Grasses Ratchet Their Seeds Into Distance Travelers

first_imgJohn Muir said we should not pity plants as prisoners to one spot.  In their own ways, they travel the world as we humans do.  Anyone who has walked through wild dry grass may have been annoyed at how many foxtails get buried in their socks and how hard it is to get them out.  The seeds were not engineered for socks, but for animal fur.  Once embedded, they become successful hitchhikers.  The shape of the seeds, along with tiny barbs pointing backwards, ensure that the seeds work their way deep into the fur.  The seed may find itself the pioneer of a new land far from where it was born.    Charles Wolgemuth [U of Connecticut) talked about this in Current Biology.1  Many plants do more than just cast their fates to the wind; “some grasses, at least, are not so cavalier and have engineered their seed carrying appendages (spikelets) to increase dispersion and facilitate seed burial by converting periodic or random oscillations in the environment into directed motion.”  Foxtails may look like dead, dry, inert things, but they can hitchhike, walk along the ground and even bury themselves into the soil.  On the ground, they can take advantage of diurnal cycles of moisture and temperature.  Their spikelets, called awns, expand and shrink, ratcheting the seed forward.  Some of them even have spiral tips that can drill the seeds into the ground.    Wolgemuth noted other instances where nature has used ratchet mechanisms to good advantage: snakes, whose skin moves their undulating motions in one direction, and jellyfish and bugs that can use water or air motions to achieve unidirectional travel.  Even inside the cell, molecular motors like myosin, the flagellum and ATP synthase (05/25/2009) ratchet up the random Brownian motion in their environment into linear or rotary motion.  His discussion of ratchets in nature led Wolgemuth to speculate about ratcheting as a general principle of biology.  Unfortunately, this won him Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week :Biology has thus repeatedly found ways of producing net work by rectifying fluctuations with ratchets, and it is interesting to speculate on other areas where this mechanism may play a role.  Evolution is one directly analogous system and a comparison between it and Brownian ratchets has been drawn previously.  Clearly, random mutations in an organism’s genome lead to fluctuations in phenotype.  Reproduction can lock in these variations, and natural selection then acts as a ratchet, reducing the likelihood of maintaining a population that is less competent at reproducing while increasing phenotypic populations that are fitter.  A more tenuous comparison, though, comes to mind when I consider my own thoughts, which all too often seem quite random.  I must consciously work to rectify these thoughts, plucking out the good ones and discarding the bad, in an attempt to construct an understanding of the world about me.  Could my own thinking be working by trapping useful ideas from a pool of noise?  One of the not-so-useful ideas, right?  But, it has been suggested that certain nuclei in the basal ganglia act as a random motor pattern noise generator.  If our brains can create noise, maybe they can ratchet it too.Wolgemuth did not make a distinction between purposeful choice in matters of truth and falsehood, and mindless mechanisms without purpose or goal.  He also did not distinguish between physical ratchet mechanisms and conceptual ones (argument from analogy), and ended up personifying biology as an engineer.  On fitness as a ratchet for progress, see 10/30/2002, “Fitness for Dummies.”Tip: To get foxtails out of your socks, don’t try to pull them out backwards.  Push them through the cloth in the direction their natural ratchet wants to go.1.  Charles Wolgemuth, “Plant Biomechanics: Using Shape to Steal Motion,” Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 10, 26 May 2009, Pages R409-R410.One of the best videos of the motion of grass seeds is in volume one of Moody’s DVD set Wonders of God’s Creation.  Time-lapse photography shows the seeds moving around like bugs and even burying themselves in the soil.    It’s a shame Wolgemuth had to turn an otherwise interesting scientific discussion about plant engineering into another shallow Darwinian speculation.  If he is unable to separate his own thoughts from noise, why should his readers try to do so?Tip: To get Darwinian foxtails out of your brain, don’t try to pull them out backwards.  Push them through to their logical conclusions, where their blunt pointlessness becomes evident to all.(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Ag reacts to Obama’s budget proposal with big crop insurance cuts

