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Daniel Montesinos
Works at Web Ecology
Attended Universitat de València
Lives in Coimbra, Portugal
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Daniel Montesinos

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*Breaking! Homo sapiens have a long history of having sex with other species.*

"Our ancestors were not a picky bunch. Overwhelming genetic evidence shows that Homo sapiens had sex with Neander­thals, Denisovans and other archaic relatives. Now researchers are using large genomics studies to unravel the decidedly mixed contributions that these ancient romps made to human biology — from the ability of H. sapiens to cope with environments outside Africa, to the tendency of modern humans to get asthma, skin diseases and maybe even depression.

The proportion of the human genome that comes from archaic relatives is small. The genomes of most Europeans and Asians are 2–4% Neanderthal, with Denisovan DNA making up about 5% of the genomes of Mela­nesians and Aboriginal Australians. DNA slivers from other distant relatives probably pepper a variety of human genomes"
From skin disorders to the immune system, sex with archaic species changed Homo sapiens.
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GATTACA enhanced: New artificial nucleotides (PZ) improve DNA functioning and stir dreams about alien life

"after decades of work, Benner’s team has synthesized artificially enhanced DNA that functions much like ordinary DNA, if not better. (...) the researchers have shown that two synthetic nucleotides called P and Z fit seamlessly into DNA’s helical structure, maintaining the natural shape of DNA. Moreover, DNA sequences incorporating these letters can evolve just like traditional DNA, a first for an expanded genetic alphabet. The new nucleotides even outperform their natural counterparts. When challenged to evolve a segment that selectively binds to cancer cells, DNA sequences using P and Z did better than those without."

"He wants to create an alternative genetic system in which proteins — intricately folded molecules that perform essential biological functions — are unnecessary. Perhaps, Benner proposes, instead of our standard three-component system of DNA, RNA and proteins, life on other planets evolved with just two."


https://www.quantamagazine.org/20150710-genetic-alphabet/?utm_content=bufferf275c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
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Scientists are more emotional than they'd like to recognize

"Academia must support and reward leadership, embracing the modern understanding that thinking — the cornerstone of academic accomplishment — involves emotion.

Engineering and science must adapt to value the quality of interpersonal relationships, which are essential to teamwork. They must respect diversity of thought, especially non-technical modes, if they wish to inspire creativity.

Smooth-functioning and innovative research teams are essential for producing the inventions and discoveries needed to address the many challenging problems that our society faces."

http://www.nature.com/news/lifelong-learning-science-professors-need-leadership-training-1.17955?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews
To drive discovery, scientists heading up research teams large and small need to learn how people operate, argue Charles E. Leiserson and Chuck McVinney.
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We rightly celebrate the tremendous range of compounds that plants make by dint of their own biosynthetic abilities, as exemplified by the great variety of so-called secondary compounds they contain. However, to that innate capability must also be added a largely unappreciated capacity of plants to absorb ready-made organic compounds from the environment. That has been dramatically demonstrated by Dirk Selmar et al. using Mentha × piperita (peppermint) and nicotine (“a potent alkaloid found in the Solanaceae and a stimulant drug … It constitutes approximately 0.6–3.0% of the dry weight of tobacco”).

Although the peppermint plants contained some nicotine naturally, they also exhibited the ability to absorb it, both from nicotine-contaminated soil and from cigarette smoke added to the atmosphere surrounding the plant. Inside the plant it is likely that the nicotine is moved within the transpiration stream. However, the study also indicated that levels of the exogenously derived nicotine decreased in the plant with time, indicating that it was being metabolised by the plant*. Thus, peppermint not only has the capacity to remove nicotine from terrestrial and aerial (and aquatic …?) environments, it can also break it down (hopefully to less-harmful compounds). Which must be something akin to the holy grail of phytoremediation, wherein plants are used to clean up the environment by absorbing and accumulating within their tissues harmful chemicals, but usually without metabolising them.
Whether peppermint – or other plant species – could also extract the remainder of the cocktail of carcinogens, etc. present in cigarette smoke and thereby ‘purify’ the air and reduce the chances of non-smoking humans breathing in such stuff (passive smoking) would be an interesting and suitable subject for further tests.

