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Plants & Animals In the News ...

Male sparrows are less intimidated by the songs of aging rivals
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

Few singers reach their sunset years with the same voice they had in younger days. Songbirds are no different. New research reveals that elderly swamp sparrows don't sound quite like they used to -- nor do they strike the same fear in other males who may be listening in. Humans are remarkably good at guessing a person's age by their voice. But this is the first time the phenomenon has been demonstrated in wild animals.

What is an endangered species?
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

What makes for an endangered species classification isn't always obvious.

Human fetal lungs harbor a microbiome signature
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

The lungs and placentas of fetuses in the womb -- as young as 11 weeks after conception -- already show a bacterial microbiome signature, which suggests that bacteria may colonize the lungs well before birth. This first-time finding deepens the mystery of how the microbes or microbial products reach those organs before birth and what role they play in normal lung and immune system development.

Transformational innovation needed to reach global forest restoration goals
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

New research finds that global South countries have pledged the largest areas of land to forest restoration, and are also farthest behind in meeting their targets due to challenging factors such as population growth, corruption, and deforestation.

Neuron found in mice could have implications for effective diet drugs
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

A CALCR cell found in mice may stop feeding without subsequential nauseating effects, as well as influence the long term intake of food.

Not all of nature's layered structures are tough as animal shells and antlers
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

Engineers looking to nature for inspiration have long assumed that layered structures like those found in mollusk shells enhance a material's toughness, but a study shows that's not always the case. The findings may help engineers avoid 'naive biomimicry, the researchers say.

Real risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

A new study has definitively shown that regular exposure to THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, during pregnancy has significant impact on placental and fetal development.

Human ancestors started biodiversity decline millions of years ago
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

The human-caused biodiversity decline started much earlier than researchers used to believe. According to a new study the process was not started by our own species but by some of our ancestors.

It takes more than two to tango: Microbial communities influence animal sex and reproduction
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

It is an awkward idea, but a couple's ability to have kids may partly depend on who else is present. The reproductive tracts of males and females contain whole communities of micro-organisms. These microbes can have considerable impact on (animal) fertility and reproduction. They may even lead to new species.

Microplastics affect sand crabs' mortality and reproduction
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

Sand crabs, a key species in beach ecosystems, were found to have increased adult mortality and decreased reproductive success when exposed to plastic microfibers, according to a new study.

Self-assembled artificial microtubules developed
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

Simple LEGO bricks can be assembled to more complicated structures, which can be further associated into a wide variety of complex architectures, from automobiles, rockets, and ships to gigantic castles and amusement parks. Such an event of multi-step assembly, so-called 'hierarchical self-assembly', also happens in living organisms.

Human ancestors may have eaten hard plant tissues without damaging teeth
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

Hard plant foods may have made up a larger part of early human ancestors' diet than currently presumed, according to a new experimental study of modern tooth enamel. The results have implications for reconstructing diet, and for our interpretation of the fossil record of human evolution, researchers said.

Sanitary care by social ants shapes disease outcome
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

Sanitary care in ants to fight disease is known to improve the wellbeing of the colony, yet it has been unclear how social disease defense interferes with pathogen competition inside the individual host body. Biologists now revealed that collective care-giving has the power to bias the outcome of coinfections in fungus-exposed colony members.

America's most widely consumed oil causes genetic changes in the brain
Posted on Friday January 17, 2020

New research shows soybean oil not only leads to obesity and diabetes, but could also affect neurological conditions like autism, Alzheimer's disease, anxiety, and depression.

Low doses of radiation used in medical imaging lead to mutations in cell cultures
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Common medical imaging procedures use low doses of radiation that are believed to be safe. A new study, however, finds that in human cell cultures, these doses create breaks that allow extra bits of DNA to integrate into the chromosome.

Efficacy of drugs against pork tapeworm
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Taenia solium -- also called pork tapeworm -- is a parasite which causes disease around the world, particularly in very poor communities with deficient sanitation and where pigs roam free. Researchers have now analyzed the efficacy and adverse effects of three chemotherapeutics against T. solium.

