218 results for “Guided Growth”

How Amazon trees write their own autobiographies

Chris Hunt
February 24th 2020

Tropical forests are one of the world’s largest carbon stores and they help regulate the global climate. But they’re being erased at a terrifying rate. Deforestation claimed an area the size of Belgium in 2018. These habitats are often cleared to make way for palm oil plantations and grazing pasture for livestock. For most forests, destruction on this scale is a fairly modern phenomenon.

Tropical forest ecosystems tend to have very high biodiversity, but often in the places you’d least …

How fungi can help create a green construction industry

Ian Fletcher
February 12th 2020

The world of fungi has attracted a lot of interest and seems to be becoming very fashionable of late. A new exhibition at Somerset House in London, for example, is dedicated to “the remarkable mushroom”. No surprise: we’re being promised that mushrooms may be the key to a sustainable future in fields as diverse as fashion, toxic spill clean ups, mental health and construction. It’s in this last field that my own interests lie.

Climate change is the fundamental design …

Farming in Silico

Jack Caulfield
October 18th 2017
Farming is more than manual labor. The hard part is knowing how to get the best yield. Thankfully, there’s an app for that: growing crops in silico.

Growing Mushrooms on Grass

Alec Schellinx
August 8th 2017
The Juncao Technology Project makes it possible to grow edible and medicinal fungi on chopped grass or herbal plants.

Heart Repair with Spinach Leaves

Julie Reindl
April 19th 2017
Scientists developed a procedure to repair your heart with a spinach leaf.

A Truly Exotic Fruit: the Space Mango

Julie Reindl
April 10th 2017
Scientists sent mango embryos to space lab in order to let them develop new genetic traits.

Meet the Emoji Snake

Julie Reindl
April 4th 2017
Python breeder designed emoji snake.

GM Ants Show How Insect Societies Work

Julie Reindl
March 10th 2017
Scientists gene modify ants in order to find out more about their social behavior.

Print Your House in a Day!

Julie Reindl
March 9th 2017
A Russian construction firm prints houses in 24 hours on site with their mobile 3D printer.

Grow Your Own Bio Bot

Julie Reindl
February 28th 2017
Researches at the University of Illinois released a step by step guide to build 3D printed bio robots with living muscles.
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Tropical forests are one of the world’s largest carbon stores and they help regulate the global climate. But they’re being erased at a terrifying rate. Deforestation claimed an area the size of Belgium in 2018. These habitats are often cleared to make way for palm oil plantations and grazing pasture for livestock. For most forests, destruction on this scale is a fairly modern phenomenon.

Tropical forest ecosystems tend to have very high biodiversity, but often in the places you’d least expect. Research has found that there is often more wildlife in areas where there is an ancient history of human activity.

So how have indigenous people in tropical forests nurtured biodiversity in tropical forests while still domesticating tree species, building cities and growing crops? New research published in Trends in Plant Science suggests that the answer may be written in the trees themselves.

Ancient time capsules

Over 50,000 years ago, people in Borneo managed tropical forest vegetation using fire. They burned the edge of advancing forests, and this targeted disturbance was enough to prevent a large number of tall tree species dominating. It allowed habitats to regenerate that were rich in wild food plants and attractive to the animals that people hunted.

Other traditional methods of forest management included opening the forest canopy by carefully selecting trees to cut down. The light that flooded to the forest floor could then encourage edible species such as wild yams to grow amid the regenerating vegetation. These practices are similar to the modern ideas of edible forests and agroforestry, which maintain relatively high biodiversity and retain soil carbon and nutrient stores. Much of this is lost upon conversion to industrial plantations or ranches.

Traditional forest management encouraged biodiversity, whereas modern methods erode it. Via Caeteno-Adrade et al. / Trends in Plant Science

In the past, vast areas of the world’s tropical forests were managed by indigenous peoples in this way. Trees keep their own accounts of this history in their wood. It has always been thought that tropical trees have short lifespans, usually less than 400 years. But recent research shows that many tropical trees live for a very long time, and can preserve over 1,000 years of history in their timber.

