What do brains and computer chips have in common? Not that much. Sure both use electricity, but in neurons the origin of electrical pulses is chemical while for computer chips it comes from electrical currents. Neurons are highly plastic, rearranging their connections to adapt to new information while computer chips are locked in their arrangement for their entire existence. But one thing they do share is the pattern of connections in their overall structure, [...]... Read more »
Bassett, D., Greenfield, D., Meyer-Lindenberg, A., Weinberger, D., Moore, S., & Bullmore, E. (2010) Efficient Physical Embedding of Topologically Complex Information Processing Networks in Brains and Computer Circuits. PLoS Computational Biology, 6(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000748
Partula spp. from Society Islands. Photo Credit: Marc Agren
In a short, but sweet, paper by Lee et al. published in the Current Biology, there is a “glimmer of hope” for montane tahitian tree snails (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Partulidae, Partula spp.). They examined the mitochondrial haplotype diversity of tree snail specimens locked away [...]... Read more »
LEE, T., BURCH, J., JUNG, Y., COOTE, T., PEARCEKELLY, P., & OFOIGHIL, D. (2007) Tahitian tree snail mitochondrial clades survived recent mass extirpation. Current Biology, 17(13). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.05.006
Last week, the world learned of the first living organism that carries a synthetic genome. That that same genome contains the nucleic equivalents of both graffiti and poetry is less known…
Unless you’ve been avoiding all science news since last week, you’ve been bombarded by news of the creation of the first ’synthetic cell’ by scientists [...]... Read more »
Gibson, D., Glass, J., Lartigue, C., Noskov, V., Chuang, R., Algire, M., Benders, G., Montague, M., Ma, L., Moodie, M.... (2010) Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a Chemically Synthesized Genome. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1190719
A critical step in the design of any clinical trial is picking the right primary endpoint, the result that will usually make or break the study. That’s more difficult than it sounds - one’s hope is to cure a disease or relieve a patient’s symptoms, but choosing the best specific measure for those goals is [...]... Read more »
, . (2010) A Controlled Trial of Sildenafil in Advanced Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/nejmoa1002110
The skeleton of Palaeobatrachus from Lake Enspel, Germany. From Wuttke and Poschmann, 2010.
In On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin said of the fossil record:
For my part, following out Lyell's metaphor, I look at the natural geological record, as a history of the world imperfectly kept, and written in a changing dialect; of this history we possess the last volume alone, relating only to two or three countries. Of this volume, only here and there a short chapter has been preserved; an........ Read more »
Wuttke, M., & Poschmann, M. (2010) First finding of fish in the diet of a water-dwelling extinct frog Palaeobatrachus from the Upper Oligocene Fossil-Lagerstätte Enspel (Westerwald Mountains, Western Germany). Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 90(1), 59-64. DOI: 10.1007/s12549-009-0019-z
Protected areas can improve local economies
... Read more »
Andam, K.S. et al. (2010) Protected areas reduced poverty in Costa Rica and Thailand. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0914177107
Meet the ballistics experts of the bug world: A quick draw beetle that fires volatile liquids with the pulse of a Tommy Gun, aphids that self-combust at the threat of a predator and a double-pistoled worm that sprays its victim with streams of goo. Of course, these insects are not the only invertebrates carrying chemical artillery—bees are maybe the most famous projectile-launching bugs around. The below insects, however, give a unique look into chemical warfare on a small scale.
