New Red Fluorescent Proteins Allow Scientists to Better ‘see’ What Memories Are Made Of

New Red Fluorescent Proteins Allow Scientists to Better ‘see’ What Memories Are Made Of

Researchers at Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience and Stanford University teamed up to develop a new molecular tag which allowed visualization of two signaling proteins’ activity in a single dendritic spine in real time.

An ongoing challenge for scientists working to understand the brain is being able to see all its parts. Researchers have spent centuries developing better imaging techniques to see beyond the abilities of our naked eyes. They’ve built microscopes that gather information down to the electron level. They’ve engineered fluorescent tags that make cells and structures of interest more visible. One of the most effective imaging techniques for neuroscientists has been the combination of FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) and FLIM (Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging Microscopy). This duo gives scientists the power to view biochemical dynamics of proteins with high spatial and temporal accuracy, while also allowing them to calculate the minuscule distances between molecules in real time.

At the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI), researchers in Ryohei Yasuda’s laboratory, such as postdoctoral researcher, Tal Laviv, Ph.D., have been working to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of learning and memory. The team has been using FRET-FLIM to study the activity of proteins in dendritic spines, protrusions that form off of neuronal branches, and make synaptic connections and communicate with other neurons. Dendritic spines are known to emerge, change shape, and even disappear over a lifetime, and these changes are considered the cellular basis for learning and memory. These imaging techniques were a key factor in helping the team elucidate some of the molecular mechanisms behind this type of plasticity.

Nonetheless, there is an important limitation in using these techniques to understand how multiple types of proteins and molecules interact in living samples. There is only one FRET donor tag (GFP) that will work within a FLIM protocol, so if researchers want to study two proteins, they’ll investigate “Protein A” in one set of experiments, following an additional set of experiments to examine “Protein B” activity. Following these experiments, the researchers will need to draw conclusions about how these two proteins interact based on these two sets of experiments. This not only increases the amount of time it takes to study multiple proteins, but also makes it more difficult to analyze how they interact in space and time. “For those types of systems,” explained Dr. Laviv, “it’s crucial to look at as many proteins as possible at the same time to correlate their activities.”

Researchers at Stanford University, from the research team of Dr. Michael Lin, which specializes in building protein based tools for molecular imaging, reached out to the Yasuda Lab at MPFI after they identified a new set of red fluorescent proteins, or RFPs, named CyRFPs. They suggested this new set of RFPs could be used in combination with GFP for simultaneous imaging.

To determine if this could work, the scientists tested the ability to visualize dendritic spine structure and function using CyRFP and a GFP-based calcium bio-sensor. Using this combination, they were able to monitor the structure and function of spines in real time, even in the brains of living animals. Finally, the team tweaked a variant of CyRFP, which now could be used as a fluorescent FRET donor a part of a FRET pair, named monomeric cyan-excitable red fluorescent protein (mCyRFP1). Scientists in the Yasuda Lab conducted a series of experiments to test the newly proposed FRET pair alongside a GFP bionsensor. The technique allowed them to view, for the first time, the activities of two signaling molecules within a single dendritic spine as the spine was undergoing synaptic plasticity. A description of this new technique was published on October 31, 2016 in Nature Methods.

Dr. Laviv explains that the new technique will increase both accuracy and efficiency of FRET-FLIM imaging experiments and could potentially increase our understanding of how learning and memory ultimately alters the structure and function of dendritic spines.

This work was supported by grants from Human Frontiers Science Program, NSF Graduate Fellowship, a Siebel Scholar Award, National Institute of Health grants R01MH080047, 1DP1NS096787, 1U01NS090600 and P50GM107615, a Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Career Award for Medical Scientists, a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar Award and the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience.

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Materials provided by MAX PLANCK FLORIDA INSTITUTE FOR NEUROSCIENCE . Original written by Marla Paul. Note: Content may be edited for style and length

New Solar Panels Pull Drinking Water From The Air Because Clean Water Is A Human Right.

New Solar Panels Pull Drinking Water From The Air Because Clean Water Is A Human Right.

These solar panels are seriously changing the game for both tap water and clean energy.

Credit: Zero Mass Water

Credit: Zero Mass Water

In an exciting new development, a startup company called Zero Mass Water has created solar panels that passively and efficiently pull water from the sky, purify it, and transport it to the tap for drinking and cooking purposes. Though the primary motivation for creating these panels was to help people living without access to clean drinking water, it can also help a variety of people from all walks of life while conserving traditional energy that is bad for the environment.

The founder and CEO of the startup, Cody Friesen, said he was inspired when he was setting up another one of his technologies in Indonesia and thought about the abundance of rain, but lack of clean water in the region. He decided to focus his efforts on improving the global water supply. Friesen told Fastco Exist:

“Everybody’s heard about the latest nanofilter this…or whatever the latest pump technology is. None of those end up being sort of the leapfrog technology that addresses the fact that drinking water is a fundamental human right, and yet we have one person dying every 10 seconds from waterborne illness on the planet.”