You’re probably familiar with the idea that you can measure how old a tree is by counting the rings beneath its bark. One ring usually equates to one year, so dendrochronology (the study of tree rings) offers a fairly easy way to understand the life of a tree. Thicker rings tend to denote a year when conditions were good for growth – ample sunshine and water – whereas thinner rings suggest a lean year of drought and competition with other trees.

Many tropical trees don’t lay down annual rings, but in the new study dendrochronologists identified over 200 species that do. Typically wider rings reflect higher rainfall, but many trees put on a growth spurt if light intensity rises. These are called release events and can happen if trees around them are cut down, allowing more light to break through the canopy. Finding these markers helps researchers to recognise and date past episodes of forest clearance. In the Amazon, these records help scientists understand the enormous extent of pre-Columbian agriculture and forest management.

Researchers extract a core of wood to measure the tree’s rings and find out its age. Via Victor Caetano-Andrade

The rings also preserve evidence of changes in the climate through the different isotopes (types) of oxygen and carbon laid down in the wood. Carbon isotopes tend to reflect light availability and other factors that control photosynthesis, whereas oxygen isotopes help scientists track changes in a nearby water source and annual rainfall. Isotopic studies showed that the abandonment of Angkor Wat in the 14th century coincided with severe drought.

Forest histories can also emerge from new DNA studies. Heavily logged species go through what we call “genetic bottlenecks”, where part of the genetic material of a species is lost as many individuals die or are unable to reproduce and pass on their genes. This leads to restricted gene pools.

Researchers would expect to see the same patterns in species which were strongly affected by logging or fires started by people in the past. Genetics can also identify species that were spread by ancient people, like the Brazil nut.

Living tropical trees record within themselves a history of human activity and the forest’s response to it. The regeneration of forests after disruption by people in the past offers some hope for the future, but only if current rates of deforestation can be halted, allowing the lungs of our planet to regenerate.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The world of fungi has attracted a lot of interest and seems to be becoming very fashionable of late. A new exhibition at Somerset House in London, for example, is dedicated to “the remarkable mushroom”. No surprise: we’re being promised that mushrooms may be the key to a sustainable future in fields as diverse as fashion, toxic spill clean ups, mental health and construction. It’s in this last field that my own interests lie.

Climate change is the fundamental design problem of our time: buildings are hugely complicit in the crisis. Together, buildings and construction contribute 39% of the world’s carbon footprint. Energy used to heat, cool and light buildings accounts for 28% of these emissions: households are the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases since 2015, accounting for a quarter of total UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.

The remaining 11% of buildings’ carbon emissions consists of those associated with construction and building materials. The UK construction industry, for example, uses around 400 million tonnes of materials each year and approximately 100 million tonnes become waste. Cement alone is responsible for a whopping 8% of global CO₂ emissions. Compare this to the much maligned global aviation industry, which emits 2% of all human-induced CO₂ emissions. Buildings and, by association, the construction industry, are profoundly responsible for climate change.

Cement – the key ingredient of concrete – is responsible for an astonishing 8% of all carbon emissions. Via Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash, FAL

There is evidently a real need for the construction industry to reduce the impact of its material and energy use and to take part in the transition towards a more sustainable economy by researching and using alternative materials. This is not an absurd ask: such materials already exist.

Mushroom materials

And yes, one such material happens to be derived from fungi: mycelium composites. This material is created by growing mycelium – the thread-like main body of a fungus – of certain mushroom-producing fungi on agricultural wastes.

Mycelium are mainly composed of a web of filaments called “hyphae”, which acts as a natural binder, growing to form huge networks called “mycelia”. These grow by digesting nutrients from agricultural waste while bonding to the surface of the waste material, acting as a natural self-assembling glue. The entire process uses biological growth rather than expensive, energy intensive manufacturing processes.

Close-up image of mycelium showing interwoven fine hyphae. © Ian Fletcher

Mycelium materials offer an exciting opportunity to upcycle agricultural waste into a low-cost, sustainable and biodegradable material alternative. This could potentially reduce the use of fossil fuel dependant materials. The materials are low-density, making them very light compared to other materials used in construction. They also have excellent thermal and fire resistant properties.

