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Plants & Animals In the News ...

Following the lizard lung labyrinth
Posted on Saturday December 14, 2019

Birds and mammals are on extreme ends of the airflow spectrum. Mammals inhale oxygen-rich air and they exhale depleted air, exhibiting a so-called tidal flow pattern. In contrast, bird breath travels tidally through part of the respiratory system, but in a one-way loop throughout most of the lung. Biologists have discovered that Savannah monitor lizards have lung structures that are hybrid system of bird and mammal lungs.

Mitochondria are the 'canary in the coal mine' for cellular stress
Posted on Saturday December 14, 2019

Mitochondria, tiny structures present in most cells, are known for their energy-generating machinery. Now, researchers have discovered a new function of mitochondria: they set off molecular alarms when cells are exposed to stress or chemicals that can damage DNA, such as chemotherapy. The results could lead to new cancer treatments that prevent tumors from becoming resistant to chemotherapy.

Why are giant pandas born so tiny?
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

Born pink, blind, and helpless, giant pandas typically weigh about 100 grams at birth -- the equivalent of a stick of butter. Their mothers are 900 times more massive than that. That raises a question that has vexed biologists: why the disparity? No one knows the answer, but by comparing bone growth across newborn bears, dogs and other animals, scientists find that one idea doesn't hold up.

Breakthrough in Zika virus vaccine
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

Researchers have made significant advances in developing a novel vaccine against Zika virus, which could potentially lead to global elimination of the disease.

Synthetic nanopores made from DNA
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

A scientific collaboration has resulted in the construction of a synthetic DNA nanopore capable of selectively translocating protein-size macromolecules across lipid bilayers.

Moongoose females compete over reproduction
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

A new study on wild banded mongooses reveals that females may use spontaneous abortion to cope with reproductive competition, and to save their energy for future breeding attempts in better conditions.

Researchers reconstruct spoken words as processed in nonhuman primate brains
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

Using a brain-computer interface, a team of researchers has reconstructed English words from the brain activity of rhesus macaques that listened as the words were spoken.

Salmon lose diversity in managed rivers, reducing resilience to environmental change
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

The manipulation of rivers in California is jeopardizing the resilience of native Chinook salmon. It compresses their migration timing to the point that they crowd their habitats. They may miss the best window for entering the ocean and growing into adults, new research shows.

Rectal microbes influence effectiveness of HIV vaccine
Posted on Friday December 13, 2019

Microbes living in the rectum could make a difference to the effectiveness of experimental HIV vaccines, according to researchers.

Canadian tundra formerly covered in rich forest: Ancient plant fossil record shows
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Canada's northernmost islands, Ellesmere and Axel Heiberg islands in Nunavut, were home to a vibrant, temperate forest 56 million years ago, according to fossil research.

Climate cycles and insect pests drive migration timing of reindeer's North American cousin
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Biologists have discovered two unexpected drivers for migration timing that dispute long-held assumptions and provide insight into potential future effects of climate change on caribou. First, the start of migration is synchronized across North America and tied to large-scale, ocean-driven climate cycles. Second, warm, windless summers that favored insect pests lead to poorer maternal health and delayed arrivals at the calving grounds the following spring.

When flowers reached Australia
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

University of Melbourne research has established when and where flowering plants first took a foothold.

Deadly 'superbugs' destroyed by molecular drills
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Motorized molecules activated by light target and drill through highly antibiotic resistant bacteria and kill them within minutes. The molecules can open bacteria to attack by drugs they previously resisted. The strategy could be applied to bacterial infections or diseases on the skin, in the lungs or in the gastrointestinal tract.

Ocean microbes: Novel study underscores microbial individuality
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

A single drop of seawater can contain a wide representation of ocean microbes from around the world -- revealing novel insights into the ecology, evolution and biotechnology potential of the global microbiome.

Tiny insects become 'visible' to bats when they swarm
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Small insects that would normally be undetectable to bats using echolocation suddenly become detectable when they occur in large swarms.

