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Tiny C. elegan worms feed on weed and cannabis, study finds



In 2016, Sean Lockery was finishing up a week of studying worm eating habits when he decided to do a fun experiment on a Friday afternoon.

Oregon legalized recreational marijuana last year, so Lockery and fellow researchers at the University of Oregon wanted to see how the drug worked on hookworms. They showered microscopic worms with a cannabinoid molecule and placed high-calorie and low-calorie foods next to them.

The worms swarmed toward the high-calorie, bacterial food—Lockery’s decision was tantamount to choosing pizza over oatmeal. V study published on Thursday — the unofficial marijuana holiday on April 20 — Oregon researchers have determined that worms, like humans, become hungry and begin to chew when exposed to cannabis.

“It helps us place ourselves in the animal universe in a new way, enhancing the commonality between humans, with their huge and wonderful brains, and the tiny microscopic worm,” Lockery, professor of biology and neuroscience, told The Washington Post.

Around 1990, Lockery began studying decision-making processes in Caenorhabditis eleganstranslucent nematodes with a simple brain and no circulatory or respiratory systems.

In June 2016, Lockery was researching how C. elegans decides which bacteria to eat when he and his team began planning their weekly fun experiment. When they thought about the possible impact marijuana, the researchers thought, “Well, let’s see what happens,” Lockery said.

“We try to keep a sense of humor about what we do and that keeps us light and creative,” Lockery said. “And this research came in part from that spirit.”

Marijuana, which contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has long been known to induce hunger in humans by raising hunger hormones, activating parts of the brain that control hunger, and raising dopamine levels. Research has also found that rodents crave high-calorie foods after consuming THC.

In their lab in Oregon, the researchers poured a cannabinoid called anandamide about 50 C. elegans. The scientists moved the worms into a T-maze and placed high-calorie food on one side and low-calorie food on the other.

Although C. elegans generally prefer high-calorie foods, they ate more of them after exposure to anandamide and avoided low-calorie foods more than usual. In subsequent experiments, the researchers found that anandamide made neurons more sensitive to odors of high-calorie foods.

“This is the first time chewing gum has been demonstrated in an invertebrate,” Lockery said. “So it’s a big step up from what we currently think of as sort of the limit of the Munch.”

While the Oregon researchers’ study was due to be published last month, Lockery said Current Biology has delayed it until April 20.

Lockery hopes this research will inspire further research into how cannabis affects animals, insects and other organisms. He believes more drugs can be tested on C. elegans to predict how they will affect people.

Lockery is now studying how psychedelics affect the behavior of worms.

“My project from the very beginning was to try to figure out how the whole – albeit tiny – brain works,” Lockery said. “I didn’t really care much about drugs. I never expected this. But I’m grateful for it; it was really fun.”

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Tiny worms eat treats too | The science



This worm is genetically engineered so some neurons and muscles fluoresce. Green dots are neurons that respond to cannabinoids, and magenta dots are other neurons.
Stacy Levichev

Those who celebrate an apparently unofficial holiday 4/20 a phenomenon known to occur on Thursday scientists and non-professionals – “snacks”. Cannabis’ appetite-stimulating ability is one of its many medically beneficial properties, but it can also lead cannabis drinkers to gulp down pints of ice cream, gobble up mountains of Cheetos, or nibble a log of raw cookie dough to a stump.

According to University of Oregon neuroscientist Sean Lockery, these feats of gluttony demonstrate one of the hallmarks of gluttony, which is not only an almost insatiable hunger, but an increased desire to inhale the most delicious and high-calorie foods within reach.

But it turns out that beetles aren’t limited to humans or even mammals. Lockery and colleagues show in a study published Thursday in Current biologythat even a millimeter nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans chews his favorite foods with great pleasure while under the influence of cannabis molecules called cannabinoids.

These reactions to cannabinoids are unexpected because the evolutionary lines that produced humans and nematode worms diverged in different directions over 500 million years ago, and because S. elegans has only 302 neurons compared to about 86 billion of our neurons.