Credit: Zero Mass Water

Credit: Zero Mass Water

Though these are the first solar panels of their kind, the idea and technology behind the water conversion and supply is simple. Zero Mass Water created a material that absorbs water from the air at an extremely accelerated rate, then it draws the water back out to evaporate it and draw out pollutants. After this purification process, the distilled water is run through a mineral block to add calcium and magnesium and to improve the taste.

Since waterborne illnesses are so prevalent, this water can save millions of lives and slowly eliminate diseases, as it becomes more widely-used by countries suffering the most as a result of contaminated drinking water. Having an in-home water supply would also save girls and women worldwide approximately 200 million hours annually, as that’s how much time they spend retrieving water. They could use this time to go to school, perform more tasks around the house, or work.

The solar panels are currently being tested in Ecuador, Jordan, and Mexico to test their viability and effectiveness. Though they’re starting out in areas rampant with poverty, the panels can also make a difference in the lives of the citizens whose water supplies are tainted with lead. There are roughly 5,300 such water systems, and this could be a safe alternative to drinking that lethal tap water and buying bottled water.


Credit: Zero Mass Water

Credit: Zero Mass Water

A single panel can provide enough clean drinking and cooking water for a family of 4, and additional panels can be used on larger buildings, such as hospitals.

Zero Mass Water hopes that this concept won’t remain novel for too long; despite the success they’re likely to have for being the only sellers of this panel, their goal is to make the technology common throughout all solar panels installed in people’s homes.

“When you think about solar today, what do you think about? Electricity,” Friesen said. “Everybody thinks that way. I think that in a few years when people think about solar, they’ll also think about water abundance.”

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How To Make Natural Homemade Viagra Using ONLY 2 Ingredients!

How To Make Natural Homemade Viagra Using ONLY 2 Ingredients!

If you want to prepare your home made Viagra, you will need the ingredients that are usually found in every supermarket. These ingredients are incredibly powerful and potent aphrodisiacs.

Viagra is a highly effective drug for men, which is useful to increase sexual function and stamina. Very few people know the secret. Yet, it can be made at home!


The watermelon is rich with citrulline-amino acid that helps to improve the blood flow to the heart and the genitalia. Actually, it produces an effect similar to some drugs, such as Viagra.

Don’t forget that you shouldn’t use sugar, spices, salt, or any other flavors, which may decrease the strength of the 2 main ingredients.

You need to slice the watermelon in small pieces and put the pieces into a food processor so that you can get about 1 liter of watermelon juice. The white stuff in the shell from the watermelon is also high in concentrated Citrulline and need to be juiced also.

Pour the juice into a pot. Boil for a couple minutes after that squeeze the lemon juice inside the pot. Mix the 2 ingredients.

It is best to continue boiling till most of the liquid evaporate, stop when liquid in the pot is reduce to about half.

Let it stay about an hour or so.

Next, move the potion to a rinsed and cleaned glass jar and keep it in a cool and dry place such as a refrigerator.

You need to consume this drink on an empty stomach, early in the morning and before dinner, the quantity that need to be consumed is among 2 tablespoons to 1/3 of the cup.

This depends on the body weight and size. This homemade Viagra is safe and potent for people of all ages. Plus, it’s delicious!

You can also add strawberries and Lime in your recipe!



Cannabis Protects The Brain From Traumatic Injuries And Concussions, Study Finds

Cannabis Protects The Brain From Traumatic Injuries And Concussions, Study Finds

Big Pharma doesn’t want you to know about everything marijuana can do.

Credit: University of Mary Washington

Credit: University of Mary Washington

More and more studies on the abilities of THC are being released recently, and the results are astonishing. Though many have suspected that the drug works wonders on the brain and central nervous system, studies on these theories have been few and far between because of marijuana’s legal status and a lack of funding for illegal drugs.

That’s slowly starting to change as more states embrace the drug both medicinally and recreationally. As a result, more studies have been conducted to determine what the effects of THC on the body are and the findings are miraculous.

One of the more recent studies, which was published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, found that using THC soon after incurring a brain injury can significantly lessen the bruising to the brain and even assist in the healing process. Normally when the brain experiences trauma, the body releases harmful mediators that lead to excitotoxicity, oxidative stress and inflammation and causes secondary, delayed neuronal death.

Credit: Truth CDM

Credit: Truth CDM

The use of cannabis, however, has been shown to decrease the damage done to the brain by protecting the neural system. It even stimulated the release of minocycline, which reduces brain swelling and neurological impairment while diffusing further injuries to the brain’s axons.

Overall, the mice that were administered cannabinoid appeared to have a significant reduction of brain swelling, better clinical recovery, reduced infarct volume, and reduced brain cell death. This is extremely relevant in a time where consumers are becoming disillusioned when it comes to pharmaceutical drugs and are looking for alternative methods of treatment. Turning to marijuana is a sustainable, more natural approach to curing and calming the body and should be researched further to determine how it can best be used in humans.

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Sperm Whales Found Dead In Germany, Stomachs FULL Of Plastic And Car Parts

Sperm Whales Found Dead In Germany, Stomachs FULL Of Plastic And Car Parts

The whales’ deaths are symbolic of humanity’s shocking disregard for marine life.