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Last week, President Obama released his spending blueprint for fiscal 2017, a $4 trillion proposal congressional Republicans immediately declared dead on arrival. Agricultural leaders expressed a number of concerns as well.“A global glut of food production has sent U.S. farm revenues down sharply. With farm income down 56% in the past two years alone, America’s farmers and ranchers face difficult times. Yet, the president’s just-released budget would cut 27 USDA programs, including a 10-year, $18 billion cut to the federal crop insurance programs so important to farmers. And all this happens as farm income is projected to decline another 3% in 2016,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “The president’s budget would also harm farm and ranch families through capital gains taxes and special provisions that would force new generations to pay much higher taxes on any land and assets they inherit. Such treatment is a recipe for farm fragmentation and an unnecessary obstacle for agriculture’s next generation.“There is some positive in his proposal; the president’s budget does include increases for food and agricultural research — a critical need in a world in which hunger remains a problem in many countries — as well as increases for research into antimicrobial resistance in humans and livestock. Each of these needs to be addressed in serious ways, and we appreciate the support for such research.”In the budget, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would see a 7% decrease in funding, the fourth-largest spending cut among all departments. Despite the cut, certain programs, including the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and the one for small, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, would see budget increases. AFRI has helped to fund valuable agricultural research endeavors.The savings in the president’s agricultural budget largely would come from the $1.3 billion cut in the crop insurance program in fiscal 2017 and an $18 billion decrease over 10 years. The American Soybean Association (ASA) expressed strong opposition to the proposed cut to crop insurance and a lack of funding for infrastructure improvements. ASA noted the budget contains funding for multiple soybean farmer priorities, including increased resources for oversight at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and full funding for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program.“We once again find ourselves fighting attempts to cut crop insurance,” said Richard Wilkins, ASA president and a farmer from Greenwood, Del. “Our policy has always been that we will strongly and absolutely oppose any attempt to target farm bill programs for additional cuts, and it goes without saying that we will continue to fight proposed cuts to the farm safety net. All it takes is a quick glance around the farm economy to see that we need a stronger safety net for our farmers, not a weaker one.”Wilkins also pointed out the association’s disapproval in the budget’s 22% cut to funding for the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the maintenance and construction of locks and dams on the nation’s waterways. Specifically, the budget cuts more than 41% from the Corps’ construction account, $2.7 billion from the operations and maintenance account, and fails to fund the Navigation Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), a priority for ASA.“We’re disappointed with this budget’s neglect of investments in waterways infrastructure, which is vital to rural economies as it is a means of efficient transportation of soybeans and a key component of our global competitiveness in export markets,” said Wilkins. “Infrastructure investments should not be limited to highways, mass transit, and high speed rail, but should include those aspects important to rural America too. ASA will continue to work with industry partners and Congress to build on the successful increases in investments achieved in FY16 Appropriations for our ports and waterways operations & maintenance and infrastructure improvements.”While noting the association’s displeasure in the infrastructure and crop insurance provisions in the budget, Wilkins did point out several areas in which the budget addressed and increased funding for farmer priorities.“Clearly we absolutely oppose any cut to crop insurance, and the proposed hobbling of the Corps funding, but there is plenty in the president’s budget that we support, including $330 million in funding for commodity market oversight at the CFTC,” Wilkins said. “Market integrity is not front-of-mind until something goes wrong, and adequate resources for oversight of futures markets are an important priority for farmers.”The budget’s continued funding for programs that promote trade with both emerged and developing markets is also something ASA welcomed, and Wilkins said the association will fight for in future budgets.“The MAP and FMD programs are an essential part of our industry’s work to establish and expand the beachhead for American soybeans in foreign markets,” he said. “That money helps to fund valuable research and market development work by the U.S. Soybean Export Council, which translates directly into increased exports and revenue for American soybean farmers.”From a legislative standpoint, the president’s budget is a non-starter in an election year and with a Republican-controlled Congress, however Wilkins said the release of the budget can start a productive conversation on the importance of funding many of the programs critical for soybean farmers.“Every year, we bring the same funding fight down to the wire in November and December. Party leaders hold one another’s feet to the fire, and at the eleventh hour we manage to eke out funding for programs that are essential to farmer success,” Wilkins said. “Regardless of the long-term prospects of this specific proposal, let’s use it to at least start a discussion about how important these programs are to farmers, and how we get them funded for the coming year.”“That work has to start with farmers. We need to turn up our volume and increase our face-time with lawmakers so that they understand these programs aren’t simply line items on a budget, but real, working tools that help us operate more successfully.”last_img read more

