The first evidence that climate change has affected fishing catches, revealed by William Cheung from the University of British Columbia and his team, shows tropical countries are set to be hardest hit.... Read more »
Cheung, W., Watson, R., & Pauly, D. (2013) Signature of ocean warming in global fisheries catch. Nature, 497(7449), 365-368. DOI: 10.1038/nature12156
Blue Harvest @ Wikipedia @ Family GuyI need to create a suitable atmosphere for this post, so try this music for size and think Blue Harvest...Right. The wait is over. The discussions / arguments / objections / agreements are all confined to history. Drum roll, spotlight centre-stage... enter DSM-5 and into unknown territory we all go, particularly with autism, sorry.. autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in mind.As you can see from the link above to the new diagnostic guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) the diagnosis of autism has, as was widely anticipated, changed somewhat to encompass quite a few adaptations (see this previous post).I'm not saying too much more on this at the present time, bearing in mind 'spectrum' is a word which seems to get more of a mention in this revision of the DSM; and not just with autism in mind (see here and here*).Obviously things aren't going to just change overnight with DSM-5 as it is eventally rolled out. Clinicians will need to learn some new diagnostic brushstrokes. Remember too that DSM is only one part of the diagnostic manuals currently in use (although even ICD is subject to revision in coming years already mentioning something called Social Reciprocity Disorder?). That being said, the implications of DSM-5 on issues like the autism numbers game - same as what happened across previous versions - are probably going to be subject to some pretty intense scrutiny over the coming years.Don't also be under any disillusion that the new changes are going to herald any giant leaps forward in autism research anytime soon. Interestingly, Dr Tom Insel, head of the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) was recently quoted as saying that "NIMH will be re-orienting its research away from DSM categories", reported also by other authors** (open-access). In other words, even with the fresh smell of new DSM in the air, a new 'nosology' is already planned.To close, Peter 'Han Solo' Griffin on TIE fighters... dan-dan-da-dan, da-da-dan-dan-dan...---------* Adam D. Mental health: on the spectrum. Nature. 2013; 496: 416-418.** Lai M-C. et al. Subgrouping the autism “spectrum": reflections on DSM-5. PLoS Biol. 2013; 11: e1001544.----------Lai M-C, Lombardo MV, Chakrabarti B, & Baron-Cohen S (2013). Subgrouping the Autism “Spectrum": Reflections on DSM-5 PLoS Biology... Read more »
Lai M-C, Lombardo MV, Chakrabarti B, & Baron-Cohen S. (2013) Subgrouping the Autism “Spectrum": Reflections on DSM-5. PLoS Biology. info:/
by Thomas Shultz in Evolutionary Games Group
Artem Kaznatcheev and I presented a poster on May 4th at the University of British Columbia to a highly interdisciplinary conference on religion. The conference acronym is CERC, which translates as Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium. Most of the 60-some attendees are religion scholars and social scientists from North American and European universities. Many […]... Read more »
Kaznatcheev, Artem, & Shultz, Thomas R. (2011) Ethnocentrism maintains cooperation, but keeping one’s children close fuels it. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 3174-3179. info:/
How do viruses translate their mRNA in the presence of cellular mRNA? Rotavirus finds a way.... Read more »
Rubio, R., Mora, S., Romero, P., Arias, C., & Lopez, S. (2013) Rotavirus Prevents the Expression of Host Responses by Blocking the Nucleocytoplasmic Transport of Polyadenylated mRNAs. Journal of Virology, 87(11), 6336-6345. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00361-13
Piron, M. (1998) Rotavirus RNA-binding protein NSP3 interacts with eIF4GI and evicts the poly(A) binding protein from eIF4F. The EMBO Journal, 17(19), 5811-5821. DOI: 10.1093/emboj/17.19.5811
A new genetic study by Mondol et al. 2013 examines the contemporary and historical genetic diversity of Indian tigers. ... Read more »
Mondol S, Bruford MW, & Ramakrishnan U. (2013) Demographic loss, genetic structure and the conservation implications for Indian tigers. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society, 280(1762), 20130496. PMID: 23677341
Photosynthetic oxidation of water is one of the central processes of life on Earth, but it is still not completely understood. Now, a German-American team of scientists has set out to observe the intermediate stages of this complex catalytic reaction using ultrashort snap shots taken at light sources including BESSY II in Berlin and the Linac Coherent Light Source at Stanford.... Read more »
Kern, J., Alonso-Mori, R., Hellmich, J., Tran, R., Hattne, J., Laksmono, H., Glockner, C., Echols, N., Sierra, R., Sellberg, J.... (2012) Room temperature femtosecond X-ray diffraction of photosystem II microcrystals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(25), 9721-9726. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1204598109
This article could use a little more reflection about working alongside potentially dangerous animals and a little less sensationalism. But, it's still an incredible story: I was swallowed by a hippo.
