The New Jersey Department of Agriculture ran a FoodCorps taste test of roasted tomatoes last week at the Texas Avenue School in Atlantic City during the eighth annual Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week.

Students tasted roasted tomatoes donated by Santa Sweets of Cumberland County. Staff from the school cafeteria and FoodCorps NJ service site AmeriCorps helped with the tasting.

FoodCorps is a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who connect children to real food grown locally.

“FoodCorps is doing a wonderful job of creating an atmosphere where our students can test a variety of foods that are good for them,” said LaKecia Hyman, the principal at Texas Avenue School. “We know that making healthy eating choices enhances a student’s ability to learn.”

Domesticated foxes show changes in brain neurons known to affect learning, memory

The Russian tame fox experiment has bred silver foxes for tame and aggressive behaviors for more than 50 generations at the Institute for Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia. It has shown that genetic changes resulting in tameness — defined as an eagerness for human contact — can occur in just a few generations of selection, according to researchers.

A Cornell University study looked at the brains of 12 aggressive foxes and 12 tame foxes from the institute. Analysis found differences in 179 genes, some resulting in changes in serotonin and glucose pathways that impact neurons known to affect learning and memory, the researchers said. Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

Rutgers study finds hope for green algae in warmer world

Green algae that evolved to tolerate hostile and fluctuating conditions in salt marshes and inland salt flats are expected to survive climate change, thanks to genes they took from bacteria, according to a Rutgers-led study.

The findings reveal how the genomes of the Picochlorum single-celled green algae evolved from those of freshwater ancestors, allowing them to adjust to a saltier and more hostile environment. While the changes happened over millions of years, they parallel what is happening now on a rapid scale, said senior author Debashish Bhattacharya, a professor at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

The algae provide clues to how nature can modify genomes, and suggest ways scientists may engineer more robust algae for biofuels and other benefits, Bhattacharya said.

The study appears in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Warming climate means taller tundra plants

Some plants in the tundra are adapting to a warming climate by growing taller and developing larger leaves, according to Steven Oberbauer of Florida International University.

Oberbauer said these changes mean the tundra soil is releasing more nutrients — and greenhouse gasses — as it thaws.

“Cold and wet tundra soil hold large amounts of organic carbon as peat. But, as temperatures rise and the soil thaws, the organic matter decomposes, releasing the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere, causing further warming,” said Oberbauer, professor in the FIU Department of Biological Sciences. “We’re better off if things stay frozen.”

Oberbauer was part of the international research team led by Aarhus University in Denmark that conducted the study, recently published in Nature.

Contact: 609-272-7219 Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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