Maliksi regrets early exit after tough stand against Meralco

first_imgFire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City PBA IMAGESBlackwater was 12 minutes away from history.After a forcing top seeded Meralco into a do-or-die with a 92-91 stunner in Game 1, the no. 8 Elite had a real chance to advance to the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals against Star.ADVERTISEMENT LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games PLAY LIST 00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games LATEST STORIES Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  Read Next Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PHcenter_img View comments Blackwater even had the upper hand early in the rubber match but Meralco just showed its class, outscoring the Elite 31-19 in the fourth quarter en route to the the semifinal clincher.Maliksi, who finished with 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting and six boards, was disappointed he couldn’t lead his new team to greater heights.“I feel bad about myself because the trust of the coaches is there,” said Maliksi who only came to the Elite a couple of games before the eliminations ended. “My teammates trusted me and I feel bad because there were opportunities I know I’ve wasted.”ADVERTISEMENT Tasked to guide the Bolts, Amer drops 31 in crucial game BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight MOST READ All Blackwater needed was one more strong quarter to prove that a small franchise could make it big in the PBA.The Bolts, however, had other plans and that came in the form of a 104-96 win that ousted the Elite in a heartbreaker.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“All of us want something to prove, we can’t call this overachieving if we played just the quarterfinals,” said a dejected Allein Maliksi Thursday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “Of course you want to win the championship. So, I think there’s a reason why we were put in this situation.”“It’s that we have to learn from this and apply whatever we need to do next conference, next season.” Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. last_img read more

Dying at Wimbledon would have been acceptable—Bartoli

first_img“It was almost a miracle from God to win Wimbledon,” said Bartoli, whose highest world ranking was seven.Bartoli says the weight loss was so dramatic she was reduced to buying clothes made for young teenagers.“I was in the public eye and I could hear people talking behind my back and saying, ‘Oh, she’s anorexic’ and I wanted to scream out and say, ‘You have no idea what I’m going through’,” said Bartoli, who went through her 2013 Wimbledon campaign without dropping a set.“It was a battle to survive every day. I could not believe people were thinking I was doing that on purpose to myself. I was scared of everything.“I was not processing protein, I was losing my hair and I love my long hair, and my teeth were almost falling out and my skin was breaking down.ADVERTISEMENT Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Another vape smoker nabbed in Lucena After shock win over Pacquiao, Horn ignoring the criticism LOOK: Jane De Leon meets fellow ‘Darna’ Marian Rivera MOST READ China furious as Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. center_img French former tennis player Marion Bartoli. AFPMarion Bartoli has battled back from ill health to be fighting fit for her role commentating at Wimbledon but the former French tennis star admitted on Monday she feared she would die.The 32-year-old who beat Germany’s Sabine Lisicki to win the 2013 Wimbledon title, retired later that year and faded away to a mere shadow of the robust looking athlete she once was.ADVERTISEMENT Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games What ‘missteps’? LATEST STORIES She told The Times she was battling the HINI virus, the swine flu bug blamed for wiping out millions in the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, but was only diagnosed after Wimbledon last year, laying to rest the rumours she was anorexic.“I did not know if I would wake up alive the next morning,” she said while taking time out from commentating on the WTA tournament at Eastbourne last week.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars“But I thought, ‘if I have to die, then if it is at Wimbledon, I would accept it.’”Bartoli, who also reached the 2007 Wimbledon final, says her career-defining victory in 2013 came just at the moment she was physically falling apart. “I could not wash myself with normal water, I could not type an email, my skin was so thin that I could feel the electricity. I had arthritis. I was buying clothes for 14-year-olds.”Following her diagnosis last year Bartoli spent four months in hospital in Paris and then required daily visits from a nurse at her home in Dubai.She puts her illness down to battering her body incessantly from a very young age in her bid to succeed in the sport.“I felt it happened for a reason. My body was reminding me that it has been going non-stop since I was eight years old until the moment I got ill,” said Bartoli, whose immediate target is to focus on her personal life and her desire to find love and found  a family.“I am starting to feel alive again and ready to build a love story, to start a family,” she said.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games View commentslast_img read more

