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  • March 28, 2014
  • 10:00 AM

Highly unusual proteinaceous infectious agents probed by hydrogen/deuterium exchange

by Clay Clark in Biochem Blogs

  Prion proteins are implicated in a perplexing class of infectious diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Prion proteins are ubiquitous among mammals with roughly 90% sequence identity across species. TSEs include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle, AKA mad cow disease.  The disease ontology involves the conversion of the cellular […]... Read more »

Smirnovas Vytautas, Baron Gerald S, Offerdahl Danielle K, Raymond Gregory J, Caughey Byron, & Surewicz Witold K. (2011) Structural organization of brain-derived mammalian prions examined by hydrogen-deuterium exchange. Nature Structural , 18(4), 504-506. DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2035  

  • March 28, 2014
  • 09:58 AM

Scientists Convince People Their Hands Are Rocks

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

No matter how much of a critical thinker you consider yourself, your brain is pretty gullible. With a few minutes and a couple of props, your brain can be convinced that one of your limbs is made of rubber or invisible, or that your whole body is the size of a Barbie doll’s. All these illusions […]The post Scientists Convince People Their Hands Are Rocks appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Senna, I., Maravita, A., Bolognini, N., & Parise, C. (2014) The Marble-Hand Illusion. PLoS ONE, 9(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091688  

  • March 28, 2014
  • 08:00 AM

FLCN may act as a molecular switch

by Lizzie Perdeaux in BHD Research Blog

Chromosome translocations involving the transcription factor TFE3, leading to its overexpression, cause roughly 15% of renal cell carcinomas in patients under 45 years of age (Kuroda et al., 2012). TFE3 is constitutively activated in FLCN-null cells (Hong et al., 2010), … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 28, 2014
  • 07:57 AM

Friday Fellow: Tropical Kingbird

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll This is the first bird featured in Friday Fellow and I have chosen it for a special reason: it’s binomial name is Tyrannus melancholicus, the melancholic tyrant. Isn’t it almost poetic? Found from southern United States to the … Continue reading →... Read more »

Legal, E. (2007) Aspectos da nidificação do siriri, Tyrannus melancholicus (Vieillot, 1819), (Aves, Tyrannidae) em Santa Catarina. Atualidades Ornitológicas On-line, 51-52. info:/

  • March 27, 2014
  • 12:21 PM

The new CDC autism prevalence rate

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Whilst quite a lot of media space is currently being devoted to talking about the study by Rich Stoner and colleagues [1] and sweeping generalisations like the BBC headline: Autism 'begins long before birth' with seemingly only little appreciation of the small-scale nature of the study and little details linked to samples being post-mortem tissues, other important autism-related news is also out there.CDC US autism prevalence estimates @ Autism Speaks I'm talking about the latest autism prevalence estimates from the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for 2010.The latest report [2] reveals that the overall estimated prevalence for 8-year olds in the United States having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2010 is:1 in 68.Back in 2012 (has it been that long?) I talked about the publication of the estimates based on the 2008 surveillance data which highlighted an estimated 1 in 88 children presenting with an autism spectrum condition [3]. That the latest figures further revise upwards the prevalence estimates follows a trend over quite a few years now as per the graph included in this post taken from the Autism Speaks coverage of this news. The intervening years have seen other reports talking about increased prevalence estimates for autism as per reports here and here and here both in the US and other parts of the world, taking into account factors such as ethnicity too. In light of these estimates, some of which talked about 1 in 48 children with autism I don't think anyone should be too surprised by the latest CDC estimate.As per my 2012 post on the 1 in 88 figure, I'm sure that the latest CDC estimates will generate further discussions about the hows and whys of the increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with an ASD. I'm willing to take on board arguments about better awareness and improved diagnostic vigilance as accounting for some of the change, but those factors only go so far. Yet again, I'm going to link to the Nature piece from Karen Weintraub [4] on the autism prevalence puzzle and how blanket commentary like 'we're just better at diagnosing autism' is starting to wear a little thin particularly in light of the continued reliance on DSM-IV criteria in this latest estimate.Perhaps now is the time to start further widening the research agenda when it comes to the question of what is driving the increase in cases of autism to include a few additional points: (a) that autism is probably a plural condition, so 'autisms' over autism which is exquisitely exemplified by the recent BCKDK research, (b) genes and genetic influences are [variably] important to the autisms (see previous point), and (c) genes represent our blueprint but are not necessarily our destiny as per the rise and rise of the science of epigenetics combined with the notion that we don't walk around with all our genes permanently fixed to the 'on' position all the time. That final point in particular opens the door to environment - some facets of environment - also variably impacting on genes, the function of genes, and indeed autism and autism risk. And as we've seen in recent times, how perhaps we should be devoting a little more effort to looking at certain external factors [plural and cumulatively] as potentially playing some [variable] role in the increasing numbers of children being diagnosed with an ASD.Just sayin'.----------[1] Stoner R. et al. Patches of Disorganization in the Neocortex of Children with Autism. NEJM. 2014; 370: 1209-1219.[2] Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2010 Principal Investigators; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders--Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 sites, United States, 2010. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2014 Mar 30;63. SS-2.[3] Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2008 Principal Investigators; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders--Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 sites, United States, 2008. MMWR Surveill Summ. 2012 Mar 30;61(3):1-19.[4] Weintraub K. The prevalence puzzle: Autism counts. Nature. 2011; 479: 22-24.-----------Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2010 Principal Investigators (2014). Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010 Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 63... Read more »

Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2010 Principal Investigators. (2014) Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years — Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010. Morbidity . info:/

  • March 27, 2014
  • 11:19 AM

Orangutan goes spearfishing

by beredim in Strange Animals

Just came across this extraordinary photo, taken by Gerd Schuster co-author of Thinkers of the Jungle: The Orangutan Report, showing an orangutan spearfishing in Borneo.Apparently, the orangutan had witnessed the locals fishing with spears and attempted to do the same, albeit with not much success. Monkey see, monkey do..The description of the photo in the book reads:"…a male orangutan, clinging precariously to overhanging branches, flails the water with a pole, trying desperately to spear a passing fish…The extraordinary image, a world exclusive, was taken in Borneo on the island of Kaja… This individual had seen locals fishing with spears on the Gohong River. Although the method required too much skill for him to master, he was later able to improvise by using the pole to catch fish already trapped in the locals’ fishing lines."The book also reports that the orangutans were able to swim across a local river to get food. This is notable since it has been widely believed that orangutans can walk in water but can't swim.Of course, this is not the first recorded incident of tool-use by Orangutans, or primates in general. The species was first observed using tools in the wild in 1982 - by anthropologist  Biruté Galdikas - in wild Bornean orangutans in the Tanjung Puting National Park.In Borneo, there have been sightings of orangutans using handfuls of leaves as napkins to wipe their chins while orangutans in Sumatra have been seen to use leaves as gloves, helping them handle spiny fruits and branches, or as seat cushions in spiny trees. There have also been reports of individuals, both in captivity and in the wild, using tools held between the lips or teeth, rather than the hands. Orangutans in captivity have been taught to chip stone hand-axes.References- Galdikas, B. (1989). Orangutan tool use Science, 243 (4888), 152-152 DOI: 10.1126/science.2911726- O'Malley RC, & McGrew WC (2000). Oral tool use by captive orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). Folia primatologica; international journal of primatology, 71 (5), 334-41 PMID: 11093037- Schaik, C., Fox, E., & Sitompul, A. (1996). Manufacture and use of tools in wild Sumatran orangutans Naturwissenschaften, 83 (4), 186-188 DOI: 10.1007/BF01143062- van Schaik CP, Ancrenaz M, Borgen G, Galdikas B, Knott CD, Singleton I, Suzuki A, Utami SS, & Merrill M (2003). Orangutan cultures and the evolution of material culture. Science (New York, N.Y.), 299 (5603), 102-5 PMID: 12511649Further Reading- Read more »

Galdikas, B. (1989) Orangutan tool use. Science, 243(4888), 152-152. DOI: 10.1126/science.2911726  

