Researchers Study Bees and How They Stay on One Side of the Road

Plus, a look at other studies happening in Michigan
Photo: IStock

In this edition of Science Mitten, we look at three studies from Michigan researchers. Read below for more on metabolic syndrome, the tepary bean, and bees.

Syndrome predicts COVID outcome

We’ve known since the pandemic’s early days that people with “underlying conditions” were at risk of more severe cases and death, but the term was so broad as to be useless. Now, Wayne State University researchers have zeroed in on one cluster of ailments known as metabolic syndrome that can predict coronavirus outcomes, according to a paper published in the Journal of Diabetes. Studying 1,871 patients beset by COVID-19 in Detroit-area hospitals at the outset of the crisis, WSU School of Medicine professor Prateek Lohia, an internist, found patients who had a combination of diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol suffered “significantly higher mortality, increased ICU admissions, and need for mechanical ventilation” than COVID-19 patients with any of those conditions alone.

Cool beans, literally

With climate change creating new challenges for agriculture, Michigan State University researchers are gleaning genetic information from a heat-resistant legume, the tepary bean, to re-engineer common beans that currently struggle to grow in warmer locales. The tepary is a relative of the kidney, pinto, and navy bean, all of which are critical to providing nutrition in far-flung parts of the world where the air and land are getting increasingly drier and hotter. The genes that make tepary beans thrive in desert conditions could be transferred to more common legumes, according to MSU plant biologist Robin Buell’s report in the journal Nature Communications. Michigan, MSU says, is the No. 2 bean producing state, just behind North Dakota.

Why did the bee cross the road? It DIDN’T.

It makes sense that turtles, rodents, and even large predators might be deterred from crossing areas of paved asphalt, but now University of Michigan researchers have observed that bees try their best to remain on one side of a road, too. That has significant consequences for pollination and the proliferation of various plant species, according to Gordon Fitch, a U-M biology doctoral candidate who co-published the research in the Journal of Applied Ecology. With bee populations dwindling for various other reasons, and road construction continuing to increase around the world, the findings portend increasing threats to plant life.

This story is featured in the July 2021 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more stories in our digital edition

Facebook Comments

Previous article 2021 Taste Makers: Meet The Fermentation Specialists
Next article Performance Remodeling Is Your Best Choice For New Windows
Steve Friess is news and features editor at Hour Detroit and a contributing writer for Newsweek. A Long Island native who earned a journalism degree at Northwestern University, Friess worked at newspapers in Rockford, Illinois, Las Vegas, and South Florida before launching a freelance career in Beijing, China, where he served as chief China correspondent for USA Today. After his return to the U.S. in 2003, he settled in Las Vegas, where he covered the gambling industry and the American Southwest regularly for The New York Times, Playboy, The New Republic, Time, Portfolio, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, New York magazine, and many others. During that time, he created and co-hosted two successful and groundbreaking podcasts, the celebrity-interview show The Strip and the animal affairs program The Petcast. In 2011-12, Friess landed a Knight-Wallace Fellowship for mid-career journalists at the University of Michigan. That was followed by a stint as a senior writer covering the intersection of technology and politics at Politico in Washington, D.C., In 2013, he returned permanently to Ann Arbor, where he now lives with his husband, son, and three Pomeranians. He tweets at @SteveFriess and can be reached at