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Wheat myth comes a cropper

#artificialintelligence

The myth that modern wheat varieties are more heavily reliant on pesticides and fertilisers than older varieties has been debunked by new research. The University of Queensland's Dr Kai Voss-Fels said modern wheat varieties have out-performed older varieties in side-by-side field trials under both optimum and harsh growing conditions. "There is a view that intensive selection and breeding, which has produced the high-yielding wheat cultivars used in modern cropping, has also made them less resilient and more dependent on chemicals to thrive," Dr Voss-Fels said. "However, the data published today unequivocally shows that modern wheat out-performs older varieties, even under conditions of reduced amounts of fertilisers, fungicides and water. "We also found that genetic diversity within the relatively narrow modern wheat gene pool is rich enough to potentially generate a further 23 per cent increase in yields."


Can you ever have too many turtles?

Christian Science Monitor | Science

Raine Island is a tiny coral outcrop, nestled in the balmy tropical waters between northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. It should be a turtle paradise. Indeed, this afterthought of an island is the world's largest nesting site for one particular species, the green turtle. It presents a perfect picture: sweeping sandy beaches protected by coral fringes, with no land-based predators. Yet the rate of successful hatches has dropped to pitiful levels, hovering at 30 percent.


Bed Bugs Beat Insecticides With Thick Skin

Popular Science

Lilly used scanning electron microscopy to check out the size of bed bugs' cuticle, or exoskeleton. "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" becomes a decidedly less innocuous phrase if you've ever had bed bugs. Though the gluttonous insects were largely eradicated in developed countries in the mid-20th century, they have made a resounding global comeback in the last twenty years or so, feasting happily on millions of unsuspecting sleepers and turning major metropolitan centers like New York City inside out in attempts to get rid of them. The likely explanation for bed bugs' resurgence is that they've become resistant to the most commonly used insecticides, and now researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia have found that bed bugs' resistance to bug spray has developed from a simple strategy--their skin just got thicker. Their findings are published today in the journal PLOS One.


Large expert-curated database for benchmarking document similarity detection in biomedical literature search

#artificialintelligence

Document recommendation systems for locating relevant literature have mostly relied on methods developed a decade ago. This is largely due to the lack of a large offline gold-standard benchmark of relevant documents that cover a variety of research fields such that newly developed literature search techniques can be compared, improved and translated into practice. To overcome this bottleneck, we have established the RElevant LIterature SearcH consortium consisting of more than 1500 scientists from 84 countries, who have collectively annotated the relevance of over 180 000 PubMed-listed articles with regard to their respective seed (input) article/s. The majority of annotations were contributed by highly experienced, original authors of the seed articles. The collected data cover 76% of all unique PubMed Medical Subject Headings descriptors. No systematic biases were observed across different experience levels, research fields or time spent on annotations.


Plastic waste making coral reefs sick, study finds

The Japan Times

OSLO – Billions of bits of plastic waste are entangled in corals and sickening reefs from Thailand to Australia's Great Barrier Reef, scientists said on Thursday.