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Massimo Caine

About Massimo

Massimo, molecular biologist, is constantly on a mission to inspire scientists and laypeople around him with his passion for science. During the time spent on the bench, he followed his natural all-around curiosity, investigating several topics from medical diseases to plant physiology. Head of TheScienceBreaker, Massimo proudly chases his naïve dream of an engaged society where scientists and citizens are facing together the upcoming challenges for human civilizations. At the University of Geneva, Switzerland, Massimo works for BiOutils – an academic and laboratory-based platform for outreach in life sciences.

Massimo is the editor of 249 Breaks:

Living the high life: the early arrival of hunter-gatherers in the glaciated Ethiopian Highlands

High mountains around the globe have long been thought to represent pristine ecosystems that have been reshaped by humans quite late in the earth's history. The recent discovery of a 47-31 thousand-year-old residential site at 3,500 m in the Ethiopian Highlands contradicts this view and highlights the early expansion of Middle Stone Age hunter-gatherers into the cold and glaciated mountains.

May 29, 2020 | 3.5 min read
Building a community: Plants can choose their root’s neighbours

Hidden from the eye, plant roots interact with a diverse community of microorganisms living around them. These interactions can have a considerable effect on the health and growth of the plant. Still, our knowledge of how plants modulate them is limited. This study looks at root-specific metabolites, showing some can affect the composition of root-microbiota.

May 28, 2020 | 3.5 min read
Producing next-gen polymers out of antimicrobial-resistant superbugs

Antimicrobial resistance is a survival strategy used by bacteria to disarm antimicrobials. In some cases, bacteria take advantage of proteins located on the surface of their body to pump out the molecules that would otherwise harm them. We discovered that a new family of these proteins can pump out polymer precursors. Therefore, they can be harnessed in the microbial production of such compounds.

May 27, 2020 | 3.5 min read
Lake mud reveals the fate of an ancient Maya city

We have discovered not only what happened to the people of an abandoned ancient Maya city, but the exact day that much of the population disappeared. The study was a collaboration between earth scientists, who took a core from a lake that sits just below the ruins of an ancient Maya city, and archaeologists who excavated the monuments and structures of the site.

May 4, 2020 | 3.5 min read
How calluses boost barefoot walking

Before footwear, calluses served as the primary protection for our feet. To understand how our species walks safely without shoes, we investigated foot skin biology in regularly barefoot and shod people in Western Kenya. Unlike shoes, calluses protect without trading off sensitivity or changing impact forces in walking, making them a remarkable example of evolutionary engineering.

Apr 27, 2020 | 4 min read
Did the Justinianic Plague kill millions of people in antiquity?

A plague pandemic reached the Roman Empire in the sixth century. Did it contribute to its fall? An interdisciplinary methodological approach provides new answers to an old question.

Apr 17, 2020 | 4 min read