Understanding insect defense

first_imgFor scientists who study insects, having a correct model of how an insect forms melanin is important for not only their research on insect structures, but also on how to control them. In a new study, published May 17 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, University of Georgia entomologists find that the model they and other scientists have been using is wrong. In humans, a polymer called melanin determines skin, eye and hair color—the darker the skin, the more melanin in a person’s body. For insects, melanin is a major aspect of their immune defense systems—their blood darkens in response to pathogens. Potential targets for this manipulation are proteins within the pathway that activate melanization. A proper understanding of how melanization works is essential to the success in choosing the proper targets to enhance this immune response, Clark explained. The researchers are now looking at the mechanism that links melanization and clotting in insect populations. Traditional models assume that activation of a single enzyme, called phenol oxidase, is sufficient to cause melanization. Results from the study coauthored by Clark and Michael Strand, a Regents and Distinguished Research Professor of Entomology, finds several essential steps are ignored in the current model. “Our research suggests they are very much connected to each other, in ways that are still unclear,” Clark said. “The whole process of melanization is much more complex than we realized. All the steps that lead up to the activation of the enzyme itself are by themselves complex, but now there is a whole other series of steps that occur afterward that we have not been paying attention to, and that is what we want to learn about now.” Having the right components in the model is essential in order to manipulate or exploit the insect system. Programs currently taking place in other countries are looking at how to replace insect populations in the field with those modified to have fewer undesired traits. Specifically, researchers hope to modify insects to make them incapable of passing on human and animal diseases. For example, a mosquito that lacks the ability to transmit malaria could be a possibility in the future. “For 50 years or so, people have been studying melanization in insects, and a model has been built as a way of understanding how it functions,” said Kevin Clark, an associate research scientist of entomology in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “They got a lot of things right, but some fundamental aspects have been ignored.” “It is a fundamental part of the immune system,” Strand said. “A misinterpretation of how this enzyme cascade is activated is a crucial deficiency in the literature. If this paper has any impact, it would be that it is changing the view of what is functionally required for this to operate.” center_img Clark and Strand used a silk moth to study the mechanisms at work when insects activate the melanization process. Using a large insect model, researchers were able to study how genes code for interactions with one another. Tyrosine was the only substrate for phenol oxidase they found in silk moth blood. Like a set of dominos, each action in the insect immune system is triggered by another reaction. Technically called the phenol oxidase cascade, this system of enzymes regulates the melanization of blood in insects. Melanization occurs when an insect is infected and melanin surrounds the infecting pathogen, generating free radical byproducts that work to kill the infection. In both humans and insects, the essential amino acid tyrosine is used to synthesize melanin. “We are looking at the interaction of products, which is much more about biochemistry rather than genetics,” Strand said. “With this information, we can go back to the smaller insects and apply the lessons learned. It is not a case of knowing genes; it is knowing how the products of those genes interact.” “One of the inherent problems with disease vectors, such as mosquitos, is that their immune systems do not effectively recognize and attack pathogens before they are transmitted to humans,” Clark said. “Therefore, numerous labs are attempting to genetically manipulate mosquitos to produce a more effective immune response that would destroy the pathogens.” The research confirms that, like humans, phenol oxidase uses tyrosine to make melanin but requires a scaffold of other components. However, the literature had grown to support other molecules besides tyrosine as the starting substrates. “People have largely ignored tyrosine because it has always been a terrible substrate for the purified form of the enzyme,” Strand said. “There are other substrates that work very well, but those substrates are nonsensical for being the start of the reaction because they are unstable. They just don’t exist in a bug’s body. But for decades experiments were taking place using these substrates because they work and the starting substrate (tyrosine), which should work, never works very well.” last_img read more

Vermont delegation wants unused federal rail funding directed to Vermont’s Western Corridor project

