Chernobyl has an unhospitable reputation for wildlife. But new research suggests that animals are thriving in the wild near the old reactor site.... Read more »
Deryabina, T., Kuchmel, S., Nagorskaya, L., Hinton, T., Beasley, J., Lerebours, A., & Smith, J. (2015) Long-term census data reveal abundant wildlife populations at Chernobyl. Current Biology, 25(19). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.08.017
Who doesn't enjoy waking to a pleasant smell wafting past? Unfortunately for them, the penguins in a recent study woke up not to pancakes frying nearby, but to less appetizing aromas—for example, feces on a stick. But scientists promise the experiment taught them valuable lessons about a penguin's capabilities. Besides, they let the birds go right back to sleep.
"Research into the sense of smell in birds has a bit of a dubious history," says Gregory Cunningham, a biologist at St. John F........ Read more »
Cunningham GB, & Bonadonna F. (2015) King penguins can detect two odours associated with conspecifics. The Journal of experimental biology. PMID: 26385329
A new mechanism of trapping carbon in the ocean has been proposed by researchers studying the migration of zooplankton!... Read more »
Jónasdóttir SH, Visser AW, Richardson K, & Heath MR. (2015) Seasonal copepod lipid pump promotes carbon sequestration in the deep North Atlantic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 26338976
And now for something completely different. Typically we highlight software that’s nucleotide or amino acid sequence related in some way. But this software is on a whole ‘nother level. It looks at interactions between species. This week we highlight GloBI, the Global Biotic Interactions database. Before you start thinking of Bambi and butterflies, though, consider […]... Read more »
Poelen, J., Simons, J., & Mungall, C. (2014) Global biotic interactions: An open infrastructure to share and analyze species-interaction datasets. Ecological Informatics, 148-159. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoinf.2014.08.005
All around the world, barriers can be found at borders. We're talking a structure (e.g. a wall) or set of fortifications (e.g. fences with guard towers and minefields) built to control the movement of people across a human-created line. While modern border barriers are typically used to combat some combination of illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and terrorism, classically they were constructed as a defence against invasion.Hadrian's Wall, built by the Romans across what is now northern ........ Read more »
Marris E. (2006) Wildlife caught in crossfire of US immigration battle. Nature, 442(7101), 338-9. PMID: 16871176
Classifying something as living isn’t as easy as it sounds, after all we are all atoms, so when do atoms go from nonliving to living? Despite the complexities of viruses, we have historically deemed them nonliving. However, a new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells. The study offers the first reliable method for tracing viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized to........ Read more »
Arshan Nasir, & Gustavo Caetano-Anollés. (2015) A phylogenomic data-driven exploration of viral origins and evolution. Science Advances. info:/10.1126/sciadv.1500527
A new study by researchers heightens concerns over the detrimental impact of air pollution on hippocampal metabolites as early markers of neurodegeneration in young urbanites carrying an allele 4 of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE). This is associated with the risk for Alzheimer disease (AD) and a susceptibility marker for poor outcome in traumatic brain injury (TBI) recovery.... Read more »
Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas et. al. (2015) Mexico City's air pollution has detrimental impact on Alzheimer's disease gene . Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. DOI: http://dx.org/10.3233/JAD-150415
The toxicity resulting from exposure to oil droplets in marine fish embryos and larvae is still subject for debate while at the same time worldwide energy demands have resulted in increased hydrocarbon extraction activity.
... Read more »
Sørhus, E., Edvardsen, R., Karlsen, Ø., Nordtug, T., van der Meeren, T., Thorsen, A., Harman, C., Jentoft, S., & Meier, S. (2015) Unexpected Interaction with Dispersed Crude Oil Droplets Drives Severe Toxicity in Atlantic Haddock Embryos. PLOS ONE, 10(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0124376
It's hard to be a primate who lives in northern climes and doesn't wear clothes. Resources are scarce, and you have to seize every advantage you can to stay alive and swinging. That may be why one group of monkeys has evolved an impaired tasting gene. Their worse sense of taste means they can better take advantage of the foods around them—especially the crops their human neighbors grow.
