Why Exercising Faith In God Is Very Important

Faith is a vital tenet of Christianity that anyone who’s been serving God is well aware of. Our faith in God is nothing more than us reaching back to God on the ground of the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross of Calvary. In all honesty, it’s not easy at all to exercise the kind of faith that God requires of us, especially when we’re going through tough time. Nonetheless, faith is something that’s both life-changing and powerful in many ways. When faith is applied correctly, it has the power to change people’s lives in an astonishing fashion. In addition to applying faith correctly; the peace, joy, and strength that we have as believer is associated with the type of we’re exercising in God.

Faith And Grace

It’s very important to come to the realization that faith along with grace walks hand in hand. The main reason lies with the fact that God in all His love for humanity has already made everything essential readily available by grace through His Son Christ Jesus. We don’t really need anything other than what was accomplished for us by our Lord and Savior. The grace of God is the very channel through which everything that God has promised us in His word can be inherited. His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9); in other words, His grace covers every aspect of our lives. But, we have a critical responsibility that we must assume in response to that grace, so that the very things promised to us can be brought forth into our lives.

When it comes down to how God operates, He’s always the One who initiates the first move by doing what He thinks is the best thing to do in order to deal with an issue. But after that, He’s patiently waiting for us to make the next move with a sense of urgency by acknowledging the importance of what He’s done for us and what He wants to do within us in relation to what was done. It’s an area where God has placed a strict restriction upon Himself in the sense that He’ll never do anything that falls within our own responsibility. In that case, we have no choice but to respond to God though our faith accordingly.

What Can We Learn About Faith?

According to the Word of God faith is defined as the confidence in what we hope for along with assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). In that context, it’s absolutely to come to the conclusion that if something can be seen, then it can no longer be faith as a result. With respect to whom we should place our faith, God is the object of our faith. The foundation of faith is rested upon who He is. Furthermore, there is an inseparable relationship between the Word of God and faith.

The Word is what teaches us how to have faith in God. In fact, faith has to be mixed with the Word of God in order for results to be produced. As scripture says in (Romans 10:7) faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. God is infallible, so is His Word. Thereby, the type of faith that we have in God can never fail because the person that our faith is placed into can never fail.

Faith is what holds our Christian life. Even though, obedience is very important when it comes to serve God, but faith is the starting point of obedience. In other words, our faith in God pushes us to obey Him. Most importantly, faith is what moved us to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. As the Bible says, we’re saved by grace through faith according to (Ephesians 2:8). It’s quite clear to notice that our faith from salvation to glorification is centered upon having faith in God.

Lastly, because faith in God through Christ is what leads to eternal life; consequently, people’s eternity will be determined by their willing to place their faith in Christ. As believers, our faith is what connects with a God that we cannot even see and touch. It’s the very element that makes us become righteous and acceptable in God’s sight. It’s what transforms us into people that can trust when it comes to fulfilling His will. As a final point, without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Related article: http://www.living-for-jesus-alone.org/why-faith-matter.html

Heavy metals and pesticides threaten

cultivation-of-strawberriesThe Estero de Domingo Rubio wetland, located near the Marismas del Odiel Natural Area in the Huelva estuary, is regionally, nationally and internationally protected thanks to its ecological value. However, its tributary rivers and the Ra de Huelva estuary pump manmade pollutants into it, which could affect its water quality and ecosystem.

Industrial activity, accumulations of dangerous waste, the expansion of farming, and excessive extraction of sand and gravel for the construction industry are the leading threats to the Estero de Domingo Rubio wetland, the tidal system of which plays a “crucial” role in transporting and dispersing pollutants.

The wetland is “periodically flooded with high levels of dissolved elements such as copper (Cu), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), cobalt (Co), chrome (Cr), nickel (Ni) and zinc (Zn), which come from the water entering the estuary, which is affected by pollution from the mining industry”, Cinta Barba-Brioso, co-author of the study and a researcher at the University of Seville (US), tells SINC.

The study, which has recently been reported in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, shows that the wetland’s tidal channel also receives acid lixiviates (liquid pollutants) that come from the dumping of sulphurous waste, industrial waste outflow pipes, and abandoned chemical plants, which all contribute to its metallic “enrichment”.

Barba-Brioso says: “Agriculture is another significant source of diffuse contamination in the wetland” with nitrates and phosphates entering through agricultural runoff. “Domingo Rubio also receives inflows of phosphates from the Huelva estuary from the phosphogypsum stacks on the right hand banks of the Tinto river”, the researcher explains.

Agriculture also generates pesticide concentrations in the water that “generally exceed the vulnerability levels set for wetlands by the European Commission (CCEE)”, she stresses. “This contamination by agrochemicals could be prevented if there was greater control over the inflow of herbicides and fertilisers”.

