July 29: UF in the News, 7/27/21-7/29/21

Untangling mysteries of the brain — with the remarkable biology of squid— National Geographic, 7/27/21 
Last year, neuroscience research took a major step forward when a group of scientists successfully used the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to disable, or “knock out,” a gene in the Doryteuthis squid — a first for any member of the talented group of mollusks known as cephalopods. 

The work paves the way for scientists to investigate the genetics behind cephalopods’ near extraterrestrial abilities, from squid’s color-changing skin cells to cuttlefish’s duplicitous mating behavior to octopus’s capacity for memory and learning.

With their combination of neural complexity and evolutionary distinctiveness, he says any basic research on cephalopods “really will speed up our understanding of the brain, the same way the squid giant axon did,” said Leonid Moroz, a neuroscientist with UF Health. 

Experts back CDC change on masks as delta variant spreads — NBC News, 7/27/21
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its masking guidance, recommending that everyone, whether they are vaccinated or not, wear a mask indoors in places where the coronavirus is spreading widely. 

Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi, an infectious diseases physician and epidemiologist with UF Health, said the CDC was right to alter its guidance to reflect the changing situation on the ground. As the pandemic evolves further, the public should be prepared to make other changes, if necessary.

Bay Co. officials partner on project to deploy more artificial reefs — WMBB ABC 13 — 7/27/21
Leaders in Bay County have been hard at work at the port of Panama City, preparing for the deployment of more artificial reefs.

Officials said two industrial spools will be used as artificial reefs because the material is ideal and will attract barnacles and fish within just a few months.

“A lot of the area that’s out there [in the Gulf of Mexico] is sandy bottom, and so when we put down hard structures like the metal reels that we have or concrete, then it just becomes another additional habitat where marine creatures can thrive,” said Scott Jackson, a Florida Sea Grant agent with UF/IFAS. 

Breeding new plants to feed the planet — AccuWeather, 7/28/21
Vance Whitaker, an associate professor of horticulture, speaks about UF’s new plant breeding program, and what that means for global food security. 

Say hello to the giant whip scorpion, another of Florida’s strange creatures — The Sun-Sentinel, 7/28/21
When people came across a giant whip scorpion in Big Bend National Park recently, the term “acid-spitting land lobster” began trending on social media.

While it’s neither giant nor a scorpion, Floridians have shared territory with the elusive giant whip scorpion for eons.

Bill Kern, a UF/IFAS professor at the Department of Entomology & Nematology at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, shares details about the odd-looking creature that is native to the Sunshine State, among other Southern states. 

Robinhood’s $35 billion IPO is a bet on Gen Z — Quartz, 7/28/21
Robinhood, an upstart brokerage, enticed a new generation into trading with its slick app and promise of no commissions, making Robinhood a byword for retail trading in the process.

The hope for Robinhood is that it keeps the faith of those young customers, so that it is still around when they become older, wealthier customers.

UF  finance professor Jay Ritter points out how that idea is not new and worked in the past for a now-established electronic trading platform. 

Experts issue ‘call to action’ to prepare for NASH epidemic — Healio, 7/29/21
Eight professional societies issued a joint report on the dangers associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, calling on clinicians to work together across specialties and align treatment strategies.

“There is discordance between the level of awareness about dangers from cirrhosis associated with fatty liver related to obesity and diabetes and the lack of action by clinicians seeing these patients with these chronic conditions,” said Dr. Kenneth Cusi, chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism in the Department of Medicine at UF Health.