Who knew? Snakes like hot springs too.
The Roundup from a couple weeks ago featured amazing pictures of a pod of Orcas attacking a group of Sperm Whales. This week's unlucky victim is a dolphin.
... Read more »
Wenger SJ, Isaak DJ, Luce CH, Neville HM, Fausch KD, Dunham JB, Dauwalter DC, Young MK, Elsner MM, Rieman BE.... (2011) Flow regime, temperature, and biotic interactions drive differential declines of trout species under climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(34), 14175-80. PMID: 21844354
You probably don’t feel tired when you get a tan.
You probably think your friends feel more or less fatigued depending on whether they are dark skinned or fair skinned (like myself).
We know that differences in colour are important lots of other species besides humans. They can play a big part in an animal’s ability to blend into the surrounding environment, for instance. What might be less appreciated is that being a certain colour might take energy. After all, many colours in animals are caused by pigments: specific molecules that animals have to make in their bodies. Some of those molecules could well depend on molecules that the animal has to get somehow, or make through a physiological process.
Melanin is just such a chemical. Melanin is a dark chemical in lost of insects, but one of the main compounds insects need to make it only comes in food. If you don’t get enough food, you can’t make enough melanin. A new paper by Roff and Fairbairn take this a step further, and asks if melanin might actually be costly for animals to make, with an eye towards evolutionary situations. For instance, how big a benefit in dark colour would there have to be for you to spend the energy to make more dark stuff?
They test this in a clever way. Rather than looking at different colour types of one species, they look at changes in colour of a single species, a sand cricket (Gryllus firmus; above right). When these crickets shed their skeleton, they are very lightly coloured (right): there is no melanin in their new skeleton for a while until it hardens up.
They reasoned that if making all this melanin was costly to the cricket, then crickets with less melanin should have more of some other feature, like the gonads. And that’s what they found. The bigger the gonads in cricket, the less melanin they had. This degree of melanization was highly heritable, too (a score of 0.61, where 0 is not influenced by genes, and 1 is completely determined by genes).
This in no way suggests that this means you shouldn’t tan. Yet.
Roff DA. & Fairbairn DJ. 2013. The costs of being dark: the genetic basis of melanism and its association with fitness-related traits in the sand cricket. Journal of Evolutionary Biology: in press. DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12150
Moth picture from here; cricket picture from here; cricket molt from here.... Read more »
Roff DA, & Fairbairn DJ. (2013) The costs of being dark: the genetic basis of melanism and its association with fitness-related traits in the sand cricket. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12150
We love them and yet we hate them. They get censored, augmented, reduced, replaced, covered, exposed. They get grilled, occasionally, but those are not the ones I'm talking about. We want to see them and yet we pretend we don't. We criticize them and yet we forget what they are made for, the most beautiful thing of all: nourish a new life.Yes, I'm talking about breasts. Angelina Jolie's breasts have been extensively discussed this week, more now that they are reportedly gone than when they were around. Sort of ironic, if you thin about it. Angelina did the unthinkable: she had both her healthy breasts removed to prevent cancer. In a second phase of her preventive plan, she will have her ovaries removed, too. The tabloids will no longer be able to speculate on her possible new pregnancies, but they will have plenty to discuss on and around her missing body parts.Somehow the news left me a little puzzled, unable to share the views of those who praised Angelina for her bravery. Yes, it takes guts to do what she did. At the same time, the huge resonance she's been given seems blown out of proportion. Just another Hollywood thing. It reminds me of back when our mothers were told that formula was way better than breast milk. Are we facing a new era where silicon is better than milk ducts? Are they trying to convince us that fake is healthier than real? Well, of course it is. It's fake!So, before we go around demonizing breasts and invoking chopping off body parts in the name of longevity, I wanted to get some facts straight.First of all, I read over and over again, "Angelina Jolie carries the gene BRCA1 ..." Turns out, we all carry the gene. What makes us different is that there are distinct copies of this gene across individuals, and some copies (but not all) do raise the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are part of the so called tumor suppressor genes, genes that code for proteins that are in charge of repairing damaged DNA. Our cells