Archive for September 7, 2011

FUNGUS’ FOOD BENEFITS

September 7, 2011

FUNGUS’ FOOD BENEFITS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day from the Pearl of the Orient!

Fungi have been stereotyped as curse species and should be destroyed as much as we can destroy them. Now, how about reflecting on the research fact that “rice inoculated with fungi grew five times faster” as per report from a Philippine-based food base research?

As always, let’s be prepared for the breakage of conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom about fungi might turn out to be idiocies worth our ridicule and guffaws. Check out on the update news below from the Philippines.

[Philippines, 07 September 2011]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/fungi-could-protect-rice-against-climate-change.html
Fungi could protect rice against climate change
Ma. Theresa V. Ilano
26 July 2011
[CEBU, PHILIPPINES] Inoculating rice seeds with fungi makes the plants more tolerant of salt, drought and cold — all of which may become more common as the climate changes, according to researchers.

The researchers obtained two types of endophytic fungi, which have symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships with plants. One was from coastal dunegrass, and the other from a variety of wild strawberry that thrives in geothermal soils even in below-freezing winter temperatures.

When seeds of two commercial rice varieties were inoculated with the fungi, the resulting plants, grown in greenhouses, had increased growth and grain production, and were more tolerant of drought.

In addition, plants inoculated with fungi from coastal plants thrived under saline conditions, and those receiving fungi from wild strawberries grew well in low temperatures, according to the research published this month (5 July) in PLoS One.

“The fungus pretty much does all the work,” said Russell J. Rodriguez, co-author of the research and a microbiologist with the US Geological Survey. “Within 24 hours, we saw the benefits. [Inoculated] plants were growing up to five times faster.”

The technique does not change the rice plant’s genetic material — its DNA — he said. “But the expression [switching on and off] of genes is modified and the plant now has the ability to resist environmental stress,” he told SciDev.Net.

The researchers do not understand the mechanism but suggest that the fungi could be producing a substance that regulates plant growth.

In their symbiotic relationship with the plants, the fungi confer stress tolerance in exchange for nutrients, a phenomenon known as ‘symbiogenics’ because one symbiotic partner influences the expression of the other’s genes.

The technique should work for different rice varieties and other crops, such as corn and peas, said Rodriguez, adding that the researchers are now trying to make rice plants heat tolerant, too.

Glenn Gregorio, who studies stress-tolerant plants at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, said the experiment on salt tolerance was “impressive and very promising”.

But further experiments are needed to see if the rice thrives under field conditions, he said, because fungi usually require specific habitats, such as geothermal soils, to survive.

“In field conditions, the soil and the overall environment [are] ‘contaminated’ with other organisms, which may also interact with the plant and, in essence, compete with the fungi,” Gregorio said.

Rodriguez said his team has been collaborating with African and Korean scientists to test the findings in the field.

Link to full paper in PLoS ONE

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RE-ENGINEERING TOILETS

September 7, 2011

RE-ENGINEERING TOILETS
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Toilets can be re-engineered, rendering them less wasteful in water and assortment of hygiene accessories. This is the challenge posed upon all member states of the United Nations, most specially as the 2015 deadline for the Millenium Development Goal or MDG nears.
I recall having a chat one time with former colleague in UP Manila, Prof Roland Simbulan, when he was the Vice-Chancellor for Planning & Development there. He mentioned to me about the enormous water used in the flash toilets of the Philippine General Hospital alone, the noble service hospital of my beloved alma mater, water that eats up chunks of maintenance budget.
That brief conversation alone suffices to convince me about re-engineering toilets and other utilities. Incidentally, the infotech magnate Bill Gates has been titillated by the idea, and had offered research grants by the millions of dollars to r & d experts to produce acceptable prototypes of the new toilet.
[Philippines, 07 September 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/gates-challenges-researchers-to-reinvent-the-toilet-.html
Gates challenges researchers to reinvent the toilet
Aimable Twahirwa
25 July 2011 | EN
New toilet concepts will have to be acceptable to local communities
Flickr/Sustainable sanitation
[KIGALI] It is time to reinvent the toilet for the developing world where other attempts to improve sanitation have failed, according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Although billions of dollars have been poured into sanitation infrastructure in the developing world, rapid population growth means that there are now more people without access to improved sanitation in Sub-Saharan Africa than ever before, according to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Global Development Program at the foundation.
“Not only is using the world’s precious water resources to flush and transport human waste not a smart or sustainable solution, it has simply proven to be too expensive for much of the world,” she told the AfricaSan Conference, the third African Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene last week (19 July).
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing grants worth US$42 million in total to come up with a new toilet concept and more than 20 universities worldwide have submitted ideas. The University of Kwazulu Natal, for example, is working their local municipality to design a community toilet that can turn waste into clean water and energy.
“We asked that they develop a stand-alone facility without piped-in water, a sewerage connection, or outside electricity … [with] a total cost including capital, operation, and maintenance of just a few pennies per day per person,” Burwell said.
Ideas include a toilet that turns human waste into ash and potable water through rapid dehydration and smouldering; a toilet that converts human waste into soil-improving biochar soon to be tested in Nairobi’s slums; and a method of treating human waste with microwaves to turn it into gas.

Major challenges will be to ensure that the new toilets are acceptable to people and to cover whole rural populations with the scale up of good ideas.
“Our key focus is supporting local innovations in sanitation and hygiene,” Burwell told SciDev.Net. “The project, which will provide a new cheap and waterless toilet, will also be dedicated to training local communities by helping them to better use this technology.”

But getting rid of unsanitary defecation alone may not be enough to stem hygiene-related diseases.

Although new sanitation facilities can help prevent waterborne diseases in poor communities, it is also important to introduce water storage and distribution systems, according to Ananias Nsengiyumva, a medical doctor based in Kigali.

He told SciDev.Net: “Insufficient capacity to ensure proper water storage and filtration still has negative impacts on rural communities who risk contracting diseases like cholera, bacillary dysentery and typhoid.”

Samuel Nkomo, Zimbabwean Minister of Water Resources Development and Management, said that several African countries still lag behind towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal on sanitation.

At the conference several African countries including Ghana, Malawi and Rwanda, announced major sanitation projects aimed at providing new toilet prototypes to increase availability of water supply, and sanitation services in rural areas.
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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs & website anytime!

Social Blogs:
IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com
UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

Wisdom/Spiritual Blogs:
COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com
BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com

Poetry & Art Blogs:
ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com
ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com

Mixed Blends Blogs:
@MULTIPLY: http://efdargon.multiply.com
@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

Website:
PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA: http://erleargonza.com