Mobile protected areas needed to protect biodiversity in the high seas
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

As the United Nations rewrites the laws of the high seas, the new document should anticipate emerging technologies that allow protected areas to move as animals migrate or adapt to climate change.

New model shows how crop rotation helps combat plant pests
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

A new computational model shows how different patterns of crop rotation -- planting different crops at different times in the same field -- can impact long-term yield when the crops are threatened by plant pathogens.

Mosquitoes engineered to repel dengue virus
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Scientists have synthetically engineered mosquitoes that halt the transmission of the dengue virus. Biologists developed a human antibody for dengue suppression in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the insects that spread dengue. The development marks the first engineered approach in mosquitoes that targets the four known types of dengue, improving upon previous designs that addressed single strains.

In death of dinosaurs, it was all about the asteroid -- not volcanoes
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Volcanic activity did not play a direct role in the mass extinction event that killed the dinosaurs, according to an international team of researchers. It was all about the asteroid.

The carbon footprint of dinner: How 'green' are fish sticks?
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Fish sticks may be a tasty option for dinner, but are they good for the planet? A new study of the climate impacts of seafood products reveals that the processing of Alaskan pollock into fish sticks, imitation crab, and fish fillets generates significant greenhouse gas emissions.

Fossil is the oldest-known scorpion
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Scientists studying fossils collected 35 years ago have identified them as the oldest-known scorpion species, a prehistoric animal from about 437 million years ago. The researchers found that the animal likely had the capacity to breathe in both ancient oceans and on land.

Glimpse into ancient hunting strategies of dragonflies and damselflies
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Dragonflies and damselflies are animals that may appear gentle but are, in fact, ancient hunters. The closely related insects shared an ancestor over 250 million years ago -- long before dinosaurs -- and provide a glimpse into how an ancient neural system controlled precise and swift aerial assaults.

Scientists uncover how an explosion of new genes explain the origin of land plants
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Scientists have made a significant discovery about the genetic origins of how plants evolved from living in water to land 470 million years ago.

How decisions unfold in a zebrafish brain
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Researchers were able to track the activity of each neuron in the entire brain of zebrafish larvae and reconstruct the unfolding of neuronal events as the animals repeatedly made 'left or right' choices in a behavioral experiment. The resulting frame-by-frame view of a decision in the making was so detailed that, 10 seconds before the fish responded, the researchers could predict what their next move will be and when they would execute it.

New method detects toxin exposure from harmful algal blooms in human urine
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

A newly developed method can detect even low-dose human exposure to microcystins and nodularin in human urine. During harmful algal blooms (HABs), species of cyanobacteria release toxic peptides, including microcystins and nodularin into waterways, impacting wildlife and humans living in these marine environments. These findings are the first to report microcystin concentrations directly from exposed residents impacted by cyanobacteria in Florida, and is a critical step in developing and interpreting clinical diagnostic tests for HABs exposure worldwide.

'Living fossil' may upend basic tenet of evolutionary theory
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

A research team has discovered the first conclusive evidence that selection may also occur at the level of the epigenome -- a term that refers to an assortment of chemical 'annotations' to the genome that determine whether, when and to what extent genes are activated -- and has done so for tens of millions of years.

Bartonella bacteria found in hemangiosarcoma tumors from dogs
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Researchers have found a very high prevalence of Bartonella bacteria in tumors and tissues - but not blood samples - taken from dogs with hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels.

Scientists unexpectedly witness wolf puppies play fetch
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

When it comes to playing a game of fetch, many dogs are naturals. But now, researchers report that the remarkable ability to interpret human social communicative cues that enables a dog to go for a ball and then bring it back also exists in wolves.

Lights on for germ-free wound dressings
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Infections are a dreaded threat that can have fatal consequences after an operation, in the treatment of wounds, and during tissue engineering. Biomimetic hydrogels with 'built-in' antimicrobial properties can significantly decrease this danger. Scientists have now introduced a gel that is activated by red light to produce reactive oxygen compounds that effectively kill bacteria and fungi.

