Biology News

Study Finds Crowding Has Big Effects on Biomolecules Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 21:25

Crowding has notoriously negative effects at large size scales, blamed for everything from human disease and depression to community resource shortages. But relatively little is known about the influence of crowding at the cellular level. A new JILA study shows that a crowded environment has dramatic effects on individual biomolecules.


NIST Chip Produces and Detects Specialized Gas for Biomedical Analysis Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 13:25

A chip-scale device that both produces and detects a specialized gas used in biomedical analysis and medical imaging has been built and demonstrated at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Described in Nature Communications, the new microfluidic chip produces polarized (or magnetized) xenon gas and then detect seven the faintest magnetic signals from the gas.


Stem Cells As A Future Source for Eco-friendly Meat Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 09:21

The scientific progress that has made it possible to dream of a future in which faulty organs could be regrown from stem cells also holds potential as an ethical and greener source for meat. So say scientists who suggest in the Cell Press journal Trends in Biotechnology that every town or village could one day have its very own small-scale, cultured meat factory.


How Octopuses Don't Tie Themselves In Knots Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 11:02

An octopus's arms are covered in hundreds of suckers that will stick to just about anything, with one important exception. Those suckers generally won't grab onto the octopus itself; otherwise, the impressively flexible animals would quickly find themselves all tangled up.


Lessons from a Dead Sea fungus on how to grow crops in high-salinity environments Monday, May 12, 2014 - 10:09

The Dead Sea, with its’ highly hypersaline habitat, is one of the most inhospitable environments on Earth for supporting life.  Yet a few hardy life forms manage to survive there. One of these is the fungus Eurotium rubrum (Eurotiomycetes). Better understanding of this species could not only advance our understanding of how organisms evolve to adapt to high-stress conditions but also help to improve crop salt tolerance. This cause has been advanced by the results of a paper on adaptive strategies of E. rubrum based on analysis of the organism’s genome and the RNA transcripts that arise from the genes (the transcriptome) to allow proteins to be coded.


Scientists Create First Living Organism that Transmits Added Letters in DNA 'Alphabet' Friday, May 9, 2014 - 09:44

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have engineered a bacterium whose genetic material includes an added pair of DNA “letters,” or bases, not found in nature. The cells of this unique bacterium can replicate the unnatural DNA bases more or less normally, for as long as the molecular building blocks are supplied.


From pond scum to parasite: a surprisingly small genomic leap Friday, May 9, 2014 - 09:20

Helicosporidium is a lethal parasite of insects including caterpillars, beetles and blackflies. The evolutionary origins of this parasite have remained shrouded in mystery but recent studies strongly suggested similarity to a green alga called Prototheca. Evolution of parasites from algae is not unheard of. One of the most famous examples is the transition of the malaria parasite Plasmodium from red algae, with loss of genes encoding biological functions that are no longer needed in the organism’s new life as a parasite.

SOCS-4 is a critical regulator of the immune response against influenza Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 14:57

A protein called suppression of cytokine signalling-4 (SOCS-4) is a key regulator of the immune response against influenza virus. It is important in controlling the ‘cytokine storm’ associated with the lungs of critically ill patients. These are the main findings of a new study in the journal PLoS Pathogens from researchers in Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne and the University of Melbourne.