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Thinking more about the CKDu (Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Cause) epidemics in Latin America and India amongst agricultural workers...and possible causes.

I find myself deeply wondering about currently understudied yet important symbionts and beneficial kidney bacteria that may be inadvertantly affected and disabled by increased heat AND environmental toxin exposure (similar to the bleaching of corals by the exodus of symbiotic dinoflagellates which provided them their food).

The Role of Coral Reefs, Photosynthesis, and Predators on the Origin of Parasitism by Patrick J. Keeling,University of British Columbia

Apicomplexans..such as the parasitic Plasmodium Falciparum (which causes malaria), and  Toxiplasma Gondii (T.Gondii) which is estimated to non-fatally infect fully one third of the human population(!?) contain apicoplasts...vestigial nonphotosynthetic chloroplasts...plastids which originated from an alga through secondary endosymbiosis.

Scientists have been trying to target these apicoplasts for new anti-malarial drugs. The Apicoplast is necessary for the survival of the Plasmodium Falciparum "but no one yet is sure exactly what it does". Biosynthesis of lipids?
Please read: LifeScientist: ASM: Plasmodium's newest cousin
Returning to CKDu....(and as referenced in the above LifeScience article) certain herbicides have been proven to kill P. falicparum through disrupting a chloroplast-based shikimate pathway, which synthesises the amino acids tryptophan, phenylalanine and tyrosine...(!)
Think about that, coral reefs and the ecosystems of our own kidneys and their possible symbionts for a long moment.

After processing...My nagging/urgent thought: instead of trying to kill the Plasmodium Falciparum...wouldn't the hugely better Win-Win scenario be somehow figuring out what could coax apicomplexans to engage in mutualistic instead of parasitic behaviors?

Lest you feel this could never happen...:
Some interesting and relevant information on just this sort of surprisingly hopeful Beneficial association of another apicomplexan within the renal sac (akin to the human kidney) of the marine organism called the Sea Grape (Molgula manhattensis).
Malaria, Sea Grapes, and Kidney Stones: A Tale of Parasites Lost
article by Carl Zimmer 2010

"..Mary Beth Saffo has been studying this strange association for 20 years (here’s a 1994 profile in the New York Times), and she thinks it’s an intimate partnership. The sea grapes give Nephromyces a shelter and a never-ending buffet: its kidney stones. In exchange, Nephromyces produces nutritious compounds from the stones that the sea grapes can use. Actually, Saffo suspects, it’s a three-way partnership, because Nephromyces harbors bacteria that helps it break down the stones."

"Saffo is not the first biologist to discover a parasite turned mutualist. But it’s hard to think of another case in which a species has turned its back on such a huge legacy of death and disease. How it made such a massive swing is left for Saffo and others still to figure out. It’s possible that once Nephromyces picked up its bacterial passengers, it could thrive inside sea grapes without making them sick. Perhaps in order to put its old ways behind, a parasite just needs a little help from its friends..."

Reference: Saffo et al, “Nephromyces, a beneficial apicomplexan symbiont in marine animals.” PNAS. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1002335107

Adding to the discussion, Please read: Could 'Probiotic Epidemics' Influence Evolution? article by Moises Velasquez-Manoff

Why are the kidneys seemingly understudied within the Human Microbiome Project? I'm having trouble finding good information... Help and thoughts appreciated.
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This above is an image of Stemonitis axifera, a species of slime mold.

And here we have the hair cells (stereocilia) within the inner ear (in this case of a chicken).

And another image of the slime mold Stemonitis axifera.

Process. Deeply.

When considering the elaborate and amazing life cycles and signaling of slime molds....and the exquisite processing of our auditory systems.... a thought/question is now stuck in my head.
As with microbiologist Lynn Margulis' theories of the coevolution of much of our sensory system through symbiosis with bacteria....could animal auditory systems have their beginnings in a symbiosis with fungus?