Fungal architecture

To date, mycelium materials have been used in a number of inventive ways in building projects. One particular company of note is The Living, a New York based architectural firm which designed an organic mycelium tower known as “Hy-Fi” [as seen on the cover image] in the courtyard of MoMA’s PS1 space in midtown Manhattan. Designed as part of MoMA’s Young Architects Program, the structure illustrates the potential of this biodegradable material, in this case made from farm waste and cultured fungus grown in brick-shaped moulds.

Mae Ling Lokko, Mushroom Panels and Pentagram interactive work. Part of Somerset House exhibition: Mushrooms The Art Design and Future of Fungi. © Mark Blower

Another project of note is MycoTree, a spatial branching structure made out of load-bearing mycelium components. This research project was constructed as the centrepiece for the “Beyond Mining – Urban Growth” exhibition at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017 in Seoul, Korea. The project illustrates a provocative vision of how building materials made from mycelium can achieve structural stability. This opens up the possibility of using the material structurally and safely within the construction industry.

Mycelium materials have also been analysed for uses ranging from acoustic absorbers, formed packaging materials and building insulation. And NASA is currently researching using mycelium to build habitable dwellings on Mars.

Recycled buildings

I am investigating the development of mycelium materials using locally sourced materials such as wheat straw. Wheat straw is a cheap and abundant source of waste in the Yorkshire region, so would be a fantastic raw material for construction. My main objective is to develop a material for use in non-load bearing applications, such as internal wall construction and façade cladding. The material displays similar structural properties to those of natural materials like wood.

Close-up image of mycelium of P. ostreatus growing around wheat straw. © Ian Fletcher, Author provided

The development of mycelium materials from locally sourced agricultural waste could reduce the construction industry’s reliance on traditional materials, which could improve its carbon footprint. Mycelium composite manufacturing also has the potential to be a major driving force in developing new bioindustries in rural areas, generating sustainable economic growth while creating new jobs.

The construction industry is faced with a choice. It must be revolutionised. If we carry with business as usual, we must live with the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change.

What? Explore the art, design and future of mushrooms
Where?
Somerset House, London
When?
Now until 26 April 2020

