this group of butterflies with one of the most basic aspects of survival value, which is avoiding predators,” Oliver said.
On the side of the wing that predators saw when the wings were closed, the eyespots could have served as camouflage from a distance, and up close almost a “bulls-eye” for a predator to see and attack. But this directed the attack toward the tips of less-important wings, and not the more vulnerable head or body of the insect.
But just as important, Oliver said, the study indicates how through continued mutation these eyespots moved to a completely different place – the other side of the wing. There, they performed a completely different function – helping the butterfly to attract and be identified by optimal mates.
“If you take this same concept and apply it to other important features like vertebra and a spinal column, it suggests that some small number of bones would form through mutation, and eventually move, join and be perpetuated as they acquired a function with survival value,” Oliver said.
“There would be a biological position in which they were supposed to form, and that would be retained,” he said. “And over time, the vertebra might expand in number, and acquire other functions that had nothing to do with their original function, but which still had value.”
The evolution of life has never been simple, as Aristotle and the other early philosophers found out. But one bone or butterfly eyespot at a time, the pieces continue to come together.College of Science Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Jeffrey Oliver, 541-737-5736Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
The Memorial Union Program Council, a student-led organization of Oregon State University, will hold its annual spring concerts, Battle of the Bands and Dam Jam (formerly known as Flat Tail Music Festival) on Friday, May 30, and Saturday, May 31, respectively.
CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Memorial Union Program Council, a student-led organization of Oregon State University, will hold its annual spring concerts, Battle of the Bands and Dam Jam (formerly known as Flat Tail Music Festival) on Friday, May 30, and Saturday, May 31, respectively.
The events will be in the Memorial Union Quad as a celebration of student accomplishments throughout the year, and a precursor to commencement.
Battle of the Bands showcases 10 OSU student bands competing for cash prizes, with the winning band opening for the Dam Jam concert the following night. Battle of the Bands begins at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 30. The opening band for this year’s event is an all OSU professor band named B2K and the Delicious Spoon. This event is free and open to the public.
The Dam Jam concert takes place Saturday, May 31, with gates opening at 7 p.m. and music beginning at 8 p.m. Following the winner of Friday’s Battle of the Bands is The Flavr Blue from Seattle. The band will perform as opener to the headliner, Mike Posner.
Over the past two years MUPC has taken several measures to ensure a more safe and secure environment at these events as well as in the surrounding neighborhoods. Steps that have been taken to improve these events include:
- Six-foot chain link fencing around the MU Quad, and entrances are gated with security personnel conducting bag checks.
- Security and law enforcement have been greatly increased.
- Dam Jam concert on Saturday has been shortened to a concert with music beginning at 8 p.m. and ending promptly at 10:45 p.m.
- Dam Jam concert on Saturday is ticketed.
- Gates on Saturday will close at 10 p.m. and a no re-entry policy will be adhered to.
Linda Howard, 541-737-1369,
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Seventeen high school seniors earned nearly $22,000 in scholarships from the Oregon State University Extension Service's 4-H youth development program.
The scholarships are available to college-bound high school seniors who have been members of 4-H for at least three years, said Helen Pease, a program coordinator with 4-H. Members of the state 4-H Recognition Committee choose recipients based on their scholastic achievement, 4-H projects and activities and a personal essay.
