Philip Hugenholtz (Joint Bioenergy Institute and Joint Genome Institute, California) and coworkers have discovered a rugged enzyme that will be useful towards an industrial-scale breakdown of switchgrass into synthetically-useful molecules, rendering switchgrass into a practical, renewable carbon source. This news feature was written on January 21, 2010.... Read more »
Allgaier, M., Reddy, A., Park, J. I., Ivanova, N., D'haeseleer, P., Lowry, S., Sapra, R., Hazen, T. C., Simmons, B. A., VanderGheynst, J. S.... (2010) Targeted Discovery of Glycoside Hydrolases from a Switchgrass-Adapted Compost Community. PLoS ONE, 5(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008812
I both love and hate a recent paper by Angela Friederici, Sonja Kotz, Sophie Scott, & Jonas Obleser titled Disentangling syntax and intelligibility in auditory language comprehension. The paper is in the "Early View" section of Human Brain Mapping. Here's why I love it. There are a number of claims in the literature on the neuroscience of language that I disagree with. One is Sophie Scott's claim that speech recognition is a left hemisphere function that primarily involves anterior temporal re........ Read more »
Friederici AD, Kotz SA, Scott SK, & Obleser J. (2009) Disentangling syntax and intelligibility in auditory language comprehension. Human brain mapping. PMID: 19718654
Prolonged deployment in Iraq is associated with more mental health diagnoses in U.S. Army wives, a new study published free in the New England Journal of Medicine has found.
Current military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have involved frequent and long-term deployment of the military in these areas. Previous studies have shown considerable mental health problems [...]... Read more »
Mansfield, A., Kaufman, J., Marshall, S., Gaynes, B., Morrissey, J., & Engel, C. (2010) Deployment and the Use of Mental Health Services among U.S. Army Wives. New England Journal of Medicine, 362(2), 101-109. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0900177
There is growing interest in intermittent fasting and athletic performance - or how can i train if i'm not eating? In the past year there have been a couple of cool studies looking at athletic performance and the effects of the Ramdam fast on same. The Ramadan fast is, to the best of my knowledge, a total break in eating for part of a day: from sun up to sun down, no food. Since this is the time of day most athletes train, one might think going without food would make training impossible, o........ Read more »
Zerguini Y, Dvorak J, Maughan RJ, Leiper JB, Bartagi Z, Kirkendall DT, Al-Riyami M, & Junge A. (2008) Influence of Ramadan fasting on physiological and performance variables in football players: summary of the F-MARC 2006 Ramadan fasting study. Journal of sports sciences. PMID: 19085447
Chaouachi A, Leiper JB, Souissi N, Coutts AJ, & Chamari K. (2009) Effects of Ramadan intermittent fasting on sports performance and training: a review. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 4(4), 419-34. PMID: 20029094
The first signs of life on earth appeared about 4.5 Ga (1 Ga is an American billion, ie. 109 years) ago. It's not yet completely certain exactly how this life arose; hot volcanic mineral springs have been suggested, as have the more traditional lightning-struck primordial soups and (rather wonderfully) radioactive beaches. At any rate something happened (and there was certainly plenty of time for it to happen in) which lead to a little membrane-bound ball with internal nucleic acids which, cruci........ Read more »
Falkowski PG. (2006) Evolution. Tracing oxygen's imprint on earth's metabolic evolution. Science (New York, N.Y.), 311(5768), 1724-5. PMID: 16556831
The distribution and uptake of antivirals and vaccination was in the news quite a bit before Christmas. H1N1 swine flu didn’t turn out to be the Armageddon some commentators were forecasting, but I don’t think it’s overstating the case to say that we dodged a bullet there. In cases like this we might expect the [...]... Read more »
Althouse, B., Bergstrom, T., & Bergstrom, C. (2009) Evolution in Health and Medicine Sackler Colloquium: A public choice framework for controlling transmissible and evolving diseases. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906078107
OUR ability to use and manipulate numbers is integral to everyday life - we use them to label, rank, count and measure almost everything we encounter. It was long thought that numerical competence is dependent on language and, therefore, that numerosity is restricted to our species. Although the symbolic representation of numbers, using numerals and words, is indeed unique to humans, we now know that animals are also capable of manipulating numerical information.
