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  • February 8, 2016
  • 01:59 PM
  • 21 views

We can build it better: Synthetic biopathway turns agriculture waste into ‘green’ products

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have engineered a new synthetic biopathway that can more efficiently and cost-effectively turn agricultural waste, like corn stover and orange peels, into a variety of useful products ranging from spandex to chicken feed.

... Read more »

Tai, Y., Xiong, M., Jambunathan, P., Wang, J., Wang, J., Stapleton, C., & Zhang, K. (2016) Engineering nonphosphorylative metabolism to generate lignocellulose-derived products. Nature Chemical Biology. DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.2020  

  • February 8, 2016
  • 12:41 PM
  • 20 views

Why Ask for Directions? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

by Anna Schneider For the iconic monarch butterfly, the shorter days in fall mean it’s time to pack up and head south to a warmer climate! Just like clockwork, the Eastern population of monarch butterflies makes a 2000 mile journey to their winter paradise roosts in central Mexico. The journey in itself is one of the greatest migrations among all animals. But here’s the catch: none of these butterflies has made this trip before. Several generations of monarchs have come and gon........ Read more »

  • February 8, 2016
  • 08:00 AM
  • 23 views

Rare Variant Studies of Common Disease

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

Not so long ago, there was a hope in the research community that common genetic variation, i.e. variants present at minor allele frequencies >5% in human populations, might explain most or all of the heritability of common complex disease. That would have been convenient, because such variants can be genotyped with precise, inexpensive, high-density SNP […]... Read more »

  • February 8, 2016
  • 02:54 AM
  • 28 views

"People with ASD had lower odds of employment in the community"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The title of this quite brief post refers to an important finding detailed by Derek Nord and colleagues [1] who, when analysing data from the "2008–09 National Core Indicators Adult Consumer Survey", concluded that there were some important inequalities when it came to employment rates for those diagnosed on the autism spectrum.Employment rates and work opportunities for people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a hot topic at the moment. The Nord findings build upon report af........ Read more »

  • February 7, 2016
  • 03:07 PM
  • 51 views

The molecular link between psychiatric disorders and type 2 diabetes

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

There may be a genetic connection between some mental health disorders and type 2 diabetes. In a new report, scientists show that a gene called “DISC1,” which is believed to play a role in mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and some forms of depression, influences the function of pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels.

... Read more »

Jurczyk A, Nowosielska A, Przewozniak N, Aryee KE, DiIorio P, Blodgett D, Yang C, Campbell-Thompson M, Atkinson M, Shultz L.... (2016) Beyond the brain: disrupted in schizophrenia 1 regulates pancreatic β-cell function via glycogen synthase kinase-3β. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 30(2), 983-93. PMID: 26546129  

  • February 6, 2016
  • 03:49 PM
  • 56 views

Brain plasticity assorted into functional networks

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Plasticity of the brain, what does that even mean? Well the good news is that it isn’t just a marketing ploy, the brain needs to be “plastic” because we need to be able to adapt. Frankly speaking, the brain still has a lot to learn about itself. Scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have made a key finding of the striking differences in how the brain’s cells can change through experience.

... Read more »

  • February 6, 2016
  • 02:57 PM
  • 34 views

Zika Virus, Microcephaly and Brazil

by thelonevirologist in Virology Tidbits

As discussed before, Zika Virus (ZIKV) is an emerging arbovirus, spread by Aedes Agypti and Aedes albopictus, which was first isolated in 1947 in Uganda from a Macaca monkey with the first human case being detected in Nigeria (1954). In subsequent decades sporadic cases linked to ZIKV have been reported in Africa and Asia, with a first epidemic reported in 2008 (Yap/Federated States of Micronesia) and a larger one in French Polynesia and Oceania 2013-2014 with the first cases in the Americas wer........ Read more »

SMITHBURN KC, & BUGHER JC. (1953) Ultrafiltration of recently isolated neurotropic viruses. Journal of bacteriology, 66(2), 173-7. PMID: 13084555  

Diagne CT, Diallo D, Faye O, Ba Y, Faye O, Gaye A, Dia I, Faye O, Weaver SC, Sall AA.... (2015) Potential of selected Senegalese Aedes spp. mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) to transmit Zika virus. BMC infectious diseases, 492. PMID: 26527535  

DICK GW, KITCHEN SF, & HADDOW AJ. (1952) Zika virus. I. Isolations and serological specificity. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 46(5), 509-20. PMID: 12995440  