Winners of OSU's 2014 State 4-H Scholarship Awards are:
Albany — Garrett Hurley, Ted and Betty Dietz Memorial 4-H Scholarship, $500
Baker City — Erin Parker, Minnick Memorial 4-H Scholarship, $500
Condon — Benjamin Rietmann, Martha MacGregor 4-H Scholarship, $3,500
Corvallis — Sheridan Long, A. Lois Redman 4-H Scholarship, $1,200
Eagle Point — Fiona Nevin, Klein-Youngberg Family 4-H Scholarship, $1,250
Gold Hill — Samantha Beck, H. Joe Myers Memorial 4-H Scholarship, $2,500
Hood River — Delia Dolan, H. Joe Myers Memorial 4-H Scholarship, $2,500
Independence — Olivia Miller, Kate Thiess Memorial 4-H Scholarship, $1,000
John Day — Hannah Brandsma, Jeanne Leeson Memorial 4-H Scholarship, $1,250
John Day – Samantha Snyder, Babe Coe Memorial 4-H Scholarship, $1,000
Klamath Falls — Brielle McKinney, Oregon 4-H Foundation Memorial 4-H Scholarship, $1,000
North Plains — Christiana Logan, Klein-Youngberg Family 4-H Scholarship, $1,250
North Powder — Christian Miles, Duane P. Johnson 4-H Scholarship, $500
Sandy — Jacob L. Johnson, Klein-Youngberg Family 4-H Scholarship, $1,250
Sweet Home — Katie Virtue, C.H.S. Foundation Scholarship, $1,000
Warren — Claire Bernert, Kate Thiess Memorial 4-H Scholarship, $1,000
West Linn — Conor McCabe, O.M. Plummer Scholarship, $700
For more information about OSU's 4-H scholarships, go to http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/oregon-4h-scholarships.Extension Service Media Contact: Denise Ruttan Source:
Helen Pease, 541-737-1314
OSU chemist have discovered compounds that detoxify some types of nerve gas and might form the basis for new types of protection against them, in clothing or gas masks.
The study this news story is based on is available in ScholarsArchive@OSU: http://bit.ly/1n0gqnR
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that some compounds called polyoxoniobates can degrade and decontaminate nerve agents such as the deadly sarin gas, and have other characteristics that may make them ideal for protective suits, masks or other clothing.
The use of polyoxoniobates for this purpose had never before been demonstrated, scientists said, and the discovery could have important implications for both military and civilian protection. A United Nations report last year concluded that sarin gas was used in the conflict in Syria.
The study findings were just published in the European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry.
Some other compounds exist that can decontaminate nerve gases, researchers said, but they are organic, unstable, degraded by sunlight and have other characteristics that make them undesirable for protective clothing – or they are inorganic, but cannot be used on fabrics or surfaces.
By contrast, the polyoxoniobates are inorganic, do not degrade in normal environmental conditions, dissolve easily and it should be able to incorporate them onto surfaces, fabrics and other material.
“This is a fundamental new understanding of what these compounds can do,” said May Nyman, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry in the OSU College of Science. “As stable, inorganic compounds they have an important potential to decontaminate and protect against these deadly nerve gases.”
As a chemical group, polyoxoniobates have been known of since the mid-1900s, Nyman said, but a detailed investigation of their complex chemistry has revealed this new potential. Besides protection against nerve gas, she said, their chemistry might allow them to function as a catalyst that could absorb carbon dioxide and find use in carbon sequestration at fossil-fuel power plants – but little has been done yet to explore that potential.
A new method to protect against nerve agents could be significant. These organofluorophosphate compounds can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin, and in military use are considered weapons of mass destruction. They can be lethal even at very small levels of exposure.
“In continued work we hope to incorporate the protective compounds onto surfaces or fabrics and explore their function,” Nyman said. “They could form the basis for an improved type of gas mask or other protection. We would also need to test the material’s ability to withstand very arid environments, extreme heat or other conditions.”
A goal will be materials that are durable, high performing and retain a high level of protection against nerve agents such as sarin and soman gas even in harsh environmental conditions, researchers said.
The OSU research demonstrated the ability of polyoxoniobates to neutralize both actual and simulated nerve agents. Testing against actual nerve agents was done at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, a U.S. Army facility designed for that purpose.
OSU has collaborated on this research with Sandia National Laboratories and the U.S. Army. The work at Edgewood was supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a unit of the U.S. Department of Defense.College of Science Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
May Nyman, 541-737-1116Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
A new residence hall at OSU is being named after the first African American male to earn a degree at the university - after being denied access to university housing.
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University will name its new residence hall after William "Bill" Tebeau, a pioneering student who persevered through numerous challenges to become the first African American male to earn a degree from the university.
William Tebeau Hall, located just east of the Kerr Administration Building on Washington Way, will open in fall of 2014. A dedication ceremony will be held at the site in October.
