Weekly News Bites: Mushroom antidotes, walking like an ant, and lab-grown monkey embryos

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a surprising antidote candidate for one of the deadliest mushrooms, why a certain species of spider walks like an ant, and the oldest primate embryos grown outside of the womb.

True to their name, death cap mushrooms (Amanita phalloides) cause 90% of all mushroom-related deaths worldwide as this poisonous species looks like other harmless mushroom types. Researchers from Sun Yat-sen University found a surprising antidote candidate: a dye commonly used in diagnostics. Indocyanine green showed the potential to counteract the mushroom toxin.

When in a stressful situation, a species of spider decides to walk like an ant. The Siler collingwoodi spider adopted this form of mimicry as ants are less appealing prey to predators. Peking University scientists studied this behavior to see how effective and accurate this camouflage is against predators like other spiders (who were fooled) and praying mantises (who were not as much). 

Another method of camouflage uses color to blend in with the environment, such as octopuses which use color-changing ink to transform their appearance. Inspired by this creature, scientists from the University of Hong Kong have created their own ink that can change color using light. Light causes ink particles of different colors to rise to the surface of the material changing its appearance.

Type 2 diabetes can cause kidney disease which can have serious and life-threatening consequences if caught too late. Using biomarkers, scientists from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Sanford Burnham Prebys created an algorithm to predict the risk of type 2 diabetics developing the disease.

Researchers from Kunming University of Science and Technology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences were able to grow monkey embryos for up to 25 days outside the womb, setting the record for the oldest lab-grown primate embryos. These embryos reached the point of starting to form the nervous system and some organs, allowing the team to closely study these development milestones.

Some foods taste better after cooking or processing but this can decrease their nutritional value as vitamins and minerals can be destroyed. Vietnam National University of Agriculture scientists have created a sweet corn species that tastes like ripe fruits when eaten raw. This sweet vegetable is low in starch so it doesn’t have a “raw” taste.