O'Malley RC, & McGrew WC. (2000) Oral tool use by captive orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). Folia primatologica; international journal of primatology, 71(5), 334-41. PMID: 11093037  

Schaik, C., Fox, E., & Sitompul, A. (1996) Manufacture and use of tools in wild Sumatran orangutans. Naturwissenschaften, 83(4), 186-188. DOI: 10.1007/BF01143062  

van Schaik CP, Ancrenaz M, Borgen G, Galdikas B, Knott CD, Singleton I, Suzuki A, Utami SS, & Merrill M. (2003) Orangutan cultures and the evolution of material culture. Science (New York, N.Y.), 299(5603), 102-5. PMID: 12511649  

  • March 27, 2014
  • 07:31 AM

March 27, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

You might think of your bones as unchanging, but they are far more dynamic than you think. Today’s image is from a paper identifying a new blood vessel subtype found in the mouse skeletal system.Osteogenesis is the formation of new bone tissue, and is important in bone renewal and fracture healing. Recent work suggests that osteogenesis may depend on the presence of blood vessels. A recent paper identified a new capillary subtype found in the mouse skeletal system. Kusumbe and colleagues found that these microvessels mediate growth of bone vasculature, and couple osteogenesis with angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). These vessels and their associated osteoprogenitors were reduced in older bone, yet the reversal of this decline allowed bone mass renewal. In the images above, the microvessels (green) have a branched organization in a juvenile mouse tibia (arrowheads point to interconnections).Kusumbe, A., Ramasamy, S., & Adams, R. (2014). Coupling of angiogenesis and osteogenesis by a specific vessel subtype in bone Nature, 507 (7492), 323-328 DOI: 10.1038/nature13145Adapted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd, copyright ©2014 ... Read more »

  • March 27, 2014
  • 04:30 AM

Infected with Love: A Viral Aphrodisiac in Crickets

by Jalees Rehman in The Next Regeneration

Like many other insects, field crickets (Gryllinae) use a courtship song to attract potential mates and initiate mating. A team of researchers headed by Shelley Adamo at Dalhousie University has recently discovered a surprising trigger which speeds up this dating process - a virus. In their recent article “A viral aphrodisiac in the cricket Gryllus texensis” published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, the researchers found that a pathogenic insect virus (iridovirus) is able to modify the sexual behavior of male field crickets.... Read more »

Adamo, S., Kovalko, I., Easy, R., & Stoltz, D. (2014) A viral aphrodisiac in the cricket Gryllus texensis. Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI: 10.1242/​jeb.103408  

  • March 26, 2014
  • 05:06 PM

The lack of taxonomists and its consequences on ecology

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll I have already written about the problems of taxonomy in small and not-so-cute groups in a previous post, where I talked about the fact that several species, after being described, are completely ignored for decades or centuries. … Continue reading →... Read more »

Carbayo, F., Leal-Zanchet, A. M., & Vieira, E. M. (2001) Land planarians (Platyhelminthes, Tricladida, Terricola) as indicators of man-induced disturbance in a South Brazilian rainforest. Belgian Journal of Zoology, 223-224. info:/

