News

Argentine ants harbour novel virus

Erica Mather Sep 15, 2015

A New Zealand study confirms that Argentine ants are hosts of a virus that is associated with honeybee deaths.  The ants were discovered to also carry a previously undescribed virus, one that could trigger their own demise. Argentine ants (Linepthema humile) are considered one of the six most invasive and damaging ant species in the world.  Large colonies can … Read More

Plastic oceans, plastic diets: The unsavoury reality for seabirds

Erica Mather Sep 02, 2015

A new study predicts that 99 per cent of the world’s seabirds will consume plastic by 2050.  Seabirds easily mistake brightly coloured plastics for food or accidentally swallow pieces such as bottle caps, bags and fibres from synthetic clothing that have washed out to sea from waste deposits, sewers and rivers. Scientists from CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial … Read More

Forest health reliant on global biosecurity strategy

Erica Mather Aug 31, 2015

Insects and microbial pathogens pose an increasing threat to planted forests worldwide.  Without urgent action, the long-term sustainability of all planted forests will be imperilled. Dr Eckehard Brockerhoff and colleagues, authors of a review published in Science, urgently call for a coordinated, global approach in order to protect these valuable resources. Wealthy countries have designed effective strategies to … Read More

Researchers worldwide team up to tackle the plight of honeybees

Erica Mather Aug 25, 2015

Although many of us first think of honeybees as wondrous honey-makers, their most essential role is the pollination of crops. Sadly, honeybees worldwide are under serious threat. International researchers are employing the technology of micro-sensors to find out exactly why. As a result of their evolutionary success and their significance in human food production, the European honeybee (Apis mellifera) is … Read More

Diabetic heart disease: Perpetrator identified

Erica Mather Aug 13, 2015

Researchers from the University of Otago have identified a key protein which triggers heart disease in people with diabetes.  Their results pave the way for future development of new therapies to combat the cardiovascular complications in diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic illness that currently affects 380 million people worldwide and this is expected to double by 2035.  Over 50 … Read More

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Hearing healthcare in NZ’s future

Erica Mather Aug 11, 2015

It has been well established that New Zealand’s population is aging. Studies have been conducted to assess the impact of the increasing incidence of chronic illnesses on healthcare services, but the burden of hearing loss has been overlooked. A greater proportion of the New Zealand’s population is living longer, meaning that centrally-funded health and social resources are being put … Read More

Parasites hijack flowers – Chief pollinators at risk

Erica Mather Aug 06, 2015

The spread of bee parasites has been found to be mediated by flowers, according to new research from the UK.  Infected bees deposit parasites onto flowers as they forage.  The parasites are then dispersed by other bees that visit the same flowers, and even spread between bee species.  These results reveal flowers to be ‘hotspots’ of pathogen dispersal, aiding the … Read More

Aquatic organisms inspire the development of ingenious sunscreen

Erica Mather Jul 31, 2015

A newly designed sunscreen has harnessed the biological strategies that aquatic organisms evolved to prevent the negative effect of UV radiations.  Despite being made from fish mucus, crustacean shells and fungi, the sunscreen is more effective than current products and can be applied to skin as well as your backyard furniture. There is an urgent need to create new sunscreens … Read More

Climate change action could be thwarted by ambivalence

Erica Mather Jul 30, 2015

A new multi-national study has analysed a number of contributing factors for their impact on the way climate change is interpreted across the globe.  Public awareness and risk perception of climate change were found to be influenced by a combination of nation-specific aspects.  These findings highlight the need to develop better communication strategies that are tailored to individual nations. Read More

Osteoporosis supplements: A bone of contention

Erica Mather Jul 23, 2015

Calcium and vitamin D continue to be hailed as effective supplements to treat and prevent osteoporosis, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, warn two New Zealand doctors.   They contend that blind enthusiasm for supplementation is being perpetuated by the vested interests of an insidious network of groups including industry, advocacy organisations and academia. Many older adults are … Read More

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