Consider the widespread symbiosis of mycorrhizae in plant roots...fungal hyphae penetrate into the cells of the root cortex, producing characteristic branched structures called arbuscules...the plant benefits as does the fungus. "In these associations, the fungi derive photosynthetic sugars from the plants, and they assist the plant by facilitating the uptake of mineral nutrients and water. Approximately 70-80% of all plants have mycorrhizae. Mycorrhizae have evolved repeatedly in different groups of fungi." (http://www.clarku.edu/faculty/dhibbett/tftol/content/3folder/symbiotic.html)

related notes: "The molecular biology of hair cells has seen considerable progress in recent years, with the identification of the motor protein (prestin) that underlies somatic electromotility in the outer hair cells. Santos-Sacchi et al. have shown that prestin's function is dependent on chloride channel signalling and that it is compromised by the common marine pesticide tributyltin (TBT). Because this class of pollutant bioconcentrates up the food chain, the effect is pronounced in top marine predators such as orcas and toothed whales.
(- Santos-Sacchi Joseph, Song Lei, Zheng Jiefu, Nuttall Alfred L (2006-04-12)."Control of mammalian cochlear amplification by chloride anions". Journal of Neuroscience 26)

Biofilms, Biofouling , Epibiosis

Please hold for image credits- I have been searching for the right images and finding them with credits to the original photographers has not been easy. If you by chance know whose photographs these are and can link me to name and/or original site I will be sure to credit.
This post to be continued/expanded. Just sharing some thoughts in progress.

more on slime molds: 'Slime Molds Show Surprising Degree of Intelligence
A creature with no brain can learn from and even anticipate events'.: http://discovermagazine.com/2009/jan/071
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...now imagine each of us as a receptor in the evolution of a larger eye....input, filter and 'post'.....
so....evolving the eye...it may take a long while...but we are in some interesting stages...
training our global eyes to see where help is needed (instead of military target). this is evolution.:
please read this article
New 3-D Aerial Images of Haiti Will Aid Recovery and Research

'Awaiting a Vision' (nails, enamel, resin on wood, 60"x60"

Awaiting a Vision
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on universal impulse I find myself looking for a good excerpt from The Evolving Self (one of my favorite books) today to post to you. And I happen upon this blog that just posted this 2 days ago. 'good timing' if you believe in time;)no? an excerpt which also 'happens' to deal with distributed memory...ha.
I sincerely echo the intro/praise to the book here as well.thanks universe;)

The Power of Love & Trascendance - an excerpt from Csikszentmihalyi's Evolving Self
"One of the men who most influenced my perspective on the modern world is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I'm still amazed that Csikszentmihalyi's book The Evolving Self isn't continually cited. It gets my vote as the most overlooked and underappreciated books of our time.

Central to his thesis is the notion that a fully developed self comes from two often competing needs: the movements towards greater complexity and integration of that complexity into harmony, bringing those disparate elements into a whole self. Complexity results from pursuit of what makes us individuals, and he calls a person joyfully invested in complex goals a transcender. What follows is an excerpt of Evolving Self, using the Hungarian poet Gyorgy Faludy as an example.read the excerpt on R World blog
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Took an early evening walk on the magic bay with Brent...the air was chilly and we went about looking at stones and shells and such wonders.
horseshoe crab
these horshoe crab guys have always fascinated me. "They evolved in the shallow seas of the Paleozoic Era (540-248 million years ago(!!?) with other primitive arthropods like the trilobites. Horseshoe crabs are one of the oldest classes of marine arthropods, and are often referred to as 'living fossils', as they have not changed much in the last 350 to 400 million years." um..that's a long time. and here we both are.(?)

Walks on the bay always get me to thinking about time...this itty bitty moment I'm standing in and all it took to get here and all it took for these stones and other things to become what I'm looking at. Quite mind-boggling really.

Earlier at home I was playing with a little sow bug (or pill bug or woodlouse, whatever you may call it)...Also thinking about its resemblance to trilobites and other strange wonders of time...

