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Posts tagged as Russia

Growing urban middle class in Africa spurs food production that could curb hunger

Rome — The rise of an urban middle class across much of Africa is stoking demand for food that could curb hunger and cut poverty in rural outposts,The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said rural communities were in “a state of crisis”, with high poverty rates and poor services driving hunger and malnutrition.

One in five people, or more than 256-million, are hungry in Africa, according to the latest figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. But there are opportunities too, the IFPRI said in its annual report.In Africa, a growing middle class with higher purchasing power is fuelling a spike in demand for food — with an interesting twist, says IFPRI Africa director Ousmane Badiane.“They are not just asking for imported food, wine and cheese but to have traditional staples on the tables.

But they don’t want to eat them the traditional way,” he said.This has given birth to a large number of small agribusinesses that process, package and distribute such foods, creating jobs and opportunities for small farmers, he said.In Senegal, new processing technologies led to a growth in ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat millet products and reversed years of low and declining consumption of this healthy, gluten-free grain, said the report.Similarly, domestic brands of processed local dairy and grain products now have a significant presence in Ghana, Mali and Tanzania, it added.

This sector is likely to grow further, with projections that most traditional staples such as millet and cassava would be consumed in processed form within 20 years, Badiane said.The African Continental Free Trade Agreement, expected to come into force this year, would also help, he said, by allowing farmers and businesses to tap into a market of 1.2-billion people across 55 countries.Turning opportunity into reality needs technology and financing that would allow locals to innovate and compete, he said.

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Hypothesis: Bacteria use ‘air bridge’ to travel the world

Instead of hitching a ride on people or animals, some bacteria may travel thousands of miles through the air, according to a new study.Our research suggests that there must be a planet-wide mechanism that ensures the exchange of bacteria between faraway places, says senior author Konstantin Severinov, a principal investigator at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology and professor of molecular biology and biochemistry at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Remote placesFor the study, which appears in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Severinov and other researchers studied the molecular memories of bacteria from their encounters with viruses, with the memories stored in bacterial DNA.Bacteriophages—viruses of bacteria—are the most abundant and ubiquitous forms of life on the planet, and have a profound influence on microbial populations, community structure, and evolution, according to the study.The scientists collected heat-loving Thermus thermophilus bacteria in hot gravel on Mount Vesuvius and hot springs on Mount Etna in Italy; hot springs in the El Tatio region in northern Chile and southern Chiles Termas del Flaco region; and hot springs in the Uzon caldera in Kamchatka, Russia.In virus-infected bacterial cells, molecular memories store in special regions of bacterial DNA called CRISPR arrays.
Cells that survive infections pass the memories—small pieces of viral DNA—to their offspring. The order of these memories allows scientists to follow the history of bacterial interaction with viruses over time.Initially, the scientists thought that bacteria of the same species living in hot springs thousands of miles apart—and therefore isolated from each other—would have very different memories of their encounters with viruses. Thats because the bacteria all should have independent histories of viral infections.
The scientists also thought that bacteria should evolve very rapidly and become different, much like the famous finches Charles Darwin observed on the Galapagos Islands.The scientists want to sample air at different altitudes and locations around the world and identify the bacteria there to test the air bridge hypothesis.
They would need access to planes, drones, or research balloons.Additional scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences; Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia; Pasteur Institute in France; University of Santiago de Chile; and Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel contributed to the work.

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