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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.

CALENDAR ITEM: Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievements Summer Forum Will Feature More Than 130 Projects

than 130 undergraduates will present their work at the Undergraduate Research Creative Achievements Forum. The forum showcases student research and scholarly and creative achievements to the Mizzou community. MU undergraduates from any major and all academic levels are eligible to present their work.

Marriage Can Lead to Dramatic Reduction in Heavy Drinking in Young Adults

Research on alcohol-use disorders consistently shows problem drinking decreases as we age. Also called, “maturing out,” these changes generally begin during young adulthood and are partially caused by the roles we take on as we become adults. Now, researchers collaborating between the University of Missouri and Arizona State University have found evidence that marriage can cause dramatic drinking reductions even among people with severe drinking problems. Scientists believe findings could help improve clinical efforts to help these people, inform public health policy changes and lead to more targeted interventions for young adult problem drinkers.

New Air Recovery System Could Save Poultry Farmers Millions Annually

One of the largest variable expenses in poultry production is heating the barns in which chickens and turkeys are housed. Now, a team of researchers and engineers from the University of Missouri have developed a waste-heat recovery system that could lead to significant savings in propane costs for farmers and producers heating their poultry barns. Scientists believe the energy efficient ventilation system also could be critical to maintaining air quality for birds and keeping the birds healthier while reducing the need for antibiotics.

Exercise May Reverse Age-Related Bone Loss in Middle-Aged Men

Men gradually lose bone mass as they age, which puts them at risk for developing osteoporosis, a condition that makes bones weak and prone to breakage. Nearly 2 million men in the U.S. have the condition, and 16 million more have low bone mass, studies have shown. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that certain types of weight-lifting and jumping exercises, when completed for at least six months, improve bone density in active, healthy, middle-aged men with low bone mass. These exercises may help prevent osteoporosis by facilitating bone growth, according to the study published in Bone.

Scientists Find New Research Models to Study Food Crops

Farmers often are required to apply nitrogen fertilizers to their crops to maintain quality and improve yields. Worldwide, farmers used more than 100 million tons of nitrogen in 2011, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In the same year, the U.S. alone produced and imported more than $37 billion in nitrogen. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri are working toward less reliance on nitrogen in plants, which could help decrease costs for farmers, develop heartier plants, eliminate runoff in water supplies and provide food for a growing global population.

MU Earns Reaccreditation from Higher Learning Commission

The University of Missouri has been reaccredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The regional accreditation agency validates the overall quality of institutions and again has affirmed the mission and responsibility of Missouri’s flagship university to the public.

Scientists Develop Free, Online Genetic Research Tool

Technology rapidly is advancing the study of genetics and the search for causes of major diseases. Analysis of genomic sequences that once took days or months now can be performed in a matter of hours. Yet, for most genetic scientists, the lack of access to computer servers and programs capable of quickly handling vast amounts of data can hinder genetic advancements. Now, a group of scientists at the University of Missouri has introduced a game changer in the world of biological research. The online, free service, RNAMiner, has been developed to handle large data sets which could lead to faster results in the study of plant and animal genomics.

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