We can knit sweaters for oiled penguins, but it's harder to protect whales and dolphins from the harm of having us as neighbors. Loud underwater sounds from activities like sonar and drilling may damage these animals' hearing and even lead to mass strandings. Though we can't chase cetaceans around with homemade earmuffs, we might be able to teach them to tune us out.
Like squinting or letting one's pupil shrink in bright light, some animals can adjust how sensitive their ears are. When we're........ Read more »
Nachtigall, P., & Supin, A. (2013) A false killer whale reduces its hearing sensitivity when a loud sound is preceded by a warning. Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.085068
One of the hardest questions to answer in an infectious disease outbreak investigation is "Why?"
Why then? Why there? These questions can be almost impossible to answer - not only because of their heady metaphysical nature but also because of the difficulty of assessing the minute interactions between microbe, environment and human host. Public health officials are often left shrugging their shoulders, half-heartedly admitting to an unsatisfied public that they just don't know ........ Read more »
Chua KB, Chua BH, & Wang CW. (2002) Anthropogenic deforestation, El Niño and the emergence of Nipah virus in Malaysia. The Malaysian journal of pathology, 24(1), 15-21. PMID: 16329551
A new and improved green fluorescent protein, named mNeonGreen, was developed. It was engineered from a Yellow fluorescent protein (LanYFP) that was isolated from the cephalochordate Branchiostoma lanceolatum. Therefore, LanYFP is genetically unrelated to the commonly used Aequorea victoria GFP. LanYFP has … Continue reading →... Read more »
Shaner NC, Lambert GG, Chammas A, Ni Y, Cranfill PJ, Baird MA, Sell BR, Allen JR, Day RN, Israelsson M.... (2013) A bright monomeric green fluorescent protein derived from Branchiostoma lanceolatum. Nature methods, 407-409. PMID: 23524392
by Moselio Schaechter in Small Things Considered
This is the title my friend Fred Neidhardt recently used for a talk, and a good question it is. I suppose that most microbiologists and the readers of this blog would split the answer down the middle, the biomass of this planet and the chemical transactions therein being about half microbial, half everything else. However, it’s safe to say that most people, many scientists included, are unaware of the colossal importance of the microbial half, not only in biology and medicine but in geology, m........ Read more »
McFall-Ngai, M., Hadfield, M., Bosch, T., Carey, H., Domazet-Loso, T., Douglas, A., Dubilier, N., Eberl, G., Fukami, T., Gilbert, S.... (2013) Animals in a bacterial world, a new imperative for the life sciences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(9), 3229-3236. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1218525110
by Moselio Schaechter in Small Things Considered
There’s no question that variation in size and shape has conferred selective advantages over the course of evolutionary time. One of the most obvious examples are the long neck and legs of the giraffe, which allow it to snatch foliage that is unreachable by vertically challenged competitors. The variable beak shapes and sizes of Darwin’s finches represent the diverse tool set that evolved when only certain food sources became available. And the appearance of the opposable thumb, a simple cha........ Read more »
Laubacher ME, Melquist AL, Chandramohan L, & Young KD. (2013) Cell sorting enriches Escherichia coli mutants that rely on peptidoglycan endopeptidases to suppress highly aberrant morphologies. Journal of bacteriology, 195(4), 855-66. PMID: 23243305
Immune cells in newborns appear to be more ready to do battle than previously thought. New Cornell research shows that small populations of preprogrammed immune cells can fight specific pathogens that they have never encountered. The findings, say the researchers, have the potential to revolutionize how and when people are immunized.... Read more »
Carly Hodes. (2013) Discovery could revolutionize immunization. Cornell Chronicle. info:/
Researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) have discovered a hormone that holds promise for a dramatically more effective treatment of type 2 diabetes, a metabolic illness afflicting an estimated 26 million Americans. The researchers believe that the hormone might also have a role in treating type 1, or juvenile, diabetes.... Read more »
B.D. COLEN. (2013) Potential Diabetes Breakthrough. Harvard Medical School. info:/