Ronald Koeman’s Everton story exposes shortcomings of the post-Cruyffians

first_imgAs a player Koeman came through at Groningen but joined Ajax when he was 20. It was a move that had long seemed inevitable. He looked like an Ajax player, talked like an Ajax player and played like an Ajax player. He was a defender who was far better at passing the ball than at winning it back. Ajax was his finishing school; his ideas on the game were confirmed and reinforced when, after a hugely successful stint at PSV, he joined up with Johan Cruyff again at Barcelona. There was always a streak of pragmatism about Koeman but there was no doubt about his philosophical inclinations. “He was very much of the Ajax model,” said Ryan Babel who made his debut under Koeman at Ajax in 2004. “4-3-3, wingers, a playing style on the ground, a lot of movement, a lot of changing of position.”It has come to dominate European football over the past decade – albeit emanating more from Barcelona than Ajax. It is easy to see why Koeman’s ambition was directed towards the Camp Nou. He had, after all, taken his first steps in club coaching at Barcelona, when he was assistant to Louis van Gaal. Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique were in the team and José Mourinho was on the coaching staff. Mourinho, it is true, has turned radically away from the Barcelona approach but it is against that that he is rebelling and in that sense he is more of a post-Cruyffian than the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Jürgen Klopp or Diego Simeone, who approach football from very different backgrounds.The problem for post-Cruyffians is what happens when they arrive at a club that has not been schooled in the Ajax method. Van Gaal had the strength of personality to turn Bayern to his will, preparing the ground for Guardiola, but even there he was working with a club that could remember the variant of Total Football it had practised in the 1970s. Others have been far less successful.Frank de Boer, perhaps, is the most striking example: he won four league titles at Ajax but his reigns at Internazionale and Crystal Palace totalled 19 games. Barcelona Read more Frank Rijkaard’s record is extraordinary. After his Holland side, playing at home, lost on penalties in the semi-final of Euro 2000, he led Sparta Rotterdam to the first relegation in their history and was on his way to manage the Dutch Antilles when he got the call from Barcelona. There, amid a style of football with which he was familiar, he won two league titles and a Champions League. Subsequent spells with Galatasaray and Saudi Arabia have gone less well. Luis Enrique, similarly, had only a disappointing year with Roma and a moderate year with Celta Vigo on his CV before taking Barcelona to two league titles and a Champions League.Post-Cruyffians work best at post-Cruyffian clubs. Different managers have different attributes that flourish in different situations. Just because a manager has failed at one club does not mean he cannot succeed at another more attuned to his outlook and, similarly, just because a manager has been a success in one place does not mean those skills are automatically transferable. A great racing driver may not be the best fit for the school bus. It’s telling that in the whole history of English football, only four managers have ever won the league with two different sides. Read more Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on WhatsApp Twitter features In a sense Koeman’s failure at Everton says little about how he would fare at Barcelona, but scar tissue tends to accumulate and it will, understandably, count against him. It’s not a coincidence that he has never looked better as a manager than he did at Ajax when they won the league in 2004. In that regard, his career has never fully recovered from a tackle by Zlatan Ibrahimovic on his Ajax team-mate Rafael van der Vaart in a friendly between Sweden and Holland in August 2004. Van der Vaart was injured and blamed Ibrahimovic, exposing fault-lines in the dressing room and placing pressure on the already fraught relationship between Koeman and his sporting director, Van Gaal. Ibrahimovic was sold to Juventus in the ensuing mess and, without a striker, Ajax collapsed.Koeman resigned the following February and, although he won the league with PSV two years later, it feels as though he has been seeking another Ajax ever since. Facebook Jonathan Wilson Frank Rijkaard, right, with Maxi López and Samuel Eto’o during happier times at Barcelona in 2006. He has been rather less successful elsewhere. Photograph: Guido Manuilo/AP Ronald Koemancenter_img Reuse this content Everton Long before he was sacked, a criticism of Ronald Koeman at Everton was that he seemed to regard the club as a stepping stone. “He called us Everton, he never called us ‘us’,” as the former Everton captain Kevin Ratcliffe put it on Monday. Koeman’s ultimate ambition, as he has made clear since he took his first steps in management with Vitesse in 2000, is to manage Barcelona.That seems ridiculous as he slinks away from Goodison Park after an unprecedented summer spree with Everton in the relegation zone. Perhaps now there have been too many failures for him ever to be taken seriously as a candidate at the Camp Nou. But he was once a contender and may be again: he has the right heritage – which may be part of the problem. Ronald Koeman pays the price for Everton’s swift and steep decline Share via Email Share on Pinterest Share on Messenger Ajax Pinterest Share on Facebook Tottenham show José Mourinho how counter-attacking game should work Topics Sportbloglast_img read more