undergo numerous cellular divisions during our lifespan, and every cell division carries a certain chance of damaging the DNA. Though rare, mutations can be introduced, which can either be lethal or create a cancerous cell. Tumor suppressor proteins make a first attempt to repair the damaged DNA. If the DNA cannot be repaired, they promote apoptosis, or cell death. Another example of tumor suppressor gene is TP53, which encodes the protein p53. The first link between BRCA1 and breast cancer was discovered in 1990 by Hall et al. . BRCA1 and BRCA2 are expressed mostly in breast tissue. Some mutations in these genes cause them to code proteins that are not fully functional. When this happens, a cell with damaged DNA has a higher chance to escape the "screening" and start dividing instead of undergoing apoptosis. Because BRCA1 and BRCA2 are expressed mostly in the breast tissue, by removing the breast tissue one gets rid of the majority of cells expressing the defective genes, which in turns significantly lowers the chance of developing breast cancer. While hundreds of mutations/variations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have been found, not all are linked to breast cancer, and the ones that are don't increase the risk in the same amount. Furthermore, the majority of breast cancers are not linked to mutations in these two genes. In other words, having the mutations raises the risk, but not having them does not lower it. So, let's get some numbers straight. According to the American Cancer Society about 15% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it. That leaves the majority of breast cancers unrelated to family history: "About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations."It's a puzzle I've discussed before, the missing herediatbility. On the one hand we know genes play a large role in cancer and we spend all this research money into looking for genetic causes. Yet, the vast majority of cancers are non-hereditary. While women with certain mutations in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have up to 80% (the exact chance varies depending on the type of mutation they carry) increased risk of developing breast cancer, only between 5% and 10% of breast cancers are linked to deleterious mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. So, yes, get tested. But chances are, your copy of BRCA1 and BRCA2 are fine. So, what makes BRCA1 and bRCA2 so scary? The American Cancer Society reports that approximately 60% of women with one of the harmful mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 develop breast cancer during their lifetime, versus the 12% of women in the general population. Remember, though: these genes are not the only ones playing a role in cancer. Things like epistasis with other loci in the genome can deeply affect such risks and, unfortunately, we still don't know enough to quantify them. High levels of IGF-1, the insulin-like growth factor have also been linked to breast cancer. So while having those mutations raises the risk, it does not mean that the individual will develop breast cancer for sure as other factors are still unknown. Careful considerations should be made before making a drastic choice like Angelina's. These considerations should also include risks associated to a double mastectomy (infection, necrosis, etc.) and reconstruction surgery, neither one free of complications. I'm somehow reluctant to consider implants healthier than normal breasts, whether or not those breasts were expressing faulty genes. What about those 85% of breast cancers that are not linked to BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations? Can we do anything to prevent those? When you look at the global population, the most common risk factors for breast cancer are not the mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2, rather, as Bernstein reports in a 2009 review :"The most consistently acknowledged risk factors for breast cancer other than gender and race/ethnicity are age, family history of breast cancer, early menarche, late age at first birth, nulliparity, late age at menopause, high postmenopausal weight or substantial weight gain as an adult, exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation and a history of benign proliferative breast disease ."All these risk factors point at one common etiology, ovarian hormones (estradiol and progesterone), because they"promote cellular proliferation in the breast, providing greater opportunity for the accumulation of random errors, which may lead to tumor development ."Body weight and exercise can be linked to different levels of estradiol in the blood (high body weight is associated with higher levels, exercise is associated with lower levels), hence their correlation to breast cancer risk. Some studies found up to 40% reduction in risk in women who exercised in particular in their adolescence. Of all risk factors, these two, body weight and exercise, are the ones we can actually take control over and actively lower our risk of developing breast cancer. A