Tebeau was admitted to what was then Oregon State College in 1943 and, according to stories, was not offered a housing assignment because of the color of his skin.
Undaunted, he took a job in a fraternity tending the furnace in exchange for a room in the basement and set out in pursuit of an engineering degree, which he received in 1948.
“Bill Tebeau did not let this act of bias keep him from his goals, and he went on to a tremendously successful career – staying connected to his alma mater for his entire life," said Dan Larson, executive director of University Housing and Dining Services at OSU.
"Our history does not always reflect the best of us," Larson said. “The naming committee and UHDS Leadership believed strongly that honoring Mr. Tebeau by naming our newest residence hall after him not only recognizes a man of great humility and strength, but will represent our ongoing commitment to learning from our past, the imperative of seeking our own personal awareness and growth and an unwavering pursuit of a socially just community.”
Born in 1925, Tebeau grew up in Baker, Oregon where he was an avid Boy Scout and ambitious student. After graduating from Baker High School, he was admitted to Oregon State College, where his lifelong love of education continued. After earning his Chemical Engineering degree at OSU , he received his civil engineering license and joined the State Highway Department (later Oregon Department of Transportation), where he enjoyed a 36-year career doing everything from surveying and planning to designing highways and bridges.
He also taught part-time at Chemeketa Community College, and in 1970 was named the institution's Teacher of the Year. In 2010, he was inducted into the OSU Engineering Hall of Fame.
Tebeau died at the age of 87 on July 5, 2013, leaving behind his wife of 62 years, Genevieve, seven children, 13 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and eight great-great-grandchildren.
When completed, William Tebeau Hall will house about 324 students. The five-floor, 76,400-square-foot building will become OSU's 15th residence hall. The $28 million facility, which is adjacent to Wilson and Callahan halls, is funded through state bonds that will be repaid by resident fees.Generic OSU Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Dan Larson, 541-737-4771Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
The May 30 and 31 performances at Corvallis High School will feature two pieces with country western flair.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Ballroom Dance Company will perform May 30 and 31 at Corvallis High School.
The company’s showcase, “Swingin’ Ballroom,” will feature two pieces with country western flair. Other numbers include a West Coast Swing interpretation of the movie “Men in Black” and a Lindy hop, as well as dances featuring salsa, fox trot, cha cha, tango and more.
The 42-member company is comprised of the original Cool Shoes Dance Troupe and an additional team, New Shoes. The company is sponsored by the Physical Activity Course Program in OSU’S College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
The OSU Ballroom Dance Company, under the direction of Cathy Dark and Mark Baker, has toured throughout the Pacific Northwest. This spring, Cool Shoes toured southern Oregon and San Francisco, receiving numerous accolades for their performances.
The performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Corvallis High School Auditorium, 1400 N.W. Buchanan Ave. Tickets are $10 for general admission or $8 for students and seniors, and can be purchased at the door the nights of the performances.College of Public Health and Human Sciences Media Contact: Michelle Klampe Source:
Cathy Dark, 541-737-5929 or email@example.comMultimedia Downloads Multimedia:
Cool Shoes Ballroom Dance Troupe
The Scholarship and Creativity Fair at Oregon State University will showcase the research and creative accomplishments of College of Liberal Arts faculty.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – The College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University will host a Scholarship and Creativity Fair to showcase the research and creative accomplishments of its faculty on Thursday, May 29.
The fair runs from 5 to 8 p.m. on the Club Level in Reser Stadium in Corvallis. It is free and open to the public.
The event will include interactive displays, demonstrations, musical performances and more. Each of the college’s six schools will have a space to feature two or three projects. Faculty will compete in a 60-second “lecture slam,” where they present important findings and insights in a minute or less. Creative writers will team with a wind instrument group to perform.
“The goal of the fair is to bring the work of humanities faculty to the public in an accessible way,” said Peter Betjemann, an associate professor of English in the School of Art, Literature and Film and a coordinator of the event.
