For today, I’ve dug up a paper (I forget how) from 1998, when I was still in primary school, about why people like spicy foods, and why some cultures use more spice than others. The idea that we acquired a taste for spices to keep harmful bacteria in check isn’t implausible, but the evidence in [...]... Read more »
Billing, J., & Sherman, P. (1998) Antimicrobial Functions of Spices: Why Some Like it Hot. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 73(1), 3-49. DOI: 10.1086/420058
The second most common cause of bacterial foodborne illness is Clostridium perfringens type A. These isolates produce an enterotoxin (CPE), and an estimated 250,000 cases of resultant food poisoning occur annually in the U.S. Forty years ago, it was postulated that sporulation and enterotoxin production were linked and, in fact, C. perfringens type A isolates only produce CPE during sporulation.
Four sigma factors mediate sporulation in C. perfringens; however, the exact roles of two of them (........ Read more »
Li, J. and McClane, B. (2010) Evaluating the Involvement of Alternative Sigma Factors SigF and SigG in Clostridium perfringens Sporulation and Enterotoxin Synthesis. Infect. Immun. info:/10.1128/IAI.00528-10
It may be difficult to picture just one locust singled out from a swarm. But believe it or not, desert locusts—insects infamous for their contribution to plagues and famine—are naturally solitary creatures. So what causes the group uprising that farmers are so familiar with? Research has shown that the internal workings of a solitary locust can affect the swarming behavior of the entire group.
... Read more »
Anstey, M., Rogers, S., Ott, S., Burrows, M., & Simpson, S. (2009) Serotonin Mediates Behavioral Gregarization Underlying Swarm Formation in Desert Locusts. Science, 323(5914), 627-630. DOI: 10.1126/science.1165939
Bazazi, S., Romanczuk, P., Thomas, S., Schimansky-Geier, L., Hale, J., Miller, G., Sword, G., Simpson, S., & Couzin, I. (2010) Nutritional state and collective motion: from individuals to mass migration. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1447
Galaxy started out as a very useful tool to do genomics research that was reproducible and sharable. One of my pet peeves in reading research papers that use genomic analysis or online genomics resources is the materials and methods sections. Often the methods and parameters used are mentioned only in a very cursory manner, if [...]... Read more »
Goecks, J., Nekrutenko, A., Taylor, J., & Galaxy Team, T. (2010) Galaxy: a comprehensive approach for supporting accessible, reproducible, and transparent computational research in the life sciences. Genome Biology, 11(8). DOI: 10.1186/gb-2010-11-8-r86
Researchers have better characterized the effects of stimulatory and inhibitory pharmacological agents on the NMDA receptor, which is known to be linked to alcoholism and circadian timing. Elucidating the responsiveness of the NMDA receptor to these pharmacological agents may provide more effective treatments for alcoholism and alcohol-related disruptions to the timing of circadian phenomena (sleep/wake, hormone release). ... Read more »
Juan C. Pin˜a-Crespo,1,2* Maria Talantova,2* Ileana Micu,5* Bradley States,2 H.-S. Vincent Chen,2,4 Shichun Tu,2, Nobuki Nakanishi,2 Gary Tong,2,3 Dongxian Zhang,2 Stephen F. Heinemann,1,3 Gerald W. Zamponi,6 Peter K. Stys,5, & and Stuart A. Lipton2,3. (2010) Excitatory Glycine Responses of CNS Myelin Mediated by NR1/NR3 “NMDA” Receptor Subunits. Journal of Neuroscience, 11501-11505. info:/DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1593-10.2010
This confirms that not only do a variety of hydrocarbon degrading bacterial populations exist in the newly created deep-sea oil plume, but also, as the authors state “that the microbial communities appear to be undergoing rapid dynamic adaptation in response to oil contamination.” ... Read more »
Hazen, T., Dubinsky, E., DeSantis, T., Andersen, G., Piceno, Y., Singh, N., Jansson, J., Probst, A., Borglin, S., Fortney, J.... (2010) Deep-Sea Oil Plume Enriches Indigenous Oil-Degrading Bacteria. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1195979
A while ago, Angry by Choice wrote a post about a fungi that kills it's nematode prey by making little lasso ropes to catch the worm in. At the time, I thought there must be some exciting way that bacteria could cause wormy destruction, but it wasn't I read a paper from Lucas (reference below) that I actually found one.It's not as visually exciting as the little fungi nooses, but it's just as chemically exciting. As bacteria are not capable of forming phyiscal structures to capture a worm, they........ Read more »