Cells protect themselves against stress by keeping together
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

For the first time, research shows that the contacts between cells, known as cell adhesion, are essential for cells to survive stress. The findings also suggest that impaired cell adhesion may sensitize cancer cells to drugs that damage cell proteins and cause stress.

Walnuts may be good for the gut and help promote heart health
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Researchers found that eating walnuts daily as part of a healthy diet was associated with increases in certain bacteria that can help promote health. Additionally, those changes in gut bacteria were associated with improvements in some risk factors for heart disease.

Whooping cough evolving into a superbug
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Whooping cough bacteria are becoming smarter at colonizing and feeding off unwitting hosts -- whether they have been vaccinated or not -- strengthening calls for a new vaccine.

Cyanobacteria in water and on land identified as source of methane
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are among the most common organisms on Earth. A research team has now shown for the first time that Cyanobacteria produce relevant amounts of methane in oceans, inland waters and on land. Due to climate change, ''Cyanobacteria blooms'' increase in frequency and extent, amplifying the release of methane from inland waters and oceans to the atmosphere.

The mysterious, legendary giant squid's genome is revealed
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Important clues about the anatomy and evolution of the mysterious giant squid (Architeuthis dux) are revealed through publication of its full genome sequence.

Jumping genes threaten egg cell quality
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

A woman's supply of eggs is finite, so it is crucial that the quality of their genetic material is ensured. New work elucidates a mechanism by which, even before birth, the body tries to eliminate egg cells of the poorest quality.

Lame sheep adjust their behavior to cope with their condition
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Using novel sensing technology, experts have found that lame sheep adjust how they carry out certain actives, such as walking, standing or laying down, rather than simply reducing the amount they do.

Male songbirds can't survive on good looks alone
Posted on Thursday January 16, 2020

Brightly colored male songbirds not only have to attract the female's eye, but also make sure their sperm can last the distance, according to new research.

Discovery reveals how remora fishes know when to hitch a ride aboard their hosts
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Researchers have detailed the discovery of a tactile-sensory system stowed within the suction disc of remora, believed to enable the fish to acutely sense contact pressure with host surfaces and gauge ocean forces in order to determine when to initiate their attachment, as well as adjust their hold on hosts while traversing long distances.

Molecular understanding of drug interactions suggests pathway to better malaria treatments
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Researchers have for the first time demonstrated what happens at the molecular level when two compounds known to inhibit crystal growth were combined, yielding new insights into malaria treatments and, more broadly, improving the process of drug development.

New feathered dinosaur shows dinosaurs grew up differently from birds
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

A new species of feathered dinosaur has been discovered in China. The one-of-a-kind specimen preserves feathers and bones that provide new information about how dinosaurs grew and how they differed from birds.

Glimpses of fatherhood found in non-pair-bonding chimps
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Although they have no way of identifying their biological fathers, male chimpanzees form intimate bonds with them, a finding that questions the idea of fatherhood in some of humanity's closest relatives, according to a study of wild chimpanzees in Uganda.

'The blob,' food supply squeeze to blame for largest seabird die-off
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

When nearly one million common murres died at sea and washed ashore from California to Alaska in 2015 and 2016, it was unprecedented -- both for murres, and across all bird species worldwide. Scientists blame an unexpected squeeze on the ecosystem's food supply, brought on by a severe and long-lasting marine heat wave known as 'the blob.'

How cells assemble their skeleton
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Microtubules, filamentous structures within the cell, are required for many important processes, including cell division and intracellular transport. A research team recently discovered how the spiral-shaped, modular microtubules are formed and how their formation is controlled. These processes were visualized using state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM).

Drinking 1% rather than 2% milk accounts for 4.5 years of less aging in adults
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

A new study shows drinking low-fat milk -- both nonfat and 1% milk -- is significantly associated with less aging in adults.

How zebra finches learn to sing
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Complex learning processes like speaking or singing follow similar patterns. Using the example of zebra finches, researchers have investigated how young birds imitate the courtship songs of their fathers and practice them thousands of times. The study has revealed what aspects of the song are remembered overnight, and that sleep allows the bird to optimally build upon the progress made on the previous day.