For more information, visit http://bit.ly/1jyUizI.College of Liberal Arts Media Contact: Michelle Klampe Source:
Shelly Signs, 541-737-0724, Shelly.firstname.lastname@example.org
Businesses large and small need to begin the difficult work of assessing and addressing their impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services in order to reduce risk to natural resources, OSU researchers found.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Businesses large and small need to begin the difficult work of assessing and addressing their impact on biodiversity and ecosystem services in order to reduce risk to natural resources in the future, according to a new report from Oregon State University researchers.
Biodiversity and ecosystem services refer to the variety and diversity of plants and animals in the ecosystem and the benefits that nature provides, respectively. They should be part of companies’ strategic planning, said Sally Duncan, director of the OSU Policy Analysis Lab in the School of Public Policy.
“This is an issue of risk management – it has to be part of a strategic plan,” Duncan said. “As one pioneer company leader put it, the greatest risk of all is not doing anything.”
The report, “The New Nature of Business: How Business Pioneers Support Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services,” provides a framework for companies to begin identifying and addressing their potential impacts on the ecosystem.
The report was published this month and is available at www.newnatureofbusiness.org. Partners in the multidisciplinary, international project include Oregon State University and the University of Sydney Business School. Funding comes from the National Science Foundation’s National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, with additional support from the University of Sydney Business School.
Biodiversity of plants, animals and microorganisms is essential to a properly functioning ecosystem. Ecosystem services are the benefits of such a system, and include goods such as food and fiber or services such as flood control or pest management.
But biodiversity is threatened by environmental degradation due to things such as habitat destruction and climate change. That, in turn, poses challenges for business leaders, who will have to deal with the ramifications, including pressure from consumers to improve business practices.
“There are many, many companies that have started doing important work on water conservation and energy conservation,” Duncan said. “Biodiversity and ecosystem services are much more complicated. They’re very hard to measure and most companies haven’t even thought about it yet.”
Corporate giants Dow Chemical Co., Pfizer Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and smaller organizations such as the Eugene Water and Electric Board, are among the pioneers who are taking steps to address their impacts on biodiversity. Their efforts are highlighted in the report.
Pfizer created a Wildlife Management Team and employees are working to restore and enhance the wildlife on the company’s 2,200-acre manufacturing site in Michigan. Eugene Water and Electric is working with landowners and local government to change land management practices, rather than build a new water treatment plant and charge higher rates.
Researchers developed a decision-making framework to help other companies get started addressing their own impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems services. The hope is that business leaders will use and test the framework and share their experiences on the project website, Duncan said.
“Any change to a big organization is extremely difficult,” Duncan said. “If business leaders see a story on the website that they can relate to, it might seem less scary.”
Developing a tool to measure companies’ impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems services and making that tool available to companies around the world are some of the next steps for the project, she said.College of Liberal Arts Media Contact: Michelle Williams Source:
Sally Duncan, 541-737-9931 or Sally.email@example.com
Oregon State University researchers are encouraging the public to refrain from approaching or "rescuing" seal pups on Northwest beaches this spring.
NEWPORT, Ore. – Numerous young seal pups are venturing onto Oregon beaches, where they are at-risk from well-meaning coastal visitors who mistakenly try to rescue them.
Oregon State University marine mammal biologist Jim Rice is urging the public to refrain from touching or approaching the seal pups, which in most cases are not orphaned or abandoned, he pointed out. They frequently are left on the beach by their mothers, who are out looking for food.
“It is perfectly normal for seal pups to be left alone on the beach in the spring,” said Rice, who coordinates the statewide Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network headquartered at OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. “Newborn pups typically spend several hours each day waiting for their mothers to reunite with them.”
“Adult female seals spend most of their time in the water, hunting for food, and only come ashore periodically to nurse their pups,” Rice said. “But the mothers are wary of people and unlikely to rejoin a pup if there is activity nearby.”
Rice said concerned but uninformed beach-goers will sometimes interfere, picking up seal pups and taking them away from the beaches – and their mothers. A more common threat is hovering by curious onlookers, which can cause stress to the pups and prevents their mothers from returning to them.
