FAPESP: An institution dedicated to the Scientific and Technological Development of Brazil

Labex Korea – By Gilberto Silber Schmidt

The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) is one of the most important and conceptualized institution of research promotion funds for the Scientific and Technological development in Brazil. It is one of the largest, if not the largest, responsible for the technological advancement that emanates from the Sao Paulo State and reaches across the country. The FAPESP magazine was launched in 1999, with the basic objective to disseminating and valorizes the results of scientific Brazilian production. To recognize the FAPESP’s contribution for the Brazilian Scientific advance, the Labex Korea selected a list of special publishes (2011) about agriculture, renewable energy, science policy, etc.  See below a short description for each report as well as the links to access the complete article.

January 2011

Group from Unesp in Rio Claro is a reference for foreign biologists
The laboratory headed by zoologist Célio Fernando Baptista Haddad, a professor at the Biosciences Institute of Rio Claro at Paulista State University (Unesp), has become a reference for researchers of several nationalities interested in participating in research studies on Brazilian biodiversity.

Bureaucratic maze
The year 2011 promises a new round in the dispute between scientists and environmentalists caused by the strict legislation regarding biopiracy. These laws were enacted to avoid the riches from Brazil’s biodiversity being diverted.

Molecular markers identify tender meat in Nelore cattle
Soon it should not be necessary to wait for your steak to reach the table to find out whether the meat is tender. Through biotechnology tests of blood, skin and even semen samples, it will become possible to forecast whether a given animal of the Nelore  breed  will or will not produce tender meat, while it is still a calf of only a few months.

April 2011

Effect of cosmic rays may have generated molecules that formed animals and plants
Parts of DNA and other essential molecules in living beings may have formed in space billions of years ago and got a ride to Earth on comets or meteorites.

New ingredient used by industry contains no trans fat
Researchers from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), together with the company Cargill Agrícola, have developed a fat with a low saturated fatty acid content and with no trans fat whatsoever, which is already being used by the food industry as a cookie filler and also in the formulation of various products

Sugarcane juice in biocells – Energy alternative to produce electric power
Sugarcane juice, which people often drink when eating deep-fried pastries at street markets, is a strong candidate to produce electric power in a small plastic box to be used as batteries for mobile devices, MP3 players or even notebooks. The device where sugarcane juices act as a fuel, called a biocell, is one of the latest developments in the field of alternative energy sources

May 2011

The limit of the forest – Group from São Paulo identifies the signs that precede successive extinction in the Atlantic rainforest
The Atlantic rainforest is a forest in pieces. According to recent estimates between 11% and 16% of its original cover remains, most in fragments of fewer than 50 hectares of continuous vegetation, surrounded by plantations, pasture and cities.

Talks in April discussed alternative energy sources and climate change
Pictures of floods, dried out forests and too much heat have become commonplace when one thinks about global climate change. The need for investment in alternative energy sources is also part of this context.

Intelligent Packaging – Color in fungi – Sensitive film warns consumer about food deterioration
The traditional manioc [also known as cassava], a native plant from the southeast of the Amazon Region had been used as food – it was the staple food of Brazil’s indigenous people – long before the arrival of the Portuguese explorers. Cassava now has new and advanced technological functions. Biodegradable plastic films made from the starch of this vegetable can be used to produce active packaging, capable of preventing the growth of fungi, or intelligent packaging, which changes color when the food product begins to spoil.

June 2011

A laboratory at an orange plantation
From the pioneering studies of citrus canker to the genome of citrus variegated chlorosis, FAPESP has invested in the research that has made Brazilian citriculture competitive.
The diseases that affect citriculture in São Paulo state have been the target of successive research projects financed by FAPESP since the creation of the Foundation almost 50 years ago.

An article by Bioen Program researchers forecasts multiplication of sugarcane productivity
A scientific article on the potential of sugarcane for the production of bioenergy, by a group of researchers from the University of São Paulo and from the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC) awakened unexpected interest among researchers.

Fruit recreated – New combinations fit for the most refined palate
Would you like a diet pineapple, with 40% fewer calories than a normal pineapple? Or a piece of mango, already peeled and still with the smell of mango, protected by an edible film made from mango pulp? What about an even yellower chip than those made from potatoes, which is made from orange or pawpaw pulp? And to drink: would you prefer a probiotic cashew juice – similar to a probiotic yoghurt, but fruit-based– or a fermented cashew drink, the color of which is reminiscent of white wine, with a taste of cider? Many new Brazilian fruit-based innovations are maturing in the laboratories of Embrapa Agroindústria Tropical [Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation – tropical agroindustry] and at the Federal University of Ceará (FUCI) in Fortaleza.

July 2011

When hybrids are fertile – Unlikely cross breeds can create new species of plants and animals
Darwin, in addition to talent, was lucky. Upon arriving in the Galapagos Islands, in the Pacific Ocean, he found a rich variety of turtles and birds living under unique environmental conditions, such as geographic isolation and diet, which must have strongly their.evolutionfluenced over millions of years.

Protecting passion fruit – New early diagnostic kit for bacteria that devastates orchards
An edible fruit used in juices, jams, syrups and cosmetics, passion fruit does it all, even it’s rind is used to make flour. Brazil is its largest producer and consumer of passion fruit in the world, having produced more than 700,000 tons in 2009, but the industry has seen significant losses in orchards due to a disease that is difficult to control and widespread in its occurrence – passion fruit blight damages the plants leaves and renders the fruit unfit for consumption. The bacterium Xanthomonas axonopodis is responsible for this disease that attacks passion fruit plants and causes producers to lose 20% to 30% in yield.

August 2011

The wealth of biodiversity in the Brazilian forests is also revealed in substances
When one talks about biodiversity, one of the main areas of the wealth of Brazil that comes to mind is usually plants and animals, in a huge variety of shapes, colors, sizes and types. Hardly anyone remembers the molecules that, with an equally amazing diversity, permeate this entire natural heritage.

Interventions on global climate may already be feasible, but carry huge risks
Two new expressions – climate management and geoengineering – are appearing more often in international debates on science and the politics of climate change. One of the reasons is the failure of attempts to implement effective policies to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Planting in rows – This method can help the movement of small mammals
Plants arranged in rows, forming a striped field, are very different from the islands of forest that emerge here and there on the landscape, generally following the hills. It is on such a landscape, in the towns of Guapimirim and Cachoeiras de Macacu in Rio de Janeiro state, that the biologists Prevedello Jaime and Marcus Vinicius Vieira, from the Department of Ecology of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), evaluated the movements of small mammals in the midst of manioc plantations.

Alternative vinasse – Production waste from ethanol may be used to produce biodiesel
Joining microalgae and vinasse to produce biodiesel is the challenge of the São Paulo enterprise Algae Biotecnologia. What is new here is the use of vinasse, because making biodiesel from algae has already been achieved by companies in the United States.

Vegetable identification – Beam of light recognizes the chemical composition of species
A new identification method for tropical wood based on the spectroscopy technique, which measures the absorption of light energy by materials, is going to help in the recognition of forest species extracted illegally from the Amazon.

Prepared by: Gilberto Silber Schmidt

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