Biology News

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 06:49

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live in the oceans, forming the base of the marine food chain and occupying a range of ecological niches based on temperature, light and chemical preferences, and interactions with other species. But the full extent and characteristics of diversity within this single species remains a puzzle. 

 

“Citizen scientists” effective in monitoring shark numbers Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 10:50

Use of ‘citizen scientists’ in monitoring populations of marine wildlife is an approach that often meets with scepticism in the scientific community. However, a new study published in the journal PLoS One shows that such citizen scientists, in this case experienced dive guides, can match an automated tracking tool in monitoring numbers of shark species. The study was carried out by researchers in the University of Western Australia, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Micronesian Shark Foundation.

 

Brain size matters in evolution of self-control Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 10:42

A new study from a large multi-national group of scientists suggests that absolute brain size is key in evolution of cognition and self-control. The study, published in early edition in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined 36 animal species in two problem-solving tasks measuring self-control. It found that absolute (not body size- relative) brain size and dietary breadth were the major predictors of species differences in self-control.

Male Vagina and Female Penis - Insects of Brazilian Caves with Reverse Sex Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 18:04

A sea slug discards its penis after copulation, the fish, Phallostethus cuulong, has its penis sprouting from its head. However in some insects from Brazilian caves, females are equiped with the penis and vagina in the males,  according to a new study.

 

Neural cooperation essential for resetting circadian rhythms Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 10:16

Circadian behavioural responses to light input in fruit flies (Drosophila) depends on two groups of neurons, called the morning and evening oscillators ‘talking’ to each other. Previously it had been thought that these groups of neurons worked autonomously in scheduling peaks of activity at dawn and dusk, but a new study proves that they cooperate. The study published in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports on April 17th comes from researchers in the University of Massachusetts.

 

Nanosensors to Visualize Movements and Distribution of Plant Stress Hormone Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 12:34

Biologists at UC San Diego have succeeded in visualizing the movement within plants of a key hormone responsible for growth and resistance to drought. The achievement will allow researchers to conduct further studies to determine how the hormone helps plants respond to drought and other environmental stresses driven by the continuing increase in the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide, or CO2, concentration.

 

Does spending too much time on Facebook damage women’s body image? Friday, April 11, 2014 - 08:59

While too much attention to images of actresses and models in the media may contribute to women developing poor body image, a recent study suggests that this may extend to women who spend a lot of time on Facebook making comparisons between themselves and their friends. The research is being carried out by Petya Eckler of the University of Strathclyde, Yusuf Kalyango Jr. of Ohio University and Ellen Paasch of the University of Iowa. The team will present their findings at the 64th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in Seattle, WA (22nd-26th May 2014).

 

Insights Into How A Bird Flu Virus Spreads Could Prevent Pandemics Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 10:52

The H5N1 bird flu virus has infected and killed hundreds of people, despite the fact that, at the moment, the virus can't spread easily between people. The death toll could become much worse if the virus became airborne. A study published by Cell Press April 10th in the journal Cell has revealed a minimal set of mutations allowing H5N1 to be transmitted through the air from one ferret to another. The findings will be invaluable for future surveillance programs and may provide early warning signals of the emergence of potential pandemic strains.