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Ecology / Conservation posts

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  • March 6, 2016
  • 06:10 PM
  • 871 views

Antibiotic resistance, evolution, and our future

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Without the discovery of antibiotics we could not — and most certainly would not — be living in the world we do today. It was a discovery that would save countless lives, while simultaneously compromising our future. From the use (and unfortunate misuse) of antibiotics, we gave rise to more virulent bacteria that have become resistant to more and more types of antibiotics.

... Read more »

  • March 6, 2016
  • 05:54 PM
  • 828 views

Testing the evolution of resistance by experiment

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

When the first antibiotics became available 70 years ago, they were often described as miracles of human ingenuity, rather like plastics or bright permanent dyes, which were discovered at roughly the same time. Packaged in vials or pills, they seemed like our inventions rather a chance gift of evolution and one that evolution might also rescind.

... Read more »

  • March 6, 2016
  • 01:07 PM
  • 454 views

The hand of Code: Developmental transcriptomics in haddock

by scientists from the Marine group at CEES in Marine Science blog

The development of haddock embryos is highly impacted by oil exposure as discussed in a previous post. In a new study Sørhus et al. explored the link between transcriptional changes and developmental processes such as pattern formation and organogenesis. The question is to understand the abnormal development in fish.

... Read more »

  • March 4, 2016
  • 10:10 AM
  • 801 views

Plants Build Sand Armor to Fight Hungry Animals

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



No one likes a mouthful of sand. Even that single speck of grit that crunches in your molars after a day at the beach is maddening. It turns out non-human animals aren't fans of eating sand either. That's why certain plants use sticky hairs to coat themselves in layers of grit. For keeping hungry animals away, it works like a charm.

Eric LoPresti, a graduate student in ecology at the University of California, Davis, and his advisor Richard Karban have listed over 200 species of plants tha... Read more »

Eric F. LoPresti, & Richard Karban. (2016) Chewing sandpaper: grit, plant apparency and plant defense in sand-entrapping plants. Ecology. info:/10.1890/15-1696

  • March 2, 2016
  • 04:06 PM
  • 729 views

Some bacterial CRISPRs can snip RNA, too

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

You’ve probably seen news stories about the highly lauded, much-discussed genome editing system CRISPR/Cas9. But did you know the system was actually derived from bacteria, which use it to fight off foreign invaders such as viruses? It allows many bacteria to snip and store segments of DNA from an invading virus, which they can then use to “remember” and destroy DNA from similar invaders if they are encountered again. Recent work from a team of researchers including Carnegie’s Devaki Bha........ Read more »

  • February 29, 2016
  • 12:53 PM
  • 785 views

Need a Hand? Just Grow it Back! How Salamanders Regenerate Limbs (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Maranda CardielHow cool would it be if you could regenerate your own body parts? Just imagine: you are chopping up some carrots for dinner, but whoops! You accidentally cut off your thumb! No worries, it’ll grow back in a few weeks, good as new and fully functional. No need to take a trip to the hospital and pay all of those annoying medical costs. That all sounds pretty nifty, but that can’t actually happen, right? Tissue regeneration on that large of a scale is something you can only fi........ Read more »

Godwin, J., Pinto, A., & Rosenthal, N. (2013) Macrophages are required for adult salamander limb regeneration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(23), 9415-9420. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1300290110  

  • February 28, 2016
  • 08:35 AM
  • 1,142 views

Week 8 In Review: Open-Access Science | 22 to 28 Feb

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Sea level rose faster in the 20th century than in any other century of the last 3,000 years, new methods for estimating future sea level rise and heat waves, consumers to blame for their carbon footprint, and new virtual forests predict future impacts of climate change. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week.... Read more »

Kopp, R., Kemp, A., Bittermann, K., Horton, B., Donnelly, J., Gehrels, W., Hay, C., Mitrovica, J., Morrow, E., & Rahmstorf, S. (2016) Temperature-driven global sea-level variability in the Common Era. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201517056. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1517056113  

