Biology News

Scientists wipe out malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the lab with genetic method that creates male-only offspring Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 20:30

Scientists have modified mosquitoes to produce sperm that will only create males, pioneering a fresh approach to eradicating malaria. In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists from Imperial College London have tested a new genetic method that distorts the sex ratio of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the main transmitters of the malaria parasite, so that the female mosquitoes that bite and pass the disease to humans are no longer produced.

Herpes Infected Humans Before They Were Human Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 19:35

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified the evolutionary origins of human herpes simplex virus (HSV) -1 and -2, reporting that the former infected hominids before their evolutionary split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago while the latter jumped from ancient chimpanzees to ancestors of modern humans – Homo erectus – approximately 1.6 million years ago.

Improving father-adolescent relationships Monday, June 9, 2014 - 12:22

Father’s Day is coming up on 15th June and a recent study in the Journal of Research in Adolescence suggests a way in which better relationships can be fostered between adolescents and their fathers or stepfathers. The study was carried out by a team of researchers from San Francisco State University, the University of California and Arizona State University. The results suggest that if the adolescent talks to someone when involved in an argument with their father/stepfather and receives either a reason for their father’s behaviour or an explanation about who’s to blame, they feel better about both themselves and their father. Furthermore, the adolescent is less likely to suffer from depression.

How Flies Escape Looming Predators Sunday, June 8, 2014 - 21:01

When a fruit fly detects an approaching predator, the fly can launch itself into the air and soar gracefully to safety in a fraction of a second. But there's not always time for that. Some threats demand a quicker getaway. New research from scientists at Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Research Campus reveals how a quick-escape circuit in the fly's brain overrides the fly's slower, more controlled behavior when a threat becomes urgent.

Protecting mainland Europe from an invasion of grey squirrels Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 20:53

The first genotyping of grey squirrels sampled from Italy and the UK shows a direct link between their genetic diversity and their ability to invade new environments.In this new study, published in Diversity and Distributions, an international team of scientists from Imperial College London and the Zoological Society of London compared 12 DNA markers from grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) in Piedmont in Northern Italy with the same markers from squirrel populations in Northern Ireland, Northumberland and East Anglia. 

Fishing Boats Are Powerful Seabird Magnets Monday, June 2, 2014 - 11:00

It's no surprise that seabirds are attracted to fishing boats, and especially to the abundance of discards that find their way back into the ocean. But researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on June 2 now find that those boats influence bird behavior over much longer distances than scientists had expected.

 

Sperm cells are extremely efficient at swimming against a current Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 10:16

Like salmon traveling upstream to spawn, sperm cells are extremely efficient at swimming against the current, according to research to be published this week. The discovery, to be published in the journal eLife by researchers at MIT and Cambridge University, may help us to understand how some sperm travel such long distances, through difficult terrain, to reach and fertilize an egg.