An altered ecosystem.

Prior studies have used molecular biomarkers to document the biological consequences of pollution in the area and its effects on soils and plants in the wetland region.

To this must be added the alteration to local hydrodynamics, which has “a negative effect on the ecosystem, modifies the natural levels of heavy elements in it, and puts the wildlife communities that live in it at risk”, points out Barba-Brioso.

The construction of roads has formed hydrological barriers in the upper parts of the Estero de Domingo Rubio, meaning the wetland now has two distinct hydrological and environmental areas one marshland zone, with abundant halophile vegetation (characteristic of saline soils), and a lagoon zone with aquatic and riverbank vegetation.

“Both of these zones are drained by a network of ephemeral tributaries, which are affected by intensively irrigated crops and industrial activities”, the researcher says. The lagoon area and the streams in the river basin are “also affected by the lixiviates from this intensive agriculture, above all from the strawberry farming that is carried out in the area”, the scientist explains.

However, the scientists say that hydrological restoration and environmental improvement work is currently being carried out in the area of the Estero lagoon by the Junta de Andaluc´┐Ża regional government and the European Union by means of the European Regional Development Fund.

New software quantifies leaf venation networks

quantifies-leaf-venation-networksPlant biologists are facing pressure to quantify the response of plants to changing environments and to breed plants that can respond to such changes. One method of monitoring the response of plants to different environments is by studying their vein network patterns. These networks impact whole plant photosynthesis and the mechanical properties of leaves, and vary between species that have evolved or have been bred under different environmental conditions.

To help address the challenge of how to quickly examine a large quantity of leaves, scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a user-assisted software tool that extracts macroscopic vein structures directly from leaf images.

“The software can be used to help identify genes responsible for key leaf venation network traits and to test ecological and evolutionary hypotheses regarding the structure and function of leaf venation networks,” said Joshua Weitz, an assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Biology.

The program, called Leaf Extraction and Analysis Framework Graphical User Interface (LEAF GUI), enables researchers and breeders to measure the properties of thousands of veins much more quickly than manual image analysis tools.

Details of the LEAF GUI software program were reported in the “Breakthrough Technologies” section of the recent issue of the journal Plant Physiology Development of the software, which is available for download at www.leafgui.org, was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Burroughs Welcome Fund.

LEAF GUI is a user-assisted software tool that takes an image of a leaf and, following a series of interactive steps to clean up the image, returns information on the structure of that leaf’s vein networks. Structural measurements include the dimensions, position and connectivity of all network veins, and the dimensions, shape and position of all non-vein areas, called areoles.

“The network extraction algorithms in LEAF GUI enable users with no technical expertise in image analysis to quantify the geometry of entire leaf networks — overcoming what was previously a difficult task due to the size and complexity of leaf venation patterns,” said the paper’s main author Charles Price, who worked on the project as a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Tech. Price is now an assistant professor of plant biology at the University of Western Australia.

While the Georgia Tech research team is currently using the software to extract network and areole information from leaves imaged under a wide range of conditions, LEAF GUI could also be used for other purposes, such as leaf classification and description.

“Because the software and the underlying code are freely available, other researchers have the option of modifying methods as necessary to answer specific questions or improve upon current approaches,” said Price.

28699_relIMAGE: Three leaves show the results of vein segmentation and analysis. The zoomed-in regions on the right correspond to the area within the black square of the leaf to the left.

LEAF GUI is not the only software program Weitz’s group has developed to investigate the network characteristics of plants. In March 2010, Weitz’s group co-authored another “Breakthrough Technologies” paper in Plant Physiology detailing a way to analyze the complex root network structure of crop plants, with a focus on rice.

This work waccording toformed in collaboration with Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi, John Harer and Philip Benfey at Duke University and was supported by DARPA, the National Science Foundation and the Burroughs Welcome Fund.

“Both of these software programs are enabling tools in the growing field of ‘plant phenomics,’ which aims to correlate gene function, plant performance and response to the environment,” noted Weitz. “By identifying leaf vein characteristics and root structures that differ between plants, we are enabling advances in basic plant science and, in the case of crop plants, assisting scientists in identifying and potentially altering genes to improve plant health, yield and survival.”

How isolated are mountain top plant populations?

penstemon-pachyphyllusDo mountain tops act as sky islands for species that live at high elevations? Are plant populations on these mountain tops isolated from one another because the valleys between them act as barriers, or can pollinators act as bridges allowing genes to flow among distant populations?

Dr. Andrea Kramer and his colleagues from the Chicago Botanic Garden and the University of Illinois at Chicago were interested in pursuing these questions, especially for a genus of plants, Penstemon (Plantaginaceae), endemic to the Great Basin region of the Western United States. They published their findings in the recent issue of the American Journal of Botany (http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/content/full/98/1/109).