A post on a Blastocystis abstract submitted for oral presentation in the category 'Emerging Infectious Diseases' at the ECCMID 2013 conference in Berlin.... Read more »
Alfellani MA, Stensvold CR, Vidal-Lapiedra A, Onuoha ES, Fagbenro-Beyioku AF, & Clark CG. (2013) Variable geographic distribution of Blastocystis subtypes and its potential implications. Acta tropica, 126(1), 11-8. PMID: 23290980
Stensvold CR. (2013) Comparison of sequencing (barcode region) and sequence-tagged-site PCR for Blastocystis subtyping. Journal of clinical microbiology, 51(1), 190-4. PMID: 23115257
Stensvold CR, Suresh GK, Tan KS, Thompson RC, Traub RJ, Viscogliosi E, Yoshikawa H, & Clark CG. (2007) Terminology for Blastocystis subtypes--a consensus. Trends in parasitology, 23(3), 93-6. PMID: 17241816
Men don't generally talk about placentas it has to be said. But today, in the name of blogging, I'm going to.I'm going to start by telling you how the placenta really is a marvel of biological engineering. An absolutely vital part of our existence in-utero that nourishes us and protects us during our earliest days living in the amniotic sac. Little wonder that whole nations have come to revere the placenta as mother, sibling even doubles of ourselves (see here). Although I have to say I do ........ Read more »
Walker, C., Anderson, K., Milano, K., Ye, S., Tancredi, D., Pessah, I., Hertz-Picciotto, I., & Kliman, H. (2013) Trophoblast Inclusions Are Significantly Increased in the Placentas of Children in Families at Risk for Autism. Biological Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.03.006
Big fish survive, but who gets big? Personality makes the difference. A study shows little ones can cope by acting like Napoleon: just attack a lot.... Read more »
Wilson, A., Grimmer, A., & Rosenthal, G. (2013) Causes and consequences of contest outcome: aggressiveness, dominance and growth in the sheepshead swordtail, Xiphophorus birchmanni. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-013-1540-7
There are many, many things in cell biology that can serve as models for fine art, but fewer are more stunning to me than a Purkinje neuron. Purkinje neurons are some of the largest neurons in the brain, where they participate in motor control from the cerebellum. Today’s image is from a paper describing what happens when a protein called rictor is depleted from Purkinje neurons.The two multi-protein complexes mTORC1 and mTORC2 share sensitivity to inhibition by the immunosuppressi........ Read more »
Thomanetz, V., Angliker, N., Cloetta, D., Lustenberger, R., Schweighauser, M., Oliveri, F., Suzuki, N., & Ruegg, M. (2013) Ablation of the mTORC2 component rictor in brain or Purkinje cells affects size and neuron morphology. originally published in the Journal of Cell Biology, 201(2), 293-308. DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201205030
ETH scientists have shown for the first time that white and brown fat cells can directly interconvert in a living organism from one type to the other. This finding challenges the prevailing belief that white and brown fat cells arise solely from distinct precursor cells. The knowledge will aid in the design of novel strategies to treat obesity.... Read more »
Fabio Bergamin. (2013) Conversion from bad fat to good fat. ETH Life. info:/
Our close evolutionary cousin, the common chimpanzee, comes in four subspecies, each one named after its location along an East-West band in Africa. Yet, there are chimps outside of Africa as well. Many European zoos possess a group of chimpanzees, which often plays a part in conservation plans. After all, the populations of our primate brothers are in steep decline. Habitat destruction, bushmeat hunting, pet trade and disease all take their to... Read more »
Hvilsom, C., Frandsen, P., Børsting, C., Carlsen, F., Sallé, B., Simonsen, B., & Siegismund, H. (2013) Understanding geographic origins and history of admixture among chimpanzees in European zoos, with implications for future breeding programmes. Heredity. DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2013.9
House Sparrows are quite vocal birds. In spring, a house sparrow colony is hard to miss, with males advertising their chosen nest sites to potential males by chirping and posturing, but mainly by their peculiar communal courtship. Communal courtships start when a fertile female not guarded by her mate flies by an unmated male, the male then will pursue her while chirping and displaying persistently soliciting copulation. More males usually join in the female chase and courtship in a cacoph........ Read more »