Mengel, M., Levermann, A., Frieler, K., Robinson, A., Marzeion, B., & Winkelmann, R. (2016) Future sea level rise constrained by observations and long-term commitment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201500515. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1500515113  

Ivanova, D., Stadler, K., Steen-Olsen, K., Wood, R., Vita, G., Tukker, A., & Hertwich, E. (2015) Environmental Impact Assessment of Household Consumption. Journal of Industrial Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12371  

  • February 25, 2016
  • 03:05 PM
  • 897 views

Grow, coral, grow!

by dominicwhite in Two Degrees or Under

I was just reading this fascinating article published online yesterday in Nature, called “Reversal of ocean acidification enhances net coral reef calcification“. The study is investigating what effect ocean acidification is having on reefs, a tricky problem as other confounding...... Read more »

Albright, R., Caldeira, L., Hosfelt, J., Kwiatkowski, L., Maclaren, J., Mason, B., Nebuchina, Y., Ninokawa, A., Pongratz, J., Ricke, K.... (2016) Reversal of ocean acidification enhances net coral reef calcification. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature17155  

  • February 25, 2016
  • 11:21 AM
  • 379 views

Why we may lose bananas, again

by Alice Breda in la-Plumeria

Bananas are yellow, smiling and fluorescent, they are used as a unit to measure low doses of radioactivity and over a hundred million tons of them are eaten in the world every year. However, a rapidly spreading disease is threatening the existence of this beloved fruit that might completely from the market. And it’s not the first time.

The history of bananas began in South East Asia, where highest diversity of wild species and cultivated varieties is still present. Some of them are red,........ Read more »

Ordonez, N., Seidl, M., Waalwijk, C., Drenth, A., Kilian, A., Thomma, B., Ploetz, R., & Kema, G. (2015) Worse Comes to Worst: Bananas and Panama Disease—When Plant and Pathogen Clones Meet. PLOS Pathogens, 11(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005197  

  • February 24, 2016
  • 03:03 PM
  • 611 views

So, our immune cells don’t see some carbon nano invaders…

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists at the University of Michigan have found evidence that some carbon nanomaterials can enter into immune cell membranes, seemingly going undetected by the cell's built-in mechanisms for engulfing and disposing of foreign material, and then escape through some unidentified pathway.

... Read more »

Russ KA, Elvati P, Parsonage TL, Dews A, Jarvis JA, Ray M, Schneider B, Smith PJ, Williamson PT, Violi A.... (2016) C60 fullerene localization and membrane interactions in RAW 264.7 immortalized mouse macrophages. Nanoscale, 8(7), 4134-44. PMID: 26866469  

  • February 23, 2016
  • 04:42 PM
  • 821 views

Carbon Cuts Can Benefit Us Now

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

It’s not just about the next generation anymore. According to a new study from Duke University, low-carbon policies will result in cleaner air — and that could lead to 300,000 fewer premature deaths over the next 15 years. In other words, we’d be saving U.S. lives now.... Read more »

  • February 22, 2016
  • 04:14 PM
  • 709 views

Scientists discover the way to a new generation of antibiotics

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Antibiotic resistance is becoming a common occurrence. Once isolated, more and more we are turning away from the traditional antibiotics to our so called "last line of defense" antibiotics to fight infections. Sadly in a growing number of cases these antibiotics are having less of an effect. However, new research reveals the mechanism by which drug-resistant bacterial cells maintain a defensive barrier.

... Read more »

Gu, Y., Li, H., Dong, H., Zeng, Y., Zhang, Z., Paterson, N., Stansfeld, P., Wang, Z., Zhang, Y., Wang, W.... (2016) Structural basis of outer membrane protein insertion by the BAM complex. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature17199  

  • February 22, 2016
  • 02:39 PM
  • 850 views

Barnacles Plus Plastic Trash Make Rafts for Ocean Animals

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

If you wanted to travel from Japan to California, you could do worse than to hitch a ride on a barnacle-covered buoy. Or maybe a barnacle-covered refrigerator or chunk of foam. Barnacles are turning all kinds of ocean trash into cozy habitats for animals at sea. They might even help some of those animals reach distant shores and become dangerous invasive species.