For controlling tsetse flies, fabric color matters
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Researchers report that they have engineered an improved colored fabric for the insecticide-treated targets used to control tsetse, based on an understanding of how flies see color.

New drug targets to treat Nipah virus
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Nipah virus, which is transmitted to humans from bats and pigs, has a high mortality rate and there are no licensed drugs against it. Now, researchers have used information on the structure of the Nipah virus to identified 150 possible inhibitors of the virus.

The limits of ocean heavyweights: Prey curb whales' gigantic size
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Scientists collected data from hundreds of feeding whales, allowing them to determine how much energy species of different sizes invest to capture their prey and which of these species reap the greatest rewards for their efforts. Their findings reveal that body size in all whales is limited by the availability of their prey, but only filter-feeding whales have evolved a feeding strategy that drives them to achieve the largest body sizes to have ever evolved.

Zika vaccine protects both mom and fetus, but mom needs a higher dose when pregnant
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Researchers showed, for the first time, that a single, higher dose of vaccination to a pregnant mouse safely protects both her and her fetus from the Zika virus. The researchers found that a single, less potent dose was not enough to protect the fetus.

Bovine kobuvirus in US
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

A virus that afflicts cattle that was first discovered in Japan in 2003 has made its way to the US, researchers report.

Virus multiplication in 3D
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Vaccinia viruses serve as a vaccine against human smallpox and as the basis of new cancer therapies. Two studies now provide fascinating insights into their unusual propagation strategy at the atomic level.

Want to avoid the holiday blues? New report suggests skipping the sweet treats
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

A new study from a team of clinical psychologists suggests eating added sugars -- common in so many holiday foods -- can trigger metabolic, inflammatory and neurobiological processes tied to depressive illness.

How humans learned to dance: From the chimpanzee conga line
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Two chimpanzees housed in a zoo in the US have sparked the question about how human dance evolved after being observed performing a duo dance-like behavior, similar to a human conga line.

Herpes's Achilles heel
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Scientists have used the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to disrupt both latent reservoirs of the herpes simplex virus and actively replicating virus in human fibroblast cells. Experiments pinpoint weak spot that can make the virus susceptible to gene editing.

The mathematics of prey detection in spider orb-webs
Posted on Thursday December 12, 2019

Spider webs are one of nature's most fascinating manifestations. Many spiders extrude proteinaceous silk to weave sticky webs that ensnare unsuspecting prey who venture into their threads. Despite their elasticity, these webs possess incredible tensile strength. Researchers present a theoretical mechanical model to study the inverse problem of source identification and localize a prey in a spider orb-web.

Paleontology: Experiments in evolution
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

A new find from Patagonia sheds light on the evolution of large predatory dinosaurs. Features of the 8-m long specimen from the Middle Jurassic suggest that it records a phase of rapid diversification and evolutionary experimentation.

Focus on food security and sustainability
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

The number of malnourished people is increasing worldwide. More than two billion people suffer from a lack of micronutrients. Infant mortality rates are unacceptably high. Against this background, there is a need for the global pooling of research efforts, more research funding and an international body for food security and agriculture that prepares policy decisions.

Mountain goats' air conditioning is failing, study says
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

A new study says Glacier National Park's iconic mountain goats are in dire need of 'air conditioning.'

Teams of microbes are at work in our bodies. Here's how to figure out what they're doing
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

An algorithm akin to the annoyingly helpful one that attempts to auto-complete text messages and emails is now being harnessed for a better cause. A group of researchers are using its pattern-recognition ability to identify microbial communities in the body by sifting through volumes of genetic code. Their method could speed the development of medical treatments for microbiota-linked ailments like Crohn's disease.

Azteca ant colonies move the same way leopards' spots form
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

What could Azteca ants in coffee farms in Mexico have in common with leopards' spots and zebras' stripes?