  • March 26, 2014
  • 04:01 PM

Saiga antelope

by beredim in Strange Animals

Kingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: ChordataClass: MammaliaOrder: ArtiodactylaFamily: BovidaeGenus: SaigaSpecies: Saiga tataricaConservation Status: Critically EndangeredCommon Name: Saiga antelope, SaigaSaigas are nomadic animals, best known for their distinctive enlarged noses that hang down over their mouth. The species originally inhabited a vast area, covering the steppes and semi-desert regions of south-eastern Europe and Central Asia from the Precaspian steppes to Mongolia and western China. The species also lived in North America during the Pleistocene period.At present, the one of the two surviving subspecies (S. t. tatarica) can be found in one location in Russia (steppes of the northwest Precaspian region) and three areas in Kazakhstan (the Ural, Ustiurt and Betpak-dala populations). The other (S. t. mongolica) can only be found in western Mongolia.The species became extinct in China by the 1960s, and in Ukraine during the 18th century.Saiga antelope DescriptionAn average saiga stands 0.6–0.8 m (2 ft 0 in–2 ft 7 in) at the shoulder and has a weight of 36 to 63 kg (79 to 139 lb). Males are larger than females. Adult males have two almost vertical, semitranslucent horns which are ringed in the bottom sections.Saigas are easily recognisable by their distinctive mobile proboscis, an  unusual, over-sized, flexible nose structure. The proboscis is believed to filter out airborne dust during the dry summer migrations and to enable cold air to be warmed before it enters the lungs during the winter.They have long, thin legs and a slightly robust body. The tail is short and the eyes are large with a dark brown iris. During the summer, their coat is short and yellowish red on the back and neck. The coat takes a white colour and becomes thicker and longer during the winter, being about 70 percent thicker compared to the summer. The underbelly is light in colour throughout the year, and there is a small mane on the underside of their neck.Not much is known about the average lifespan in the wild. One wild born specimen was about 10.5 years old when it died in captivity while there have been recorded to live up to 12 years in the wild. Females reach sexual maturity one year after birth and males after a year and 9 to 10 months.They can reach speeds of up to 50 miles an hour (80 kilometres/hour) during their long migrations.Newborn saiga Saiga antelope Behaviour & ReproductionThey are diurnal, migratory and nomadic animals that form large herds.They undertake seasonal migrations in large groups from summer pastures in steppe grassland to winter pastures in desert areas, being able to cover considerable distances (exceeding 72 miles/day). They can swim across rivers, but they avoid steep or rugged areas.The rut begins late in November when males fight for the possession of females. During this period, the noses of males swell up while the hair tufts below their eyes are covered in a sticky secretion. Males don't feed much during rutting and continuously take part in violent fights and often deadly fights. Up to 90 % of males may die during this time, with most casualties occurring from exhaustion. The surviving winners lead "harems", consisting of 5 to 50 females.At the end of April, females give birth to usually two youngs  (2/3 ratio). When born, they have an average weight of 3,5 kg (~7.7 lbs).  All females of the herd give birth within a week of each other. The calves are initially concealed in vegetation. The herd begins to disperse into smaller herds, once the calves are a few days old. The smaller groups then head northwards to the summer feeding grounds. Then, the small groups break off, to reform once again for the journey to come next autumn.  It takes about  2.5 to 4 months for the calves to wean.The gestation period lasts about 140 to 150 days. In captivity, young saigas have been recorded to occasionally nurse from unrelated adults, however, this has never been observed in the wild.Male saiga antelopeSaiga antelope DietThey are herbivore animals, grazing on more than one hundred different plant species, with the most important being grasses, prostrate summer cypress, saltworts, fobs, sagebrush, and steppe lichensSaiga antelope PredatorsWolves are the main natural predator of adult and new born saigas. Foxes and stray dogs prey on newborn calves.Female Saiga Saiga antelope Conservation Status and ThreatsTheir overall population has experienced a major decline of over 80%, during the last decades and the decline is continuing. In the 1996, the species was listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN whereas today -since 2007- the species is classified as Critically Endangered.Uncontrolled illegal hunting for horns (which are exported for traditional medicine in China) and meat since the break-up of the USSR, selective hunting of young males (with the subsequent distortion of the sex ratio) and poaching in general have resulted in a significant reduction of their numbers. Another major threat is the destruction of key habitats and traditional migration routes. In some areas, agricultural abandonment is also a problem. Specifically, cattle grazing formerly maintained the grassy species but land abandonment allowed another species (Stippa sp.) to intrude, which the Saiga cannot eat. Droughts, severe winters, diseases and natural predation from wolves also put some pressure on the population, however their contribution on the overall decline is minimal.The population of the S. t. tatarica subspecies was estimated to be around 50,000 in 2003, down from around 1,250,000 in the mid-70s. Most individuals are found in Kazakhstan (decline from about 1,000,000 to 30,000 in 2003). The Mongolian population is estimated at around 1,500 individuals.Video about the declining populations of SaigaConservation MeasuresIn 1990, "The Saiga Conservation Alliance" was established, a network of researchers and conservationists working to study and protect the now critically endangered Saiga Antelope and its habitat. The Mongolian Saiga subspecies has been legally protected since 1930. Two protected areas, Sharga NR (286,900 ha) and Mankhan NR (30,000 ha), were designated in 1993 to protect most of the remaining areas of occurrence.The organisation "Rewilding Europe" has plans for reintroducing saiga to Europe.The Kazakhstan government has allocated substantial funding to anti-poaching patrols and aerial surveys, and has passed legislation that strengthens rangers' powers of arrest. The Russian government has issued a order for emergency measures for the species conservation in Kalmykia, and also funds annual population surveys.A successful captive breeding herd has been established at... Read more »