first_imgFollowing announcements by two newly-elected governors that their states no longer intend to use federal high-speed rail funding, thus leaving more than a billion dollars on the table, Vermont’s congressional delegation today called on Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood to reallocate a portion of the funding to Vermont’s proposed Western Corridor project.While Vermont was successful in securing more than $50 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to improve the southeast-northwest Vermonter line, the proposed Ethan Allen Express Improvements and Extension project was unsuccessful in receiving funding. The project, which would improve passenger rail from Rutland to Burlington, was lauded by the Federal Railroad Administration and scored competitively in the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) application process, but did not receive federal investment due to limited funds.Citing decisions by the incoming governors of Ohio and Wisconsin to forgo $400 million and $810 million respectively in HSIPR funding, the Vermont delegation asked LaHood to direct the unused funding to Vermont’s high-quality Ethan Allen proposal.‘We strongly encourage you to consider Vermont’s project in the reallocation of HSIPR funds,’ Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders and Representative Welch wrote. ‘Success in establishing a national rail network will ultimately depend on supported passenger rail services ‘ such as the Ethan Allen Express – feeding passengers to major hubs throughout the country. Vermont has been doing this since 1995 and looks forward to continuing to contribute to our nation’s rail infrastructure.’Leahy said, ‘It is important that Secretary LaHood know that Vermont stands ready to move forward immediately with expanding rail service to communities along our Western Corridor. Upgrading the Western Rail Corridor has long been a transportation priority in Vermont, and we have a unique opportunity now to take advantage of Vermont’s strong application.’Sanders said, ‘Federal support for Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express is extremely important for the economic and energy future of the region, most importantly Vermont’s western corridor. I hope the secretary will see fit to support this investment in Vermont’s public transportation. While other states may not want to move aggressively toward a clean energy future with rail travel, Vermonters would be more than happy to take the lead in energy efficiency and higher-speed rail.’Welch said, ‘If Ohio and Wisconsin don’t want to invest in high speed rail, I know some folks in Rutland, Middlebury and Burlington who would gladly put this money to good use creating good jobs, improving our transportation infrastructure and expanding travel and tourism businesses. This project is ready to go and has widespread support from state officials, the business community, and the towns and cities along the Western corridor. I hope we can convince Sec. LaHood that Vermont is ready, willing and able to get to work.’The delegation’s letter is copied below: The Honorable Ray LaHoodSecretaryUnited States Department of Transportation1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E.Washington, D.C. 20590 PATRICK LEAHY BERNIE SANDERS PETER WELCHUnited States Senate United States Senate United States Congress Dear Secretary LaHood:We understand that the U.S. Department of Transportation intends to reallocate unused High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) funding from states that have decided not to move forward with their funded projects. On Monday, November 16, 2010, at the conference of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, you stated that funds are to be redistributed in a professional way in places where the money can be well spent. We write to bring your attention to such a project, Vermont’s unfunded Ethan Allen Express Improvements and Extension application.We understand the State of Vermont’s Ethan Allen Express Improvements and Extension proposal ranked near the top of the HSIPR FY 2010 and 2009 applications but was not funded due to inadequate funding at the federal level. During a Federal Railroad Administration briefing on November 3, 2010, concerning Vermont’s application, the FRA lauded the quality of Vermont’s application. With the unused funds now becoming available, we believe that Vermont’s project, with a federal participation request of $59,271,693, can provide an immediate and substantial contribution to the national rail network, and accomplish the goals set out in the National Rail Plan:1. Linking Metropolitan Areas (Burlington, Albany and New York City): The route of the current Ethan Allen Express and its proposed service extension to Burlington encompasses a population of 10,852,559 according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census.2. Intercity Passenger Rail Service Integration: The Ethan Allen Express is part of the national rail network, which links with other northeast passenger rail routes through New York’s capital corridor.Vermont has been unwavering in its commitment to intercity passenger rail. The State spends approximately $5 million annually to support two Amtrak routes and has invested significant capital resources to maintain and upgrade rail infrastructure. Amtrak considers the Ethan Allen Express extension to Burlington critical to revenue generation (resulting from additional ridership) and the continued sustainability of the service.Vermont has also been at the forefront of moving expeditiously on existing HSIPR projects. Vermont was approved for ‘fast track’ and was the second state to begin work on ARRA Track 1a projects. The Ethan Allen Express project can similarly proceed to the construction phase quickly.Success in establishing a national rail network will ultimately depend on supported passenger rail services ‘ such as the Ethan Allen Express – feeding passengers to major hubs throughout the country. Vermont has been doing this since 1995 and looks forward to continuing to contribute to our nation’s rail infrastructure.We strongly encourage you to consider Vermont’s project in the reallocation of HSIPR funds. Please do not hesitate to call us should there be any additional information we may provide.Sincerely,last_img read more

Optimizing your debit portfolio

first_imgAs the payments industry undergoes change brought about by technological advancements, debit remains the second most frequently used form of payment behind cash. The U.S. debit card market accounts for approximately 70 billion transactions worth more than $2 trillion. Active debit cardholders use their cards nearly every day for purchases, to get cash from an ATM, to pay bills and for other activities that are critical to their financial lives. Those transactions, in addition to providing valuable non-interest credit union income, serve as a constant reminder of the relationship between the consumer and his or her primary financial institution, which is why credit unions must continue to keep a healthy debit portfolio top of mind.As changing consumer behavior and competition from fintechs impact debit usage among members, credit unions will need to find ways to better understand and optimize their debit portfolios in order to drive penetration, activation and usage.Earlier this year, CO-OP Financial Services and Mastercard commissioned a survey of 240 leaders from credit unions of various asset sizes and geographic regions to identify the strategies they are using to optimize their debit portfolio. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Cuomo Signs New York $15 Minimum Wage Bill