13062168_848907798547635_7223556516925329752_n-768x513In January, 29 sperm whales were found stranded on shores around the North Sea, an area that is too shallow for the marine wildlife. Only recently were details of the animals’ necropsy released. However, scientists were deeply disturbed by what they found in the animals’ stomachs.

According to a press release from Wadden Sea National Park in Schleswig-Holstein, many of the whales had stomachs FULL of plastic debris, including a 13-meter-long fishing net, a 70 cm piece of plastic from a car and other pieces of plastic litter.

Some suggest that the animals thought the items were food, such as squid, which is their main staple. Others, however, believe that the travesty is largely a result of humanity’s shocking disregard for marine life, which has resulted in an overabundance of plastic in the oceans.

Said Robert Habeck, environment minister for the state of Schleswig-Holstein:

“These findings show us the results of our plastic-oriented society. Animals inadvertently consume plastic and plastic waste, which causes them to suffer, and at worst, causes them to starve with full stomachs.”

Nicola Hodgkins of Whale and Dolphin Conservation echoed that statement. She stated:

“Although the large pieces will cause obvious problems and block the gut, we shouldn’t dismiss the smaller bits that could cause a more chronic problem for all species of cetacean – not just those who suction feed.”

This isn’t the first time a sperm whale has been found dead with innards full of inedible contents. In 2011, a young whale was found floating dead off the Greek island of Mykonos. Its stomach was so distended, biologists thought the animal swallowed a giant squid. However, when its four stomachs were dissected, nearly 100 plastic bags and other pieces of debris were found.

It should be noted that the plastic is not what killed the young male sperm whales. According to National Geographic, they died of heart failure. This was a result of mistakenly swimming into the North Sea, likely in search of squid, and then not being able to support their own body weights in the shallow water. As a result, their internal organs collapsed.

Regardless, the fact that many of their stomachs were full of pollution is a horrible indictment of humans. As has been reported in the past, 80% of the plastic which is discarded on land ends up in the oceans, where it is consumed by wildlife or swirls for years in great garbage patches. The fact that mankind – a species with a smaller brain than a whale – is responsible for such a travesty is ironic and saddening.

Until humans learn the value of living sustainably while respecting all life forms, travesties such as this one will continue to take place.

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7 Bees Facing Extinction Added to Endangered Species List for First Time

7 Bees Facing Extinction Added to Endangered Species List for First Time

Cantankerous Yellow-faced Bee photographed in Hawai'i County, Hawaii. SteveMlodinow / Flickr

Cantankerous Yellow-faced Bee photographed in Hawai’i County, Hawaii. Steve Mlodinow / Flickr

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) has added seven bee species to the endangered species list, a first for bees. Native to Hawaii, these yellow-faced bees are facing extinction due to habitat loss, wildfires and invasive species.

The tiny, solitary bees were once abundant in Hawaii, but surveys in the late 1990s found that many of its traditional sites had been urbanized or colonized by non-native plants. In March 2009, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation petitioned the USFWS to list these bee species as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

“The USFWS decision is excellent news for these bees, but there is much work that needs to be done to ensure that Hawaii’s bees thrive,” wrote Matthew Shepherd, communications director for Xerces, in a blog post responding to the announcement.

Yellow-faced bees are the most important pollinators for many key trees and shrubs in Hawaii. They once populated the island from the coast up to 10,000 feet on Mauna Kea and Haleakalā. They get their name from yellow-to-white facial markings, and they are often mistaken for wasps.

According to Karl Magnacca, an entomologist with the O’ahu Army Natural Resources Program, the bees evolved in an isolated environment and were unprepared for the changes brought by humans. These included new plants, domestic animals such as cattle and goats, as well as ants and other bees that compete with the native Hawaiian bees.

One of the seven species, Hylaeus anthracites, is now found in just 15 locations on Hawaii, Maui, Kahoolawe, Molokai and Oahu. Protection of these areas could be a start to aid the bees.

“Unfortunately, the USFWS has not designated any ‘critical habitat,’ areas of land of particular importance for the endangered bees,” wrote Shepherd.

The listing comes just a week after the USFWS proposed listing another bee, the rusty patchedbumble bee, to the endangered species list. During the past 50 years, about 30 percent of beehives in the U.S. have collapsed, according to the the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On Sept. 9, a new study published in the journal, Scientific Reports, found that the world’s most commonly used insecticide, neonicotinoids, caused queen bees to lay fewer eggs and worker bees to be less productive. A Greenpeace investigation of internal studies conducted by chemical makers Bayer and Syngenta showed that these chemicals can harm honeybee colonies when exposed to high concentrations. In January, the EPA found that one of these neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, can be harmful to bees.

The National Pesticide Information Center states unequivocally, “Imidacloprid is very toxic to honeybees and other beneficial insects.” The EPA has proposed prohibiting the use of neonicotinoids in the presence of bees.

The USFWS ruling protecting Hawaii’s yellow-faced bees becomes effective Oct. 31.

Source: EcoWatch