This “Early Bird” gets more than a worm
The early bird in this picture has found a cladogram, or a branching diagram that shows the evolutionary relationships between different groups of animals. “Early Bird” is a project recently funded by the National Science Foundation as part of a massive effort to map the Tree of Life. It will help determine how major groups of birds are related to each other – as well as to all living things.
Information about evolutionary relationships has helped scientists focus research; track the origin and spread of diseases; develop new medicines and agrochemical products; conserve species; and restore ecosystems, according to Shannon Hackett, PhD, Field Museum assistant curator of birds and an Early Bird principal investigator.
Illustration by M. Skakuj, Courtesy of The Field Museum
An ambitious, multi-disciplinary, 15-20 year program to fill in and flesh out the Tree of Life has just been launched by the National Science Foundation.
Field Museum scientists will help lead three of the seven grants recently awarded to researchers around the world to construct a new framework for understanding the evolutionary relationships between all species, extinct and living.
These three projects (listed below) will focus on birds, spiders, and archosaurs (birds, dinosaurs, pterosaurs and crocodiles). They represent more than half the $12 million that NSF awarded for the first year of the Assembling the Tree of Life (AToL) program.
Greg Borzo | alfa
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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