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  • August 31, 2015
  • 02:24 PM
  • 6 views

Television viewing linked to higher injury risk in hostile people

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

People with hostile personality traits who watch more television than their peers may be at a greater risk for injury, potentially because they are more susceptible to the influence of television on violence and risk-taking behaviors, a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health analysis discovered.... Read more »

Fabio, A., Chen, C., Dearwater, S., Jacobs, D., Erickson, D., Matthews, K., Iribarren, C., Sidney, S., & Pereira, M. (2015) Television viewing and hostile personality trait increase the risk of injuries. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 1-10. DOI: 10.1080/17457300.2015.1061560  

  • August 31, 2015
  • 10:09 AM
  • 16 views

Cow Pies Can Make You Smarter and Less Stressed

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

It seems like everyone is running around buying school supplies and books, registering for classes, and fretting about how hard it is going to be to learn another whole year’s worth of stuff. The secret to success, it turns out, may lie in cow dung.A cow pie. Photo taken by Jeff Vanuga at the USDA available at Wikimedia Commons.Recent research has highlighted the important role that microbes living in animal digestive tracts have on host animals’ health and behavior. This influence of our gu........ Read more »

  • August 31, 2015
  • 04:16 AM
  • 22 views

Mesenchymal stem cell transplantation and a mouse model of autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I once again tread carefully in this brief post talking about stem cells and autism on the back of what seems to be some growing research interest in this area (see here).The paper by Hadar Segal-Gavish and colleagues [1] adds to this increasing interest with their efforts detailing what happened to a mouse model of autism (the BTBR mouse) following "intracerebroventricular MSC [mesenchymal stem cells] transplantation."Looking at what happened when MSC transplantation was used, th........ Read more »

Segal-Gavish H, Karvat G, Barak N, Barzilay R, Ganz J, Edry L, Aharony I, Offen D, & Kimchi T. (2015) Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation Promotes Neurogenesis and Ameliorates Autism Related Behaviors in BTBR Mice. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 26257137  

  • August 30, 2015
  • 02:34 PM
  • 30 views

The alien within: Fetal cells influence maternal health during pregnancy (and long after)

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Parents go to great lengths to ensure the health and well-being of their developing offspring. The favor, however, may not always be returned. Dramatic research has shown that during pregnancy, cells of the fetus often migrate through the placenta, taking up residence in many areas of the mother’s body, where their influence may benefit or undermine maternal health.... Read more »

  • August 29, 2015
  • 01:48 PM
  • 58 views

Confidence in parenting could help break cycle of abuse

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

To understand how confidence in parenting may predict parenting behaviors in women who were abused as children, psychologists have found that mothers who experienced more types of maltreatment as children are more critical of their ability to parent successfully. Intervention programs for moms at-risk, therefore, should focus on bolstering mothers’ self-confidence–not just teach parenting skills, the researchers said.... Read more »

  • August 29, 2015
  • 05:17 AM
  • 57 views

Maternal obesity and offspring autism meta-analysed

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

So: "The meta-analysis results support an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder in children of women who were obese during pregnancy. However, further study is warranted to confirm these results."That was the conclusion reached by Ya-Min Li and colleagues [1] looking at the collected peer-reviewed data currently available on how maternal weight might impact on offspring neurodevelopmental outcomes. Without wishing to blame or stigmatise (this is a blog based on the examination of cold,........ Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 02:13 PM
  • 61 views

Bacteria can colour our insides!

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Included in the vast array of molecules put together by bacteria are pigments, with a blotch of colour often marking the presence of a large bacterial population in nature. In addition to green stains on damp concrete and vibrant rainbows of ooze in hot springs, pigment-making bacteria will very occasionally announce their presence by infecting us and subsequently changing the colour of our body parts and fluids. Weird eh?The king of turning people a different colour is Serratia marcescens. This........ Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 01:59 PM
  • 64 views

Fish oil-diet benefits may be mediated by gut microbes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a new study. The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard.... Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 01:28 PM
  • 60 views

Swarming Squid Sperm: A Strategy in Sneakiness

by Melissa Chernick in Science Storiented

Sneaky swarming squid sperm. Yeah, let’s talk about that. ‘Cause you hear that and you gotta know, right? But before all the sperm and the swarming is the amorous squid. Let’s start there.As you may expect, squid have both a male and a female. Male squid produce spermatophores, packets of sperm that they can transfer to the females. Female squid carry around these sperm packets until they are ready to spawn. That can be quite some time in some species. When they are ready, they will use th........ Read more »

Hirohashi, N., Alvarez, L., Shiba, K., Fujiwara, E., Iwata, Y., Mohri, T., Inaba, K., Chiba, K., Ochi, H., Supuran, C.... (2013) Sperm from Sneaker Male Squids Exhibit Chemotactic Swarming to CO2. Current Biology, 23(9), 775-781. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.03.040  

  • August 28, 2015
  • 12:03 PM
  • 67 views

Chickens Help Scientists Study Dinosaur Death Pose

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



To address a long-standing mystery in paleontology, scientists went to the grocery store.

Many dinosaur fossils appear in the same pose, not so much "terrible lizard" as "terrible limbo accident." Their tails are stretched out and their necks thrown back grotesquely. But it's not clear why this is. Researchers from the University of Calgary in Canada got a fresh take on the puzzle—or, at least, a recently killed and frozen take—by using dead chickens.