“Surprisingly, in 500 million years of evolution, the cannabinoid signaling system of the worm and humans hasn’t diverged that much,” Lockery says. This similarity could allow studies of nematode worms like this one to eventually provide insights into how more complex brains like ours work at a fundamental level.

Scientists have long known that both humans and nematode worms have receptors throughout their bodies that respond to cannabinoids. These cannabinoid receptors have evolved to bind to molecules naturally produced within the body called endocannabinoids, compounds structurally similar to the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.

Together, endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors form the endocannabinoid system, which in humans is involved in the regulation of a vast range of biological functions, including learning and memory, sleep, pain, inflammatory and immune responses, and, of course, food intake.

Inspiration to learn how WITH elegant the reaction to cannabinoids is partly due to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Oregon in 2015. That same year, Lockery and his team studied decision making using food selection in nematodes. Lockery says someone once asked out loud, almost as a joke, “What happens if you soak worms in cannabinoids?”

Previous studies have shown that S. elegans prefers food that will help it grow faster, and that these nematodes can track food, primarily bacteria, with chemical signals that approximate smell and taste.

From the very first experiment with cannabinoids, the effect was clear, says Lockery: dose nematodes with endocannabinoid anandamide and it will make them eat faster, increase their preference for their favorite foods, reduce their consumption of their least favorite foods, and not affect their health. their diet is neutral food.

The researchers showed an increase in a worm’s feeding rate using a device that can electrically measure how many times an individual worm swallows a tiny tube, and they recorded how much each test subject ate in one minute. To see how S. elegans responded to different foods, the team presented individual worms with a menu of five different types of bacteria. The bacteria in the experiments contained two species known to be delicacy nematodes, one neutral species and two undesirable species.

More endocannabinoid-influenced worms in the T-maze are drawn to the favorite food in the left hand while tasting the low-quality food on the right before moving to the left. The video is sped up to show 15 minutes of real time behavior in 5 seconds.

Aaron honey

In further testing, the researchers placed a group of worms in a T-shaped maze with patches of different bacteria at each end. The researchers then counted the number of worms in each spot of bacteria at 15-minute intervals over one hour and found that endocannabinoids also made worms more likely to seek out their favorite food, less likely to hunt down foods they didn’t need, and no more or less inspired to sit on a patch of neutral bacteria.

The team then added a paralytic agent to the bacterial buffet to keep the worms from switching between pieces of food after they made their initial choice. The results didn’t change: more anandamide-injected worms clustered around areas with preferred bacteria, and fewer worms turned their attention to the least preferred bacteria.

“This tells us that a worm odor detection system was involved,” Lockery says.

To test this further, the team used a strain of mutant worms that lacked olfactory neurons, known as AWC neurons. Lockery and colleagues found that for these mutant worms, the effects of endocannabinoids vanished—dosed subjects showed normal nutritional levels for all five bacterial species. The results showed that endocannabinoid-induced changes in eating behavior were associated with heightened sensitivity to food odors.

Expanding yet another layer of complexity, the team also used mutant worms that lack a cannabinoid receptor called NPR-19 to show that behavioral shifts require that receptor. The team then manipulated these mutant worms by restoring the NPR-19 receptor, and the nematodes were fed again. Surprisingly, the researchers got the same result when they replaced the worm’s NPR-19 cannabinoid receptor with a version found in humans called CB1.

“The same functional pathway in the endocannabinoid system is present in this simple animal, which has only 302 neurons,” says Shrikant Chalasani, a neuroscientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Research who was not involved in the study. “It shows commonality over a huge biological and evolutionary distance. When nature finds something good, it often uses the same thing over and over again, which I find beautiful and fascinating.”

Lockery and co-authors looked for the NPR-19 cannabinoid receptor on AWC olfactory neurons but did not find it there, suggesting that the true mechanism is more complex.

“That gives us a whole bushel of hypotheses to test,” Lockery says. The NPR-19 cannabinoid receptor is present on 28 different neurons in the worm’s head, and Lockery says future experiments could simply remove them one by one to find out where the cannabinoids trigger their behavioral effects.