The flow of genetic material between populations maintains a species. In plants, if populations are separated by a landscape barrier such that pollen or seeds are unable to traverse either over or through, then the populations will begin to differ, either via mutations or genetic drift over time. However, habitat fragmentation and distance may not always be barriers, depending on the species and their modes of dispersal. And sometimes studies surprise us with their findings.

“These questions become increasingly important in places like the Great Basin as we consider the effects of climate change on native plant communities and the wildlife that depend upon them,” Kramer commented. “The majority of the Great Basin region’s species diversity is located on mountain tops, and as a generally warming climate drives species to higher elevations, the distance between mountaintop plant populations increases and more is mandatory of the pollinators in order to traverse the arid valleys between them.”

Kramer and her colleagues chose Penstemon because these plants provide critical resources for pollinators and other wildlife. But, as Kramer notes, “Until recently they haven’t been used in large-scale restoration projects because key research needed to guide restoration of these species hasn’t been available. Without an understanding of the population genetic structure of natural populations it is very difficult to determine what seed sources should be used where to ensure maximum success of a restoration.” .

The authors selected three Penstemon species with similar dispersal modes, a key element to the study design. For all three, seeds are dispersed by gravity and are not likely to be moved very far thus, any long-distance movement of genes (or gene flow) should primarily be due to movement of pollen. This critical aspect is where the species differ: Penstemon deustus and P. pachyphyllus are both pollinated primarily by bees, while P. rostriflorus is pollinated primarily by hummingbirds.

For each species the authors were able to sample individuals from 6 to 8 populations on 4 to 6 mountain ranges. By extracting genomic DNA from leaf tissues and using molecular analytical tools they identified up to 8 polymorphic microsatellite loci and used these data to determine patterns of gene diversity both within each population on a mountain top and between more distant populations found on other mountain tops. They then pieced this information together to assess the degree of genetic relatedness among the different populations.

The authors found interesting differences between the bee- and bird-pollinated Penstemon Eventhough all three species had significant genetic differentiation among the populations, the two bee-pollinated species were found to have genetic clusters that were distinct for each mountain range, with little or no mixing between mountain ranges; the bird-pollinated species had far less genetic structure across all the ranges sampled. Thus, hummingbirds seem to be more effective at crossing large distances and pollinating flowers from distinct mountains than bees. Bees either do not cross the arid valley floors to visit populations on neighboring mountains or, if they do, they appears to be ineffective at transferring pollen across these long distances. In contrast, hummingbirds appears to be transferring pollen across very large distances additional analysis indicated that hummingbirds appears to be visiting populations 19 km apart within a mountain range and over 100 km apart on different mountain ranges.

One of the take-home messages from this is that the interaction between pollinators and their landscape differs for different species, and yet this very interaction can have a significant impact on the genetic structure of a plant species’ populations. In addition, their results suggest that pollination syndromes do not just capture the morphology and likely pollinators of flowers, but may also impact the population structure and genetic isolation of populations.

There are evolutionary implications as well. Hummingbird pollination has arisen independently in Penstemon at least 10 times, and possibly as a number of as 20 times, yet a shift back to bee pollination has never been reported. The results from this study may shed light on why that might be. Because populations of a bird-pollinated plant experience greater gene flow among distant populations, there is greater connectivity among these populations. Any changes that might arise due to the local presence of bees would be negated by the gene flow facilitated by birds, which would constrain any adaptations at the local level and prevent plants from shifting back to a more confined bee-pollination syndrome.

Furthermore, the results from Kramer’s work can be used directly in restoration efforts. “The Bureau of Land Management is working to increase the species diversity and success of large-scale restoration work on public land in the western United States,” Kramer notes. “The BLM supported this work and will be able to put the results of this research on Penstemon to use in developing seed transfer zones for these and similar animal-pollinated species.” .

Kramer’s next step is to determine whether the patterns of neutral genetic diversity they identified translate to similar patterns in adaptive genetic diversity. “The Great Basin is an amazing place full of incredible climatic and geological extremes, and we are very interested in understanding how these extremes drive population divergence due to, or in spite of, the differences in gene flow we observed,” she said.

Wheat resistance genes failing

wheat-resistance-genes-failingA number of of the genes that allow wheat to ward off Hessian flies are no longer effective in the southeastern United States, and care should be taken to ensure that resistance genes that so far haven’t been utilized in commercial wheat lines are used prudently, as per U.S. Department of Agriculture and Purdue University scientists.

An analysis of wheat lines carrying resistance genes from dozens of locations throughout the Southeast showed that some give little or no resistance to the Hessian fly, a major pest of wheat that can cause millions of dollars in damage to wheat crops each year. Others, even those considered the most effective, are allowing wheat to become susceptible to the fly larvae, which feed on and kill the plants.