  • March 26, 2014
  • 10:58 AM

The microbial mystery of the Hungarian power plant.

by socgenmicro in Microbe Post

Dr Erika Tóth, of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest was approached by the staff of a Hungarian power plant with an unusual request. The ultrapure water (UPW) purification system that produces the water used in the power plant’s cooling system … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 26, 2014
  • 10:58 AM

The microbial mystery at the Hungarian power plant

by socgenmicro in Microbe Post

Dr Erika Tóth, of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, was approached by the staff of a Hungarian power plant with an unusual request. The ultrapure water (UPW) purification system that produces the water used in the power plant’s cooling system … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 26, 2014
  • 09:30 AM

STD puts crickets in the mood

by Brooke LaFlamme in Molecular Love (and other facts of life)

Imagine an STD that made you extra eager for sex. Oh, and it makes you sterile.

This STD exists—in insects.

Researchers working in a lab that studies field crickets came into work one day only to find, much to their dismay I imagine, that their colony had been infected with a virus. But, as they say in science, when life gives you lemons, thoroughly analyze them and publish the results.

Shelley Adamo and colleagues at Dalhousie University recently published an article in the Journal of Experimental Biology describing this accidental infection and how it made their crickets not only ignore being sick, but actually made them super randy.... Read more »

  • March 26, 2014
  • 08:15 AM

Naked Mole Rats Don’t Feel The Burn

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Recent evidence is shedding light on the various mechanisms through which naked mole rats avoid the pain associated with capsaicin and other activators of TRPV1. The mole rats have deep dorsal horn connections that modulate TRPV1nociceptove signaling after capsaicin ingestion. They also suppress neural firing of pain neurons through a 2 amino acid change in the Nav1.7 sodium channel downstream of TRPV1. But they also have low levels or lack completely the substance P neurotransmitter that works in pain perception via TRPV1 signaling. These studies may lead to better pain management for those who suffer from chronic or acute pain.... Read more »

Smith ES, Omerbašić D, Lechner SG, Anirudhan G, Lapatsina L, & Lewin GR. (2011) The molecular basis of acid insensitivity in the African naked mole-rat. Science (New York, N.Y.), 334(6062), 1557-60. PMID: 22174253  

Park TJ, Lu Y, Jüttner R, Smith ES, Hu J, Brand A, Wetzel C, Milenkovic N, Erdmann B, Heppenstall PA.... (2008) Selective inflammatory pain insensitivity in the African naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber). PLoS biology, 6(1). PMID: 18232734  