"Chickens are living dinosaurs, a........ Read more »

  • August 28, 2015
  • 04:05 AM
  • 75 views

Autoantibodies not implicated in cases of autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Contrary results are a common feature of the autism peer-reviewed research landscape. No sooner does one group publish the next 'big thing' when it comes to the singular term 'autism' than seemingly opposite results follow suit.So it is with the paper under discussion today by Simran Kalra and colleagues [1] (open-access) who concluded that: "The idea that autoantibodies represent an underlying cause or are biomarkers for autism pathophysiology is not supported by this report."Autoantibodies by ........ Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 01:45 PM
  • 78 views

HIV particles do not cause AIDS, our own immune cells do

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers have revealed that HIV does not cause AIDS by the virus’s direct effect on the host’s immune cells, but rather through the cells’ lethal influence on one another. HIV can either be spread through free-floating virus that directly infect the host immune cells or an infected cell can pass the virus to an uninfected cell.... Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 08:10 AM
  • 80 views

What Does Jimmy Carter Have Against Worms?

by Bill Sullivan in The 'Scope

You may have heard last week that former President Jimmy Carter wants to wipe the guinea worm out. Read why and how he is achieving this goal.... Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 03:58 AM
  • 79 views

Fish oils preventing psychosis: long-term effects?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"This is the first study to show, to the best of our knowledge, that a 12-week intervention with omega-3 PUFAs [polyunsaturated fatty acids] prevented transition to full-threshold psychotic disorder and led to sustained symptomatic and functional improvements in young people with an at-risk mental state for 7 years (median)."So said the quite remarkable findings reported by Paul Amminger and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) who followed up their previous research study [2] l........ Read more »

  • August 27, 2015
  • 03:40 AM
  • 61 views

Filtering sequence alignment reduces the quality of single-gene trees

by Christophe Dessimoz in Open Reading Frame

The recent publication of our paper “Current methods for automated filtering of multiple sequence alignments frequently worsen single-gene phylogenetic inference” in Systematic Biology is the conclusion of 5 years of work, most of which was spent in peer-review. I will write a separate post on the issue of pre- vs. post-publication in a later post; for now, I’ll summarise our main results and try to provide an intuition for them.

Does automatic alignment filtering lead to bett........ Read more »

  • August 26, 2015
  • 05:54 PM
  • 73 views

Non-Visual Processing in the Visual Cortex

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

Are there areas of the cerebral cortex purely devoted to vision? Or can the "visual" cortex, under some conditions, respond to sounds? Two papers published recently address this question.



First off, Micah Murray and colleagues of Switzerland discuss The multisensory function of primary visual cortex in humans in a review paper published in Neuropsychologia.

They criticize the conventional view that the primary visual cortex (in the occipital lobe) is little more than a reception point ... Read more »

Bedny M, Richardson H, & Saxe R. (2015) "Visual" Cortex Responds to Spoken Language in Blind Children. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 35(33), 11674-81. PMID: 26290244  

Murray MM, Thelen A, Thut G, Romei V, Martuzzi R, & Matusz PJ. (2015) The multisensory function of primary visual cortex in humans. Neuropsychologia. PMID: 26275965  

  • August 26, 2015
  • 03:30 PM
  • 62 views

A ripple effect: skipping a single exon in PTBP1 leads to changes in splicing and neural differentiation

by Betty Zou in Eat, Read, Science

The splicing regulator PTBP1 undergoes is alternatively spliced in mammals to exclude a single exon. Here, researchers at the University of Toronto show for the first time how this uniquely evolved splice isoform functions to facilitate neural differentiation.... Read more »

Gueroussov S, Gonatopoulos-Pournatzis T, Irimia M, Raj B, Lin ZY, Gingras AC, & Blencowe BJ. (2015) RNA SPLICING. An alternative splicing event amplifies evolutionary differences between vertebrates. Science (New York, N.Y.), 349(6250), 868-73. PMID: 26293963  

  • August 26, 2015
  • 01:30 PM
  • 58 views

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That’s the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, suggesting that these tiny filaments may lash together the sperm and its target.... Read more »

  • August 26, 2015
  • 11:41 AM
  • 60 views

Inadvertently edible tiny food-based animals

by Rosin Cerate in Rosin Cerate

Bacteria and fungi are basically everywhere, so it's not much of a surprise to find them in food. Heck, unless they're Salmonella or have managed to multiply to the point of being visible or stinking things up, we usually don't care. Moving up a bit on the size scale, there are a couple of tiny animals inhabiting foods we eat. These include itty bitty worms living in artisanal vinegars and mites residing upon classy European cheeses.The vinegar eelworm (Turbatrix aceti) is a resilient microbe-ea........ Read more »

  • August 26, 2015
  • 09:40 AM
  • 57 views

Video Tip of the Week: Human Metabolome Database, HMDB

by Mary in OpenHelix

The HMDB, or Human Metabolome DataBase, is another nice data collection and tools from the Wishart lab. Although we have mentioned it in the past, because of it’s emphasis more on small molecules it isn’t something we covered in detail. But with this new video that’s available, I thought it was a good time to […]... Read more »

Wishart, D., Jewison, T., Guo, A., Wilson, M., Knox, C., Liu, Y., Djoumbou, Y., Mandal, R., Aziat, F., Dong, E.... (2012) HMDB 3.0--The Human Metabolome Database in 2013. Nucleic Acids Research, 41(D1). DOI: 10.1093/nar/gks1065  

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