The bacteria in and on our bodies have been shown to be vital for human health, influencing nutrition, obesity and protection from diseases. But science has only recently delved into the importance of the microbiome of plants. Since plants can't move, they are especially reliant on partnerships with microbes to help them get nutrients.
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No two bacteria are identical - even when they are genetically the same. A new study from researchers reveals the conditions under which bacteria become individualists and how they help their group grow when times get tough. Whether you are a human or a bacterium, your environment determines how you can develop.
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Schreiber, F., Littmann, S., Lavik, G., Escrig, S., Meibom, A., Kuypers, M., & Ackermann, M. (2016) Phenotypic heterogeneity driven by nutrient limitation promotes growth in fluctuating environments. Nature Microbiology, 16055. DOI: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.55
Swarming Red Crabs, 11,000-year-old shaman headdress, 'superfast' wing muscles, slowdown of giant airstreams, and sexually transmitted infections in Neanderthals. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week, ... Read more »
Pineda, J., Cho, W., Starczak, V., Govindarajan, A., Guzman, H., Girdhar, Y., Holleman, R., Churchill, J., Singh, H., & Ralston, D. (2016) A crab swarm at an ecological hotspot: patchiness and population density from AUV observations at a coastal, tropical seamount. PeerJ. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.1770
Little, A., Elliott, B., Conneller, C., Pomstra, D., Evans, A., Fitton, L., Holland, A., Davis, R., Kershaw, R., O’Connor, S.... (2016) Technological Analysis of the World’s Earliest Shamanic Costume: A Multi-Scalar, Experimental Study of a Red Deer Headdress from the Early Holocene Site of Star Carr, North Yorkshire, UK. PLOS ONE, 11(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152136
Fuxjager, M., Goller, F., Dirkse, A., Sanin, G., & Garcia, S. (2016) Select forelimb muscles have evolved superfast contractile speed to support acrobatic social displays. eLife. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.13544
Stadtherr, L., Coumou, D., Petoukhov, V., Petri, S., & Rahmstorf, S. (2016) Record Balkan floods of 2014 linked to planetary wave resonance. Science Advances, 2(4). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501428
Houldcroft, C., & Underdown, S. (2016) Neanderthal genomics suggests a pleistocene time frame for the first epidemiologic transition. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22985
River flooding boosts carbon emissions, six new species of Chinese dragon millipedes discovered, how ancient animals adapted to climate change, maths tell palaeontologists where to find fossils, and the Arctic Ocean was ice-free ten million years ago. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week.... Read more »
Stegen, J., Fredrickson, J., Wilkins, M., Konopka, A., Nelson, W., Arntzen, E., Chrisler, W., Chu, R., Danczak, R., Fansler, S.... (2016) Groundwater–surface water mixing shifts ecological assembly processes and stimulates organic carbon turnover. Nature Communications, 11237. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11237
Liu, W., Golovatch, S., & Tian, M. (2016) Six new species of dragon millipedes, genus Desmoxytes Chamberlin, 1923, mostly from caves in China (Diplopoda, Polydesmida, Paradoxosomatidae). ZooKeys, 1-24. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.577.7825
Botha-Brink, J., Codron, D., Huttenlocker, A., Angielczyk, K., & Ruta, M. (2016) Breeding Young as a Survival Strategy during Earth’s Greatest Mass Extinction. Scientific Reports, 24053. DOI: 10.1038/srep24053
Block, S., Saltré, F., Rodríguez-Rey, M., Fordham, D., Unkel, I., & Bradshaw, C. (2016) Where to Dig for Fossils: Combining Climate-Envelope, Taphonomy and Discovery Models. PLOS ONE, 11(3). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151090
Stein, R., Fahl, K., Schreck, M., Knorr, G., Niessen, F., Forwick, M., Gebhardt, C., Jensen, L., Kaminski, M., Kopf, A.... (2016) Evidence for ice-free summers in the late Miocene central Arctic Ocean. Nature Communications, 11148. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11148
Last month, we spoke of our vision of the future of humanity here at the lab. It makes sense that humanity would one-day step away from the static, non-living computer constructs we have designed. Moving us instead towards an organic alternative, one that can be readily repaired, replaced, or changed. While we cannot pretend to know what the future may hold, a new discovery helps bolster the stance we presented.