diet rich in antioxidants may lower the risk of DNA damage during cellular division. Things we have less control over is the woman's age at the first pregnancy. One of my grad school professors used to say, "Having a baby as a teen may ruin your life, but it sure lowers your risk of developing breast cancer later in life." The risk keeps lowering for every additional pregnancy, though not as significantly as with the first one. What's not clear is the extent to which breastfeeding can lower the risk of breast cancer, as the American Cancer Society reports: "Research suggests that breastfeeding has only a slight effect on breast cancer risk and that effect is only among women who have breastfed for a long time. They also concluded that breastfeeding seems to be more protective against the most aggressive types of breast cancer, including tumors in women with mutations in the BRCA1 gene, basal-like cancers, hormone-receptor negative, and possibly triple negative tumors."And while we do the things that we can to lower our risks, I am hopeful that one day gene therapy will be perfected to the point that it will offer a better options than what, in gross terms, amounts to amputation.Thoughts? ... Read more »
Hall, J., Lee, M., Newman, B., Morrow, J., Anderson, L., Huey, B., & King, M. (1990) Linkage of early-onset familial breast cancer to chromosome 17q21. Science, 250(4988), 1684-1689. DOI: 10.1126/science.2270482
Bernstein, L. (2008) Identifying population-based approaches to lower breast cancer risk. Oncogene. DOI: 10.1038/onc.2009.348
A team of Canadian and UK researchers has discovered what may be some of the oldest pockets of water on the planet – and they may contain life.... Read more »
Kim Luke, University of Toronto, Office of Public Relations, McMaster University, Aeron Haworth, The University of Manchester, & Lancaster University, News. (2013) Water's secrets. Tracing Knowledge. info:/
5-methylcytosine (5-mC) and 5-hydroxymethycytosine (5-hmC) are two major epigenetic modifications of DNA. Dynamic changes in 5-mC and 5-hmC levels are tightly regulated and impact neural cell development, differentiation, and other biological functions. Deregulation of 5-mC and 5-hmC has also been implicated in various human diseases. However, whether 5-mC and 5-hmC are involved in aging-related neurodegenerative ...... Read more »
Chouliaras L, Mastroeni D, Delvaux E, Grover A, Kenis G, Hof PR, Steinbusch HW, Coleman PD, Rutten BP, & van den Hove DL. (2013) Consistent decrease in global DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation in the hippocampus of Alzheimer's disease patients. Neurobiology of aging. PMID: 23582657
Mastroeni D, McKee A, Grover A, Rogers J, & Coleman PD. (2009) Epigenetic differences in cortical neurons from a pair of monozygotic twins discordant for Alzheimer's disease. PloS one, 4(8). PMID: 19672297
by Patrick Bartosch in Beaker
Sanford-Burnham researchers identified a potential drug target to prevent the hardening of arteries in patients with atherosclerosis. The gene Dkk1 encodes a protein that plays a key role in increasing the population of connective-tissue cells during wound repair, but prolonged Dkk1 signaling in cells lining blood vessels can lead to fibrosis and a stiffening of artery walls.... Read more »
Cheng, S., Shao, J., Behrmann, A., Krchma, K., & Towler, D. (2013) Dkk1 and Msx2-Wnt7b Signaling Reciprocally Regulate the Endothelial-Mesenchymal Transition in Aortic Endothelial Cells. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. DOI: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.113.300647
It is official, the chytrid Fungi have reached all three of the extant amphibian orders.Chytrid fungi are the cause of global decimation in frogs and toads, as well as newts and salamanders. But, until now, the lesser known caecilians had managed to evade their mycelial grasp. That ends now!Goodbye Mr. Bond CaecilianA recent study released in the journal EcoHealth has found the first cases of chytridiomycosis in the legless amphibians. Unfortunately, EcoHealth is not a free journal so all I can link you to for the article is the article front page, provided by Springer. You can read the intro but for the full article you gots to have the monies: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Infection and Lethal Chytridiomycosis in Caecilian Amphibians (Gymnophiona). But there is also an piece in PsyOrg discussing the Journal article: Fatal fungus found in third major amphibian group, caecilians. The team of researchers conducted a field swab of over 200 specimens across 20 different species in five countries of Africa and South America and ran what amounted to the worlds largest caecilian PCR survey for the presence of Batrachohytrium dendrobatidis, which is the fungi generally refered to as the chytrid fungus. There results? 