Flora and fauna have always sailed the sea on rafts such as pieces of wood or pumice, or matted plants. Without flotation devices, ........ Read more »

  • February 22, 2016
  • 10:15 AM
  • 690 views

Let’s Hope She Doesn’t Have Twins! (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Eric VanNatta Of all the oddball bird species in our world, the brown kiwi surly waddles in amongst the flock. Found only in the forests of New Zealand, this small flightless bird belongs to an ancient group of birds called the ratites. Joined by ostriches, emus, cassowaries and rheas, the ratites are all flightless and dressed in shaggy feathers. In addition, the ratites have all been linked to a common ancestor (simply referred to as the ratite) that was isolated after earth’s continents........ Read more »

  • February 19, 2016
  • 01:15 PM
  • 627 views

Tigers Could Be Making a Comeback

by Jenny Ludmer in Rooster's Report

The noble tiger once ruled Asia’s immense jungles. But along came man, and his desire for bushmeat, skins and bones, as well as a general fear of the mighty beast and a need for their habitat. And like many top predators, the tigers suffered. But while their continued survival is still in question, a new study proves that intensive protections can help.... Read more »

Duangchantrasiri, S., Umponjan, M., Simcharoen, S., Pattanavibool, A., Chaiwattana, S., Maneerat, S., Kumar, N., Jathanna, D., Srivathsa, A., & Karanth, K. (2015) Dynamics of a low-density tiger population in Southeast Asia in the context of improved law enforcement. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12655  

  • February 19, 2016
  • 11:07 AM
  • 751 views

Fighting fishermen

by dominicwhite in Two Degrees or Under

Palau is a small archipelago in the western Pacific. Like many countries in the region, fish forms a key part of the diet and economy. But, again like many of its neighbours in Southeast Asia, overfishing is a big problem....... Read more »

  • February 19, 2016
  • 10:42 AM
  • 853 views

So you want to make methanol? Start with ruthenium and add some air

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

The methanol economy is an exciting prospect - create the molecule using CO2 from the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gases and providing liquid fuel at the same time! Researchers have now shown how to create methanol directly from air for the first time.... Read more »

Kothandaraman J, Goeppert A, Czaun M, Olah GA, & Prakash GK. (2016) Conversion of CO2 from Air into Methanol Using a Polyamine and a Homogeneous Ruthenium Catalyst. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138(3), 778-81. PMID: 26713663  

  • February 18, 2016
  • 03:11 AM
  • 667 views

Do not ever blame those lazy beings…

by Usman Paracha in SayPeople

Main Points:

Lazy workers, in insect colonies, are very important for long-term sustainability of those colonies.

Published in:

Scientific Reports

Study Further:

Everyone knows that insects live in colonies; they work in societies, and they follow the rules of a good social order. They are very efficient in doing their work, i.e. collection of food. However, few people know that ant colonies have many inactive workers. Sometimes, the number of those inactive workers results in red........ Read more »

Hasegawa, E., Ishii, Y., Tada, K., Kobayashi, K., & Yoshimura, J. (2016) Lazy workers are necessary for long-term sustainability in insect societies. Scientific Reports, 20846. DOI: 10.1038/srep20846  

  • February 17, 2016
  • 06:50 AM
  • 772 views

Sunrise, Sunset – Life In the Twilight

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Who runs the world? – Plants! Some plants are active just as the sun rises and as the sun sets in order to save water. And this drives insect activity patterns which forces some birds to be awake only at sunrise and sunset. Who knew that a morning glory has so much power.... Read more »

  • February 17, 2016
  • 01:25 AM
  • 941 views

What Spanish stalagmites can tell us about European climate

by TakFurTheKaffe in Tak Fur The Kaffe

Scientists have been decoding the climate information locked away in 12,000-year-old stalagmites from Spanish caves.... Read more »

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