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Lampa-Pastirk, S., Veazey, J., Walsh, K., Feliciano, G., Steidl, R., Tessmer, S., & Reguera, G. (2016) Thermally activated charge transport in microbial protein nanowires. Scientific Reports, 23517. DOI: 10.1038/srep23517
Viruses that infect bacteria are among the most abundant life forms on Earth. Indeed, our oceans, soils and potentially even our bodies would be overrun with bacteria were it not for bacteria-eating viruses, called bacteriophages, that keep the microbial balance of ecological niches in check. Now, a new study suggests that bacteriophages made of RNA — a close chemical cousin of DNA — likely play a much larger role in shaping the bacterial makeup of worldwide habitats than previously ........ Read more »
In the microscopic life that thrives around coral reefs, researchers have discovered an interplay between viruses and microbes that defies conventional wisdom. As the density of microbes rises in an ecosystem, the number of viruses infecting those microbes rises with it. It has generally been assumed that this growing population of viruses, in turn, kills more and more microbes, keeping the microbial population in check. It’s a model known as “kill-the-winner” — the winners being the blo........ Read more »
Sedimentary sequences of Bay of Bengal and the Bengal Basin provide information about Himalayan orogen evolution; plus, is there evidence for a Miocene Ganges?... Read more »
Krishna, K., Ismaiel, M., Srinivas, K., Gopala Rao, D., Mishra, J., & Saha, D. (2016) Sediment Pathways and Emergence of Himalayan Source Material in the Bay of Bengal. Current Science, 110(3), 363. DOI: 10.18520/cs/v110/i3/363-372
Without the discovery of antibiotics we could not — and most certainly would not — be living in the world we do today. It was a discovery that would save countless lives, while simultaneously compromising our future. From the use (and unfortunate misuse) of antibiotics, we gave rise to more virulent bacteria that have become resistant to more and more types of antibiotics.
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When the first antibiotics became available 70 years ago, they were often described as miracles of human ingenuity, rather like plastics or bright permanent dyes, which were discovered at roughly the same time. Packaged in vials or pills, they seemed like our inventions rather a chance gift of evolution and one that evolution might also rescind.
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Sea level rose faster in the 20th century than in any other century of the last 3,000 years, new methods for estimating future sea level rise and heat waves, consumers to blame for their carbon footprint, and new virtual forests predict future impacts of climate change. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week.... Read more »
Kopp, R., Kemp, A., Bittermann, K., Horton, B., Donnelly, J., Gehrels, W., Hay, C., Mitrovica, J., Morrow, E., & Rahmstorf, S. (2016) Temperature-driven global sea-level variability in the Common Era. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201517056. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1517056113
Mengel, M., Levermann, A., Frieler, K., Robinson, A., Marzeion, B., & Winkelmann, R. (2016) Future sea level rise constrained by observations and long-term commitment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201500515. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1500515113
Leary, E., Young, L., DuClos, C., & Jordan, M. (2015) Identifying Heat Waves in Florida: Considerations of Missing Weather Data. PLOS ONE, 10(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0143471
Ivanova, D., Stadler, K., Steen-Olsen, K., Wood, R., Vita, G., Tukker, A., & Hertwich, E. (2015) Environmental Impact Assessment of Household Consumption. Journal of Industrial Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12371
Liénard, J., & Strigul, N. (2016) An individual-based forest model links canopy dynamics and shade tolerances along a soil moisture gradient. Royal Society Open Science, 3(2), 150589. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150589
Scientists have been decoding the climate information locked away in 12,000-year-old stalagmites from Spanish caves.... Read more »
Smith, A., Wynn, P., Barker, P., Leng, M., Noble, S., & Stott, A. (2016) Cave monitoring and the potential for palaeoclimate reconstruction from Cueva de Asiul, Cantabria (N. Spain). International Journal of Speleology, 45(1), 1-9. DOI: 10.5038/1827-806X.45.1.1928
Migrants to ancient Rome, more advanced Mesolithic Swedish communities, delayed transatlantic flights, expanding bird populations, and greener deserts thanks to climate change. Here are five of the latest scientific studies published open-access this week.... Read more »
Killgrove, K., & Montgomery, J. (2016) All Roads Lead to Rome: Exploring Human Migration to the Eternal City through Biochemistry of Skeletons from Two Imperial-Era Cemeteries (1st-3rd c AD). PLOS ONE, 11(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0147585
Stidham, T., & Eberle, J. (2016) The palaeobiology of high latitude birds from the early Eocene greenhouse of Ellesmere Island, Arctic Canada. Scientific Reports, 20912. DOI: 10.1038/srep20912