Niu Q, Huang X, Zhang L, Xu J, Yang D, Wei K, Niu X, An Z, Bennett JW, Zou C.... (2010) A Trojan horse mechanism of bacterial pathogenesis against nematodes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 20733068
A couple of days ago, I mentioned how excavations at a Paleoindian site in Utah has revealed that the site's occupants had been milling various seeds to produce different kinds of flours. In that post, I mentioned how this discovery re-emphasized the fact that hunter-gatherers in general hunt as well as gather. In fact, outside of the highest latitudes, plant foods often account for a majority of... Read more »
Aranguren,Biancamaria, Becattini, Roberto, Mariotti Lippi, Marta, & Revedin, Anna. (2007) Grinding flour in Upper Palaeolithic Europe (25000 years bp). Antiquity, 81(314), 845-855. info:/
HILLJR, M. (2008) Variation in Paleoindian fauna use on the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains of North America. Quaternary International, 191(1), 34-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2007.10.004
The best evidence yet that the Yellowstone hotspot is the result of a mantle plume - one that had to burn through a subducting slab to get to the surface. Continue reading →... Read more »
Obrebski, M., Allen, R., Xue, M., & Hung, S. (2010) Slab-plume interaction beneath the Pacific Northwest. Geophysical Research Letters, 37(14). DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043489
There's a minor scandal in fundamental physics that doesn't get talked about much, and it has to do with the very first fundamental force discovered, gravity. The scandal is the value of Newton's gravitational constant G, which is the least well known of the fundamental constants, with a value of 6.674 28(67) x 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2. That may seem pretty precise, but the uncertainty (the two digits in parentheses) is scandalously large when compared to something like Planck's constant at 6.626 068 9........ Read more »
Gundlach, J., & Merkowitz, S. (2000) Measurement of Newton's Constant Using a Torsion Balance with Angular Acceleration Feedback. Physical Review Letters, 85(14), 2869-2872. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.85.2869
Schlamminger, S., Holzschuh, E., Kündig, W., Nolting, F., Pixley, R., Schurr, J., & Straumann, U. (2006) Measurement of Newton’s gravitational constant. Physical Review D, 74(8). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.74.082001
Luo, J., Liu, Q., Tu, L., Shao, C., Liu, L., Yang, S., Li, Q., & Zhang, Y. (2009) Determination of the Newtonian Gravitational Constant G with Time-of-Swing Method. Physical Review Letters, 102(24). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.240801
Harold V. Parks, & James E. Faller. (2010) A Simple Pendulum Determination of the Gravitational Constant. Physical Review Letters (accepted). arXiv: 1008.3203v2
Last September, we covered results from a small trial of an experimental drug called PLX4032, which has been developed to treat patients whose cancers are caused by a faulty version of a gene called BRAF. Today, yet more encouraging results were announced in the New England Journal of Medicine, which were reported widely in the [...]... Read more »
Flaherty, K., Puzanov, I., Kim, K., Ribas, A., McArthur, G., Sosman, J., O'Dwyer, P., Lee, R., Grippo, J., Nolop, K.... (2010) Inhibition of Mutated, Activated BRAF in Metastatic Melanoma. New England Journal of Medicine, 363(9), 809-819. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1002011
A fascinating new paper just came out in Nature Communications and I intend to blog it in the usual manner, but I thought I'd try something new first. Check it out:
The Research Question...According to life history theory, mothers should invest in their offspring if this enhances offspring survival and fitness, and if the fitness benefit to mothers from increased offspring fitness exceeds the cost of their investment. Whether the maternal environment influences the fitness and reproductive v........ Read more »
Höner, O., Wachter, B., Hofer, H., Wilhelm, K., Thierer, D., Trillmich, F., Burke, T., & East, M. (2010) The fitness of dispersing spotted hyaena sons is influenced by maternal social status. Nature Communications, 1(5), 1-7. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1059
"Vision," Stanford's Bill Newsome likes to say, "does not happen in the eye. It happens in the brain." As I mentioned in my last post, this is a general theme in our understanding of the mind and brain: We don't passively record "reality" and then process our perceptions. Rather, we actively create what we see, hear, taste, smell and feel. A nice new example is this experiment, which found that people feel warmer when standing near a loved one, and colder when they're reminded that........ Read more »
