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Agriculture

Human waste an asset to economy, environment, study finds

Human waste might be an unpleasant public health burden, but scientists at the University of Illinois see sanitation as a valuable facet of global ecosystems and an overlooked source of nutrients, organic material and water.

Biochar may boost carbon storage, but benefits to germination and growth appear scant

Biochar may not be the miracle soil additive that many farmers and researchers hoped it to be, according to a new University of Illinois study. Biochar may boost the agricultural yield of some soils – especially poor quality ones – but there is no consensus on its effectiveness. Researchers tested different soils’ responses to multiple biochar types and were unable to verify their ability to increase plant growth. However, the study did show biochar’s ability to affect soil greenhouse gas emissions.

Study: Irritable bowel syndrome may be underdiagnosed in athletes

Gastrointestinal problems are common among endurance athletes, and many of them may be struggling with undiagnosed irritable bowel syndrome, a new study by University of Illinois food scientists suggests.

New mutations for herbicide resistance rarer than expected, study finds

New evidence suggests that the mutation rate in amaranth – a group that includes several agricultural weeds – is quite low and that low-level exposure to herbicides contributes little, if anything, to the onset of herbicide-resistant mutations in this group.

Long elected to National Academy of Sciences

Stephen P. Long, a professor of crop sciences and plant biology at the University of Illinois, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest professional honors a scientist can receive.

Scholars: Estimates of food insecurity among college students problematic

A good estimate of how many college students struggle with food insecurity is a difficult number to pin down, says new research from a team of University of Illinois experts who study food choice issues.

Study: Reducing energy required to convert CO2 waste into valuable resources

Surplus industrial carbon dioxide creates an opportunity to convert waste into a valuable commodity. Excess CO2 can be a feedstock for chemicals typically derived from fossil fuels, but the process is energy-intensive and expensive. University of Illinois chemical engineers have assessed the technical and economic feasibility of a new electrolysis technology that uses a cheap biofuel byproduct to reduce the energy consumption of the waste-to-value process by 53 percent.

Low-calorie sweetener derived from lactose gets manufacturing boost from yeast

The quest to satisfy the sweet tooth without adding to the waistline has a new weapon in its arsenal: a strain of yeast that can metabolize lactose, the sugar in dairy products, into tagatose, a natural sweetener with less than half the calories of table sugar.

Study: Phenols in purple corn fight diabetes, obesity, inflammation in mouse cells

Scientists at the University of Illinois developed new hybrids of purple corn with differing combinations of phytochemicals that may fight obesity, inflammation and diabetes, a new study in mice indicates -- and give the food industry sources of natural colorants.

Counties with more trees and shrubs spend less on Medicare, study finds

A new study finds that Medicare costs tend to be lower in counties with more forests and shrublands than in counties dominated by other types of land cover. The relationship persists even when accounting for economic, geographic or other factors that might independently influence health care costs, researchers report.

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