In humans, this list of potential neurons to test would be much longer than 28, but Lockery’s research shows a striking similarity in how the endocannabinoid system functions, despite the relative simplicity of the worm.

“The more similar we are, the better we can learn about the human endocannabinoid system from studying these worms,” says Martin Skumlien, a psychopharmacologist at the University of Bath who was not involved in the study. “The endocannabinoid system regulates the amount of other neurotransmitters in the human brain.”

Skumlien says she has studied the role of the endocannabinoid system in reward processing during activities such as eating or using recreational drugs. “If we really deepened our understanding of how it all fits together,” she says, “you could imagine drugs that act on the endocannabinoid system to make drugs less attractive.”

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School Chromebooks create a huge amount of e-waste



Back in early 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic forced classes to go online, school districts were faced with the need to bulk buy low-cost laptops that they could ship home with their students. Quite a few have turned to Chromebooks.

Three years later, the U.S. Public Interest Group Education Foundation concludes in a new report titled Chromebook churn that many of these parties are already starting to break down. This potentially costs counties money; The PIRG estimates that “Doubling the life of a Chromebook could result in $1.8 billion in savings for taxpayers.” It also creates quite a lot of e-waste.

One of the big problems is maintainability. Chromebooks are, on average, more difficult to upgrade and repair than Windows laptops. PIRG found that this is partly because replacement parts are much more difficult to find, especially for items such as screens, hinges and keyboards, which are particularly vulnerable to drops, bumps, jolts and spills from school use.

For example, the researchers found that nearly half of the replacement keyboards listed for the Acer Chromebook were out of stock online, and more than a third cost “$89.99 or more, nearly half the price of a regular $200 Chromebook.” Some IT departments, PIRG reports, are resorting to purchasing extra batches of Chromebooks just because of their components.

“These high costs could force schools to reconsider using Chromebooks as a savings strategy,” the report said.

“These high costs could force schools to reconsider using Chromebooks as a savings strategy.”

Chromebook churn also discusses the Chromebook auto-update expiration date — something that users complains for years.

While Google currently guarantees eight years of automatic updates for Chromebooks, that period officially begins when Google certifies the Chromebook, not when the school actually receives the Chromebook, which can take much longer. The report says that by the time a school has successfully purchased, received, configured, and deployed a fleet of student Chromebooks, the expiration date is typically “four to five years.”

“When the software expires after just a few years of using the device, schools are left with boxes of computers with working components that end up as e-waste, and the need to buy even more Chromebooks,” the newspaper warns.

These short expiration dates also make it harder for schools to resell their devices, meaning some have to pay even more to recycle them.

a:hover]:text-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray”>Photo by Amelia Holovaty Krales / The Verge

The PIRG estimates that “doubling the lifespan of the 31.8 million Chromebooks sold in 2020 could reduce emissions by 4.6 million tons of CO2e, the equivalent of taking 900,000 vehicles out of service in a year.” The group recommends that Google eliminate the automatic update expiration system so that its OEMs produce a “minimum 10% surplus” of replacement parts and that components are better standardized across all Chromebook models.

It also suggests that Google make it easier to unregister Chromebooks from remote control and install remote operating systems (namely Linux), which would make post-AUE resale more attractive. “The choice of operating system is not only a consumer choice, but also increases the resale and reuse value of a laptop for years to come,” the authors write.

Upon receiving the comment, Google spokesman Peter Du issued the following statement: edge:

“We’ve been hard at work with our hardware partners to increase the number of years of warranty support Chromebooks receive, and as of 2020 we’re now providing eight years of automatic updates, up from five years in 2016. We also always work with our device manufacturing partners. Increasingly, devices in various segments are being manufactured using recycled and certified materials that are easier to repair and, over time, manufacturing processes that reduce emissions.

Regular Chromebook software updates add new features and improve device security every four weeks, allowing us to continually improve the software experience while keeping older devices safe and reliable until their hardware limitations make it extremely difficult to roll out updates. ”

The PIRG report is in line with what I’ve been pounding on “green” laptop reviews for years: the greenest gadgets are by far the ones that last the longest.

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