[post_title] => How fungi can help create a green construction industry [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => how-fungi-can-help-create-a-green-construction-industry [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-02-12 11:26:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-02-12 10:26:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=126788 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 77468 [post_author] => 1425 [post_date] => 2017-10-18 10:00:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-18 08:00:05 [post_content] => Agriculture has been with us since the dawn of civilization, and since then all kinds of machinery have helped make the process physically easier. But farming is more than just manual labor. For many farmers, the hard part is not planting and harvesting, but knowing when, where and how to plant in order to get the best yield. Thankfully, there’s an app for that too: growing crops in silico - on a computer screen.No, we’re not talking about FarmVille or Harvest Moon. In silico is a new method agricultural scientists have come up with for optimizing crop growth. It begins with the collection of data from real crops in the field and from samples in the lab. The data collected are then compiled and examined for patterns and correlations, scientists look at which crops performed best and worst, and what circumstances seem to account for the disparity.The data are then converted into a supercomputer simulation - the silicon part - which models how crops are likely to perform under any given circumstances. Researchers can after adjust each factor individually: how do sugarcane plants do when planted symmetrically and exposed to bright sunlight? How about in the shade? What if they were planted in a different pattern? Usually, afarmer experimenting with different methods has to wait until harvest to find out whether they worked, and even then cannot pinpoint exactly what made the difference. The supercomputer’s calculations take just one day.The innovation arrives at a time when we must take our food production very seriously. Scientists expect the global population to increase rapidly in the coming decades, and this expanding population needs to be fed. What will the future of agriculture look like? If in silico catches on, we could see innovative new farming approaches tested out in the virtual world before they are tried out for real. Maybe we still have things to learn from the virtual dimension about tasks we've been performing for thousands of years.Source: Scientific American______________________________This article is part of the "HUBOT weeks" to contextualize our latest project HUBOT, the job agency for people and robots. Want to learn more about this project? Join NNN and we will keep you posted![mc4wp_form id="72385"] [post_title] => Farming in Silico [post_excerpt] => Farming is more than manual labor. The hard part is knowing how to get the best yield. Thankfully, there’s an app for that: growing crops in silico. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => farming-in-silico-virtual-crops [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-21 09:54:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-21 07:54:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=77468/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 76626 [post_author] => 1419 [post_date] => 2017-08-08 10:00:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-08 08:00:14 [post_content] => Drop your baskets and forget all you know about mushroom picking. Juncao (literally translated “fungus grass”), developed by Lin Zhanxi, a professor at China’s Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, now makes it possible to grow edible and medicinal fungi on chopped grass or herbal plantsFirst developed in the mid-80’s, after more than 30 years of continued development, Juncao technology now offers farmers the possibility to cultivate up to 55 kinds of mushrooms using a wide range of herbaceous plants. It completely reassesses the traditional approaches to mushroom farming and provides a viable alternative to the extensive use of wood logs and sawdust, which comes at a heavy environmental price: large-scale woodcutting.China’s 400 million hectares of grassland amount to nearly three times the surface of its arable land. By using just three percent of the Chinese grassland, Zhanxi argues, the Juncao industry could produce more than 135 million tons of mushrooms and create millions of jobs, thus proving to be an efficient tool in poverty alleviation and rural development.Due to its wide adaptability, fast growth, high capacity in retaining water and soil, Juncao grass could also be applied to ecological management of all sorts, such as soil erosion control, desertification prevention and ecological rehabilitation of abandoned mining sites. Moreover, Juncao pastures are a suitable forage for livestock and poultry feed. Last but not least, this multipurpose one-size-fits-all high-tech grass comes at a reasonable price.Last May, the Juncao Technology Project was officially launched at the UN headquarters, with the aim of fighting poverty and malnutrition but also prevent soil and water loss in developing countries. In short, Juncao is “grass-roots” in every sense of the word.Source: Xinhuanet [post_title] => Growing Mushrooms on Grass [post_excerpt] => The Juncao Technology Project makes it possible to grow edible and medicinal fungi on chopped grass or herbal plants. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => growing-mushrooms-grass [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-04-16 10:16:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-16 09:16:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=76626/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 72820 [post_author] => 1317 [post_date] => 2017-04-19 10:17:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-19 08:17:40 [post_content] => Want to become a "plant-org", half plant half human? This might soon be possible thanks to a new engeneering technique. Scientists are developing a new approach in tissues regeneration to replace damaged human heart tissues with decelluralized spinach leaves.Recently we have heard a lot about 3D printed organs. One big unresolved issue with this method though, has always been the indispensable human vascular network. This because the human blood vessels are very small and delicate and hard to artificially print. To loss of the network means the death of a tissue. Scientists discovered that spinach leaves have similarities in their vascular