Boethius, A. (2016) Something rotten in Scandinavia: The world's earliest evidence of fermentation. Journal of Archaeological Science, 169-180. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2016.01.008
Lu, X., Wang, L., & McCabe, M. (2016) Elevated CO2 as a driver of global dryland greening. Scientific Reports, 20716. DOI: 10.1038/srep20716
Home of tumbleweeds and roadrunners, it’s no surprise that the Southwest is the driest region of the United States. And yet, new research confirms that which many have predicted: it’s getting even dryer. Not only are droughts more common, but they are more intense and longer-lasting too.... Read more »
Prein, A., Holland, G., Rasmussen, R., Clark, M., & Tye, M. (2016) Running dry: The U.S. Southwest's drift into a drier climate state. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1002/2015GL066727
Way, way up in northwestern Canada (on the lower east side of Cape Bathurst, Northwest Territories), where the mainland meets the Arctic Ocean, a 30 km stretch of seacoast has been smoldering away for hundreds if not thousands of years.The Smoking Hills, named by the explorer John Franklin during one of his early 19th century expeditions to the Canadian Arctic, consist of shale bedrock covered by several meters worth of soil and loose rocks deposited by ancient glaciers and rivers. The land fall........ Read more »
Adams C, & Hutchinson T. (1984) A comparison of the ability of leaf surfaces of three species to neutralize acidic rain drops. New Phytologist, 97(3), 463-478. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.1984.tb03612.x
Sheath R, Havas M, Hellebust J, & Hutchinson T. (1982) Effects of long-term natural acidification on the algal communities of tundra ponds at the Smoking Hills, N.W.T., Canada. Canadian Journal of Botany, 60(1), 58-72. DOI: 10.1139/b82-008
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have engineered a new synthetic biopathway that can more efficiently and cost-effectively turn agricultural waste, like corn stover and orange peels, into a variety of useful products ranging from spandex to chicken feed.
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Tai, Y., Xiong, M., Jambunathan, P., Wang, J., Wang, J., Stapleton, C., & Zhang, K. (2016) Engineering nonphosphorylative metabolism to generate lignocellulose-derived products. Nature Chemical Biology. DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2020
by Anna Schneider For the iconic monarch butterfly, the shorter days in fall mean it’s time to pack up and head south to a warmer climate! Just like clockwork, the Eastern population of monarch butterflies makes a 2000 mile journey to their winter paradise roosts in central Mexico. The journey in itself is one of the greatest migrations among all animals. But here’s the catch: none of these butterflies has made this trip before. Several generations of monarchs have come and gon........ Read more »
Gegear, R., Foley, L., Casselman, A., & Reppert, S. (2010) Animal cryptochromes mediate magnetoreception by an unconventional photochemical mechanism. Nature, 463(7282), 804-807. DOI: 10.1038/nature08719
Guerra, P., Gegear, R., & Reppert, S. (2014) A magnetic compass aids monarch butterfly migration. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5164
Merlin, C., Gegear, R., & Reppert, S. (2009) Antennal Circadian Clocks Coordinate Sun Compass Orientation in Migratory Monarch Butterflies. Science, 325(5948), 1700-1704. DOI: 10.1126/science.1176221
Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton. The study found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.
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Solan, M., Hauton, C., Godbold, J., Wood, C., Leighton, T., & White, P. (2016) Anthropogenic sources of underwater sound can modify how sediment-dwelling invertebrates mediate ecosystem properties. Scientific Reports, 20540. DOI: 10.1038/srep20540
Within the ground beneath our feet lie dark cavities of various shapes and sizes. They're home to pale and eyeless creatures living a midnight existence. Natural holes in the ground, filled with air and/or water, can be roughly categorized into three types based on the particular habitat they provide for subterranean organisms:(1) Caves are large, deep, and tend not to contain much organic matter for organisms to munch on. They're often found in karst and volcanic areas prone to developing big h........ Read more »
Pipan T, Fišer C, Novak T, & Culver D. (2012) Fifty years of the hypotelminorheic: What have we learned?. Acta Carsologica, 41(2-3). DOI: 10.3986/ac.v41i2-3.564
Researchers at Arizona State University have demonstrated for the first time the mechanism by which antibacterial clays kill bacteria. Iron and alumninum released from the clays damage the outer membrane through oxidation. Iron also enters the cell where it generates hydroxyl radicals to create oxidative stress.... Read more »
Morrison KD, Misra R, & Williams LB. (2016) Unearthing the Antibacterial Mechanism of Medicinal Clay: A Geochemical Approach to Combating Antibiotic Resistance. Scientific reports, 19043. PMID: 26743034
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