Zanluca C, de Melo VC, Mosimann AL, Dos Santos GI, Dos Santos CN, & Luz K. (2015) First report of autochthonous transmission of Zika virus in Brazil. Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 110(4), 569-72. PMID: 26061233  

Schuler-Faccini L, Ribeiro EM, Feitosa IM, Horovitz DD, Cavalcanti DP, Pessoa A, Doriqui MJ, Neri JI, Neto JM, Wanderley HY.... (2016) Possible Association Between Zika Virus Infection and Microcephaly - Brazil, 2015. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 65(3), 59-62. PMID: 26820244  

Musso D, Roche C, Robin E, Nhan T, Teissier A, & Cao-Lormeau VM. (2015) Potential sexual transmission of Zika virus. Emerging infectious diseases, 21(2), 359-61. PMID: 25625872  

Oster, A., Brooks, J., Stryker, J., Kachur, R., , ., Mead, P., Pesik, N., & Petersen, L. (2016) Interim Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus — United States, 2016. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(5), 1-2. DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6505e1er  

  • February 6, 2016
  • 09:52 AM
  • 41 views

Do songbirds perceive melody different from humans?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Last week a fascinating study appeared in PNAS on melody cognition in sparrows (Sturnus vulgaris). It provides an alternative interpretation to the widespread believe that songbirds have a strong bias to rely on absolute pitch (AP) for the recognition of melodies (e.g. Hulse et al., 1992).... Read more »

Hulse, S., Takeuchi, A., & Braaten, R. (1992) Perceptual Invariances in the Comparative Psychology of Music. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 10(2), 151-184. DOI: 10.2307/40285605  

Bregman, M., Patel, A., & Gentner, T. (2016) Songbirds use spectral shape, not pitch, for sound pattern recognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201515380. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1515380113  

  • February 6, 2016
  • 07:42 AM
  • 40 views

Domestic Dog

by Jason Organ in Eatlemania!

The Eatles are cleaning the skull of a domestic dog. Come read about osteoporosis research in the Organ Lab at Indiana University School of Medicine... Read more »

Allen MR, Territo PR, Lin C, Persohn S, Jiang L, Riley AA, McCarthy BP, Newman CL, Burr DB, & Hutchins GD. (2015) In Vivo UTE-MRI Reveals Positive Effects of Raloxifene on Skeletal-Bound Water in Skeletally Mature Beagle Dogs. Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 30(8), 1441-4. PMID: 25644867  

Allen MR, McNerny EM, Organ JM, & Wallace JM. (2015) True Gold or Pyrite: A Review of Reference Point Indentation for Assessing Bone Mechanical Properties In Vivo. Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, 30(9), 1539-50. PMID: 26235703  

  • February 6, 2016
  • 03:27 AM
  • 67 views

Sleep as a target of antibiotic use in chronic fatigue syndrome?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The primary finding from the study was evidence of an improvement in several objective sleep parameters in participants in whom the increased colonization of lactic acid producing organisms was resolved after antibiotic treatment."Those were the words written by Melinda Jackson and colleagues [1] (open-access) who, during an open-label trial, looked at whether administration of an antibiotic (erythromycin 400 mg) over the course of 6 days might have some important effects on elements of sleep i........ Read more »

  • February 5, 2016
  • 03:27 PM
  • 70 views

Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Underwater sound linked to human activity could alter the behaviour of seabed creatures that play a vital role in marine ecosystems, according to new research from the University of Southampton. The study found that exposure to sounds that resemble shipping traffic and offshore construction activities results in behavioural responses in certain invertebrate species that live in the marine sediment.

... Read more »

  • February 5, 2016
  • 03:00 PM
  • 68 views

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better for Hurdling Obstacles

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Although lizards mostly scurry on all fours, certain species can run on two legs when the mood strikes. What's the benefit to this human-like running style? For one thing, it seems to let lizards get over obstacles without slowing down. They just have to make sure not to tip over.

