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EurekAlert!: BIOLOGY
The premier online source for science news since 1996. A service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Last updated on  February 19th, 2018
Fifteen new genes identified that shape our face: Click here
(KU Leuven) Researchers from KU Leuven (Belgium) and the universities of Pittsburgh, Stanford, and Penn State (US) have identified fifteen genes that determine our facial features. The findings were published in Nature Genetics.
An enzyme's evolution from changing electric fields and resisting antibiotics: Click here
(Biophysical Society) Bacteria can produce enzymes that make them resistant to antibiotics; one example is the TEM beta-lactamase enzyme, which enables bacteria to develop a resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics, such as penicillin and cephalosporins. Researchers at Stanford University are studying this area -- how an enzyme changes and becomes antibiotic-resistant -- and will present their work during the Biophysical Society's 62nd Meeting, held Feb. 17-21, 2018.
In living color: Brightly-colored bacteria could be used to 'grow' paints and coatings: Click here
(University of Cambridge) Researchers have unlocked the genetic code behind some of the brightest and most vibrant colors in nature. The paper, published in the journal PNAS, is the first study of the genetics of structural color -- as seen in butterfly wings and peacock feathers -- and paves the way for genetic research in a variety of structurally colored organisms.
Study looks at how newly discovered gene helps grow blood vessels: Click here
(St. Michael's Hospital) A new study published today found that a newly discovered gene helps grow blood vessels when it senses inadequate blood flow to tissues.
Farming crops with rocks to reduce CO2 and improve global food security: Click here
(University of Sheffield) Farming crops with crushed rocks could help to improve global food security and reduce the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere, a new study has found.
Biodiversity loss raises risk of 'extinction cascades': Click here
(University of Exeter) New research shows that the loss of biodiversity can increase the risk of 'extinction cascades', where an initial species loss leads to a domino effect of further extinctions.
Plants colonized the earth 100 million years earlier than previously thought: Click here
(University of Bristol) A new study on the timescale of plant evolution, led by the University of Bristol, has concluded that the first plants to colonise the Earth originated around 500 million years ago -- 100 million years earlier than previously thought.
Pausing evolution makes bioproduction of chemicals affordable and efficient: Click here
(Technical University of Denmark) Circumventing evolution in cell factories can pave the way for commercializing new biobased chemicals to large-scale.
Calcium may play a role in the development of Parkinson's disease: Click here
(University of Cambridge) Researchers have found that excess levels of calcium in brain cells may lead to the formation of toxic clusters that are the hallmark of Parkinson's disease.
Duplicate genes help animals resolve sexual conflict: Click here
(University of Chicago Medical Center) Duplicate copies of a gene shared by male and female fruit flies have evolved to resolve competing demands between the sexes. New genetic analysis by researchers at the University of Chicago describes how these copies have evolved separate male- and female-specific functions that are crucial to reproduction and fertility.
Pattern formation: The paradoxical role of turbulence: Click here
(Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) The formation of self-organizing molecular patterns in cells is a critical component of many biological processes. Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have proposed a new theory to explain how such patterns emerge in complex natural systems.
Insulin goes viral: Click here
(Joslin Diabetes Center) Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center have identified four viruses that can produce insulin-like hormones that are active on human cells. The discovery brings new possibilities for revealing biological mechanisms that may cause diabetes or cancer.
Study identifies traces of indigenous 'Taíno' in present-day Caribbean populations: Click here
(St John's College, University of Cambridge) A thousand-year-old tooth has provided the first clear genetic evidence that the Taíno -- the indigenous people whom Columbus first encountered on arriving in the New World -- still have living descendants today, despite erroneous claims in some historical narratives that these people are extinct. The findings are likely to have particular resonance for people in the Caribbean and the US who claim Taíno ancestry, but have until now been unable to prove definitively that such a thing is possible.
Mouse model of intellectual disability isolates learning gene: Click here
(Society for Neuroscience) Adult male mice lacking a gene linked to intellectual disability have trouble completing and remembering mazes, with no changes in social or repetitive behavior, according to new research published in JNeurosci. This animal model provides a new way to study the role of this gene in learning and memory and provides a rodent model of pure intellectual disability.
