Amish children owe their extremely low rate of asthma to living and playing around barnyard animals, says a study out by the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the New York Times, researchers were so impressed with their findings that they suggested formulating a spray for children who don’t have livestock at home.
For the first time, scientists have found methane-producing microbes living near the earth's surface, rather than in volcanic vents in the ocean floor, says the American Geophysical Union. The study "also shows the newly-discovered microbes are likely capable of using carbon dioxide to produce methane — a finding that could have implications for future carbon sequestration projects."
Private sector groups joined the Obama administration in pledging $500 million for "the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems." Microbiomes, communities of micro-organisms that live on or in people, plants, soil, oceans and the atmosphere, maintain healthy functioning of diverse ecosystems and influence human health, climate change and food security, said the White House science office.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is on a nationwide mission to train farmers to protect the microorganisms in soil—and their relationship to crops— instead of destroying them with fertilizer and chemical sprays, says an Orion Magazine story produced with the Food and Environment Reporting Network.