One study published in 1998, f........ Read more »
Bongard, S., & Nieder, A. (2010) Basic mathematical rules are encoded by primate prefrontal cortex neurons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0909180107
Regulation of olfaction by GABA and dopaminergic neuromodulatory systems and related molecular machinery... Read more »
Kiyokage, E., Pan, Y., Shao, Z., Kobayashi, K., Szabo, G., Yanagawa, Y., Obata, K., Okano, H., Toida, K., Puche, A.... (2010) Molecular Identity of Periglomerular and Short Axon Cells. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(3), 1185-1196. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3497-09.2010
Two timely reports have surfaced this week regarding the decline of honeybee populations in Europe, and France has taken action in an attempt to curb the falling numbers.
A recent study linked
honeybee health and plant biodiversity
In a study published in the Journal of Apicultural Research, scientists have found that managed honeybee populations across Europe have dropped [...]
... Read more »
Potts, S., Settele, J., Neumann,, P., Jones, R., Mike A Brown, M., Marris, G., Dean, R., & Roberts, S. (2010) Declines of managed honey bees and beekeepers in Europe. Journal of Apicultural Research, 49(1), 15. DOI: 10.3896/IBRA.1.49.1.02
The nature of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with an all-volunteer military, has led to multiple and extended deployments for active-duty, reserve, and National Guard troops. One of the invisible effects of war is the impact of prolonged deployments on the well-being of children in military families. Until now, there has not been a comprehensive study of sufficient size to fully examine the effects of parental deployment on older children.
The first results from a large, longitudi........ Read more »
Chandra, A., Lara-Cinisomo, S., Jaycox, L., Tanielian, T., Burns, R., Ruder, T., & Han, B. (2009) Children on the Homefront: The Experience of Children From Military Families. PEDIATRICS, 125(1), 16-25. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-1180
Deborah Cameron noted in 1995 that “linguistic bigotry is among the last publicly expressible prejudices left to members of the Western intelligentsia.” In the same vein, one could point out that linguistic discrimination is among the last legal forms of discrimination left to Western employers. A German court recently ruled that an employer’s repeated criticisms [...]... Read more »
Boutet, Josiane. (2008) La vie verbale au travail: Des manufactures aux centres d’appels [Language at work: from manufacturing to call centers]. Paris: Octares. info:/
LINDEMANN, S. (2002) Listening with an attitude: A model of native-speaker comprehension of non-native speakers in the United States. Language in Society, 31(03). DOI: 10.1017/S0047404502020286
... Read more »
Gavier-Pizarro, G., Radeloff, V., Stewart, S., Huebner, C., & Keuler, N. (2010) HOUSING IS POSITIVELY ASSOCIATED WITH INVASIVE EXOTIC PLANT SPECIES RICHNESS IN NEW ENGLAND, USA. Ecological Applications, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1890/09-2168
This post is the first in a series about my favourite clouds. First up, Kelvin-Helmholtz Billows.... Read more »
Chapman, D., & Browning, K. (1997) Radar observations of wind-shear splitting within evolving atmospheric kelvin-helmholtz billows. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 123(541), 1433-1439. DOI: 10.1002/qj.49712354114
For a brief change of topic, let's take a look at language evolution! I wrote up the following novel review paper blog post for a non-biological evolution seminar course I'm involved with. We're essentially first examining various key topics in evolutionary biology (alas too briefly!), exploring how the by-now well-established field of evolutionary linguistics successfully applies evolutionary theory to languages (technically much of it before biology came along...linguists invented phylogeny!),........ Read more »
Lupyan, G., & Dale, R. (2010) Language Structure Is Partly Determined by Social Structure. PLoS ONE, 5(1). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008559
If you wanted to write a guide to Biomedical and Biological Ontologies , especially the what, why, when, how, where and who, there are at least three choices for publishing your work:
Journal publishing in your favourite scientific journal.
Book publishing with your favourite academic or technical publisher.
Self publishing on a web blog with your favourite blogging [...]... Read more »
In this second post about jazz and health we focus on the literature regarding somatic illness instead of mental illness. In the previous post we already mentioned drug use as one of the major hazards for jazz musicians. Drug use by jazz musicians can have all sorts of reasons such as the enhancement of creativity, [...]
Related posts:Jazz and Psychiatry This post was inspired by two recent visits to...
The Chameleon Guitar Video: One instrument, with multiple sounds A new guitar...
Bill Ev........ Read more »
Kinra S, & Okasha M. (1999) Unsafe sax: cohort study of the impact of too much sax on the mortality of famous jazz musicians. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 319(7225), 1612-3. PMID: 10600961
Gambichler, T., Uzun, A., Boms, S., Altmeyer, P., & Altenmüller, E. (2008) Skin conditions in instrumental musicians: a self-reported survey. Contact Dermatitis, 58(4), 217-222. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.2007.01310.x
Philip Power offers a new insight into the chemistry of some of the heavier main group elements - that square in the periodic table cornered by aluminium and tellurium - in a recent review in Nature. In it he proposes that based on the type of bonding and reactivity compounds containing elements in this square can really behave as transition metals. ... Read more »
Did you know that some insects are Regulated as Medical Devices? Yep. Maggot Therapy.
I’ve mentioned it a few times before at the Bug Blog, and in these days of MRSA bacteria, diabetic ulcers, and a whole host of other nasties, this ancient way of cleaning wounds is making a comeback.
Maggots are used in wound debridement–which [...]... Read more »
Sherman, R. (2003) Maggot Therapy for Treating Diabetic Foot Ulcers Unresponsive to Conventional Therapy. Diabetes Care, 26(2), 446-451. DOI: 10.2337/diacare.26.2.446
Sherman, R., Hall, M., & Thomas, S. (2000) Medicinal Maggots: An Ancient Remedy for Some Contemporary Afflictions. Annual Review of Entomology, 45(1), 55-81. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.ento.45.1.55
Jukema, G., Menon, A., Bernards, A., Steenvoorde, P., Rastegar, A., & van Dissel, J. (2002) Amputation‐Sparing Treatment by Nature: “Surgical” Maggots Revisited. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 35(12), 1566-1571. DOI: 10.1086/344904
Texting while driving seems to score pretty high up there on the "I really shouldn't be doing this right now" list. A 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that truck drivers who were texting on the road were 23 times more likely to find themselves involved in an accident. Incidentally, and much to my bewilderment, truck drivers who talked on cell phones were found to have absolutely no increased risk for crashing. I suppose it's much easier to say over the phone than to........ Read more »
Hemond, C., Brown, R., & Robertson, E. (2010) A Distraction Can Impair or Enhance Motor Performance. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(2), 650-654. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4592-09.2010
Biologists and taxonomists love to put organisms into categories to help us organize the complicated living world. I grew up on the 5 kingdom system of classification: plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and protists. The first four categories seemed simple enough, but the term “protists” always confused me. This kingdom seemed to be a dumping ground [...]... Read more »
de Castro, F., Gaedke, U., & Boenigk, J. (2009) Reverse Evolution: Driving Forces Behind the Loss of Acquired Photosynthetic Traits. PLoS ONE, 4(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008465
Rumpho, M., Worful, J., Lee, J., Kannan, K., Tyler, M., Bhattacharya, D., Moustafa, A., & Manhart, J. (2008) Horizontal gene transfer of the algal nuclear gene psbO to the photosynthetic sea slug Elysia chlorotica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(46), 17867-17871. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0804968105
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