Earth was stressed before dinosaur extinction
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

By measuring the chemistry of fossilized seashells collected in Antarctica, researchers discovered that Earth was already experiencing carbon cycle instability before the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

A new early whale, Aegicetus gehennae, and the evolution of modern whale locomotion
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

A newly discovered fossil whale represents a new species and an important step in the evolution of whale locomotion.

New technique to determine protein structures may solve biomedical puzzles
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Researchers have now demonstrated a powerful 'experimental evolution' method to discover details of protein shape and function, and the method may find uses across a very broad spectrum of biomedical research.

Virtual reality and drones help to predict and protect koala habitat
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Researchers have used a combination of virtual reality (VR), aerial thermal-imaging and ground surveys to build a better statistical model for predicting the location of koalas and, ultimately, protecting their habitat.

Safer viruses for vaccine research and diagnosis
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

A new technology to produce safer 'hybrid' viruses at high volumes for use in vaccines and diagnostics for mosquito-borne diseases has been developed.

Tropical flower offers potential new route for treating pancreatic cancer
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

An international team of scientists have made drug-like molecules inspired by a chemical found in a tropical flower, that they hope could in the future help to treat deadly pancreatic cancer.

Deciphering the equations of life
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Research has resulted in a set of equations that describes and predicts commonalities across life despite its enormous diversity. The new theory allows predictions for organisms that might not be well understood by science.

Efforts to end the HIV epidemic must not ignore people already living with HIV
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Efforts to prevent new HIV transmissions in the US must be accompanied by addressing HIV-associated comorbidities to improve the health of people already living with HIV, experts assert.

Study sheds light on 'overlooked' bee species
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

The UK's first citizen science project focusing on solitary, ground-nesting bees has revealed that they nest in a far broader range of habitats than previously thought.

Uncovering how endangered pangolins, or 'scaly anteaters,' digest food
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

The endangered Sunda pangolin, or 'scaly anteater,' is a widely trafficked mammal, prized in some cultures for its meat and scales. Little is known about these animals, and raising rescued pangolins is tricky. In the wild, they eat termites and ants, but diets provided in captivity often make them sick. Now, a study reports that pangolins lack some common digestive enzymes, which could explain why some diets don't work well for them.

Study of elephant, capybara, human hair finds that thicker hair isn't always stronger
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Despite being four times thicker than human hair, elephant hair is only half as strong -- that's just one finding from researchers studying the hair strength of many different mammals. Their work shows that thin hair tends to be stronger than thick hair because of the way that it breaks.

Scales offer insight into chronic stress of fish
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Aquatic researchers have long sought an easy way to determine when wild fish are under stress. Now, researchers have shown for the first time that cortisol, a key stress hormone, accumulates in fish scales slowly and remains there for weeks.

Illumination drives bats out of caves
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Researchers have investigated how the illumination of bat caves affects the animals' behavior and whether the color of light makes a difference on their flight. Although red light irritates the small mammals somewhat less than white light, from the researchers' point of view neither the entrance nor the interior of bat caves should be illuminated if bats are present.

Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to new research. The research team proposed a new way of understanding the conservation value of ''uncontested lands'' - areas where agricultural productivity is low.

Sorghum study illuminates relationship between humans, crops and the environment in domestication
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

A new study illustrates the concept of a domestication triangle, in which human genetics interact with sorghum genetics and the environment to influence the traits farmers select in their crops. The concept gives a more complete systemic picture of domestication.

Tree cavities for wild honeybees
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

The forests in Europe provide habitat for around 80,000 colonies of wild honeybees. That is why more attention should be paid to preserving the nesting sites for these threatened insects, according to researchers.

A machine learning approach to identify functional human phosphosites
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Scientists have created the largest phosphoproteome resource to date, which is set to help other researchers identify new functionally-relevant phosphosites. The research demonstrates an exciting use for machine learning methods to effectively compile and analyse large phosphorylation related biological datasets. Identifying new functional phosphosites has enormous potential to progress research into many biological processes and diseases.