Georgia Southern University biologist Lance McBrayer and graduate student Seth Parker studied running in a handsome little reptile called Sceloporus woodi, or the Florida scrub lizard. McBrayer says there's been... Read more »

  • February 5, 2016
  • 12:34 PM
  • 46 views

Abnormalities in later cognitive stages of beat processing?

by Henkjan Honing in Music Matters

Beat deafness, a recently documented form of congenital amusia, provides a unique window into functional specialization of neural circuitry for the processing of musical stimuli: Beat-deaf individuals exhibit deficits that are specific to the detection of a regular beat in music and the ability to move along with a beat.... Read more »

Phillips-Silver, J., Toiviainen, P., Gosselin, N., Piché, O., Nozaradan, S., Palmer, C., & Peretz, I. (2011) Born to dance but beat deaf: A new form of congenital amusia. Neuropsychologia. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.02.002  

  • February 5, 2016
  • 03:01 AM
  • 75 views

Vitamin D supplementation and 'clinical improvement' in autism?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Vitamin D deficiency might contribute to the aetiology of ASD [autism spectrum disorder]. Supplementation of vitamin D3, which is a safe and cost-effective form of treatment, may significantly improve the outcome of some children with ASD, especially younger children."More big words have appeared from a research group who seem to be particularly interested in how vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin/hormone) might have some important links to at least some cases of autism. The findings thi........ Read more »

Feng J, Shan L, Du L, Wang B, Li H, Wang W, Wang T, Dong H, Yue X, Xu Z.... (2016) Clinical improvement following vitamin D3 supplementation in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nutritional neuroscience. PMID: 26783092  

  • February 5, 2016
  • 02:34 AM
  • 77 views

Good morning genes

by Usman Paracha in SayPeople

Main Point:

Genes could help in determining whether a person likes to rise early in the morning or not.

Published in:

Nature Communications

Study Further:

Researchers, in affiliation with 23andMe, Inc. recently worked on the DNA of 89,283 individuals, and found that genes could show some specific variations more frequently in the people, who self-identify themselves as early risers or morning people. They found 15 different spots in the genetic makeup that can vary between morning........ Read more »

  • February 4, 2016
  • 11:30 PM
  • 73 views

Hadza hunter-gatherers, social networks, and models of cooperation

by Artem Kaznatcheev in Evolutionary Games Group

At the heart of the Great Lakes region of East Africa is Tanzania — a republic comprised of 30 mikoa, or provinces. Its border is marked off by the giant lakes Victoria, Tanganyika, and Malawi. But the lake that interests me the most is an internal one: 200 km from the border with Kenya at […]... Read more »

Apicella, C.L., Marlowe, F.W., Fowler, J.H., & Christakis, N.A. (2012) Social networks and cooperation in hunter-gatherers. Nature, 481(7382), 497-501. PMID: 22281599  

  • February 4, 2016
  • 03:27 PM
  • 85 views

Taser shock disrupts brain function, has implications for police interrogations

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

More than two million citizens have been Tased by police as Taser stun guns have become one of the preferred less-lethal weapons by police departments across the United States during the past decade. But what does that 50,000-volt shock do to a person's brain?

... Read more »

  • February 4, 2016
  • 04:33 AM
  • 92 views

Establishing environmental exposures as risk factors for bipolar disorder: Difficult.

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The findings reported by Ciro Marangoni and colleagues [1] made for some interesting reading recently and their systematic review of longitudinal studies looking at the various environmental exposures put forward as possible risk factors pertinent to the development of bipolar disorder (BD).Trawling through the peer-reviewed material on this topic, the authors were able to 'clump' the various proposed risk factors into one of three categories: "neurodevelopment (maternal influenza during pr........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2016
  • 09:11 PM
  • 90 views

Effect of mobile phone place and its use on fertility of men

by Usman Paracha in SayPeople

Main Point:

Men who use mobile phone more frequently and place their phone close to their groin have higher chances of getting abnormal sperm concentration.

Published in:

Reproductive BioMedicine Online

Study Further:

Researchers have reported that male infertility constitutes about 30% to 40% of all infertility cases. They also reported that studies are showing continuous decline in semen quality since the start of the last century. One of the potential contributing factors in th........ Read more »

Zilberlicht, A., Wiener-Megnazi, Z., Sheinfeld, Y., Grach, B., Lahav-Baratz, S., & Dirnfeld, M. (2015) Habits of cell phone usage and sperm quality – does it warrant attention?. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 31(3), 421-426. DOI: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2015.06.006  

  • February 3, 2016
  • 03:06 PM
  • 95 views

Investigating potential fetal exposure to antidepressants

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Depression is a serious issue for expecting mothers. Left untreated, depression could have implications for a fetus’s health. But treating the disease during pregnancy may carry health risks for the developing fetus, which makes an expecting mother’s decision whether to take medication a very difficult one. To better understand how antidepressants affect fetuses during pregnancy, scientists studied exposure in mice.

... Read more »

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