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday declared victory in the fight for a $15 minimum wage with a congratulatory rally in Manhattan that also served as a campaign stop for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.A smiling Cuomo, who made the $15 minimum wage hike a top priority of his 2016 agenda, told the partisan crowd at Jacob Javits Center that the new pay bump, included in this year’s state budget, would “restore economic fairness” and help rebuild a fractured middle class.“We defined the problem,” Cuomo said. “We explained the unfairness, and the people of the state of New York responded because the people of this state demand fairness and demand justice.”Joining Cuomo on stage was Clinton, the former secretary of state and twice-elected New York Senator. Clinton didn’t shy away from using the governor’s legislative achievement to attack GOP frontrunner Donald Trump even though she’s still entrenched in a primary battle of her own against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist. New York’s wage hike won’t go into effect immediately. The plan calls for Nassau and Suffolk counties to increase the minimum wage to $10 per hour by the end of 2016, followed by a $1 hike in pay each year until the $15 cap is reached by 2021. New York City businesses would raise their hourly wage to $15 by the end of 2018. Small business owners and industries operating in other regions of the state will separately be required to raise wages incrementally over a four-year period.The uneven rollout may be complicated, but it was intended to give anxious business owners time to adjust before they become mandated to pay the legal $15 minimum. The new law, however, does not include tipped workers.Before its recent passage, Cuomo spent considerable time on the road to build a formidable coalition to support the bill. For a brief period, the governor’s strategy included campaign-style rallies in which he toured the state in a ostentatious red-and-blue RV.“It was the labor movement that built this nation’s middle class in the first place and we’re rebuilding the middle class for a new economy today,” Cuomo said.Cuomo’s back-patting speech also included some presidential campaign undertones, taking veiled shots at Trump without mentioning the bombastic reality TV star and billionaire businessman by name.“I’ll tell you what we did not do in New York,” Cuomo said. “We didn’t take the anger, and we didn’t fan the flames of the anger, and we didn’t use the anger politically. And some voices out there want to do just that: they want to take that anger, and they want to use it politically. They want to use it as a way to turn us against each other.”Clinton, who has been campaigning in New York in advance of the state’s April 19 presidential primary, called the $15 wage hike a “real watershed.”During her campaign, Clinton has advocated for a $12 federal minimum wage but said she supports local governments that pass their own pay hikes. On Monday, the former two-term U.S. Senator predicted that New York’s achievement would be far-reaching. “I know it’s going to sweep our country,” she said. Her opponent, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), has called on the federal government to raise the minimum wage to $15.President Obama released a statement Monday commending lawmakers in New York for their efforts while issuing a long-shot plea for Congress to follow their lead.“This action means more parents won’t have to choose between their job and caring for their new children,” Obama said. “It means more workers can earn a higher wage to help make ends meet.”The agreement by New York lawmakers came less than a week after California became the first state in the country to approve a $15 minimum wage hike.Cuomo also signed into law a 12-week paid family leave bill that will go into effect in 2018 and will include both part-time and full-time employees.(Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a rally at Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan Monday, April 4 to celebrate historic $15 minimum wage hike. Photo credit: Don Pollard/ New York Governor’s Office)last_img read more

Nautical fair opened in Zagreb

first_imgU nautičkom turizmu Hrvatska ostvaruje preko 4,5 milijarde kuna prihoda, godišnje bilježimo i više od 3,2 milijuna noćenja pri čemu najveći broj posjetitelja dolazi iz  Njemačke, Austrije, Velike Britanije i Češke. Sajam Nautika u svom 28. izdanju predstavit će u sedam punih paviljona više od 300 izlagača iz 29 zemalja svijeta sa preko 280 izloženih plovila, što predstavlja rast izložbene površine od 8% i porast izloženih plovila za 11%. The fairs are open until Sunday, February 24, and you can find more information HERE “Hrvatska zbog vrlo kvalitetne i očuvane resursne osnove na međunarodnom tržištu zauzima poziciju jedne od najpoželjnijih nautičkih destinacija s najvećom charter flotom u svijetu. Nautičari u  Hrvatskoj ostvaruju najveću dnevnu potrošnju u destinaciji, u prosjeku 186 eura dnevno te što je najvažnije, iz godine u godinu izražavaju porast zadovoljstva svim elementima hrvatske nautičke turističke ponude” said Tourism Minister Gary Cappelli.center_img The Nautical Fair is known for its diverse nautical offer, which, compared to other fairs in Croatia, makes it the fair with the most complete nautical offer. This fair is interesting for both business people and the general public because it offers everything in a rich range of offers in one place; from B2B encounters to curiosity for a wide audience. Today, fairs were opened at the Zagreb Fair Nautika, Hotel&Gastroteh i Dani lova i ribolova. last_img read more