Why polar bears at sea have higher pollution levels than those staying on land
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

As the climate changes, myriad animal populations are being impacted. In particular, Arctic sea-ice is in decline, causing polar bears in the Barents Sea region to alter their feeding and hunting habits. Bears that follow sea-ice to offshore areas have higher pollutant levels than those staying on land -- but why? A new study reports the likely reasons.

Altering intestinal microbiota, vaccinating against inflammatory diseases
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Targeted immunization against bacterial flagellin, a protein that forms the appendage that enables bacterial mobility, can beneficially alter the intestinal microbiota, decreasing the bacteria's ability to cause inflammation and thus protecting against an array of chronic inflammatory diseases, according to a new study.

Plant researchers examine bread aroma: Modern and old wheat varieties taste equally good
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Bread baked from modern wheat varieties are just as aromatic as that baked from old varieties. However, differences exist between the breads from different wheat varieties -- and those that were grown in different locations.

A window into the hidden world of colons
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Biomedical engineers have developed a system for real-time observations at the cellular level in the colon of a living mouse. It employs a magnetic system to stabilize the colon during imaging while otherwise allowing the gut to move and function normally. Researchers expect the procedure to allow new investigations into the digestive system's microbiome as well as the causes of diseases and their treatments.

One-third of recent global methane increase comes from tropical Africa
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Concentrations of methane, a greenhouse gas about 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide, have risen steadily in Earth's atmosphere since 2007. Although several potential explanations, including an increase in methane emissions from the tropics, could account for this upsurge, due to a lack of regional data scientists have been unable to pinpoint the source. Now a study uses satellite data to determine that one-third of the global increase originates in Africa's tropics.

Invest in pollinator monitoring for long-term gain
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

A research team is studying how to improve pollinator monitoring in the UK in a cost-effective manner.

The secret to a long life? For worms, a cellular recycling protein is key
Posted on Wednesday December 11, 2019

Scientists have shown that worms live longer lives if they produce excess levels of a protein, p62, which recognizes toxic cell proteins that are tagged for destruction. The discovery could help uncover treatments for age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, which are often caused by accumulation of misfolded proteins.

Breathing new life into the rise of oxygen debate
Posted on Tuesday December 10, 2019

New research strongly suggests that the distinct 'oxygenation events' that created Earth's breathable atmosphere happened spontaneously, rather than being a consequence of biological or tectonic revolutions. The study not only shines a light on the history of oxygen on our planet, it gives new insight into the prevalence of oxygenated worlds other than our own.

'Invisible,' restricted horse racing therapy may leave a trail
Posted on Tuesday December 10, 2019

Shockwave therapy is used in both horses and humans to speed healing, but it can also mask pain. For the first time veterinarians have identified several biomarkers of the treatment, the use of which is restricted in horse racing.

What blocks bird flu in human cells?
Posted on Tuesday December 10, 2019

Normally, bird flu viruses do not spread easily from person to person. But if this does happen, it could trigger a pandemic. Researchers have now explained what makes the leap from animals to humans less likely.

Natural ecosystems protect against climate change
Posted on Tuesday December 10, 2019

The identification of natural carbon sinks and understanding how they work is critical if humans are to mitigate global climate change. Tropical coastal wetlands are considered important but, so far, there is little data to show the benefits. This study showed that mangrove ecosystems need to be conserved and restored as part of the battle against rising carbon levels in the atmosphere.

New viral strategy to escape detection
Posted on Tuesday December 10, 2019

Researchers have discovered how viruses that specifically kill bacteria can outwit bacteria by hiding from their defences, findings which are important for the development of new antimicrobials based on viruses and provide a significant advance in biological knowledge.

Spying on hippos with drones to help conservation efforts
Posted on Tuesday December 10, 2019

A new study has shown that using a drone to film hippos in Africa is an effective, affordable tool for conservationists to monitor the threatened species' population from a safe distance, particularly in remote and aquatic areas.


 

 

 

 

 

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