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MU Research of Zebrafish Neurons May Lead to Better Understanding of Birth Defects like Spina Bifida

The zebrafish, a tropical freshwater fish similar to a minnow and native to the southeastern Himalayan region, is well established as a key tool for researchers studying human diseases, including brain disorders. Using zebrafish, scientists can determine how individual neurons develop, mature and support basic functions like breathing, swallowing and jaw movement. Researchers at the University of Missouri say that learning about neuronal development and maturation in zebrafish could lead to a better understanding of birth defects such as spina bifida in humans.

$1 Million Gift to Fund Exercise Physiology Research at MU

Frank Booth, a resident of Columbia and a professor in the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, School of Medicine and MU Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, has given a $1 million gift to MU to fund his research into physical activity and health and to endow the Frank Booth Fellowship in Physical Activity and Health in the MU School of Medicine in perpetuity. Booth, an expert on genetic motivations for exercise and activity, has made research into unhealthy effects of physical inactivity on the brain and aerobic capacity his life’s work. He says his gift is motivated by a passion to help humans and animals live longer lives free from chronic diseases.

Salamanders Are a More Abundant Food Source in Forest Ecosystems Than Previously Thought

Using new sampling and statistical techniques not available in the past, researchers at the University of Missouri have estimated that the population of salamanders in forested regions of the Missouri Ozarks are 2-4 times higher than originally thought, and in other regions of the eastern U.S. may be on average 10 times higher.

MU, Danforth Plant Science Center to Hire Four Joint Researchers

— Officials from the University of Missouri and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis announced yesterday a new collaborative agreement that will lead to the hiring of four new researchers who enhance plant sciences research that will benefit the state, nation and world.

Businesses Can Help Preserve Endangered Species, Improve Employee Morale With Small Landscape Changes

Raptors, or birds of prey, some of which are endangered species, typically live in environments that provide natural land cover, such as forests and grasslands. Protecting endangered raptor species helps maintain food chain balance and prevents overpopulation of common raptor prey, such as snakes and rodents. As more businesses are built on the edges of urban areas, land where raptors once lived becomes industrialized, which raises concerns about the consequences of habitat destruction on raptor populations. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that businesses can contribute to raptor preservation efforts by engaging in less development of lawn areas and increased planting or preservation of native grasslands and woodlots.

Catering to Needs of In-Store, Online Customers Boosts Marketing Effectiveness, Revenue

Online retail sales totaled $75 billion in the second quarter of 2014, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. As consumers shop more using the Internet and cell phones, retailers must adjust their marketing strategies to reach these consumers. In a recently published study, a University of Missouri researcher found that consumers’ preferences differ when they are shopping in a physical store compared to shopping online. Catering to shoppers’ online and in-store preferences can increase the effectiveness of traditional marketing tactics such as direct marketing and enhanced customer service, the researcher found.

Moderate Consumption of Sugary Drinks Has Little Impact on Adolescents’ Metabolic Health, MU Study Finds

Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugar in the diets of adolescents in the United States, and young adults ages 15-20 consume more of these drinks than any other age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adolescent obesity rates, which have quadrupled over the past thirty years, led to widespread scrutiny of added dietary sugars, especially those found in carbonated beverages. Now, MU researchers have found that short-term, moderate consumption of high-fructose and high-glucose beverages has little impact on the metabolic health of weight-stable, physically active adolescents.

MU Researchers Offer First Analysis of New Human Glucose Disorder

Glycogen storage disorders, which affect the body’s ability to process sugar and store energy, are rare metabolic conditions that frequently manifest in the first years of life. Often accompanied by liver and muscle disease, this inability to process and store glucose can have many different causes, and can be difficult to diagnose. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri who have studied enzymes involved in metabolism of bacteria and other organisms have catalogued the effects of abnormal enzymes responsible for one type of this disorder in humans. Their work could help with patient prognosis and in developing therapeutic options for this glycogen storage disease.

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