However, as if the ability of plants to sequester ‘natural’ chemicals from the environment wasn’t unusual enough, Yeonjong Koo et al. show that arabidopsis has the capacity to take up nanoparticles from the soil. Nanoparticles (‘particles between 1 and 100 nanometers [sic.] in size’) are big business nowadays and exploited in the emerging discipline of nanotechnology, the ‘application of extremely small things’(!) that is used across all the other science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science and engineering. As a new field of human endeavour – and one that is also human-created – there are understandable concerns about how safe this technology is and whether it may have health or environmental implications.

Study of the effects of nanoparticles on living systems is therefore needed, and hence the study by the Rice University (Houston, Texas, USA) team on quantum dots (QDs) – nanocrystals of semiconductor materials that are small enough to exhibit quantum mechanical properties. Using a range of QDs they demonstrated that these particles could not only be taken up by arabidopsis roots and leaf petioles from hydroponic growing medium, but they could also be transferred to Trichoplusia ni (strictly speaking the caterpillar – larval stage – of the cabbage looper moth) that fed on the plant material.
Although the degree to which the QDs were stable and accumulated in the plant varied with the QD coating used, this does demonstrate that QD transfer from environment to plant to herbivore can occur. Should we be concerned? Well, considering that the QDs used were cadmium-containing entities, and given that cadmium is a rather unpleasant heavy metal, I think the answer is: yes. However, the full implications of this work probably remain to be … err … quantified.
 
* Whether such metabolisation of exogenously sourced organic carbon sources could also have nutritional benefit for the plants is an intriguing notion, which threatens their true autotrophic nature; maybe plants are opportunistic heterotrophs?

#phytorremediation #nanoparticles  

http://aobblog.com/2015/07/plants-natures-sponge/
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An inspiring image that scientists, particularly, should keep always in mind while at work.
 
If only we could visualize this image for few seconds before talking/typing ... 
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Reminiscent of the popular Indian story of the blind men and the elephant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant :)
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Mendeley's data repository is coming!

For now it is available only by invitation but hopefully it will be open to all soon. Will it be free +Mendeley? Or will it be associated with any of the Mendeley paid plans?

"Mendeley Data is a place to upload your research data, share it, get a DOI and get it cited! Our ambition is to open up scientific research data and make sure people get credited for their research. Our hope is that by doing so, we will help research go a little bit faster!"

"Any datasets you create will be permanent, and will be preserved even once we move from our alpha release to a wider release. Please keep that in mind when publishing a dataset. Before clicking “publish”, make sure your dataset is of a good standard and is something you want people to see."

https://data.mendeley.com/
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Hi +Daniel Montesinos 

I work for +Mendeley. I'm glad you like Mendeley Data's alpha launch!

Mendeley Data will be a free product, so won't require any paid plan to use it. We don't have any specific plans, but we might introduce some paid for "premium" features in the future. But everything you see today in the alpha will be free!
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Daniel Montesinos

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Plants Murder Bugs to Pay Their Bodyguards

"Like flypaper, these sticky plants ensnare many of the tiny creatures that are unfortunate enough to land there. By June, a single stem of serpentine columbine may hold the corpses of hundreds of bugs, write UC Davis graduate student Eric LoPresti and his coauthors. These bugs have been called “tourists” because they don’t live on the plant or need to be there; they’re just making an ill-fated visit. (This makes the sticky plant, the authors note, an actual “tourist trap.” Ahem.)"

"When the researchers checked on the plants, they found 74 percent more predatory bugs (such as spiders, assassin bugs, and stilt bugs) on corpse-covered plants than on clean ones. These predators had presumably stopped by for the free meal, but were also killing caterpillars or eating their eggs. Plants with their corpses removed were more than twice as likely to have damage from pests."
 
