Environmental

Leaves of the khat plant harbour a key to improving men's fertility

A chemical that occurs naturally in the leaves of an African plant could boost men's fertility, researchers told the 20th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology on Monday 28 June. Khat ( Catha edulis ) is a plant that has been cultivated for centuries in East Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Chewing the leaves of the plant releases cathinone, a stimulant that produces feelings of euphoria. Cathinone is not very stable and is broken down into cathine (pseudonorephedrine) and norephedrine; all belong to a group of chemicals called phenylpropanolamines (...

Fungal control of hyacinth 

IITA, iNew It's pretty to look at, but that doesn't change the fact that water hyacinth is one of the world's most troublesome weeds. New evidence has led researchers at IITA to believe that fungi have the potential to control these and other noxious plants. Water hyacinth ( Eichhornia crassipes) was introduced to Africa as an ornamental plant. In less than 100 years it has spread rapidly across the continent with devastating effects. Plants infesting waterways grow into a tangled mat, which impedes transport and prevents hydroelectricity generation. They also provide breeding grounds for the...

Enzymes in the environment

Dr Brett I Pletschke, Rhodes University We may all be very familiar with enzymes in our bodies, specialised proteins which aid in processes like digestion and respiration, but how much do we know about those hard at work in nature. Researchers at Rhodes University's Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology department are exploring novel enzymes produced by bacteria for degrading environmental pollutants. Enzymes perform a wide range of very important functions throughout nature. They are highly specific and efficient, guiding the biochemistry of life with great precision and fidelity...

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