“It’s tempting for some people to attempt to ‘rescue’ these seemingly hapless pups,” Rice said, “but a pup’s best chance for survival is to be left alone. A dependent pup that’s taken away from its mother will certainly die.”
Even with the best of intentions, Rice said, people can do a great deal of harm. And additionally, persons who disturb seal pups – even those who are just trying to help – risk being fined under laws intended to protect marine mammals from harassment. The Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits interference with seal pups and other marine mammals on the beach.
Bystanders should stay at least 50 yards away and keep their dogs leashed, Rice said.
“After suckling for about four weeks, weaned pups are abandoned by their mothers, left to fend for themselves,” Rice added. “They will continue to come onto beaches periodically to rest as they grow and learn how to catch their own food.”
The harbor seal pupping season on the Oregon coast is generally March through June, with a peak in mid-May. Anyone who observes incidents of seal pup harassment, or animals in distress, should call the Oregon State Police at 1-800-452-7888, Rice said.
The Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network is an organization comprised of state agencies, universities, and volunteers, working together to investigate the causes of marine mammal strandings, provide for the welfare of live stranded animals, and advance public education about marine mammal strandings.
You can visit the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network online at http://mmi.oregonstate.edu/ommsnHatfield Marine Science Center Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Jim Rice, 541-867-0446; firstname.lastname@example.org;Multimedia Downloads Multimedia:
A new study concludes that humpback whales in three different ocean basins are distinct from one another, evolved independently and should be considered separate subspecies.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new genetic study concludes that humpback whales in three different ocean basins are distinct from one another and are on independent evolutionary trajectories – and should be considered separate subspecies.
The research, led by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey and Oregon State University, is being published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The new study builds on previous research led by Scott Baker at Oregon State and published in December 2013, which identified five distinct populations of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean. This latest study found that populations of humpback whales in the North Pacific, North Atlantic and Southern Hemisphere are more distinct than previously thought.
Lead author Jennifer Jackson, of the British Antarctic Survey, said that despite seasonal migrations by humpback whales of more than 16,000 kilometers, whale populations are more isolated from one another than previously thought.
“Their oceanic populations appear separated by warm equatorial waters that they rarely cross,” Jackson said. “But until this study, we didn’t realize the extent of long-term isolation between the North Pacific, the North Atlantic and the Southern Hemisphere.”
Humpback whales are listed as endangered in the United States under the Endangered Species Act, but had recently been downlisted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature on a global level, according to Baker, who is associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Ore.
However, two population segments recently were relisted as endangered by the IUCN – one in the Sea of Arabia, the other in Oceania (the South Pacific) – and it is likely that at least one of the newly identified populations in the North Pacific will be considered endangered, Baker pointed out.
The newest findings – that humpback whales in the world’s major ocean basins are genetically different – should change the way scientists and resource managers look at these animals, the researchers say.
“This has implications for how we think about conservation of humpback whales,” Baker said. “We now propose that oceanic populations should be recognized as subspecies. Within ocean basins, we would also recognize a number of ‘Distinct Population Segments’ – each of which has a different history of exploitation and recovery.”
The researchers gathered genetic samples from free-swimming humpback whales using a small biopsy dart and then analyzed both mitochondrial DNA inherited from the mother and nuclear DNA from both parents. Mitochondrial DNA enabled the researchers to trace the exchange of female humpback whales among the world’s oceans over the past million years; the nuclear DNA provided insight into male interchange and reproductive isolation.
“We found that although female whales have crossed from one hemisphere to another at certain times in the last few thousand years, they generally stay in the ocean of birth,” Jackson said. “This isolation means oceanic populations have been evolving independently on an evolutionary time scale.”
In addition to Jackson and Baker, the project team included researchers from Florida State University, James Cook University, University of Auckland, Fundacion CEQUA, Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History and the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium.
The study was funded by the New Zealand Royal Society Marsden Fund and the Lenfest Ocean Program.Hatfield Marine Science Center Media Contact: Mark Floyd Source:
Scott Baker, 541-867-0255 (cell phone: 541-272-0560), email@example.com
Researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute have outlined the biochemical action of rapamycin, a drug that appears to mimic the effect of dietary restriction in slowing the aging process.