... Read more »
Eisner, T. (1999) Spray aiming in the bombardier beetle: Photographic evidence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 96(17), 9705-9709. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.96.17.9705
Kazana, E., Pope, T., Tibbles, L., Bridges, M., Pickett, J., Bones, A., Powell, G., & Rossiter, J. (2007) The cabbage aphid: a walking mustard oil bomb. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 274(1623), 2271-2277. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.0237
Benkendorff, K., Beardmore, K., Gooley, A., Packer, N., & Tait, N. (1999) Characterisation of the slime gland secretion from the peripatus, Euperipatoides kanangrensis (Onychophora: Peripatopsidae). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 124(4), 457-465. DOI: 10.1016/S0305-0491(99)00145-5
In today’s tip I’d like to introduce you to the Cancer Genome Workbench, or CGWB. The workbench gathers cancer information from a wide variety of projects including Johns Hopkins University and GlaxoSmithKline Cancer Cell Line Genomic Profiling Data, NCI’s Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatment (TARGET), NHGRI’s Tumor Sequencing Project (TSP), The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), and the Sanger Center’s COSMIC initiative and presents the cum........ Read more »
Zhang, J., Finney, R., Rowe, W., Edmonson, M., Yang, S., Dracheva, T., Jen, J., Struewing, J., & Buetow, K. (2007) Systematic analysis of genetic alterations in tumors using Cancer Genome WorkBench (CGWB). Genome Research, 17(7), 1111-1117. DOI: 10.1101/gr.5963407
Canadian scientists have developed an index for assessing rivers' ecological health after dams or other human impacts have altered flow patterns. The index is based on the sensitivity of macroinvertebrates to river flow...... Read more »
Armanini, D., Horrigan, N., Monk, W., Peters, D., & Baird, D. (2010) Development of a benthic macroinvertebrate flow sensitivity index for Canadian rivers. River Research and Applications. DOI: 10.1002/rra.1389
A male leaf-cutter has been patrolling in the garden the last few days, when the weather has been quite hot. The male has been circling around the broom and other flowers, in a regular path, landing to bask for no more than two shots in a sunny leaf or flower. Occasionally, he stopped to feed on some bluebells.They are Megachile willughbiella (thank you to eucera from WAB for confirming the ID). The males bear white and golden 'boxing gloves' on their forelegs, which are enla........ Read more »
Wittmann, D., & Blochtein, B. (1995) Why males of leafcutter bees hold the females' antennae with their front legs during mating. Apidologie, 26(3), 181-196. DOI: 10.1051/apido:19950302
Richard Berry and Michael Ibbotson (Australian National University) have produced a three-dimensional digital atlas of the honeybee head-neck system, which will facilitate studies aimed at unraveling muscle function in flying insects. This news feature was written on May 25, 2010.... Read more »
According to popular thought, Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species was heavily influenced by his grandfather Erasmus Darwin (1). The impact that a grandparent can have upon an impressionable child should never be underestimated. To what extent do you think that Dana Carvey was influenced by his grandfather?
Dana Carvey is “DARWIN” – watch more funny [...]... Read more »
C. U. M. Smith, . (2010) Like Grandfather, Like Grandson: Erasmus and Charles Darwin on evolution. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 53(2), 186-199. DOI: 10.1353/pbm.0.0152
By now, it's reasonably well known to interested people what azhdarchid pterosaurs looked like when alive. The answer: sort of like a cross between a giraffe and a stork, though with all of this being over-ridden by uniquely pterosaurian weirdness; membranous wings supported by giant fingers, a large cranial crest, plantigrade feet, and so on. Read the rest of this post... | Read the comments on this post...... Read more »
Witton MP, & Naish D. (2008) A reappraisal of azhdarchid pterosaur functional morphology and paleoecology. PloS one, 3(5). PMID: 18509539
Occasionally, drugs produce beneficial mysteries - effects that are useful to physicians despite being largely unexplained. Levodopa (L-dopa), the most commonly-used treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, is meant to replace dopamine, the neurotransmitter lost as the disease progresses to its most severe stages. Clinicians recognize that the benefical effect builds up slowly over [...]... Read more »
Beeler JA, Cao ZF, Kheirbek MA, Ding Y, Koranda J, Murakami M, Kang UJ, & Zhuang X. (2010) Dopamine-dependent motor learning: insight into levodopa's long-duration response. Annals of neurology, 67(5), 639-47. PMID: 20437561
According to biologist Anthony Cashmore’s theory on human behavior, there was no way I wasn’t going to write this blog post. Taking his work to its logical conclusion, it was environmentally and biologically predetermined that I was going to write this sentence and choose these words to do it. When I pause here and there to think about which word expression to use, I’m actually experiencing the illusion of free will. Really?... Read more »
Cashmore, A. (2010) Inaugural Article: The Lucretian swerve: The biological basis of human behavior and the criminal justice system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(10), 4499-4504. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0915161107
Close up of one of the Pipe Creek Sinkhole coprolites showing structures interpreted as hair (A) and a close-up of a mold in the coprolite thought to have been made by a hair (B). From Farlow et al, 2010.