Wonder where we are headed...this lil human species...with our endoskeleton that makes us so fleshy and fragile on the outside..so we make carapace-cars and houses out of metal and wood...and our big funny brains that help us to understand things about longevity and sustainability that we are hopefully trying to incorporate into our behaviors.....
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bookmark for more John Nash Cooperative Game Theory notes
The Mathematics of Strategy
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"Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro clones himself, android-style. His incredibly lifelike mechanical double, "Geminoid HI-1," sometimes takes his place in meetings and classes..." See pics and read the article in Wired
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Source: IST Results, March 23, 2006

"European researchers have created an interface between mammalian neurons and silicon chips. The development is a crucial first step in the development of advanced technologies that combine silicon circuits with a mammal’s nervous system.
The ultimate applications are potentially limitless. In the long term it will possibly enable the creation of very sophisticated neural prostheses to combat neurological disorders. What's more, it could allow the creation of organic computers that use living neurons as their CPU. "
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(rat neuron on chip)(YUMMY!;)

"With the help of German microchip company Infineon, NACHIP placed 16,384 transistors and hundreds of capacitors on a chip just 1mm squared in size. ....Biologically NACHIP uses special proteins found in the brain to essentially glue the neurons to the chip. These proteins act as more than a simple adhesive, however. "They also provided the link between ionic channels of the neurons and semiconductor material in a way that neural electrical signals could be passed to the silicon chip," says Vassanelli.
Once there, that signal can be recorded using the chip's transistors. What's more, the neurons can also be stimulated through the capacitors. This is what enables the two-way communications...." read the rest of the article
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...and talk into the web.

"..In sensor networks the objective is to get many such devices to collaborate and monitor specific phenomena. Each device then becomes a node of the network. The challenge is to aggregate sensor nodes into computational infrastructures that are able to produce globally meaningful information from raw local data obtained by individual sensor nodes: understanding for example that spikes in local measurements may correspond to a moving pollution front, and tracking its evolution."

tasty lil article on The arrival of geosensor networks on ZDNet.

Let's think about the phenomena of the web, and picture ourselves as sensors...then think about things like livejournal and myspace...and now let's illustrate with some art.;):

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Feb. 26th, 2006 11:29 pm
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Now, May the Force Be ... Us
VIDEOGAMES: Will Wright's Spore lets players simulate the creation itself, starting from a single cell. What kind of deity would you be?
"..For most of us, "Powers of Ten" was a welcome respite from our droning high-school science teachers. To Wright's wonderfully unhinged mind, the film turned out to be the foundation on which he could build a new computer game. Spore starts you off as a single cell inside a tide pool, consuming harmless cells and avoiding hostile ones, accumulating points all the while. Eventually you'll be able to develop your single cell into a stronger multicelled organism, then a complex reptile or mammal—which can mate, create offspring and evolve into an intelligent tribe that must compete and cooperate with other tribes developing independently on other parts of the planet. (Sound familiar?) Once your tribe develops the technology, you can travel to other planets, solar systems and galaxies, colonizing your way through the universe as benevolently or maliciously as you see fit."
Article in Newsweek

"The important thing to take away from this is not "Will Wright is making a cool game," but the way that he is making the game. He's sidestepped the whole idea of massive teams of content creators in favor of a system of building games based on player-content and emergence. The results are stunning."
Article: Gamespy: Will Wright Presents Spore... and a New Way to Think About Games

Official Site: spore.ea.com
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I've been thinking about my own seemingly shortening attention-span, and that of those around me...yes, projecting outward to the masses, is it a result of the changing media? SO strange to try to visualize this possibility into the future.
I relish reading books as a more and more necessary brain exercise/comfort these days...of having my mind lead slowly and steadily on a more linear track...whereas the very freedom and nonlinearity that the web allows me and that I love, the speed, the hyperlinks and google searches..the interactivity,the connections, messages sent and received, sent and received...drains me often, renders me Less able to 'flesh-out' a thought in paragraph form. My communication has become very dependent on links and images. Socially, I feel a (growing?or lessening?)ineptitude, wishing I could just POINT at things,books at home, pictures off the web,artpieces I've made...grunt, raise my eyebrows and squeal or something. Rip a chunk of mind off and shake it at someone.."THIS!! What about THIS!!?What do you make of it!?" Crumple various concepts physically together in a ball and throw it at the person and run.
E-mail allows me that. Real interaction finds me smiling nervously and going to the veggie dip.hmmm.
Walk this forward a few years. Will the handheld computer/cellphone become a normal part of our face-to-face communication...augmenting our discussions with imagery and links? Will we become less verbally coherent? Will conversation created 'from scratch' be relegated to more of a hobby/luxury status as we exchange recombinations of readily available floating data and imagery packets?

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