- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003

MICROCT GIVES RESEARCHERS PEEK INTO REGENERATION

Northwestern University scientists can see how newts form new bone and cartilage during limb regeneration using digital X-ray microtomography or microCT. Newts — salamanders — are the only vertebrates capable of rebuilding lost structures such as limbs. The research team found bone formation combines elements of embryonic development and of adult wound healing. MicroCT provides high-resolution images, typically 25 micrometers or less, and rapid data acquisition, five to 30 minutes. Future uses include detecting and characterizing soft tissue structures, skeletal abnormalities and tumors. MicroCT shows how mineral is distributed within bones, which can affect the risk of fracture. The researchers say changes in bone are seen most clearly if the same volume of tissue is examined non-invasively at different points in time, which microCT can do.

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DESTRUCTIVE SEAWEED SMOTHERING CORAL REEFS

Divers and fishers say coral-smothering non-native seaweed called Caulerpa brachypus is so thick on the coral reefs in Florida's Palm Beach County it is forcing lobsters and fish away. The seaweed has been spotted as far north as Fort Pierce, 60 miles away. "It can smother just about everything down there," says Brian Lapointe, a marine ecologist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. It usually is found in the Pacific but not in Florida, until a year ago. Lapointe says it probably was released from a saltwater aquarium or a ship's ballast. Lapointe has received an Environmental Protection Agency grant to study the seaweed. Surveys of the local reefs begin this week. Lapointe and his team will determine how seasonal changes in light, temperature and nutrient availability control the growth of the macroalgae. To test his hypothesis that nutrients from pollution fuel macroalgae blooms, Lapointe will compare how well each species grows when nitrogen in the form found in sewage is available vs. how it responds to nitrogen as it occurs naturally in seawater.

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ROCKET TO MEASURE HIGH-FREQUENCY WAVES

The 2003 launch season begins Thursday at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Poker Flat Research Range, where a single-rocket mission will be sent to measure high-frequency wave signals in connection with the aurora. Known as HIBAR, the high bandwidth auroral rocket mission will have until Feb. 8 to get the right weather and auroral conditions to launch a two-stage Terrier-Black Brant IX sounding rocket into the aurora at altitudes where the high-frequency waves form. Data gathered from rocket launches in 1997 and 2002 show a detailed structure of high-frequency waves that had not been recorded. High-frequency waves in the ionosphere are difficult to study because they occur at frequencies greater than 1 MHz, and spacecraft data telemetry rates have not been able to sample them. Enhanced telemetry rates now available on NASA sounding rockets at Poker Flat allow waves up to 5 MHz to be thoroughly measured.

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GPS HAS ROLE IN CROP PRODUCTION

Iowa State University soil scientists say Global Positioning Systems available to corn and soybean producers can improve soil acidity and lime application management. Soil acidity can limit plant growth and soil formation processes and management practices lead to large pH variability within fields. Lime can help maintain crop production but traditional methods make it impractical to change lime application rates over a field. Producers usually apply a uniform rate even though only a small part of the field receives the optimum application. A study in the January/February issue of Agronomy Journal says GPS and advances in computer software allow for precise identification of soil sample positions and improved soil-test mapping. Variable rate technology, which combines GPS, computer-based controllers and digital soil-test maps, is a practical way to apply lime rates over a field. The study found the VRT method resulted in more efficient lime management, reducing the lime needed.

(EDITORS: For more information on MICROCT, contact Elizabeth Crown at (312) 503-8928 or e-mail [email protected] For SEAWEED, Mark Schrope 772-216-0390 or [email protected], for HIBAR, Vicki Daniels, (907) 474-5823 or [email protected], and for CROP GPS, Sara Uttech, (608) 273-8080 or [email protected])





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