Diana Shipping Secures Higher Rate for Panamax

first_imgGreek dry bulk shipping company Diana Shipping has secured a charter contract for one of its Panamaxes at a higher charter rate.Under the agreement with Seoul-based Unico Logistics, Diana Shipping’s dry bulker m/v Maera was hired at a gross charter rate of USD 11,900 per day for a period of nine to eleven months.The 75,403 dwt ship’s charter is expected to commence on September 19, 2017.Diana Shipping informed that it expects to generate some USD 3.21 million of gross revenue for the minimum scheduled period of the time charter.The 2013-built m/v Maera was previously chartered to Rotterdam’s Transgrain Shipping at a gross charter rate of USD 8,500 per day for a period of sixty-eight days.last_img read more

Bulldogs JV Baseball Scorched By Dragons

first_imgThe New Palestine Dragons scorched The Batesville Bulldogs 13-2 in JV Baseball play.Batesville Pitching :  Luke Forbeck pitched 4 2/3 and Jacke Chaffee 1 1/3.Batesville Hitting:  Leo Enneking – 1, Jake Wilson – 1, and Jordan Meyer – 1 hit.Submitted by Batesville Coach Steve Ollier.last_img

Big Fifth Inning Propels Bulldogs To Victory Over Spartans

first_imgBatesville opened up conference play on Monday, as they knocked in ten runs in the fifth on its way to a 14-1 victory over Connersville. Caleb Raab, Trey Peters, Drew Kiefer, Quinn Werner, Sam Voegele, and Joe Bohman all drove in runs in the frame.In the first inning, the Bulldogs got their offense started when Trey Heidlage singled on a 1-0 count, scoring one run. The Bulldogs scored three total runs in the inning.Batesville sealed the win, as they tallied ten runs in the fifth inning. Raab, Peters, Kiefer, Werner, Voegele, and Bohman each drove in runs during the inning.Junior, Lane Oesterling was the winning pitcher for Batesville. He surrendered one run on three hits over four innings, striking out six. Heidlage threw one inning in relief out of the bullpen.Dylan Lynn took the loss for Connersville. He surrendered four runs on three hits over four innings, striking out three.Calvin Sherwood, Peters, and Heidlage each managed one hit to lead the Bulldogs. Additionally, Batesville tore up the base paths, as two players stole at least two bases. Werner led the way with three. The Bulldogs were sure-handed and didn’t commit a single error. Raab made the most plays with six.The win keeps the Bulldogs undefeated overall at 3-0 and 1-0 in the EIAC. The Bulldogs will compete against New Palestine on Tuesday.Courtesy of Bulldogs Coach Justin Tucker.last_img read more

Fletcher hopes to serve humble pie

first_img The midfielder may have just been 11-years-old at the time, but he also remembers when former Match of the Day pundit Alan Hansen told Sir Alex Ferguson “you can’t win anything with kids” in 1995. Ferguson won the league that year and scooped a further 10 titles after building a team around a group of youth players from the famed ‘Class of ’92’. Fletcher thinks Van Gaal’s squad has a similar look to it as the one that contained the likes of David Beckham, Paul Scholes and a young Ryan Giggs just over a decade ago. “To be honest it felt like that in the dressing room today,” said Fletcher, who played alongside debutants Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard on Saturday. “It did have a feel of that in terms of people looking at the squad and maybe not seeing household names, but these players are good enough and the manager believes in them. “All you need is a platform to go and perform and I’m sure they’ll definitely go and prove people wrong. “This whole club is about bouncing back from adversity.” Van Gaal has lost experienced heads like Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra from his playing squad this summer. But Fletcher thinks the players that remain are strong enough personalities to fill the void. He said: “People talk about the players that have left but I see it in the eyes of the young players, they’re ready for it and determined to show people how good they are and we’re determined to show people how good the team are. “You have to be a big character to play for this club.” McManaman laid into United following their 2-1 defeat to Swansea on the opening day of the season. The former Liverpool and Real Madrid man, who was a pundit for BT Sport at Old Trafford this weekend, claimed Louis van Gaal possesses the worst United squad he had ever seen in two decades. Fletcher thinks McManaman, and United’s other critics, have been desperate to take pot shots at the club as a consequence of their recent success. And the United vice-captain believes the former England international will be eating his words at the end of May. “People have been waiting for an opportunity to have a go at United for years and this is the perfect time (to do it),” the Manchester United midfielder said. “It’s a long season and I don’t think they will be saying those things at the end of it. “I believe we’re going to have a very good season. “All the players believe that too. “Comments like that give us a greater determination, without a shadow of a doubt.” Having been part of the United team that finished seventh last year, Fletcher knows how it feels to be on the receiving end of some scathing criticism. Darren Fletcher thinks Steve McManaman, who branded the current Manchester United side the worst he had seen in 20 years, will be eating a large portion of humble pie come the end of the season. Press Associationlast_img read more

