By Kayla FullerImagine this situation: you’ve brought your favorite lunch to work. Everyone is jealous of your food, continuously eyeing it up. A few coworkers, who have brought in disappointing lunches in comparison, approach and demand that you hand it over. After you refuse, they beat you until your body lies lifeless and they take your lunch anyway. Woah, woah, woah… that took a dramatic turn! Photo of a harbour porpoise, taken by AVampireTear (Wikimedia Commons)But for harbour porpoise........ Read more »
Ross, H., & Wilson, B. (1996) Violent Interactions between Bottlenose Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 263(1368), 283-286. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1996.0043
Spitz, J., Rousseau, Y., & Ridoux, V. (2006) Diet overlap between harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin: An argument in favour of interference competition for food?. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 70(1-2), 259-270. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2006.04.020
Newly hatched caterpillars look helpless: they're teensy, soft and juicy, with no parent around for protection. But certain young insects, the masked birch caterpillars, are more capable than they seem. They gather in groups to keep themselves safe. To form those groups, they use a previously undiscovered language of buzzes, vibrations, head banging and butt scraping.
The species, Drepana arcuata, passes through five caterpillar life stages (called instars) on its way to becoming a li... Read more »
Yadav, C., Guedes, R., Matheson, S., Timbers, T., & Yack, J. (2017) Invitation by vibration: recruitment to feeding shelters in social caterpillars. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71(3). DOI: 10.1007/s00265-017-2280-x
The case report from Betül Mazlum and colleagues  (open-access available here) illustrates once again that (a) the plural 'autisms' exist (see here) and (b) screening for inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) should be an important part of any autism assessment (see here). Indeed, screening for IEM should really be part of assessments for many different labels...Detailing a case report wherein a 3-year old child came to clinical attention for "speech delay and social problems", the authors ........ Read more »
Mazlum B, Anlar B, Kalkanoğlu-Sivri HS, Karlı-Oğuz K, Özusta Ş, & Ünal F. (2016) A late-diagnosed phenylketonuria case presenting with autism spectrum disorder in early childhood. The Turkish journal of pediatrics, 58(3), 318-322. PMID: 28266201
"We have designed an Internet-of-Things (IoT) framework named WearSense that leverages the sensing capabilities of modern smartwatches to detect stereotypic behaviors in children with autism."So said the paper by Amir Mohammad Amiri and colleagues  (open-access available here) and, I have to say, something that really piqued my [research] attention. Describing how authors managed to design and construct a smartwatch with the ability to "detect three behaviors, including hand flapping, pa........ Read more »
Amiri AM, Peltier N, Goldberg C, Sun Y, Nathan A, Hiremath SV, & Mankodiya K. (2017) WearSense: Detecting Autism Stereotypic Behaviors through Smartwatches. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 5(1). PMID: 28264474
by Piter Kehoma Boll This week brought astonishing news regarding the phylogeny of dinosaurus, as you perhaps have heard or read. New anatomical evidences have completely rebuilt the basis of the dinosaur family tree and I’m here to explain a … Continue reading →... Read more »
Baron, M., Norman, D., & Barrett, P. (2017) A new hypothesis of dinosaur relationships and early dinosaur evolution. Nature, 543(7646), 501-506. DOI: 10.1038/nature21700
The paper by Alyse Brown and colleagues  (open-access available here) is probably not going to gain any significant media headlines (unlike other recent studies - see here and see here) but does cover a rather important question regarding the autism research landscape: how representative is autism research?Specifically looking at the collected research on visual processing (distinct from physical issues with the eyes that still require greater awareness) with autism in mind, the authors ........ Read more »
Brown AC, Chouinard PA, & Crewther SG. (2017) Vision Research Literature May Not Represent the Full Intellectual Range of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 57. PMID: 28261072
mTORC1 and mTORC2 are two distinct mammalian TOR (target of rapamycin) complexes that regulate cell growth and metabolism. In cancer, genetic alterations lead to activation of mTOR signalling impacting tumour metabolism. Upregulated glutaminolysis is part of the metabolic reaction occurring in cancer that liberates high levels of ammonium, a toxic waste product. Although the importance of glutamine as a tumour nutrient is recognized, little is known about the potential effects of ammonium produc........ Read more »
Merhi A, Delrée P, & Marini AM. (2017) The metabolic waste ammonium regulates mTORC2 and mTORC1 signaling. Scientific reports, 44602. PMID: 28303961
by Piter Kehoma Boll Let’s return once more to the troublesome and neglected protists. This time I’m bringing you another tiny but beautiful alga, more precisely a golden alga. Its name is Dinobryon divergens and as usual there is no common … Continue reading →... Read more »
Franke, W., & Herth, W. (1973) Cell and lorica fine structure of the chrysomonad alga, Dinobryon sertularia Ehr. (Chrysophyceae). Archiv für Mikrobiologie, 91(4), 323-344. DOI: 10.1007/BF00425052
Herth, W. (1979) Behaviour of the chrysoflagellate alga, Dinobryon divergens, during lorica formation. Protoplasma, 100(3-4), 345-351. DOI: 10.1007/BF01279321