Wheat resistance genes recognize avirulent Hessian flies and activate a defense response that kills the fly larvae attacking the plant. However, this leads to strains of the fly that can overcome resistant wheat, much like insects becoming resistant to pesticides.

“The number of genes available to protect wheat is limited. There really aren’t that a number of,” said Richard Shukle, a research scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service Crop Production and Pest Control Research Unit and Purdue adjunct associate professor of entomology. “In the Southeast, having multiple generations of Hessian fly each year enhances the ability of these flies to overcome wheat’s resistance”.

Sue Cambron, a USDA Agricultural Research Service research support scientist, received Hessian flies from 20 locations in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Louisiana and used them to infest 21 varieties of wheat that each contained different resistance genes, most of which have been deployed in commercial wheat, and a few that haven’t yet. While the study did not include all of the 33 named resistance genes, it did show that only five of the 21 genes reviewed would provide effective resistance to flies in the Southeast, and none was effective in all the Southeast locations.

“Even some of the newer genes that haven’t been deployed in cultivars weren’t too effective,” Cambron said.

That’s because flies have likely interacted with, and adapted to, those genes already, said Brandi Schemerhorn, a USDA-ARS entomologist and Purdue assistant professor of entomology. She said it’s possible that some of the genes were introduced to flies unintentionally in plots where wheat cultivars with those genes were being tested for suitability to Southeast climates. The resistance genes also could have come from other plants, such as rye, and the flies may already have started to overcome those genes.

Schemerhorn said she suspects a certain number of flies in any population have the ability to overcome any wheat resistance gene, which defends against the flies’ ability to feed on the plant and starves the insect larvae. When a resistance gene kills off some of the flies, the survivors breed and eventually establish a population that renders the gene ineffective.

“We’re creating a system in which the fly is becoming more virulent,” Schemerhorn said. “What we have to do is slow down that adaptation or virulence”.

Shukle and Schemerhorn suggest stacking genes in a wheat cultivar. There are only a few genes that haven’t been deployed, and they believe combining two of those would be the best option.

“With a small number of identified resistance genes, we can’t afford to release wheat lines with only one resistance gene,” Shukle said. “If you deploy two different resistance genes, it’s unlikely that a population of flies could overcome both of them”.

Schemerhorn is working to combine two of the unreleased genes for testing with Hessian fly populations.

Home and Away: Are Invasive Plant Species Really That Special?

Home and Away: Are Invasive Plant Species Really That Special?
invasive-plant-speciesInvasive plant species are a serious environmental, economic and social problem worldwide. Their abundance can lead to lost native biodiversity and ecosystem functions, such as nutrient cycling.

Despite substantial research, however, little is known about why some species dominate new habitats over native plants that technically should have the advantage.

A common but rarely tested assumption, say biologists, is that these plants behave in a special way, making them more abundant when introduced into communities versus native plants that are already there.

If true, it would mean that biosecurity screening procedures need to address how species will behave once introduced to nonnative communities–very difficult to get right, scientists have found.

Researchers in a global collaboration called the Nutrient Network tested this “abundance assumption” for 26 plant species at 39 locations on four continents and found numerous problems with it.

The results are published in a paper in the current issue of the journal Ecology Letters
“Predicting success of invading species is difficult and uncertain, but very important,” says Henry Gholz, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Division of Environmental Biology, which funds the Nutrient Network.

“The Nutrient Network has enabled a field test of one of the most basic assumptions of current models,” says Gholz, “and found it lacking. But, the results could lead to better predictions in the future.”.

Twenty of the 26 species examined had a similar or lower abundance at introduced versus native sites.

“The results suggest that invasive plants have a similar or lower abundance at both introduced and native ranges, and that increases in species abundance are unusual,” says scientist Jennifer Firn from Queensland University of Technology and CSIRO, Australia, the main author of the paper’s 36 co-authors.

“Instead, abundance at native sites can predict abundance at introduced sites, a criterion not currently included in biosecurity screening programs.”.

Sites in New Zealand and Switzerland, for example, were similar in species composition, sharing–in some cases–more than 10 species, all with similar abundances.

The results are the first to be published from the Nutrient Network.

The Nutrient Network is led by individual scientists at the various sites, and coordinated through NSF funding to biologists Elizabeth Borer and Eric Seabloom of the University of Minnesota.

“The Nutrient Network is the only collaboration of its kind where individual scientists have set up the same experiment at sites around the world,” says Borer.

For three years researchers have been collecting population, community and ecosystem-scale plant data, including species-specific distribution and abundance data, with standardized protocols across dozens of sites.

“The experimental design used is simple,” says Borer, “but it’s one that provides a new, global-scale approach for addressing a number of critical ecological issues.

“It will tell us information we need to know about invasive species and changing climates.”.