network structures, through which important nutrients and water are delivered to the cells. When the plant cells are washed away what remains is a framework made primarily of cellulose, a natural substance that is not harmful to people. In a second step this surface gets covered by human cells. In a series of experiments, the team cultured beating human heart cells on spinach leaves that were stripped of plant cells. They flowed fluids and microbeads similar in size to human blood cells through the spinach vasculature, and they seeded the spinach veins with human cells that line blood vessels.In the near future injured human heart tissues could be recovered with this procedure. Interestingly, also several other types of plants might be suitable for human organ replacement. Wood is one example, scientists mention, its architecture could be helpful to repair human bones.Source: Sciencedaily. Image: WPI [post_title] => Heart Repair with Spinach Leaves [post_excerpt] => Scientists developed a procedure to repair your heart with a spinach leaf. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => heart-repair-with-spinach-leaves [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-21 10:31:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-21 08:31:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=72820/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 72632 [post_author] => 1317 [post_date] => 2017-04-10 10:05:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-10 09:05:56 [post_content] => So far we know quite little about the effects space has on humans, different countries, organizations and researchers are emphatically trying to explore foreign planets to find our new next habitat. With the space mango it's the other way around: modified in space and planted on planet Earth!In 2016 Chinese scientists sent mango embryos with the Shenzhou 11 to the space laboratory Tianong-2 in order to modify the genes and experiment with the DNA. A new strain of mangoes was bred under uncommon conditions, this procedure is also known as "space breeding". Micro-gravity, radiation, sterile conditions and some assets that can only be found in space made it possible for the exotic fruit to evolve new genetic characteristics.The mango is not the first fruit genetically changed in space, China has been been doing space breeding for two decades already! Frits and vegetables tested before developed superior strains. Interestingly, the cells are not changed manually by human hand but by the conditions they are exposed to. Space breeding is selective breeding, which means the existing genes are transformed independently by the plant itself. After being in space, the mangoes returned to our planet to be cultivated in earthly laboratories. The project leader Peng Longrong presented the visible effects: "Space mangoes are expected to be insect-resistant, of higher quality and provide more output" he said.What scientists hope to achieve with space breeding, is better features in fruits and vegetables such as increased size, extended freshness, higher restistance to pesticide, environmental and parasite threats. In the future it might be possible to breed animals or even humans in space. A true alien then?[caption id="attachment_73031" align="aligncenter" width="594"]Shenzhou-11's with the returned to Earth with the mangoes. Shenzhou-11's return to Earth with the space mangoes.[/caption]Source: Sputniknews. Image:Japanbrand, Yibada [post_title] => A Truly Exotic Fruit: the Space Mango [post_excerpt] => Scientists sent mango embryos to space lab in order to let them develop new genetic traits. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => truly-exotic-fruit-space-mango [to_ping] => [pinged] => http://japan-brand.jnto.go.jp/foods/fruits/105/ [post_modified] => 2017-04-10 10:08:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-10 09:08:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=72632/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 72533 [post_author] => 1317 [post_date] => 2017-04-04 11:41:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-04 10:41:23 [post_content] => From pets, landscapes and even ourselves, we love to remake the world to our "needs". Our best friends are just as carefully designed as the latest piece of technology, think about the genetically modified glowing fish or the tattooed pigs. This time it is the emoji snake, designed to make you smile (wondering if the reptile is cheerful too). A python breeder really managed to create the so-called “Emoji Ball Python” after eight years of trying. This earned him a spot on our peculiar image of the week series.Source: Iflscience. Image: Inverse [post_title] => Meet the Emoji Snake [post_excerpt] => Python breeder designed emoji snake. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => meet-emoji-snake [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-04 13:54:46 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-04 12:54:46 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=72533/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 72087 [post_author] => 1317 [post_date] => 2017-03-10 09:56:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-10 08:56:35 [post_content] => Ants, they can be as annoying as impressive. Not just because they can carry 50 times their own body weight, but also for their cooperative work in the colony that rightly grants their little city the name "super organism". A few of those ants have now been genetically modified for a research, and the results are astonishing. Ants social behavior is strongly dependent on their sense of smell, who would have thought that?The interest in the development of the social actions of an organism, their way of reproducing by having a few or one part of the whole group do all the reproduction in order to sustain the big whole, ranges from insects as ants and bees to the humans, and already interested biologists like Charles Darwin. Group Insects genes, give huge insight on how their social behavior functions. Getting to those genes or better said, disrupting their genes is a very difficult task and makes gene modification almost impossible. Due to ants sensitive eggs and the life cycle of one single insect, it is hard to genetically modify a decent amount of offsprings.One ant species, called the raider ant, has a deficiency of queens, usually responsible for reproduction. In the case of the raider ant, every single individual breeds eggs. Interestingly those eggs develop as clones, which allow the scientists to modify a whole stem with the help of CRISPR. After 