Moller, A. (1990) Sexual behavior is related to badge size in the house sparrow Passer domesticus. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 27(1). DOI: 10.1007/BF00183309
Researchers have reported that glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine), the active ingredient in Roundup, could be the cause of a number of health related disorders such as gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disorders, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Roundup, world's most popular and best selling weed and grass killer developed by Monsanto, is sprayed on millions of acres of crops in ........ Read more »
Samsel, A., & Seneff, S. (2013) Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy, 15(4), 1416-1463. DOI: 10.3390/e15041416
Yesterday I heard a male Blackcap singing on my way to work. Although it was high on a tree, luckily, I had a small pair of binoculars with me and I found him on a Sycamore in bloom. While I watched it, the Blackcap alternated singing and clearly drinking from the Sycamore flowers, in one occasion clinging upside down from a branch like a tit to reach them. It is well documented that several European birds, especially warblers, regularly drink nectar (I have posted on Blue Tits feeding on Mahoni........ Read more »
Ortega-Olivencia, A., Rodríguez-Riaño, T., Valtueña, F., López, J., & Devesa, J. (2005) First confirmation of a native bird-pollinated plant in Europe. Oikos, 110(3), 578-590. DOI: 10.1111/j.0030-1299.2005.13877.x
Ford, H. (1985) Nectarivory and Pollination by Birds in Southern Australia and Europe. Oikos, 44(1), 127. DOI: 10.2307/3544053
SCHWILCH, R., MANTOVANI, R., SPINA, F., & JENNI, L. (2008) Nectar consumption of warblers after long-distance flights during spring migration. Ibis, 143(1), 24-32. DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2001.tb04166.x
Ortega-Olivencia, A., Rodriguez-Riano, T., Perez-Bote, J., Lopez, J., Mayo, C., Valtuena, F., & Navarro-Perez, M. (2011) Insects, birds and lizards as pollinators of the largest-flowered Scrophularia of Europe and Macaronesia. Annals of Botany, 109(1), 153-167. DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcr255
Neuroscience has revealed that Lady Gaga’s song Born This Way is probably about a psychopath. Or something. HuffPo says - Psychopathic Brain ‘Lacks Basic Hardwiring’ To Feel Compassion, Research Suggests Meanwhile, the Daily Mail report - Is this proof evil killers are born not made? Psychopaths’ brains ‘lack basic wiring that triggers empathy’ Last week [...]... Read more »
Decety J, Skelly LR, & Kiehl KA. (2013) Brain Response to Empathy-Eliciting Scenarios Involving Pain in Incarcerated Individuals With Psychopathy. JAMA psychiatry (Chicago, Ill.), 1-8. PMID: 23615636
I read a Nature News article recently about gun control in the USA that horrified me so much that I now have to write a bit about this horrifying topic myself. It goes without saying that there is a huge … Continue reading →... Read more »
"Vaccine". "Autism".I'm struggling to think of two words in combination which, in modern times, are any more likely to stir up emotion, debate and even argument. Indeed in these times of measles outbreaks and seemingly daily news reporting on the very, very strong requirement for vaccination to protect against the disease, it is coincidental that two research papers should now land in my inbox which mention both of those words in the title.Paradise in Zakynthos @ Wikipedia The fi........ Read more »
Pequegnat B, Sagermann M, Valliani M, Toh M, Chow H, Allen-Vercoe E, & Monteiro MA. (2013) A vaccine and diagnostic target for Clostridium bolteae, an autism-associated bacterium. Vaccine. PMID: 23602537
Leading up to the debate on gene patenting, this week marks the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the DNA double helix. On April 25th, 1953 the work of James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and other colleagues on the structure of DNA was published in Nature. Without this milestone achievement, we wouldn’t ...... Read more »
Hall JM, Lee MK, Newman B, Morrow JE, Anderson LA, Huey B, & King MC. (1990) Linkage of early-onset familial breast cancer to chromosome 17q21. Science (New York, N.Y.), 250(4988), 1684-9. PMID: 2270482
WATSON JD, & CRICK FH. (1953) Molecular structure of nucleic acids; a structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid. Nature, 171(4356), 737-8. PMID: 13054692
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