KARIM, A., & ROUND, F. (1967) Microfibrils in the lorica of the freshwater alga Dinobryon. New Phytologist, 66(3), 409-412. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.1967.tb06020.x
Sandgren, C. (1981) Characteristics of sexual and asexual resting cyst (statospore) formation in Dinobryon cylindricum Imhof (Chrysophyta). Journal of Phycology, 17(2), 199-210. DOI: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.1981.tb00840.x
Sheath, R., Hellebust, J., & Sawa, T. (1975) The statospore of Dinobryon divergens Imhof: Formation and germination in a subarctic lake. Journal of Phycology, 11(2), 131-138. DOI: 10.1111/j.1529-8817.1975.tb02760.x
Although it is not necessarily new news that (a) autism rarely exists in some sort of diagnostic vacuum, and (b) that some of the comorbidity 'over-represented' when it comes to autism can actually be more disabling than autism itself, there are still more investigations to be done.The paper by Vicki Bitsika & Christopher Sharpley  represents an example of how autism science is starting to go past the whole 'is there a connection between...' bit when it comes to autism and various comorbi........ Read more »
Bitsika, V., & Sharpley, C. (2017) The association between parents’ ratings of ASD symptoms and anxiety in a sample of high-functioning boys and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 38-45. DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2017.02.010
I wanted to briefly talk about the paper by Francesca Garofoli and colleagues  on congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and autism not because it contains any novel data (see here), but because it reminds us that the potential 'pathways' to a diagnosis of autism are multiple and not necessarily 'pre-programmed' as per the 'it's all genetic' arguments that frequently figure in various domains.Congenital CMV infection refers to the transmission of CMV - "a common virus that belongs to the ........ Read more »
Garofoli F, Lombardi G, Orcesi S, Pisoni C, Mazzucchelli I, Angelini M, Balottin U, & Stronati M. (2017) An Italian Prospective Experience on the Association Between Congenital Cytomegalovirus Infection and Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. PMID: 28258350
Bees latch on to similarly-sized nectarless flowers to unpick pollen - like keys fitting into locks, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Stirling.
The research shows the right size of bee is needed to properly pollinate a flower. The bee fits tightly with the flower's anthers, to vibrate and release the pollen sealed within.
"We found that a pollinator's size, ... Read more »
Solís-Montero, L., & Vallejo-Marín, M. (2017) Does the morphological fit between flowers and pollinators affect pollen deposition? An experimental test in a buzz-pollinated species with anther dimorphism. Ecology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.2897
What to do when your prey refuses to be swallowed? Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucordia) in Hungary have a solution…... Read more »
I was rather interested to read the paper by Michela Traglia and colleagues  (open-access available here) concluding that: "maternal and fetal genetic make-up are important determinants of mid-gestational maternal circulating levels of some environmental organohalogens." Interested because, in these days of gene-environment interactions being applied to just about everything, the detail that is missing - which genes might potentially be linked to which environmental factors - has not yet........ Read more »
Traglia M, Croen LA, Lyall K, Windham GC, Kharrazi M, DeLorenze GN, Torres AR, & Weiss LA. (2017) Independent Maternal and Fetal Genetic Effects on Mid-gestational Circulating Levels of Environmental Pollutants. G3 (Bethesda, Md.). PMID: 28235828
What IS that? A photo by Stefan Kraft at Wikimedia Commons.1. Platypuses are so strange, that when British scientists first encountered one, they thought it was a joke: A Governor of New South Wales, Australia, sent a platypus pelt and sketch to British scientists in 1798. Even in their first published scientific description of the species, biologists thought that this duck-beaked, beaver-bodied, web-footed specimen may be some Frankenstein-like creation stitched together as a hoax. But this is ........ Read more »
Warren, W., Hillier, L., Marshall Graves, J., Birney, E., Ponting, C., Grützner, F., Belov, K., Miller, W., Clarke, L., Chinwalla, A.... (2008) Genome analysis of the platypus reveals unique signatures of evolution. Nature, 453(7192), 175-183. DOI: 10.1038/nature06936
I'd encourage readers interested in the background to the response paper by Michael Sharpe and colleagues  to have a look at a previous blogging occasion when the topic of the PACE trial, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and 'recovery' were discussed (see here).Suffice to say that this latest paper is a reply to one published by Carolyn Wilshire and colleagues  who concluded that: "The claim that patients [with CFS] can recover as a result of CBT [cognitive behaviour therapy] ........ Read more »
M Sharpe, T Chalder, AL Johnson, KA Goldsmith, & PD White. (2017) Do more people recover from chronic fatigue syndrome with cognitive behaviour therapy or graded exercise therapy than with other treatments?. Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health , 1-5. info:/10.1080/21641846.2017.1288629
Meet the Moroccan flic-flac spider (Cebrennus rechenbergi), a truly unique spider that when provoked or threatened escapes by doubling its normal walking speed using forward or backward flips similar to acrobatic flic-flac movements used by gymnasts.
