Introducing Transparent Soil


Biologists have developed a new transparent soil to be able to study roots and root bacteria without disrupting their environment. The new soil is a composite of a material called nafion. Although it is not identical to real soil, the physical and chemical properties are extremely similar.

Plant biologist Laurent Laplaze stated that:

“This is a completely new way to look at roots in a more realistic setup than usually used. It is a major technical breakthrough that opens new avenues for plant physiology, plant breeding and the study of plant-microbe interactions.”

Scientists are confident this new creation will lead to improved crops and the identification of new ways of preventing outbreaks of food poisoning.



New Ecosystem Discovered: Glacier Mice


I wrote an article a while back about the strange places life turns up.  Scientists have discovered an entirely new form of strange, and they are dubbing it a whole new ecosystem.  The strangest part is that this new ecosystem is mobile and exists in freezing temperatures.

I am referring to glacier mice, balls of dust and moss that collect on glaciers. These balls are the Arctic version of tumbleweed.  They roll here and there, collecting moisture and moss, while harboring thriving communities of life.

Steve Coulson and Nicholas Midgley studied these moss balls and discovered that they are the perfect shelter for tiny communities.  Within the glacier mice the researchers found “Collembola (six-legged insectlike creatures commonly known as springtails), tardigrades (tiny eight-legged moisture-loving creatures that are often called water bears) and simple nematode worms. And contrary to what the team expected, these animals were not just getting by inside the glacier mice; with up to 73 springtails, 200 tardigrades and 1,000 nematodes being found in just a single mouse, they were thriving.”

The animals also had a wide range of ages, leading researchers to believe that these communities are on going and thriving. Despite glacial temperatures being at or below freezing, the mice had temperatures of up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, protect the animals from harsh wind, and contained a few drops of water each, more than enough to support these miniature communities.

Keep in mind, everything you look at, everywhere you step, every breath you breathe, is teeming with universes of living things. In fact, your own body is composed of more foreign bacteria than… you.