How Fire Shapes Plant Life Cycles

Working adaptively with fire as a tool for ecological health can help us to prevent the extinction of flora species across Victoria’s ecosystems. Ella Plumanns Pouton (University of Melbourne/Deakin University) works to understand how fire regimes support different plants across their whole life cycle, providing a vital scientific foundation for fire management practices that respond to the unfolding global biodiversity crisis.

Where Do We Come From, and When?

Making sense of the relationship of different hominin species in South Africa has always been challenging, largely because of issues dating them accurately. New methods developed by Dr Wenjing Yu open the possibility of the A. africanus species could be older than originally thought – older than the skeleton widely regarded as the first human, ‘Lucy’ (A. afarensis).

The Lighter Side of Building Bionic Eyes

One of the issues with current bionic vision devices is off-target stimulation. The electrical stimulation used to activate cells in the retina tends to spread, leading to inadvertent broad activation and poor visual acuity. As such, developing alternative stimulation methods to deliver greater spatial precision – like optogenetics – are considered invaluable for vision restoration.

Harnessing Immune Cells in the Bowel to Fight Cancer

Cancer cells have ways to avoid destruction by displaying proteins on their surface that turn off the body’s immune cells, or adopting genetic changes to make them less visible to the immune system, or interfering with how the immune system responds to cancer cells in other ways. Immunotherapy helps the immune system overcome these hurdles to better fight cancer.

Getting Back on Track

Metabolism – it’s how the food we eat gets turned into energy, and surprisingly it’s a lot like a train network. Your metabolism is a series of interconnected chemical reactions that have a beginning and a destination. At each “stop”, a reaction is carried out by an enzyme, the chemical catalysts of the body, to allow the process to keep moving along the path. But much like a train network, it doesn’t always run.