10 months agoWolves defender Ryan Bennett agrees new deal

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Wolves defender Ryan Bennett agrees new dealby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveWolves defender Ryan Bennett has agreed terms over a new two-and-a-half year deal at Molineux.The centre-back had 18 months left on his old deal but will commit his future on improved terms until 2021, says the Daily Star.He has impressed in Wolves’ return to the Premier League with the club sitting 10th ahead of Saturday’s visit of Bournemouth.Bennett joined on a free transfer from Norwich in 2017 and helped Nuno Espirito Santo’s side win the Championship last season.He has made 49 appearances for Wolves, scoring once, and has played in 15 of the club’s 16 top flight matches this term. last_img

10 months agoPellegrini says West Ham must build on victory at Southampton

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Pellegrini says West Ham must build on victory at Southamptonby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveWest Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini says they must build on victory at Southampton.The hosts had taken the lead through Nathan Redmond, but Felipe Anderson stole the show with a quick-fire double that earned his side three points and movement into the top half of the table.“I’m happy,” Pellegrini said. “When you start with zero points in 12 then it’s always difficult to recover your position in this way. “In this moment, we are in the top ten. We will continue fighting and improving and, with 27 points, in the second round, we continue improving with our winning mentality, and we try to finish the season as near the top of the table as we can.”He continued: “I thought we played a very good game. From the first minute, we had the intention of winning the game and I thought we were very balanced in the whole game. “We worked most parts of the game in our opponent’s side and we defended very well. They didn’t have many options. “The important thing [when Southampton scored] is we continued to play in the same way, draw the game immediately, and then we scored the winning goal.” last_img read more

a month agoChelsea boss Lampard rules Rudiger out of Valencia clash

first_imgChelsea boss Lampard rules Rudiger out of Valencia clashby Freddie Taylora month agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea manager Frank Lampard has confirmed Antonio Rudiger will miss Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Valencia. The defender made his return from a long-term injury in Saturday’s win over Wolves.But Lampard says he suffered a groin injury in the clash and could potentially be out long-term once again.”Toni is injured,” Lampard confirmed. “At the weekend he bothered a small groin problem that he has been carrying the last couple of weeks so he is out. “He will have a scan later today to see where he is at. Hopefully it is not long-term.” About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your saylast_img

Vine: R.J. Hunter’s Cold-Blooded Three-Pointer Stunned No. 3 Seed Baylor

first_imgR.J. Hunter hits huge three vs. Baylor.Georgia State, the No. 14 seed in the West Region, just ended the game on a 13-0 run to shock No. 3 seed Baylor, 57-56. Georgia State guard R.J. Hunter, the son of GSU head coach Ron Hunter, hit the game-winning three-pointer from way downtown with 2.8 seconds remaining.Hunter struggled much of the day, scoring just two points in the first half. His dad coached the whole game in a rolling stool after tearing his left achilles tendon celebrating the team’s Sun Belt Conference championship last week.This is what happened to Ron Hunter when R.J. made his game-winner. March Madness is amazing.last_img

Man and children 13 and 4 die when minivan and semi collide

first_imgPORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. – A man and two children are dead after the minivan they were in collided with a semi in Manitoba.RCMP say the van was heading east on the Trans-Canada Highway on Saturday afternoon and collided with the westbound semi while attempting to turn north onto Highway 16 west of Portage la Prairie.A 35-year-old man and a 13-year-old boy in the van were pronounced dead at the scene, while a four-year-old boy died later in hospital.The 36-year-old woman who was driving and a nine-year-old boy remained in critical but stable condition in hospital on Saturday.All of the occupants were from Carberry, Man.The 62-year-old Ontario man who was driving the semi suffered minor injuries.Police say everyone was wearing seatbelts and that alcohol is not considered to have played a role in the crash.last_img read more