10.000 tries in two years and interesting findings about how to breed functioning eggs and their reintroduction into the tribe, the research team interrupted the protein producing a gene responsible for an ant working odor recognition.With their 350 odor receptors, ants are highly attuned to use them as their communication tool. In comparison, a fruit fly has 46 odor receptors and a human approximately 400. As this amount of receptors is truly high for an insect, scientists assumed it had to do with their behavior. After their birth, the transgenic ants immediately started to move around, which an uncommon behavior, as an ant usually  spend its first month motionless in its nest. “To see these baby ants running around is just utterly bizarre” the scientist say. Not just the fact that those newly created ants would not loose time to discover their surroundings, they also could not smell the footpaths of their colleges. Both facts are crucial for a tribe survival and keeps their co-working intact.The modifications didn’t just have consequences on their odor reception, but also on their way of laying eggs and in their brains development. The gene modification literally killed the formation of brain clusters which also happened to gene modified mice. These results help the research of the intricate behavior of social species, as we humans are as well. If we don’t want to disrupt our odor perception we should now think about how far gene modification should transform our lifes and if so, in which ways.Source: Sciencemag [post_title] => GM Ants Show How Insect Societies Work [post_excerpt] => Scientists gene modify ants in order to find out more about their social behavior. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => genetically-modified-ants-explain-the-evolution-of-insect-societies [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-13 10:00:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-13 09:00:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=72087/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 72042 [post_author] => 1317 [post_date] => 2017-03-09 09:56:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-09 08:56:03 [post_content] => Tomorrow you could already move into your very own $10,134 home! Weather its gonna look like a spaceship, a castle or a huge piece of cake its up to you. Sounds like a dream right? Russian 3D printing company Apis Cor recently built the first 3D printed house on site with their mobile 3D printer.By printing the main parts of the house in a concrete mixture, the building is supposed to last 175 years. The first prototype was finished in 24 hours and it includes a hallway, a living room and a kitchen. The windows are put in the frame independently.The company's vision is to provide eco friendly, efficient and fast solutions in order to face problems in housing around the globe. As this wouldn’t be one big task already, Apis also wants to take on the outer space. On their site they state "When there won’t be enough space on Earth for humanity to live, we are ready to be first to start building on Mars".3D printing technology is becoming more accessible, more affordable and more useful every day. From factory tooling to movie props, 3D has countless applications. And now, you can even print your own house![youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z-iebHRxJk[/youtube]Source: Mashable. Image: Apis Cor [post_title] => Print Your House in a Day! [post_excerpt] => A Russian construction firm prints houses in 24 hours on site with their mobile 3D printer. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => print-house-day [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-11 10:45:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-11 09:45:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=72042/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 )[9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 71588 [post_author] => 1317 [post_date] => 2017-02-28 09:05:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-28 08:05:47 [post_content] => Today on the menu, the recipe for your very own biological soft bot! Always wanted a army of self walking skeletons? Have a look at the how to step by step guide by Rashid Bashir's research group. What sounds like a DIY kit for some free time fun is supposed to help scientists around the world to find answers to questions on the future of health and environment. Manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing, in combination with developed biological (living) materials, have the ability to improve the construction of complicated 3D structures, taking the next step in the search of enhanced life.Inspired by the architecture of the in-vivo muscle system, the research group grew genetically engineered muscle tissue that responds to light, in order to combine it with the 3D printed bio bot skeleton. After growing on the skeleton, the muscle started moving by its intrinsic power while reacting to light impulses. Resulting in a walking skeleton.The research paper states: "Biological machines consisting of cells and biomaterials have the potential to dynamically sense, process, respond and adapt to environmental signals in real time". Which opens up powerful opportunities for the creation of complex machines that one day might be able to self-heal, organize and assemble.Even though the picture of such a walking piece of flesh might be scary, this new achievement is a step forward in regenerative medicine and also teaches how to profit from both biology and synthetical materials, in order to create less rigid and more animal-like machines. The amount of robots coming into our lives causes concerns on the environmental consequences. Self-powered biodegradable machines could solve this issue.Source: Engineering at Illinois. Image: 3ders [post_title] => Grow Your Own Bio Bot [post_excerpt] => Researches at the University of Illinois released a step by step guide to build 3D printed bio robots with living muscles. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => grow-bio-bot [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-01-17 16:29:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-01-17 15:29:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://nextnature.net/?p=71588/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [post_category] => 0 ))[post_count] => 10 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 127026 [post_author] => 2362 [post_date] => 2020-02-24 16:25:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2020-02-24 15:25:20 [post_content] =>