The study this story is based on is available in ScholarsArchive@OSU: http://bit.ly/1sQeLkz
CORVALLIS, Ore. – A proven approach to slow the aging process is dietary restriction, but new research in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University helps explain the action of a drug that appears to mimic that process – rapamycin.
Rapamycin, an antibiotic and immunosuppressant approved for use about 15 years ago, has drawn extensive interest for its apparent ability – at least in laboratory animal tests – to emulate the ability of dietary restriction in helping animals to live both longer and healthier.
However, this medication has some drawbacks, including an increase in insulin resistance that could set the stage for diabetes. The new findings, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, help to explain why that happens, and what could be done to address it.
They suggest that a combination of rapamycin and another drug to offset that increase in insulin resistance might provide the benefits of this medication without the unwanted side effect.
“This could be an important advance if it helps us find a way to gain the apparent benefits of rapamycin without increasing insulin resistance,” said Viviana Perez, an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics in the OSU College of Science.
“It could provide a way not only to increase lifespan but to address some age-related diseases and improve general health,” Perez said. “We might find a way for people not only to live longer, but to live better and with a higher quality of life.”
Age-related diseases include many of the degenerative diseases that affect billions of people around the world and are among the leading causes of death: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
Laboratory mice that have received rapamycin have reduced the age-dependent decline in spontaneous activity, demonstrated more fitness, improved cognition and cardiovascular health, had less cancer and lived substantially longer than mice fed a normal diet.
Rapamycin, first discovered from the soils of Easter Island, or Rapa Nui in the South Pacific Ocean, is primarily used as an immunosuppressant to prevent rejection of organs and tissues. In recent years it was also observed that it can function as a metabolic “signaler” that inhibits a biological pathway found in almost all higher life forms – the ability to sense when food has been eaten, energy is available and it’s okay for cell proliferation, protein synthesis and growth to proceed.
Called mTOR in mammals, for the term “mammalian target of rapamycin,” this pathway has a critical evolutionary value – it helps an organism avoid too much cellular expansion and growth when energy supplies are insufficient. That helps explain why some form of the pathway has been conserved across such a multitude of species, from yeast to fish to humans.
“Dietary restriction is one of the few interventions that inhibits this mTOR pathway,” Perez said. “And a restricted diet in laboratory animals has been shown to increase their lifespan about 25-30 percent. Human groups who eat fewer calories, such as some Asian cultures, also live longer.”
Aside from a food intake in laboratory mice that’s about 40 percent fewer calories than normal, however, it’s been found that another way to activate this pathway is with rapamycin, which appears to have a significant impact even when used late in life. Some human clinical trials are already underway exploring this potential.
A big drawback to long-term use of rapamycin, however, is the increase in insulin resistance, observed in both humans and laboratory animals. The new research identified why that is happening. It found that both dietary restriction and rapamycin inhibited lipid synthesis, but only dietary restriction increased the oxidation of those lipids in order to produce energy.
Rapamycin, by contrast, allowed a buildup of fatty acids and eventually an increase in insulin resistance, which in humans can lead to diabetes. However, the drug metformin can address that concern, and is already given to some diabetic patients to increase lipid oxidation. In lab tests, the combined use of rapamycin and metformin prevented the unwanted side effect.
“If proven true, then combined use of metformin and rapamycin for treating aging and age-associated diseases in humans may be possible,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion.
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health. Collaborators included researchers from Oklahoma University Health Science Center, the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center, University of Michigan-Flint, and South Texas Veterans Health Care System.
“There’s still substantial work to do, and it may not be realistic to expect with humans what we have been able to accomplish with laboratory animals,” Perez said. “People don’t live in a cage and eat only the exact diet they are given. Nonetheless, the potential of this work is exciting.”College of Science Media Contact: David Stauth Source:
Viviana Perez, 541-737-9551Multimedia Downloads Multimedia: