Post List

  • May 1, 2010
  • 02:49 AM

Healthy human carriers of the spirochete Leptospira in the Peruvian Amazon

by Microbe Fan in Spirochetes Unwound

The spirochete Leptospira is the agent of leptospirosis, a zoonosis that primarily burdens tropical regions of the world.  Moist conditions promote the survival of the spirochete Leptospira in soil and fresh water. Although Leptospira could survive out in wet environments if they had to, they thrive in the kidneys of rats and other maintenance hosts, where they form dense masses lining the inner surface of the kidney tubules.  The spirochetes spill into the urine that forms in the tub........ Read more »

Ganoza, C.A., Matthias, M.A., Saito, M., Cespedes, M., Gotuzzo, E., & Vinetz, J.M. (2010) Asymptomatic renal colonization of humans in the Peruvian Amazon by Leptospira. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 4(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000612  

Ganoza, C.A., Matthias, M.A., Collins-Richards, D., Brouwer, K.C., Cunningham, C.B., Segura, E.R., Gilman, R.H., Gotuzzo, E., & Vinetz, J.M. (2006) Determining risk for severe leptospirosis by molecular analysis of environmental surface waters for pathogenic Leptospira. PLoS Medicine, 3(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030308  

  • April 30, 2010
  • 11:09 PM

Cat Trap

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Cougars are getting caught by wolf snares in Canada

... Read more »

Knopff, K.H., Knopff, A.A., & M.S. Boyce. (2010) Scavenging Makes Cougars Susceptible to Snaring at Wolf Bait Stations. Journal of Wildlife Management, 74(4), 644-653. DOI: 10.2193/2009-252  

  • April 30, 2010
  • 05:23 PM

Auditory short-term memory and the left superior temporal gyrus

by Greg Hickok in Talking Brains

Where is the "phonological store"? Ask the typical cognitive neuroscientist on the street and you will probably be pointed to the left inferior parietal lobe. But this is incorrect. First, the idea that there is a dedicated "phonological store" is probably incorrect. Second, the system that supports the temporary maintenance of phonological information isn't in the parietal lobe, but in the superior temporal region, i.e., the same general region that supports phonological processing during sp........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 03:55 PM

"The Tears of Strangers Are Only Water"

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

Empathy is a complicated emotion, even for mice. On seeing another in pain, a mouse will act as if it itself is also hurting—much more, though, if it knows the first mouse. Capuchin monkeys will help out another monkey, without any reward, but only if they're on friendly terms. People also feel less for those they dislike. But our species adds another layer of complication: We empathize more with people who are "like us" than with "them." This study, published this month, suggests that th........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 03:30 PM

Defining edge effects by resource and sensitivity

by Jeremy in Voltage Gate

Considering the number of studies published describing habitat fragmentation and edge effects, why has the pattern and framework of these effects on ecosystems not been described? Ries and Sisk proposed a conceptual model in that paper that can account and predict, to some extent, the variability of an organism’s responses to different edges, usually indicated through an increase or decrease abundance at the edge, or no change at all.... Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 02:00 PM

Why I should pay taxes to fund (basic) science?

by Pablo Artal in Optics confidential

A practical example from ophthalmic optics research to convince readers on the importance of expending money in basic research... and more ... Read more »

Tabernero, J., Benito, A., Alcón, E., & Artal, P. (2007) Mechanism of compensation of aberrations in the human eye. Journal of the Optical Society of America A, 24(10), 3274. DOI: 10.1364/JOSAA.24.003274  

  • April 30, 2010
  • 12:49 PM

Well, color me surprised

by Iddo Friedberg in Byte Size Biology

Nature is colorful. And the family of pigments that is mostly responsible for these colors are carotenoids. Carotenoids  make the apples red, the lemons yellow, the pumpkins oranges and, yes carrots, (from which their name is derived), orange.
Carotenoids also make flamingos and salmon pink, and color the puffin’s bill orange. But those animals cannot produce [...]... Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 12:49 PM

Horizontal gene transfer from Zygo to pea aphid

by stajich in The Hyphal Tip

Another result from the analysis of the recently published genome of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum. Nancy Moran and Tyler Jarvik present a study of the origin of the carotenoid production gene in pea aphid. Animals typically cannot make carotenoids so they sought to discover how this is possible. They find that it [...]... Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 11:28 AM

New, Voodoo-Free fMRI Technique

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

MIT brain scanners Fedorenko et al present A new method for fMRI investigations of language: Defining ROIs functionally in individual subjects. Also on the list of authors is Nancy Kanwisher, one of the feared fMRI voodoo correlations posse.The paper describes a technique for mapping out the "language areas" of the brain in individual people, not for their own sake, but as a way of improving other fMRI studies of language. That's important because while everyone's brain is organized roughly th........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 10:08 AM

Friday Weird Science: Rate Yourself, Please.

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

So the other day Sci is chatting with some friends, and mentions how INCREDIBLY AMUSED she always is by romance novels. This is for several reasons.

One (1): They have covers like this:

(Seriously, I crack up just looking at these. LOL!!! Ooooh. My new favorite. Look at that bulging codpiece. *snort* HAHAHAHAHAHA.)

Two (2): They are so predictable, particularly the period ones. Sci could write one RIGHT NOW:


"Cerise Everett Longwood, the lovely and rebellious daughter of t........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 09:47 AM

Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM), but What About MSW?

by Ultimo167 in Strong Silent Types

The authors (Rhodes et al. (2010)) describe the dilemmas posed for men who like to have sex with men (MSM) but who go no further than that.... Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 09:05 AM

Clinical assessment with a personal genome. It has happened.

by Mary in OpenHelix

So this morning I was listening to NPR as I usually do while waking up.  And then I had to actually pay attention.  They were doing personal genomics.  But not just theoretical personal genomics.  They were talking with Steve Quake, who has his personal genome in hand. The story is here: Genomes May One Day Be Medical Crystal Balls
And Steve had his sequence analyzed for medically deleterious mutations.  He took this to an MD friend, and together they went over the data.  It’s a pret........ Read more »

Dr Euan A Ashley, Atul J Butte, Matthew T Wheeler, Rong Chen, Teri E Klein, Frederick E Dewey MD, Joel T Dudley, Kelly E Ormond, Aleksandra Pavlovic, Alexander A Morgan.... (2010) Clinical assessment incorporating a personal genome. The Lancet, 375(9725), 1525-1535. info:/

  • April 30, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

The mirror movement mutation

by Mo in Neurophilosophy

MIRROR movements are involuntary movements that mimic, and occur simultaneously with, voluntary movements on the opposite side of the body. The movements are known to occur because of a failure in communication between the two sides of the nervous system. They are thought to be normal during infancy and early childhood, but usually diminish with age and disappear altogether by the age of 10, following maturation of the corpus callosum, the massive bundle of nerve fibres connecting the left and r........ Read more »

Srour, M., Riviere, J., Pham, J., Dube, M., Girard, S., Morin, S., Dion, P., Asselin, G., Rochefort, D., Hince, P.... (2010) Mutations in DCC Cause Congenital Mirror Movements. Science, 328(5978), 592-592. DOI: 10.1126/science.1186463  

  • April 30, 2010
  • 06:00 AM

Parenting Styles and Obesity Risk in Adolescents

by Dr. Arya Sharma in Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes

One of the most common assertions is that home environments including parenting styles are a major determinant of obesity risk in kids. This issue was now examined by Jerica Berge and colleagues from the University of Minnesota in a paper published in the latest issue of OBESITY.... Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 05:00 AM

Controlling feral cats in ecologically sensitive areas: Is "trap, neuter, return" effective?

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 04:20 AM

European man perhaps not a Middle Eastern farmer

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

A few months ago I blogged a paper in PLoS Biology which suggested that a common Y chromosomal haplogroup, in fact the most common in Europe and at modal frequency along the Atlantic fringe, is not pre-Neolithic. Rather their analysis of the data implied that the European variants were derived from an Anatolian variant. The [...]... Read more »

Morelli L, Contu D, Santoni F, Whalen MB, & Francalacci P. (2010) A Comparison of Y-Chromosome Variation in Sardinia and Anatolia Is More Consistent with Cultural Rather than Demic Diffusion of Agriculture. PLoS ONE. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0010419

  • April 30, 2010
  • 02:12 AM

Daniel Cohen on the Social Life of Digital Libraries

by Duncan Hull in O'Really?

Daniel Cohen is giving a talk in Cambridge today on The Social Life of Digital Libraries, abstract below: The digitization of libraries had a clear initial goal: to permit anyone to read the contents of collections anywhere and anytime. But universal access is only the beginning of what may happen to libraries and researchers in [...]... Read more »

  • April 30, 2010
  • 01:09 AM

Aphid adornment: Lateral gene transfer from fungi to aphids.

by Michael Bok in Arthropoda

Carotenoids are integral components of animal biochemistry. These organic compounds, characterized by long hydrocarbon chains and loops, are used in photoreception, antioxidation, the immune system, and for ornamental coloration. There are over 800 known carotenoid compounds found in nature. They absorb varying wavelengths of blue and green light, causing tissue containing large quantities of carotenoids [...]... Read more »

  • April 29, 2010
  • 10:31 PM

Celebrate diversity: Parthenogenesis in white tipped bamboo shark

by Zen Faulkes in Marmorkrebs

A few years ago, a bonnethead shark made the news because one had given birth. Giving birth is not unusual for sharks... except that the female in question had grown up in isolation. Good evidence for parthenogenesis.

Shortly after that, another shark species (blacktip) was autopsied and found to have an embryo that was genetically identical to the mother. Clearly, parthenogenesis in sharks was not happenstance. But in both cases, the parthenogenetic offspring didn’t live long. Are the off........ Read more »

Feldheim, K., Chapman, D., Sweet, D., Fitzpatrick, S., Prodohl, P., Shivji, M., & Snowden, B. (2010) Shark Virgin Birth Produces Multiple, Viable Offspring. Journal of Heredity, 101(3), 374-377. DOI: 10.1093/jhered/esp129  

  • April 29, 2010
  • 09:28 PM

The Immune System Wears Out Faster With Stress

by Reason in Fight Aging!

If the immune system is chronically stressed, such as by organ transplants or HIV infection, then it ages noticeably faster - in effect the immune system wears down with overuse like a burdened machine. You might look on this sort of outcome as a much faster burn through the normal process of immune system use and degeneration with age, and it has consequences in terms of health and life expectancy. For example: Study links liver transplantation to accelerated cellular aging The University of Ca........ Read more »

Desai S, & Landay A. (2010) Early immune senescence in HIV disease. Current HIV/AIDS reports, 7(1), 4-10. PMID: 20425052  

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