Japanese macaques, or Macaca fuscata, are also called snow monkeys. They live farther north than any........ Read more »
Suzuki-Hashido N, Hayakawa T, Matsui A, Go Y, Ishimaru Y, Misaka T, Abe K, Hirai H, Satta Y, & Imai H. (2015) Rapid Expansion of Phenylthiocarbamide Non-Tasters among Japanese Macaques. PloS one, 10(7). PMID: 26201026
Research has found evidence that spending time in nature provides protections against a startling range of diseases, including depression, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more. How this exposure to green space leads to better health has remained a mystery. After reviewing hundreds of studies examining nature’s effects on health, researchers believe the answer lies in nature’s ability to enhance the functioning of the body’s immune system.... Read more »
Kuo, M. (2015) How might contact with nature promote human health? Promising mechanisms and a possible central pathway. Frontiers in Psychology. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01093
You have more in common with your mom than you might think. Microchimerism means that an individual has cells with two different genetic profiles; some are yours and some are your mom’s. They live in your body for more than 40 years and can affect your health. Some of your cells moved into mom too – and they may help her live longer and avoid breast cancer.... Read more »
Cirello V, Rizzo R, Crippa M, Campi I, Bortolotti D, Bolzani S, Colombo C, Vannucchi G, Maffini MA, de Liso F.... (2015) Fetal cell microchimerism: a protective role in autoimmune thyroid diseases. European journal of endocrinology / European Federation of Endocrine Societies, 173(1), 111-8. PMID: 25916393
Ye J, Vives-Pi M, & Gillespie KM. (2014) Maternal microchimerism: friend or foe in type 1 diabetes?. Chimerism, 5(2), 21-3. PMID: 25093746
Kamper-Jorgensen, M., Hjalgrim, H., Andersen, A., Gadi, V., & Tjonneland, A. (2013) Male microchimerism and survival among women. International Journal of Epidemiology, 43(1), 168-173. DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyt230
Bacteria aren't the only nonhuman invaders to colonize the gut shortly after a baby's birth. Viruses also set up house there, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. All together, these invisible residents are thought to play important roles in human health.... Read more »
Lim, E., Zhou, Y., Zhao, G., Bauer, I., Droit, L., Ndao, I., Warner, B., Tarr, P., Wang, D., & Holtz, L. (2015) Early life dynamics of the human gut virome and bacterial microbiome in infants. Nature Medicine. DOI: 10.1038/nm.3950
Why aren't carbon taxes more common? A new policy paper talks about the resistance and decreasing the cost of renewables can make carbon pricing the ONLY smart option.... Read more »
Wagner, G., Kåberger, T., Olai, S., Oppenheimer, M., Rittenhouse, K., & Sterner, T. (2015) Energy policy: Push renewables to spur carbon pricing. Nature, 525(7567), 27-29. DOI: 10.1038/525027a
The human experience with leeches typically centers around the unpleasantness of being fed upon, with perhaps a dash of they make good fishing bait or we sometimes use them for medical purposes. Oh, and jokes about medieval doctors being mostly useless. Notably, most leeches don't feed on people, opting instead to harvest the fluids of birds, turtles, fishes, frogs, salamanders, snails, and/or insect larvae. They've definitely found a niche, and boy is it an annoying one.The truth is substantial........ Read more »
Tsuji LJ, & Martin ID. (2009) The use of leeches to monitor aquatic PCB contamination at Mid-Canada Radar Line site 050: Four years post-remediation. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 153(1-4), 1-7. PMID: 18478345
Imagine creating artificial plants that make gasoline and natural gas using only sunlight. And imagine using those fuels to heat our homes or run our cars without adding any greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. By combining nanoscience and biology, researchers led by scientists at University of California, Berkeley, have taken a big step in that direction.... Read more »
Liu, C., Gallagher, J., Sakimoto, K., Nichols, E., Chang, C., Chang, M., & Yang, P. (2015) Nanowire–Bacteria Hybrids for Unassisted Solar Carbon Dioxide Fixation to Value-Added Chemicals. Nano Letters, 15(5), 3634-3639. DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b01254
Aesop never penned a fable about a snail. If he had written about a certain freshwater mollusk, the moral might have been Boldness comes from a strong shell or maybe Careless snails get chomped. But because the snail and its variable shell are real, their lesson has more to do with the the weird workings of evolution.
Individual Radix balthica snails can have differently shaped shells. They also have varying "personalities," at least as far as you can measure such a thing in a mollusk......... Read more »
Ahlgren J, Chapman BB, Nilsson PA, & Brönmark C. (2015) Individual boldness is linked to protective shell shape in aquatic snails. Biology letters, 11(4), 20150029. PMID: 25904320
Fuels and fungi have a long-standing and intricate relationship. Before we get into the juicy details, let's examine the players.Traditionally speaking, a fuel is any organic substance (e.g. wood, coal, and oil) containing lots of stored chemical energy within the bonds holding its atoms together. This energy can be released via combustion, which we harness to move cars forward and generate electricity.Fungi are a huge group of organisms largely describable in terms of what they lack: locomotion........ Read more »
Haider R, Ghauri M, SanFilipo J, Jones E, Orem W, Tatu C, Akhtar K, & Akhtar N. (2013) Fungal degradation of coal as a pretreatment for methane production. Fuel, 717-725. DOI: 10.1016/j.fuel.2012.05.015
Mary Poppins taught us that a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. A bumblebee's favorite sugary drink may already be laced with medicine. And bees seem to dose themselves with medicinal nectar when they're suffering from a gut full of parasites.
Plants manufacture many chemical compounds to defend against attackers. Some of these are familiar to humans—like capsaicin, the potent weapon made by chili pepper plants. But not every animal enjoys painful food experiences like we do........ Read more »
Richardson, L., Bowers, M., & Irwin, R. (2015) Nectar chemistry mediates the behavior of parasitized bees: consequences for plant fitness. Ecology, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/15-0263.1
It seems like everyone is running around buying school supplies and books, registering for classes, and fretting about how hard it is going to be to learn another whole year’s worth of stuff. The secret to success, it turns out, may lie in cow dung.A cow pie. Photo taken by Jeff Vanuga at the USDA available at Wikimedia Commons.Recent research has highlighted the important role that microbes living in animal digestive tracts have on host animals’ health and behavior. This influence of our gu........ Read more »
Matthews, D., & Jenks, S. (2013) Ingestion of Mycobacterium vaccae decreases anxiety-related behavior and improves learning in mice. Behavioural Processes, 27-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2013.02.007
Lowry, C., Hollis, J., de Vries, A., Pan, B., Brunet, L., Hunt, J., Paton, J., van Kampen, E., Knight, D., Evans, A.... (2007) Identification of an immune-responsive mesolimbocortical serotonergic system: Potential role in regulation of emotional behavior. Neuroscience, 146(2), 756-772. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.01.067
Opening the sea areas around Lofoten and Vesterålen islands for petroleum activities is a highly debated topic. One of the main concerns has been to what extent an accidental oil-spill may affect the ecologically and economically important species of fish that spawn in the area. We have investigate how an increased mortality event at the egg and larval stage in cod may affect the population.
... Read more »
Ohlberger, J., & Langangen, Ø. (2015) Population resilience to catastrophic mortality events during early life stages. Ecological Applications, 25(5), 1348-1356. DOI: 10.1890/14-1534.1
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