C. rechenbergi is a species of huntsman spider indigenous to Morocco and can be found in the sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi desert . The spider ... Read more »
Ralf Simon King. (2013) BiLBIQ: A Biologically Inspired Robot with Walking and Rolling Locomotion. Biosystems . info:/10.1007/978-3-642-34682-8
"While pregnant women should continue to avoid handling soiled cat litter, given possible T. gondii exposure, our study strongly indicates that cat ownership in pregnancy or early childhood does not confer an increased risk of later adolescent PEs [psychotic experiences]."So said the findings reported by Francesca Solmi and colleagues  (open-access) who brought a smile to any reader of the title of their paper: "Curiosity killed the cat: no evidence of an association between cat ownershi........ Read more »
Solmi F, Hayes JF, Lewis G, & Kirkbride JB. (2017) Curiosity killed the cat: no evidence of an association between cat ownership and psychotic symptoms at ages 13 and 18 years in a UK general population cohort. Psychological medicine, 1-9. PMID: 28222824
"In our cohort, high levels of antibodies to herpes simplex virus 2 at midpregnancy were associated with an elevated risk of autism spectrum disorder in male offspring. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that gestational infection may contribute to the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder and have the potential to drive new efforts to monitor women more closely for cryptic gestational infection and to implement suppressive therapy during pregnancy."That was the conclusion reac........ Read more »
Milada Mahic, Siri Mjaaland, Hege Marie Bøvelstad, Nina Gunnes, Ezra Susser, Michaeline Bresnahan, Anne-Siri Øyen, Bruce Levin, Xiaoyu Che, Deborah Hirtz.... (2017) Maternal Immunoreactivity to Herpes Simplex Virus 2 and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Male Offspring. mSphere. info:/10.1128/mSphere.00016-17
by Piter Kehoma Boll Charles Darwin had already noticed that small animals, such as those found in zooplankton, are widely distributed around the world, even those that are found in small ponds of freshwater. This seemed to go against the … Continue reading →... Read more »
Gómez, A., Serra, M., Carvalho, G., & Lunt, D. (2002) Speciation in ancient cryptic species complexes: evidence from the molecular phylogeny of Brachionus plicatilis(Rotifera). Evolution, 56(7), 1431. DOI: 10.1554/0014-3820(2002)056[1431:SIACSC]2.0.CO;2
Øie, G., Makridis, P., Reitan, K., & Olsen, Y. (1997) Protein and carbon utilization of rotifers (Brachionus plicatilis) in first feeding of turbot larvae (Scophthalmus maximus L.). Aquaculture, 153(1-2), 103-122. DOI: 10.1016/S0044-8486(96)01514-1
Suatoni, E., Vicario, S., Rice, S., Snell, T., & Caccone, A. (2006) An analysis of species boundaries and biogeographic patterns in a cryptic species complex: The rotifer—Brachionus plicatilis. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 41(1), 86-98. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2006.04.025
Walker, K. (1981) 13. A synopsis of ecological information on the saline lake rotifer Brachionus plicatilis Müller 1786. Hydrobiologia, 81-82(1), 159-167. DOI: 10.1007/BF00048713
OK I'm a little confused right now.Not so long ago I talked about the paper from Horvath and colleagues  (see here) concluding that "the limited data currently available suggest that ω-3 FA [omega-3 fatty acid] supplementation does not enhance the performance of children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]." Such a conclusion was based on the application of a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available peer-reviewed literature up to August 2016.Now however, another sy........ Read more »
Mazahery H, Stonehouse W, Delshad M, Kruger MC, Conlon CA, Beck KL, & von Hurst PR. (2017) Relationship between Long Chain n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Case-Control and Randomised Controlled Trials. Nutrients, 9(2). PMID: 28218722
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