First video of 'Dumbo' octopod hatchling shows that they look like mini-adults: Click here
(Cell Press) Researchers who've gotten the first look at a deep-sea 'dumbo' octopod hatchling report in Current Biology on Feb. 19 that the young octopods look and act much like adults from the moment they emerge from an egg capsule. Dumbo octopods are so named because their fins resemble Dumbo the elephant's ears.
The new bioenergy research center: building on ten years of success: Click here
(University of Wisconsin-Madison) The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, recently embarked on a new mission: to develop sustainable alternatives to transportation fuels and products currently derived from petroleum.
Why bees soared and slime flopped as inspirations for systems engineering: Click here
(Georgia Institute of Technology) Honeybees gathering nectar inspired an algorithm that eased the burden of host servers handling unpredictable traffic by about 25 percent. Nature can inspire some great engineering, but it can also lead to some flops. Take slime mold: Standard algorithms beat it hands down to model connectivity. AAAS annual meeting presentation by systems researcher Craig Tovey.
Using mutant bacteria to study how changes in membrane proteins affect cell functions: Click here
(Biophysical Society) Phospholipids are water insoluble "building blocks" that define the membrane barrier surrounding cells and provide the structural scaffold and environment where membrane proteins reside. During the 62nd Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, held Feb. 17-21, William Dowhan from the University of Texas-Houston McGovern Medical School will present his group's work exploring how the membrane protein phospholipid environment determines its structure and function.
Ras protein's role in spreading cancer: Click here
(Biophysical Society) Protein systems make up the complex signaling pathways that control whether a cell divides or, in some cases, metastasizes. Ras proteins have long been the focus of cancer research because of their role as 'on/off switch' signaling pathways that control cell division and failure to die like healthy cells do. Now, a team of researchers has been able to study precisely how Ras proteins interact with cell membrane surfaces.
What makes circadian clocks tick?: Click here
(Biophysical Society) Circadian clocks arose as an adaptation to dramatic swings in daylight hours and temperature caused by the Earth's rotation, but we still don't fully understand how they work. During the 62nd Biophysical Society Meeting, held Feb. 17-21, Andy LiWang, University of California, Merced, will present his lab's work studying the circadian clock of blue-green colored cyanobacteria. LiWang's group discovered that how the proteins move hour by hour is central to cyanobacteria's circadian clock function.
Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells: Click here
(Biophysical Society) Cell division is an intricately choreographed ballet of proteins and molecules that divide the cell. During mitosis, microtubule-organizing centers assemble the spindle fibers that separate the copying chromosomes of DNA. While scientists are familiar with MTOCs' existence and the role they play in cell division, their actual physical structure remains poorly understood. Researchers are now trying to decipher their molecular architecture, and they will present their work during the 62nd Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, held Feb. 17-21.
New study sheds light on illegal global trade of pangolins: Click here
(University of Stirling) Animal traffickers are taking advantage of remote ivory trade routes to smuggle pangolins -- one of the world's most endangered animals -- out of Central Africa, a new study has found.
Scientists shed light on biological roots of individuality: Click here
(Rockefeller University) A new study illuminates the biology that guides behavior across different stages of life in worms, and suggests how variations in specific neuromodulators in the developing nervous system may lead to occasional variations.
How to train like the world's most successful female cross-country skier: Click here
(Norwegian University of Science and Technology) If you want to be as fast or as strong as the world's most decorated female winter Olympian ever, you'll have to train a lot -- more than 900 hours a year. But don't worry -- most of that training will be low intensity.
Walls, toxicity and explosions: How plant cells protect themselves from salinity in soil: Click here
(Carnegie Institution for Science) Roots face many challenges in the soil in order to supply the plant with the necessary water and nutrients. New work shows that one of these challenges, salinity, can cause root cells to explode if the risk is not properly sensed. Salinity has deleterious effects on plant health and limits crop yields, because salt inhibits water uptake and can be toxic for plants. But plant biologists discovered a never-before-described effect that salt has on the plant cell wall.