Van Gaal won’t lower his sights

first_img Having won titles in Spain, Holland and Germany, Van Gaal sets lofty ambitions for himself and he has made it clear he wants to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford soon. Van Gaal spent £155million on new players last summer to help him achieve his aims and the club flexed their muscles again this week by beating a host of rivals to the signing of Victor Valdes as back-up to David de Gea. “My ambition is that I have the best players who can collaborate with each other to form the best team in the world,” the United manager said. Van Gaal reeled off his standard answer regarding transfer speculation when asked whether Valdes’ arrival could prompt the exit of first choice David de Gea, whose contract expires in 18 months’ time. “I cannot discuss that with you,” Van Gaal said at his weekly press conference. “I discuss that with David and Victor and it shall be like that.” Van Gaal again refused to discuss whether long-term targets like Kevin Strootman or Mats Hummels would also be coming to Old Trafford this month. “I don’t discuss that with you,” Van Gaal said with a smile. Van Gaal’s start to life as United manager may not have gone completely to plan, but his side are third in the Barclays Premier League thanks to a 10-match unbeaten run. Although some performances under Van Gaal have been far from spectacular, the 63-year-old has gone a long way to restoring the sense of grandeur about the 20-time English champions that was lacking during the failed reign of David Moyes. “You can ask it another way but I am always saying the same answer.” There was a hint from Van Gaal that United are ready to snap up any of their targets if they become available though. “We were very quick to buy Victor Valdes. Did you notice (that)?” Van Gaal said. “When we can, we deal quickly.” Ashley Young is the only absentee for the clash with Southampton on Sunday. He suffered a hamstring injury at Stoke on New Year’s Day and will be out for four to six weeks, according to Van Gaal. Luke Shaw has recovered from his ankle problem and is therefore fit to face his old club. Daley Blind is also in line to return from the knee injury which has sidelined him for two months. Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman can see himself returning to Barcelona as manager one day, but the Dutchman’s only focus right now is continuing Southampton’s fine form. Life at the Nou Camp is rocky at the moment, with president Josep Maria Bartomeu announcing on Thursday that elections would be held early in a bid to lift the negative “tension” around the club. The term crisis is being bandied around and the Spanish press are reporting rising tensions between head coach Luis Enrique and some of his players, namely Lionel Messi. Koeman has been installed as the bookmakers’ favourite to take over at Barca, thanks to his fine work at Saints and his history with the Catalan giants. Barcelona list the former defender amongst their “legends” after a highly-successful spell as a player at the Nou Camp – a place he can see himself returning to as manager, albeit not in the immediate future. “At teams like Barcelona, if they lose games, there’s always a lot of critics, rumours, speculation,” Koeman said. “I know because my whole life I’m linked to Barcelona, but it’s not a time to talk about that, because I think it’s not respectful to Southampton as a club, it is not respectful to the people of Barcelona.” Asked if he could see himself managing the club one day, Koeman said: “Yes, but I had that [opportunity] sometimes and it never happened. “Now I’m very happy to be here in Southampton and that’s the most important [thing]. “I started with a contract in Southampton and I like to respect to my contract and to the people.” Koeman’s goal now is to continue Southampton’s remarkable campaign at Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United. The Saints boss coached alongside his compatriot at Barcelona in the late nineties, but their relationship took a well-documented downward turn when they worked together at Ajax. That ill-feeling has now largely dissipated, although Koeman is desperate to get the better of his former mentor this weekend. “It’s nice [to beat him] because he is a very good coach,” he said, having lost 2-1 to United last month. “We had some problems in the past, but we shake hands and I hope he will do it on a good way with Man United and, of course, it’s special to beat him, but I lost the last time.” Louis van Gaal wants his Manchester United team to rule the world. Press Associationlast_img read more