IJzerman, H., & Semin, G. (2010) Temperature perceptions as a ground for social proximity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2010.07.015
When I think of dinosaur bones, the rocky and shrub-flecked expanses of western North America immediately come to mind, but it should not be forgotten that some of the first dinosaurs recognized by science were discovered across the Atlantic in England. Paleontologists have been searching for dinosaurs there longer than anywhere else, and among the [...]... Read more »
Sweetman, S., & Insole, A. (2010) The plant debris beds of the Early Cretaceous (Barremian) Wessex Formation of the Isle of Wight, southern England: their genesis and palaeontological significance. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 292(3-4), 409-424. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.03.055
Treatment for ovarian cancer hasn't changed much in the last ten years, reflecting the lack of biomarkers and biochemical targets for the disease. Chemotherapy with a platinum (carboplatin or cisplatin) and a taxane (paclitaxel or docetaxel) has therefore formed the...... Read more »
Ahmed, A., Lu, Z., Jennings, N., Etemadmoghadam, D., Capalbo, L., Jacamo, R., Barbosa-Morais, N., Le, X., Vivas-Mejia, P., & Lopez-Berestein, G. (2010) SIK2 Is a Centrosome Kinase Required for Bipolar Mitotic Spindle Formation that Provides a Potential Target for Therapy in Ovarian Cancer. Cancer Cell, 18(2), 109-121. DOI: 10.1016/j.ccr.2010.06.018
A recent paper from Jim Collins’ lab (Callura et al. 2010, Tracking, tuning, and terminating microbial physiology using synthetic riboregulators. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA PMID: 20713708) explores the utility of a translational riboregulator to control protein production in four different settings. The basic idea is that you set up your gene of interest so [...]... Read more »
Callura JM, Dwyer DJ, Isaacs FJ, Cantor CR, & Collins JJ. (2010) Tracking, tuning, and terminating microbial physiology using synthetic riboregulators. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 20713708
One of the most exciting and biologically highly plausible reasons for the childhood obesity epidemic may well be that current generations are far more susceptible to obesity because of “epigenetic programming”.
Simply put, the notion is that exposure to an adverse fetal environment, as in the case of maternal obesity, diabetes or hypertension during pregnancy, can [...]... Read more »
Bouchard L, Thibault S, Guay SP, Santure M, Monpetit A, St-Pierre J, Perron P, & Brisson D. (2010) Leptin Gene Epigenetic Adaptation to Impaired Glucose Metabolism during Pregnancy. Diabetes care. PMID: 20724651
Humans, as we all know, have five senses. Hearing, vision, touch, smell, and taste. Although they're all processed in different parts of the brain initially (that would be the auditory cortex, the visual cortex, the somatosensory cortex, the olfactory cortex, and the gustatory cortex respectively), our senses interact to give us a unified perceptual experience. This 'cross-modal' or 'multi-sensory' interaction is nicely illustrated by various perceptual illusions. For example, if we see........ Read more »
Russo, N., Foxe, J. J., Brandwein, A. B., Altschuler, T., Gomes, H. and Molholm, S. (2010) Multisensory processing in children with autism: high-density electrical mapping of auditory–somatosensory integration . Autism Research. info:/DOI: 10.1002/aur.152
For years marine biologists have relied on dart biopsies – small portions of tissue obtained by shooting a dart into an animal – to study the genetics of dolphins in the wild. The trouble is that this method can’t be used on very young animals for fear of harming them, and concerns about injury to [...]... Read more »
Frère, C., Krzyszczyk, E., Patterson, E., Hunter, S., Ginsburg, A., & Mann, J. (2010) Thar She Blows! A Novel Method for DNA Collection from Cetacean Blow. PLoS ONE, 5(8). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012299
Remember the paper from 2009 about combining two different drugs in the treatment of depression?It was about a clinical trial in which patients were randomly assigned to get just one antidepressant, fluoxetine, or two - mirtazapine & fluoxetine, mirtazapine & venlafaxine, or mirtazapine & buproprion. The people who got two antidepressants did better.But as I said at the time, in a comment beneath my post about it...All the first 6 weeks shows is that mirtazapine is better than placeb........ Read more »
El-Mallakh RS, Kaur G, & Lippman S. (2010) Placebo group needed for interpretation of combination trial. The American journal of psychiatry, 167(8). PMID: 20693473
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