Category Archives: Uncategorized

Marine Litter and MARLISCO

posted on July 15, 2014

Many of us have been or will go on vacation soon and beach destinations around the globe will always be amongst the top destinations. But are we aware of the impact we have on sea ecosystems? The MARLISCO project aims to increase social awareness and co-responsibility.


Marine environments are threatened by human activities. The european MARLISCO project aims to raise social awareness and co-reponsibility. Credits:

From MARLISCO’s website to be found here:


Marine Litter – any persistent manufactured or processed solid material that is discarded, disposed or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment – is globally recognised as an emerging threat to the environment, human health and safety, as well as livelihoods.

The project is European and aims to promote responsibility amongst communities and decision-makers through a series of actions. For example, one important activity of MARLISCO is to inform and empower the society, specially in coastal countries; also, a collection of best practices concerning the use of the seas was prepared to be presented to the general public and the institutions interested; exhibitions, workshops, festivals and clean-ups are currently taking place around the European coastline.

Another interesting activity that has taken place was a video contest for youngsters. Students were asked to “collect their visions on the issue of marine litter” and make short videos on the subject. Soon I will be dedicating a post to the award winning videos, so stay in touch!

One major component of marine litter is plastic. Plastics are part of our everyday lives and it would be very difficult to stop using plastic products altogether. In laboratories, plastics are a big part of the waste generated – think about all the tubes, plates, flasks, containers, etc, that are used on a daily basis! So, the proper disposal of laboratory plastic consumables should be a concern of the scientific community. Keep following the blog because there will be more on this subject soon and please share your ideas on this subject in the comments section.



World Population Day – Every Newborn

This post is part of the World Population Day Series. (11th of July 2014) 

The Lancet medical journal has dedicated a special series of articles to the theme of newborn health around the globe.

Every Newborn

Every Newborn. Credits: #worldpopday

The Every Newborn series,  published on the 20th of May, provides a comprehensive depiction of the progresses concerning the attempts to increase newborn survival. The numbers speak for themselves: every year 2.9 million newborns die and 2.6 million babies are stillborn. The areas of the world where most of the fatalities occur are south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Now, the five papers on Lancet have highlighted that the progress to prevent newborn mortality has been slow and that many child deaths are preventable. In particular, the day of birth was found to be the most dangerous for mother and child survival, and researchers have concluded that special health care measures should be concentrated on the days around birth.

An important aspect concerning these documents: The Executive Summary contains an Action Plan with milestones to end preventable newborn deaths and stillbirths by 2035.

For more information I do recommend The press conference for the Every Newborn series. It was Filmed May 20, 2014, in New York, Kim Eva Dickson, UNICEF Senior Adviser of Maternal and Newborn Health, and Joy Lawn of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine field questions at the Every Newborn press conference. 

Continue reading

World Population Day Series

On the 11th of July we will celebrate The World Population Day. I am starting here a series of posts on population growth and associated aspects. Expect more on the days to come. Meanwhile, check here for information concerning this important day.

The World Population Day is an annual event. “Whether we can live together equitably on a healthy planet will depend on the choices and decisions we make now” can be read in the UN website Greening the Blue.



World Population Day: 11th of July of 2014. Around the world as the World population increases. Building homes and feeding the ever growing population will remain a challenge. In addition, resources are not unlimited. #worldpopday

The silk road to epigenetics

The silk road to epigenetics: the driving forces behind silkworm domestication

Silkworms are under the spotlight after the publication of a study where epigenetic modifications are compared between wild and domesticated varieties. This work unravels the mechanisms that led to the domestication of silkworms and the improvements in silk production about 5000 years ago in China.


The domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori, was the focus of the study by Xiang and colleagues, published online on the 23rd of September 2013 in the journal BMC Genomics. Photo: Wikipedia

The domesticated silkworm has been artificially selected to produce more and better silk, the luxurious product that is so valued worldwide. It has been estimated that silk production has increased up to tenfold with sericulture (the breeding of silkworms for the harvesting of silk, also known as silk farming). For example, the domesticated variety shows nowadays a series of human-preferred traits such as faster growth, bigger cocoons and increased resistance to disease than the wild variety. Silk production is of great economical importance, especially in rural areas of the main producing countries, China and India, and research in these animals is expected to lead to an important increase in revenues. In addition, these are good model organisms for studies in invertebrates, as they easy to breed and have fast growth. Now, a team comprising scientists from various Institutes in China has asked the question: which are the main differences found in domesticated silkworms, apart from genetic divergences, that contribute to their particular characteristics?

Continue reading

With a little help from my friends – Scientists tool up via Facebook

Do you want to read an article from a journal that you don’t subscribe? Your University’s library does not give you institutional access to the journals you need?

IMG_2506It seems that you need a little help from your friends… at facebook! There is a well-kept gem of social networking that you will find worth discovering: a facebook group that can send you the papers you have asked for, right to your email, in as little as a few minutes!


There are so many journals out there and most papers do not come in the now fashionable open-access format. So, scientists have to be lucky to work in a University or Institute that subscribes a wide variety of journals and makes those available to their employees. Otherwise, you may be left with the abstracts only, and we all know how abstracts can be VERY different from the actual content of a paper.

Also, you want to see the figures and decide about the results yourself, as well as check the methods section to maybe use some of the techniques in your future work. If you can’t access the full version of that paper you really need, don’t feel desperate because there is a very simple way to get the article delivered to your email in minutes or hours. It’s not illegal, don’t worry, it’s based on sharing resources with your friends, which, I believe we all agree, it’s how science should work. The Facebook group is called “Bájame este paper por fa !!” (yes, in Spanish/Castilian, which means something like “download this paper for me plea”) and although it is a closed group, you will have no difficulty in joining once you ask for permission. Being part of the group means that you can start asking for – and getting – papers.

Continue reading