Time and again I have stressed that every fossil bone tells a story, and, in a different way, so do coprolites. They are small snapshots of a moment in the life of an organism, often preserving bits of their meals, and while they may not get top billing in museum halls, they are among the........ Read more »
James O. Farlow; Karen Chin; Anne Argast;Sean Poppy. (2010) Coprolites from the Pipe Creek Sinkhole (Late Neogene, Grant County, Indiana, U.S.A.). Journal of Verterbrate Paleontology, 30(3), 959-969. info:/10.1080/02724631003762906
The Allen Institute for Brain Science initiated the Allen Brain Atlas in 2003 with a goal to create a genomic map of the mouse brain. The mouse brain atlas was successfully completed in 2006 using 85 million images containing 600 terabytes of data and identifying 21,000 active genes in the mouse brain. The atlas has [...]... Read more »
Lein, E., Hawrylycz, M., Ao, N., Ayres, M., Bensinger, A., Bernard, A., Boe, A., Boguski, M., Brockway, K., Byrnes, E.... (2006) Genome-wide atlas of gene expression in the adult mouse brain. Nature, 445(7124), 168-176. DOI: 10.1038/nature05453
Davis FP, & Eddy SR. (2009) A tool for identification of genes expressed in patterns of interest using the Allen Brain Atlas. Bioinformatics (Oxford, England), 25(13), 1647-54. PMID: 19414530
On July 29th 2008, the day I turned 21 years, I received the best thing I could ask for: a birthday gift from Poseidon. I was living in Newport, OR at the time. After a long morning of observing nesting seabirds through a telescope, I returned home for what I presumed to be a long [...]... Read more »
Carr, S., Marshall, H., Johnstone, K., Pynn, L., & Stenson, G. (2002) How to Tell a Sea Monster: Molecular Discrimination of Large Marine Animals of the North Atlantic. Biological Bulletin, 202(1), 1. DOI: 10.2307/1543217
Pierce, S., Massey, S., Curtis, N., Smith, G., Olavarria, C., & Maugel, T. (2004) Microscopic, Biochemical, and Molecular Characteristics of the Chilean Blob and a Comparison with the Remains of Other Sea Monsters: Nothing but Whales. Biological Bulletin, 206(3), 125. DOI: 10.2307/1543636
Human beings give their attention readily to people who already have it. It doesn't matter if a guy won fame for his action movies, people will listen to his advice on carbon sequestration, and go out an buy his brand of shoe. That's not logical, but it does follow a predictable rule, which is that being famous, "cool" and/or prestigious gives you ready access to the minds of others. That bias may have evolved a very long time ago, according to this paper in the journal PLoS One last w........ Read more »
While heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's continue to grab the headlines, malaria and tuberculosis continue to quietly do their deadly work behind the scenes. Diseases that disproportionately affect sub-Saharan Africa are not exactly priorities for drug companies. But they pose a tremendous unmet need. Especially malaria, which kills an unbelievable 800,000 people every year, has fought back against almost every traditional drug. The fight against the disease has boiled down to one class of dr........ Read more »
Guiguemde, W., Shelat, A., Bouck, D., Duffy, S., Crowther, G., Davis, P., Smithson, D., Connelly, M., Clark, J., Zhu, F.... (2010) Chemical genetics of Plasmodium falciparum. Nature, 465(7296), 311-315. DOI: 10.1038/nature09099
Gamo, F., Sanz, L., Vidal, J., de Cozar, C., Alvarez, E., Lavandera, J., Vanderwall, D., Green, D., Kumar, V., Hasan, S.... (2010) Thousands of chemical starting points for antimalarial lead identification. Nature, 465(7296), 305-310. DOI: 10.1038/nature09107
Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use ResearchBlogging.org to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.
If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.
Research Blogging is powered by SMG Technology.
To learn more, visit seedmediagroup.com.