  • March 26, 2014
  • 04:54 AM

Vision impairment and ADHD?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Science often has the ability to surprise.So it was when I first read the paper by Dawn Decarlo and colleagues* (open-access here) which suggested that: "children with vision impairment may be more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] than children in the general population". I should point out that this observation should not be totally unexpected given some media for other studies by the authors (see here).Lady in a green jacket @ Wikipedia  The Decarlo study was based on a question of "whether the prevalence of parent-reported ADHD diagnosis in a cohort of pediatric low vision subjects was similar to that reported for the general population". It seems researchers were a little bit worried that there may be some mixing up of the signs and symptoms of possible ADHD as a consequence of a child's visual impairment and sought to further look into the issue.So, bearing in mind the paper is open-access, a few study details:Alabama, USA was the study setting, and the medical records of participants (N=245) with low vision were drawn from two sites. Researchers garnered various details about participants covering basic demographic information and that relevant to vision including "primary ocular diagnosis, presence or absence of nystagmus, and best-corrected visual acuity in each eye". They also asked participants' parents whether or not their child had ever received a diagnosis of ADHD and had state and national ADHD prevalence estimates to hand.Results: the Alabama state ADHD prevalence estimate (based on 2007 data) was 14.3% and the US national prevalence 9.5%. The parent-reported prevalence rate of study children ever having a diagnosis of ADHD was 22.9% (56.245). Examination of an additional cohort of 19 children with almost total vision loss for a diagnosis of ADHD was 10%.Albinism - a condition concerned with the production of melanin - was the most frequently reported eye problem among participants (16%) and similar to the issue of optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH), saw a prevalence of ADHD diagnosis at 20% of these cases. Indeed, ONH has previously been linked with 'behavioural problems' in other research** and indeed, some of the features of autism***.Researchers concluded: "the prevalence of parent-reported ADHD among children with vision impairment in the present study is considerably higher than that reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention".There is obviously more to do in this area insofar as ascertaining whether these results are more widely applicable to cases of paediatric vision impairment or just a statistical blip. Noting for example, that the State of Alabama has an ADHD prevalence estimate some way above the US national estimate, might imply that ADHD is more generally apparent as a diagnosis there, so children were more likely to receive a diagnosis as a result of better screening facilities for example. Indeed, in my review of some of the [worldwide] prevalence rates of pediatric ADHD rates (see here), the figures coming back were nearer the US national average than the Alabama state estimate although potentially rising.The lack of an external control group looking both at asymptomatic controls or even those children with something like hearing impairment in the Decarlo study, means that some caution must be exercised before leaning too far into the suggestion of any relationship.The question of what mechanism might be behind any association is also important. I could suggest that the quite recent report of a link between solar intensity and ADHD (see here) might potentially offer some clues if one is to assume that vision is a common denominator across these areas of research. That being said, it is quite a tentative link and as yet, I can offer no further support for this suggestion.Perhaps more relevant are the discussions about shared genetic/environmental influences which affect vision and potentially, risk of ADHD, as being linked to any association. Taking you back to the paper by Antoine and colleagues**** which was discussed in another post (see here) on inner ear conditions being linked to hyperactivity, one might assume similar mechanisms to be plausible. That also the paper by Kim and colleagues***** reported issues with vision function and colour vision to be linked with cases of adult ADHD is something else to throw into the mix.Whatever the reason(s) for such a correlation, I am intrigued by the Decarlo findings and wait attentively for any further movement in this area of investigation.Music to close, and having recently heard the song Purple Rain on the radio, I have a rekindled respect for Prince...----------* Decarlo DK. et al. Prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among children with vision impairment. J AAPOS. 2014 Feb;18(1):10-4.** Teär Fahnehjelm K. et al. Optic nerve hypoplasia in children and adolescents; prevalence, ocular characteristics and behavioural problems. Acta Ophthalmol. 2013 Oct 7.*** Parr JR. et al. Social communication difficulties and autism spectrum disorder in young children with optic nerve hypoplasia and/or septo-optic dysplasia. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2010 Oct;52(10):917-21.**** Antione MW. et al. A Causative Link Between Inner Ear Defects and Long-Term Striatal Dysfunction. Science. 2013; 341: 1120-1123.***** Kim S. et al. Visual function and color vision in adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. J Optom. 2014 Jan-Mar;7(1):22-36.----------Decarlo DK, Bowman E, Monroe C, Kline R, McGwin G Jr, & Owsley C (2014). Prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among children with vision impairment. Journal of AAPOS : the official publication of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus / American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 18 (1), 10-4 PMID: 24568975... Read more »

Decarlo DK, Bowman E, Monroe C, Kline R, McGwin G Jr, & Owsley C. (2014) Prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among children with vision impairment. Journal of AAPOS : the official publication of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus / American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 18(1), 10-4. PMID: 24568975  