New study on a recently discovered chlorophyll molecule could be key to better solar cells
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Photosynthesis, the process by which some organisms convert sunlight into chemical energy, is well known. But, it is a complex phenomenon, which involves a myriad of proteins. The molecule Chl f, a new type of chlorophyll, is known to play a part in photosynthesis, but owing to its recent discovery, its location and functions are not understood. Scientists have now analyzed in detail the protein complex involved in photosynthesis and uncovered several new aspects about Chl f.

Biologists make living sperm glow
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

By applying a novel method, biologists have successfully analyzed the metabolism of intact tissues of the fruit fly using a label-free microscopy technique. They used the natural fluorescence of certain metabolic molecules and found that sperm, compared to other tissues, are highly glycolytic.

Newly created embryo nourishes hope for the survival of the northern white rhino
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

In December 2019 the team of scientists and conservationists repeated the egg collection from the northern white rhinos in Kenya and was able to create a new embryo over Christmas.

Building materials come alive with help from bacteria
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

New living building materials can grow and multiply -- and may help to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from infrastructure in the future.

Animals should use short, fast movements to avoid being located
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Most animals need to move, whether this is to seek out food, shelter or a mate. New research has shown that movement doesn't always break camouflage and if an animal needs to move, animals that are unpatterned and use short, fast movements are less likely to be located by predators.

Ancient iron-sulfur-based mechanism monitors electron flow in photosynthesis
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Scientists know that a particular protein is responsible for regulating gene expression of photosystems in response to perturbations in photosynthetic electron flow, but how it senses the electrons has been an unresolved question -- until now.

Newly discovered genetic element adjusts coat color in dogs
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Why are Irish Setters so red while other breeds can come in different hues? Geneticists now have an answer for why some dogs have more intense coat colors than others.

Analyzing DNA in soil could be an effective way of tracking animals
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Genetic material left behind by animals can provide critical clues to aid conservation and research. New research shows studying DNA in soil samples can be more effective, efficient and affordable than traditional tracking methods, such as camera traps, for assessing biodiversity.

Nitrogen-fixing genes could help grow more food using fewer resources
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Scientists have transferred a collection of genes into plant-colonizing bacteria that let them draw nitrogen from the air and turn it into ammonia, a natural fertilizer. The work could help farmers around the world use less human-made fertilizers to grow important food crops like wheat, corn, and soybeans.

Are sinking soils in the Everglades related to climate change?
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Characterized by alligators, airboats and catfish, the Everglades is a region of swampy wetlands in southern Florida. In addition to the area's role in Florida's tourism industry, the Everglades play a significant part in protecting our environment - through carbon sequestration.

What keeps couples together
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

In mammals, pair bonds are very rare, one of the few exceptions being red titi monkeys. Researchers have now investigated how pair relationships work in titi monkeys. Their results support the 'male-services hypothesis': Males provide a useful service by taking more care of the offspring and defending the territory against intruders, while females are more involved in relationship management and, for example, seek the proximity of their partner more often.

Animals reduce the symmetry of their markings to improve camouflage
Posted on Wednesday January 15, 2020

Some forms of camouflage have evolved in animals to exploit a loophole in the way predators perceive their symmetrical markings. New research describes how animals have evolved to mitigate this defensive disadvantage in their coloration.

Opening up DNA to delete disease
Posted on Tuesday January 14, 2020

Protein editorial assistants are clearing the way for cut-and-paste DNA editors, like CRISPR, to access previously inaccessible genes of interest. Opening up these areas of the genetic code is critical to improving CRISPR efficiency and moving toward futuristic, genetic-based assaults on disease.

Researchers unlock secrets of cell division, define role for protein elevated in cancer
Posted on Tuesday January 14, 2020

Researchers have successfully recreated a key process involved in cell division in a test tube, uncovering the vital role played by a protein that is elevated in over 25% of all cancers.


 

 

 

 

 

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