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What’s New in Science #10 | stick insects, broccoli in space, losing Nemo

Why mother stick insects literally die for their children; astronauts need their veggies; why it may become impossible to find Nemo in the future

Dying for your children

Is it a twig? Is it a pen? No, it’s a stick insect. Despite their remarkable survival camouflage, a study has suggested that mother stick insects may actually want to be eaten, especially when pregnant. You see, stick insects mimic plants not just in their appearance, but their territory expansion method too. Just like plants, they rely on birds to eat their ovaries and poop out their hard eggs far and wide. While the study showed that only about 20% of the eggs survive the journey through a bird’s digestive tract, and only 3% actually go on to hatch, those are good odds for an organism that can’t otherwise move long distances. Talk about sticking one’s neck out for survival.

Broccoli in space

Seeds are travelling all over the place. Even out into space. Six broccoli seeds have hitched a ride to the International Space Station on a cargo resupply mission. Three of them embedded with two types of probiotic bacteria which can help plants grow despite lack of water or fertiliser or gravity, just the kind of harsh environment you get outside earth. Using these seeds, scientists are trying to better test how big a role these microbes can play in helping astronauts feed themselves on long stints of deep-space exploration, perhaps even on the Moon or Mars. I mean, they could have just asked Matt Damon.

Losing Nemo with the coral reef

Feast your eyes on the Great Barrier Reef... while you can. The world’s biggest single living structure, the world’s largest coral reef system, one of the seven wonders of the world, home to a diverse bunch of marine animals including more than 1,500 species of fish, is in trouble. The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover due to overfishing, water pollution and overheating due to climate change. It’s not like the reef hasn’t recovered from this sort of trauma at least 5 times over the last 30,000 years. But at this point, scientists say, climate change is moving too fast to allow the reef to recover so easily. If we’re not careful Nemo will become impossible to find.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 9:27:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/videos/whats-new-in-science-10/article24095990.ece

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