Bumblebee showing the array of hairs on its body. Image courtesy of Gregory Sutton, Dom Clarke, Erica Morley, and Daniel Robert
Science Friday airs every Friday on WSQX at 2pm.
On this episode of Science Friday, doctors are reviving ideas from the pre-antibiotic age to fight drug-resistant bacteria. And a look at how bumblebees know where to buzz.
Last week, the U.S. Army announced the arrival of a new enemy on American soil. But the danger was microscopic: a bacterial gene, easily passed to other bacteria, which confers resistance to one of our last-ditch antibiotics, colistin. The news was a reminder of our dwindling options in fighting superbugs. But researchers like Brad Spellman and Paul Turner are working on a few out-of-the-box ideas for the post-antibiotic era. Felicia Wu joins too, to talk about the lifecycle of an antibiotic, from the farm to your plate.
Science Friday will also explore how Bumblebees detect different visual and chemical cues from flowers to identify which ones contain a nectar reward. Reporting in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers discovered that the furry insects use the hair on their bodies to detect weak electrical signals put out by flowers. Biomechanical engineer Gregory Sutton and sensory biophysics researcher Erica Morley, both authors on the paper, discuss how bees sense this electric buzz.