Biology News

New insights into genetic history of cattle teach us about human history Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 16:00

A study on genetics of cattle breeds has shed new light on the genetic history of domesticated cattle which in turn can teach us about human history. Previously geneticists thought that almost 10,000 years ago, Africans domesticated cattle that were native to Africa. However, the results of the new study from the University of Missouri has revealed that in fact these ancient cattle had their origins in an area known as ‘The Fertile Crescent’ in the Middle East. This suggests that these ancient African farmers migrated south to Africa, bringing cattle with them. The study is published in PLoS Genetics on 27th March.

 

Big Brown Bat Males Call 'Dibs' on Food Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 14:57

As big brown bats wake up from their winter slumber and start zooming around in pursuit of insects to eat, how do they coordinate their activities in the dark of night? For one thing, according to researchers who report their findings on March 27 in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, males do it by telling other males to back off. In so doing, those vocal males—each with their own distinctive calls—increase their chances of a meal.

 

Harvested microalgae get a nano-upgrade Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 08:26

The harvesting of microalgae in commercial applications has been intensely studied across various science and engineering disciplines, as these bio-friendly organisms offer a range of improvements for and have significant potential in the production of food supplements, environmental remediation, biofuel production, animal feed production and wastewater treatment. The Laboratory at the Chinese Academy of Sciences led an experimental investigation to improve the conventional microalgae harvesting technique. The improvement was chosen in order to increase the harvesting efficiency of the microalgae.

 

Study finds forest corridors help isolated plants disperse their seeds Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 13:55

A forest in South Carolina, a supercomputer in Ohio and some glow-in-the-dark yarn have helped a team of field ecologists conclude that woodland corridors connecting patches of endangered plants not only increase dispersal of seeds from one patch to another, but also create wind conditions that can spread the seeds for much longer distances.

 

Dogs like smell of familiar humans Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 08:37

A region of the canine brain which is associated with positive expectations such as social rewards responds more strongly to the smell of a human with whom they were familiar than to the smell of humans they didn’t know or to either familiar or unfamiliar dogs. The results were obtained in a study led by researchers in Emory University and Comprehensive Pet Therapy in the USA and published in the journal Behavioural Processes.

 

Fast synthesis of peptides could boost drug development Monday, March 17, 2014 - 12:36

Small protein fragments, also called peptides, are promising as drugs because they can be designed for very specific functions inside living cells. Insulin and the HIV drug Fuzeon are some of the earliest successful examples, and peptide drugs are expected to become a $25 billion market by 2018.

 

Study finds that fast-moving cells in the human immune system walk in a stepwise manner Monday, March 17, 2014 - 10:00

A team of biologists and engineers at the University of California, San Diego has discovered that white blood cells, which repair damaged tissue as part of the body's immune response, move to inflamed sites by walking in a stepwise manner. The cells periodically form and break adhesions mainly under two "feet," and generate the traction forces that propel them forward by the coordinated action of contractile proteins. Their discovery, published March 17 in the Journal of Cell Biology, is an important advance toward developing new pharmacological strategies to treat chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, Type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.

 

Scientists Discover Stum Gene Essential for Sensing Joint Position Friday, March 14, 2014 - 09:28

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered an important mechanism underlying sensory feedback that guides balance and limb movements. The finding, which the TSRI team uncovered in fruit flies, centers on a gene and a type of nerve cell required for detection of leg-joint angles. “These cells resemble human nerve cells that innervate joints,” said team leader Professor Boaz Cook, who is an assistant professor at TSRI, “and they encode joint-angle information in the same way.”