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Bananas threatened, Bedtime aspirin, Microbial terroir

55 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 01 December 2013

Bananas in Peril
Did you know that apart from local varieties in banana-growing countries, most of us eat the same type of banana which is exported around the world? The Cavendish, which replaced the Gros Michel after the deadly Panama disease wiped out many varieties in the 1950s, is now under attack from a new strain of the fungus. It has spread throughout major banana producers in South East Asia and has now emerged in a relatively isolated banana plantation in Jordan. Scientists say it is a developing epidemic with social and financial consequences.

Is it better to take aspirin at bedtime?
Around the world millions of people are prescribed a daily low dose of aspirin after they have had a heart attack or a stroke, to help prevent them from having another. The aspirin prevents the platelets in the blood from attaching to each other to form a clot. Most patients take their aspirin in the morning, but Dr Tobias Bonten, Clinical Epidemiologist at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, wondered if taking it at night might reduce the risk of morning heart attack. He has just presented his research at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions.

DNA sequencing used to identify the unique microbial terroir of individual grapes
The fuzzy concept of "terroir" for wine fans has always been difficult to pin down. Climate, soil, geology and individual wine-making practice don't make it easy to identify what makes particular wines unique. But Dr David Mills, Professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at University of California, Davis, has used DNA sequencing to study the microbial ecology of individual grapes. And he concludes bacteria and fungi could explain "microbial terroir".

(Photo credit: A woman shops at a food store for bananas © AFP/Getty Images)


7 items
  • Bananas under threat

    Deadly Panama disease causes concern by reaching a relatively isolated plantation, Jordan

  • Bedtime aspirin

    Is it better to take aspirin at bedtime?

  • Microbial terroir

    DNA sequencing used to identify the unique microbial terroir of individual grapes.

  • Dangerous sex

    Sexual activity-related admissions to a Swiss emergency department

  • China’s absorptive science

    A recent report describes the rapidly expanding state of innovation and science in China.

  • Gut microbiota

    New insights into the important relationship we have with microbes that live in our gut.

  • E-parking

    Unique solar powered parking sensors in New Zealand.


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