Tropical forests are one of the world’s largest carbon stores and they help regulate the global climate. But they’re being erased at a terrifying rate. Deforestation claimed an area the size of Belgium in 2018. These habitats are often cleared to make way for palm oil plantations and grazing pasture for livestock. For most forests, destruction on this scale is a fairly modern phenomenon.

Tropical forest ecosystems tend to have very high biodiversity, but often in the places you’d least expect. Research has found that there is often more wildlife in areas where there is an ancient history of human activity.

So how have indigenous people in tropical forests nurtured biodiversity in tropical forests while still domesticating tree species, building cities and growing crops? New research published in Trends in Plant Science suggests that the answer may be written in the trees themselves.

Ancient time capsules

Over 50,000 years ago, people in Borneo managed tropical forest vegetation using fire. They burned the edge of advancing forests, and this targeted disturbance was enough to prevent a large number of tall tree species dominating. It allowed habitats to regenerate that were rich in wild food plants and attractive to the animals that people hunted.

Other traditional methods of forest management included opening the forest canopy by carefully selecting trees to cut down. The light that flooded to the forest floor could then encourage edible species such as wild yams to grow amid the regenerating vegetation. These practices are similar to the modern ideas of edible forests and agroforestry, which maintain relatively high biodiversity and retain soil carbon and nutrient stores. Much of this is lost upon conversion to industrial plantations or ranches.

Traditional forest management encouraged biodiversity, whereas modern methods erode it. Via Caeteno-Adrade et al. / Trends in Plant Science

In the past, vast areas of the world’s tropical forests were managed by indigenous peoples in this way. Trees keep their own accounts of this history in their wood. It has always been thought that tropical trees have short lifespans, usually less than 400 years. But recent research shows that many tropical trees live for a very long time, and can preserve over 1,000 years of history in their timber.

You’re probably familiar with the idea that you can measure how old a tree is by counting the rings beneath its bark. One ring usually equates to one year, so dendrochronology (the study of tree rings) offers a fairly easy way to understand the life of a tree. Thicker rings tend to denote a year when conditions were good for growth – ample sunshine and water – whereas thinner rings suggest a lean year of drought and competition with other trees.

Many tropical trees don’t lay down annual rings, but in the new study dendrochronologists identified over 200 species that do. Typically wider rings reflect higher rainfall, but many trees put on a growth spurt if light intensity rises. These are called release events and can happen if trees around them are cut down, allowing more light to break through the canopy. Finding these markers helps researchers to recognise and date past episodes of forest clearance. In the Amazon, these records help scientists understand the enormous extent of pre-Columbian agriculture and forest management.

Researchers extract a core of wood to measure the tree’s rings and find out its age. Via Victor Caetano-Andrade

The rings also preserve evidence of changes in the climate through the different isotopes (types) of oxygen and carbon laid down in the wood. Carbon isotopes tend to reflect light availability and other factors that control photosynthesis, whereas oxygen isotopes help scientists track changes in a nearby water source and annual rainfall. Isotopic studies showed that the abandonment of Angkor Wat in the 14th century coincided with severe drought.

Forest histories can also emerge from new DNA studies. Heavily logged species go through what we call “genetic bottlenecks”, where part of the genetic material of a species is lost as many individuals die or are unable to reproduce and pass on their genes. This leads to restricted gene pools.

Researchers would expect to see the same patterns in species which were strongly affected by logging or fires started by people in the past. Genetics can also identify species that were spread by ancient people, like the Brazil nut.

Living tropical trees record within themselves a history of human activity and the forest’s response to it. The regeneration of forests after disruption by people in the past offers some hope for the future, but only if current rates of deforestation can be halted, allowing the lungs of our planet to regenerate.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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