The Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) is an independent, not-for-profit service for the news media, giving journalists direct access to evidence-based science and expertise.

We aim to better inform public debate on the major issues of the day by improving links between the media and the scientific community.

EXPERT REACTION: Soil bacteria plays a role in wine quality (mBio)*


Vineyards producing high-quality ‘classic’ wines may owe their success to the local bacteria rather than the soil’s physical characteristics, argue the authors of new US-led research. For the first time the scientists studied an entire wine grapevine’s microbiome and found that the microbes associated with the grapes, leaves and flowers were largely derived from the soil microbes found around the plant’s roots – and the same microbes were found in different vineyards in New York, California and Bordeaux. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Exercise and vitamin D doesn’t reduce number of falls in older ladies (JAMA Internal Medicine)*


EMBARGO LIFTED 02:00 AEDT Tue 24th Mar 2015

While exercise and vitamin D do not reduce how many times women aged over 70 will fall over, exercise does help to reduce the number of falls that lead to injury in women of this age, a Finnish study has found. The researchers found that the rate of injurious falls was cut by more than half among exercisers, with or without vitamin D, while vitamin D was found to maintain bone density in the neck and shinbones. However, an accompanying commentary says that even when the results from this new study are amalgamated with a large previous study, the overall conclusion is still that vitamin D remains associated with an 11 per cent decreased risk of falls.

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EXPERT REACTION: World Heritage Sites risk collapse without local management (Science)*



An international study, that includes Australians, has reported that without better local management, the world’s most iconic ecosystems are at risk of collapse under climate change. The researchers say that protecting places of global environmental importance, such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest, from climate change will require reducing the other pressures they face, for example overfishing, fertilizer pollution or land clearing. read more

NEWS BRIEFING: NHMRC releases its Statement on Homeopathy


Click here to follow a recording of the entire briefingThe National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is releasing its final Statement on Homeopathy and an Information Paper.The findings are basedon a rigorous review of more than 1300 pieces of evidence, which found 225 studies which specifically examined homeopathy’s effectiveness in treating a health condition.  Given the increasing use of complementary and alternative medicines in Australia,  it is important that the NHMRC provides the Australian public with high quality, evidence-based advice so they can make informed decisions about their health care. read more

EXPERT REACTION: WHO releases sugar guidelines


The World Health Organization has today released their final guidelines on sugar intake in both adults and children. The guidelines recommends adults and children reduce their daily intake of sugars, excluding sugar in fruits, vegetables and milk, to less than 10% of their total energy intake. They also add a further reduction to below 5 per cent or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.

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EXPERT REACTION: Gold and white (or is it blue and black?) dress conundrum 


The social media world has erupted into debate today over a visual conundrum – why is it that a dress that looks gold and white to some people looks blue and black to others? See the dress here. Below a vision scientist offers a scientific explanation. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Cyclone Lam and Cyclone Marcia


Severe Tropical Cyclone Lam is heading towards the Northern Territory mainland, while Queensland could see its worst weather event in two years as Cyclone Marcia approaches. Below, experts comment. For the latest warning information go to For more information about cyclone intensity and categories, you can visit: read more

EXPERT REACTION: Tsunami advisory issued for Iwate Prefecture following 6.9 magnitude earthquake off coast of Japan


This morning a tsunami advisory was issued for Iwate Prefecture following a 6.9 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan. The advisory was later removed around lunchtime. The quake was measured at a depth of about 10 kilometres and struck just after 8:00am (local time). The city of Ofunato in Iwate issued an evacuation advisory to more than 1,350 households. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii said there was no danger of a Pacific-wide tsunami. read more

EXPERT REACTION: Frozen berries contaminated with hepatitis A


An outbreak of hepatitis A in Victoria and New South Wales has been linked to imported frozen berries from China. Five people have become sick with the disease prompting a recall of products including Nanna’s frozen mixed berries one kilogram packs and Creative Gourmet mixed berries in 300 gram and 500 gram packets.  read more