58 specimens from Tanzania and Cameroon came back positive for it. That is over 25% of the total sample! Infection is a go!But, wait you say, haven't some frogs shown a certain resistance to infection? Could, perhaps, caecilians face fungal morbidity sans mortality? Nope, the team managed to report the first lethal infections as well. Noting that while the degree of infection in the wild samples were not very high, they were at the same levels observed to cause death in Gaboon caecilians held in captivity.So clearly, fungi have completed the dominance over the entire Amphibian Class. Who goes next? Bats? Bees?Well, whichever group it is, I am sure we humans will have our hands full trying to prevent a complete fungal victory.Awesome Reserachers:Gower, D., Doherty-Bone, T., Loader, S., Wilkinson, M., Kouete, M., Tapley, B., Orton, F., Daniel, O., Wynne, F., Flach, E., Müller, H., Menegon, M., Stephen, I., Browne, R., Fisher, M., Cunningham, A., & Garner, T. (2013). Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Infection and Lethal Chytridiomycosis in Caecilian Amphibians (Gymnophiona) EcoHealth DOI: 10.1007/s10393-013-0831-9 Photo cred: By Franco Andreone - see authorization (http://calphotos.berkeley.edu) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5) or CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia CommonsGif props: Arrested Development returns to Netflix on May 26. 2013... Read more »
Gower, D., Doherty-Bone, T., Loader, S., Wilkinson, M., Kouete, M., Tapley, B., Orton, F., Daniel, O., Wynne, F., Flach, E.... (2013) Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Infection and Lethal Chytridiomycosis in Caecilian Amphibians (Gymnophiona). EcoHealth. DOI: 10.1007/s10393-013-0831-9
"Simple" is often a compliment in the human world, used to describe low-fuss dinners or closet solutions. When scientists use "simple" to describe an animal, they mean something more like, "That sac of goo has no business acting clever." An especially simple creature—a sea slug—recently demonstrated that despite its humble resources, it can learn from experience and form new hunting strategies. Smaller goo sacs, beware.
Despite its squishy stature, the sea slug Pleurobranchaea californica is a killer. It roams the sea and swallows whatever appealing morsels are in its way. Being blind, it can't tell how tasty its prey looks—or doesn't.
It can't see, for example, the flashy coloration of the "Spanish shawl" nudibranch (Flabellina iodinea). If it could, it might guess that those bright pink and orange hues are a warning: Flabellina is not nice to eat. It steals stinging cells from its own prey (such as corals and anemones) and stores those stingers in its bristles.
Rhanor Gillette, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, observed that not only do Pleurobranchaea slugs spit out Spanish shawls, but they seem to remember and avoid the animals in the future. To study how well the predatory sea slugs learn their lesson after tasting Flabellina, he and graduate student Vanessa Noboa set up a meet-and-greet between the two species.
In tanks, the large, hungry sea slugs encountered the smaller nudibranchs. Researchers recorded how long it took for Pleurobranchaea to take a taste, then waited for the slugs to change their minds and turn away from their potential prey. (Here's a great video of a Pleurobranchaea attempting to Hoover up a Flabellina, then spitting the animal back out. While the big slug pivots away in disgust, the little one does its "Don't eat me" dance like nobody's watching, which is true.)
On the first day, this interaction happened five times. By the end, most of the Pleurobranchaea slugs were much slower to take a taste of the Spanish shawls, or were ignoring them altogether. Twenty-four hours later, the sea slugs were still reluctant to approach Flabellina. Even after 72 hours, they remembered what they'd learned. Gillette and Noboa report their results in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
Since the predatory slugs seem to sniff something in the water that makes them turn away, the researchers think the noxious Spanish shawls give off a distinctive warning odor.
Gillette says the sea slugs have a decent memory, considering their elementary nervous system. "In these experiments their memory is strong at 48 hours," he says, "and in unpublished work we've seen savings up to a week, so it's not bad." (Oddly, some slugs had to be removed from the experiment because they didn't mind the taste of the stinging Flabellina at all. They sucked it up just like any other food.)
Learning from an unpleasant taste experience, then using that memory to change one's hunting strategy, is "a real cognitive trait," Gillette says—in other words, a "goal-directed use of knowledge." The Pleurobranchaea slugs learned to avoid the smell of Flabellina, although they continued to eat a related, non-stinging species without hesitation.
Being able to change their feeding strategy is a good thing, since these slugs are generalists. Everything in the path of their oozing is a potential meal. "More specialized animals, say sea-slugs that may munch on a particular kind of sponge, may not need to employ such learning abilities," Gillette says. For a hunter like Pleurobranchaea, the decisions aren't so simple.
