Biology News

Pacific Salmon Inherit a Magnetic Sense of Direction Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 11:20

Even young hatchery salmon with no prior experience of the world outside will orient themselves according to the Earth's magnetic field in the direction of the marine feeding grounds frequented by their ancestors. These findings, reported in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on February 6th, suggest that Chinook salmon inherit a kind of built-in GPS that always points them home.

 

Appearance of Lyme Disease Rash Can Help Predict How Bacteria Spreads Through Body Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 12:05

Lyme disease is often evident by a rash on the skin, but infections do not always produce similar rashes. This can make it difficult to detect the disease early, when antibiotic treatment is most effective. In the February 4th issue of the Biophysical Journal, published by Cell Press, researchers describe a new mathematical model that captures the interactions between disease-causing bacteria and the host immune response that affect the appearance of a rash and the spread of infection.

 

Precise Gene Editing in Monkeys Paves the Way for Valuable Human Disease Models Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 11:00

Monkeys are important for modeling diseases because of their close similarities to humans, but past efforts to precisely modify genes in primates have failed. In a study published by Cell Press January 30th in the journal Cell, researchers achieved precise gene modification in monkeys for the first time using an efficient and reliable approach known as the CRISPR/Cas9 system. The study opens promising new avenues for the development of more effective treatments for a range of human diseases.

 

Brain Regions Thought To Be Uniquely Human Share Many Similarities with Monkeys Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 11:00

New research suggests a surprising degree of similarity in the organization of regions of the brain that control language and complex thought processes in humans and monkeys. The study, publishing online January 28 in the Cell Press journal Neuron, also revealed some key differences. The findings may provide valuable insights into the evolutionary processes that established our ties to other primates but also made us distinctly human.

 

Study analyzes content of nightmares and bad dreams Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 09:19

According to a new study by researchers at the University of Montreal, nightmares have greater emotional impact than bad dreams do, and fear is not always a factor. In fact, it is mostly absent in bad dreams and in a third of nightmares. What is felt, instead, is sadness, confusion, guilt, disgust, etc. For their analysis of 253 nightmares and 431 bad dreams, researchers obtained the narratives of nearly 10,000 dreams. “Physical aggression is the most frequently reported theme in nightmares. Moreover, nightmares become so intense they will wake you up. Bad dreams, on the other hand, are especially haunted by interpersonal conflicts,” write Geneviève Robert and Antonio Zadra, psychology researchers at the Université de Montréal, in the last issue of Sleep.

 

Fungus "micropredators" protect amphibians from deadly disease Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 12:59

Waterborne microorganisms could help to save frogs and toads from a skin-eating fungus that threatens amphibians around the world. Scientists have discovered that certain aquatic microbes, including single-celled protozoans and tiny animals called rotifers, can consume large quantities of the fungal spores that spread disease.

 

A new class of antibiotics - Acyldepsipeptides Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 10:00

A new class of molecules called acyldepsipeptides — ADEPs — may provide a new way to attack bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics. Researchers at Brown and MIT have discovered a way to increase the potency of ADEPs by up to 1,200 times. Their findings appear in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

 

Ants protect acacia plants against pathogens Friday, January 17, 2014 - 11:25

The biological term “symbiosis” refers to what economists and politicians usually call a win-win situation: a relationship between two partners which is beneficial to both. The mutualistic association between acacia plants and the ants that live on them is an excellent example: The plants provide food and accommodation in the form of food bodies and nectar as well as hollow thorns which can be used as nests. The ants return this favour by protecting the plants against herbivores. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now found that ants also keep harmful leaf pathogens in check.