The siren song of a sticky plant: columbines provision mutualist arthropods by attracting and killing passerby insects. (in press) Eric F. LoPresti, Ian Seth Pearse, and Grace K. Charles #Ecology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/15-0342.1
It’s not only carnivorous plants that bugs have to watch out for. Sure, if an ant tumbles into a pitcher plant or a spider stands in the open maw of a Venus flytrap, we know what’s coming next. But certain innocent-looking plants—perhaps very many of them, even including ones in your own yard—murder hosts of insects that they have no …
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Bad news: "The new report warns that the warming of the oceans is now unstoppable. Even if we were to cut all carbon emissions tomorrow, the temperature of the world’s oceans will continue to rise for decades, or centuries even."
Sea levels, warming of the surface and upper layer of the oceans, greenhouse gases and land temperatures all hit a record high in 2014. In addition to this, glacier melt and tropical storms were also at a high, while sea ice loss continued.
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Roofs and walls that react to moisture like a pine cone

A wonderful example of biomimicry for architecture. We need more like this. Way to go!
 
Reactive materials hold huge potential for architects and engineers in the near future, offering forms of interactive...
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More than 10 000 Google+ followers and more than a million views! Thank you guys!
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Congrats Dani! 
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So who's up for some GOOD old STD?

We know that a huge amount of our body mass is made off (mostly beneficial) bacteria, and of course, there are no exceptions to the bodyparts that can benefit from them. Not really a surprise but... who knew! :)

"Beneficial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are an understudied phenomenon with important implications for the evolution of cooperation and host reproductive behavior. Challenging the prevailing expectation that sexual transmission leads to pathogenesis, these symbionts provide new opportunities to examine how STIs might influence sexual selection and the evolution of promiscuity."

http://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/abstract/S0169-5347(15)00135-4?rss=yes
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Defining heterogeneity as a second level of variation

The term heterogeneity has been defined in various ways so that the meaning of heterogeneity has become ambiguous. However, heterogeneity can be defined carefully as a distinct response to multiple single types of underlying variation, that is, a secondary level of variation (or "metavariation"). Identification of heterogeneity is affected by multiple factors, including researcher decisions, and ecosystems at a specified scale can contain both heterogeneous and homogenous variables. A formalized definition may also reduce the suggestion that heterogeneity is more beneficial than homogeneity.

Citation: Hanberry, B. B.: Defining heterogeneity as a second level of variation, Web Ecol., 15, 25-28, doi:10.5194/we-15-25-2015, 2015.

http://www.web-ecol.net/15/25/2015/we-15-25-2015.html
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Have him in circles
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Work
Occupation
Plant Ecologist
Employment
  • Web Ecology
    Editor-in-Chief, 2013 - present
  • Center for Functional Ecology - Universidade de Coimbra
    Researcher, 2011 - present
  • The University of Montana
    Post-doctoral researcher, 2009 - 2011
  • Generalitat Valenciana - Vaersa
    Natural Park Technician, 2007 - 2009
  • CSIC - CIDE
    Ph. D. student, 2002 - 2007
  • CSIC - CIDE
    Lab Technician, 1999 - 2001
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Currently
Coimbra, Portugal
Previously
Missoula, MT (USA) - El Ballestar, Spain - Bloomington, IN (USA) - Uberlândia, Brasil - Swansea, Wales (UK) - València, Spain
Contact Information
Work
Phone
(+351) 239 855 238 (ext. 139)
Story
Tagline
Plant Ecologist
Introduction
I'm an "exotic" plant ecologist interested on adaptations occurring to invasive plant species across broad biogeographical ranges. 

Native from Spain, so far I have tried to "colonize" places like Wales, Brazil and the U.S. I am currently based in Portugal at the Center for Functional Ecology of the Universidade de Coimbra.

I'm Editor-in-Chief for the open access scientific journal Web Ecology, and the moderator for the G+ community Plant Ecology, check them out!

Bragging rights
I have Tourette Syndrome #TouretteAmbassador #TouretteHero
Education
  • Universitat de València
    B. Sc. Biology, 1999
  • Institut Cavanilles de Biodiversitat i Biologia Evolutiva (UV)
    M. Sc. Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, 2002
  • CSIC - Universitat de València
    Ph. D., 2007
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Birthday
October 31
Relationship
Married
Other names
Daniel Montesinos Torres
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