Noboa, V., & Gillette, R. (2013). Selective prey avoidance learning in the predatory sea-slug Pleurobranchaea californica Journal of Experimental Biology DOI: 10.1242/jeb.079384
Image: Rhanor Gillette.
... Read more »
Noboa, V., & Gillette, R. (2013) Selective prey avoidance learning in the predatory sea-slug Pleurobranchaea californica. Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.079384
A few entries ago I uploaded a fragment from a study that discusses an intriguing experiment with three chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) which were trained to tap regularly on a piano keyboard...... Read more »
Hattori, Y., Tomonaga, M., & Matsuzawa, T. (2013) Spontaneous synchronized tapping to an auditory rhythm in a chimpanzee. Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep01566
Hasegawa, A., Okanoya, K., Hasegawa, T., & Seki, Y. (2011) Rhythmic synchronization tapping to an audio–visual metronome in budgerigars. Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/srep00120
Honing, H., Merchant, H., Háden, G., Prado, L., & Bartolo, R. (2012) Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta) Detect Rhythmic Groups in Music, but Not the Beat. PLoS ONE, 7(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051369
The breakthrough technique that allowed scientists to obtain one-of-a-kind, colorful images of the myriad connections in the brain and nervous system is about to get a significant upgrade.... Read more »
Peter Reuell. (2013) ‘Brainbow,’ version 2.0. Harvard Gazette. info:/
Any given species of bird probably has a variety of different songs. Most bird studies track individual birds in their own habitats, and then make more or less one-by-one comparisons—a bird in a forest will sound different from the same species in a city. An international team has taken these studies one step further—by making a giant leap into space.... Read more »
Bacterial plasmids are nucleotide sequences floating in the cytoplasm of bacteria. These molecules replicate independently from the main chromosomal DNA and are not essential to the survival or replication of their host. Plasmids are thought to be part of the bacterial domain’s mobilome (for overview, see Siefert, 2009), a sort of genetic commonwealth which most, […]... Read more »
I told you so.I'm talking about the paper by Pu and colleagues* who meta-analysed the currently available literature looking at two SNPs in everyone's favourite Scrabble classic gene, MTHFR in relation to autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Said gene controls production of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) which fits very snugly into the whole one carbon metabolism cycle (see here).Love at first sight? @ Wikipedia Regular readers might know that I have a bit of a thing for MTHFR with autism in mind. And how MTHFR serves an important purpose in reducing the compound 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate and onward its links to homocysteine (see here) and methionine (see here) and all that methylation palava.For a good summary (well, at least I think so) you might also want to have a look at this older post detailing the process, complete with hand-drawn diagram by yours truly.In essence, Pu et al reiterated the important role than the MTHFR C677T SNP might have to some cases of autism; in particular how "the C677T polymorphism was found to be associated with ASD only in children from countries without [folic acid] food fortification" denoting the potentially important link with the vitamin of the hour, folate (folic acid, vitamin B9) (see here).There's little more for me to add to this post that hasn't already been said. MTHFR is probably not going to be an issue for everyone with autism, and indeed might also be potentially important to other conditions outside of the autism spectrum (see here for a discussion of that recent schizophrenia paper). Mmm... perhaps another part of that common ground and potential RDoC variable?The nutrition link is perhaps something which adds to the view that environment might be a modifier of risk of some ASDs bearing also in mind the overlap with things like vitamin B12 (see here). That being said I'm also going to draw your attention back to all that folate receptor autoantibody stuff too just to bear in mind.I told you so.----------* Pu D. et al. Association between MTHFR gene polymorphisms and the risk of autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analysis. Autism Res. May 2013.----------Pu D, Shen Y, & Wu J (2013). Association between MTHFR Gene Polymorphisms and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Meta-Analysis. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research PMID: 23653228... Read more »
Pu D, Shen Y, & Wu J. (2013) Association between MTHFR Gene Polymorphisms and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Meta-Analysis. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 23653228
While speaking at TEDxMcGill 2009, Jan Florjanczyk — friend, quantum information researcher, and former schoolmate of mine — provided one of the clearest characterization of theoretical physics that I’ve had the please of hearing: Theoretical physics is about tweaking the knobs and dials and assumptions of the laws that govern the universe and then interpolating […]... Read more »
Gardner, A., & Conlon, J. (2013) Cosmological natural selection and the purpose of the universe. Complexity. DOI: 10.1002/cplx.21446
Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.
If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.
Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.
To learn more, visit seedmediagroup.com.