  • March 25, 2014
  • 11:45 PM

Algorithmic Darwinism

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

The workshop on computational theories of evolution started off on Monday, March 17th with Leslie Valiant — one of the organizers — introducing his model of evolvability (Valiant, 2009). This original name was meant to capture what type of complexity can be achieved through evolution. Unfortunately — especially at this workshop — evolvability already had […]... Read more »

Feldman, V. (2008) Evolvability from learning algorithms. Proceedings of the 40th annual ACM symposium on Theory of Computing, 619-628. DOI: 10.1145/1374376.1374465  

  • March 25, 2014
  • 07:06 PM

GM wheat resists infection by the destructive take-all fungus

by Valerie Ashton in The Molecular Scribe

A team of Chinese researchers have engineered genetically modified (GM) wheat that resists infection by the destructive take-all fungus. The fungus infects wheat roots, causing up to a 40-60% reduction in wheat yields.... Read more »

  • March 25, 2014
  • 06:49 PM

How Do Flies Fly?

by Emma Ganley in PLOS Biologue

It’s time to give some thought to how a blowfly, or actually any flight-capable creature flies. We circle back to physics here–drag, lift, thrust, and the weight of the creature as key factors. Calculation of the power required–and …The post How Do Flies Fly? appeared first on PLOS Biologue.... Read more »

Walker, S., Schwyn, D., Mokso, R., Wicklein, M., Müller, T., Doube, M., Stampanoni, M., Krapp, H., & Taylor, G. (2014) In Vivo Time-Resolved Microtomography Reveals the Mechanics of the Blowfly Flight Motor. PLoS Biology, 12(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001823  

  • March 25, 2014
  • 02:31 PM


by Amy Swanston in Antisense Science

With the Council for Science and Technology advising that we need to rethink our stance on GM food, we decided to look into some of the science behind genetic engineering to see what all the fuss is about.

Every year the world population increases, as does our need to find new sources of food. Globally malnutrition affects 34 million children across the world- but could GM crops be the cure? A huge proportion of land is simply not good enough to grow food or has problems with pests, but if we could change how crops react to these stresses and give them added genetic protection then we could provide new food sources to those who need it. Some plants could be enhanced in certain vitamins, such as Golden Rice which provides additional vitamin A, essential for human development, vision and immunity. There is even the possibility to use these plants medically as a delivery system for vaccinations.

The majority of GM crops are grown in the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India. But why is Europe so opposed to engineered crops? Last year Monsanto (one of the biggest GM seed companies) finally gave up trying to get Europe to approve the growth of new strains of GM crops, and instead decided to focus on importing them instead. At the moment only one strain is actively being grown, MON810 Maize, and even though it is deemed safe very few European countries are allowing its use.

Putting aside the politics and ethics of GM crops, how do we actually generate these plants? Here’s a little information on some of the science behind genetic engineering.... Read more »

Eamens A, Wang MB, Smith NA, & Waterhouse PM. (2008) RNA silencing in plants: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Plant physiology, 147(2), 456-68. PMID: 18524877  

Funke T, Han H, Healy-Fried ML, Fischer M, & Schönbrunn E. (2006) Molecular basis for the herbicide resistance of Roundup Ready crops. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 103(35), 13010-5. PMID: 16916934  

Paine JA, Shipton CA, Chaggar S, Howells RM, Kennedy MJ, Vernon G, Wright SY, Hinchliffe E, Adams JL, Silverstone AL.... (2005) Improving the nutritional value of Golden Rice through increased pro-vitamin A content. Nature biotechnology, 23(4), 482-7. PMID: 15793573  

  • March 24, 2014
  • 05:29 PM

GenoCAD webinar this Thursday, March 27

by Mary in OpenHelix

Although it’s already posted in our news feed, I just wanted to add a reminder about our upcoming webinar on GenoCAD: open-source computer-assisted design software for synthetic biology. You can see the time and registration details here: Free “Introduction to GenoCAD” Webinar presented March 27th If you want to download the slides beforehand (so you […]... Read more »

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