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  • April 25, 2010
  • 01:48 PM

On unfortunate juxtapositions

by Richard Grant in Confessions of a (former) Lab Rat

There's an Italian cafe/deli round the corner. It's a quiet place, which seems to suit the proprietors well in a Black Books-sort of way (although without the personality defects): they open when they feel like it and there are...... Read more »

  • April 25, 2010
  • 01:20 PM

Complete genome from a single cell - well, yes, *technically*

by Alistair Dove in Deep Type Flow

Its not quite marine science (hey, its my blog, so nerrr), but there's a paper in PLoS One this week where the authors describe the assembly of a genome sequence (all the DNA from beginning to end) from a single cell of a bacterium.  Normally it would take a whole bunch of cultured cells to do this, which limits genome sequencing to those bacteria that can be cultured and right now that isn't ... Read more »

Woyke, T., Tighe, D., Mavromatis, K., Clum, A., Copeland, A., Schackwitz, W., Lapidus, A., Wu, D., McCutcheon, J., McDonald, B.... (2010) One Bacterial Cell, One Complete Genome. PLoS ONE, 5(4). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010314  

  • April 25, 2010
  • 12:34 PM

Obesity: the role of the immune system

by Iddo Friedberg in Byte Size Biology

Obesity is one symptom of several, which together constitute what is now termed metabolic syndrome. Morbid obesity is also associated with a host of other symptoms including high blood sugar, high blood lipids, insulin resistance and liver disorders. The root causes of which are traced back to excessive food consumption, reduced physical activity and in some cases, genetic predisposition.

I have written before on the connection found between gut microbe populations and metabolic syndrome.... Read more »

Vijay-Kumar, M., Aitken, J., Carvalho, F., Cullender, T., Mwangi, S., Srinivasan, S., Sitaraman, S., Knight, R., Ley, R., & Gewirtz, A. (2010) Metabolic Syndrome and Altered Gut Microbiota in Mice Lacking Toll-Like Receptor 5. Science, 328(5975), 228-231. DOI: 10.1126/science.1179721  

  • April 25, 2010
  • 08:28 AM

Social onychophorans!

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

As much as I'm obsessed with protists, I'm a rather promiscuous type when it comes to academic relationships, and thus can find the occasional non-protist cute and interesting. Forgive me if that is 'immoral', but I'm not Christian and thus am not obligated to be intellectually monogamous. So there.Onychophorans (velvet worms) are fucking adorable. Now, whether they are more or less adorable than, say, hypotrich ciliates or Apusomonas proboscidea, is open to debate (I remain loyal to my tribal a........ Read more »

  • April 24, 2010
  • 12:46 PM

Evolution: Watching Speciation Occur

by Christie Wilcox in Observations of a Nerd

We saw that the littlest differences can lead to dramatic variations when we looked at the wide variety in dogs. But despite their differences, all breeds of dogs are still the same species as each other and their ancestor. How do species split? What causes speciation? And what evidence do we have that speciation has ever occurred?

Critics of evolution often fall back on the maxim that no one has ever seen one species split into two. While that's clearly a straw man, because most speciation tak........ Read more »

Phillip A Morin1, Frederick I Archer, Andrew D Foote, Julie Vilstrup, Eric E Allen, Paul Wade, John Durban, Kim Parsons, Robert Pitman, Lewyn Li.... (2010) Complete mitochondrial genome phylogeographic analysis of killer whales (Orcinus orca) indicates multiple species . Genome Research. info:/

  • April 24, 2010
  • 09:51 AM

Whale Poop

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

Earlier this week we talked about how to use whale snot for science.

I especially enjoyed blog bff Scicurious's take on the study:
Budgetary requirement: $5000 for series of expensive remote control helicopters.
Source: Toys R Us.
Justification: Need something that can fly close to a whale and collect snot for measurement. Also, this is the only kind that comes in red, and the gunmetal grey ones suck.

This day, however, we will travel farther, er, south. Through the mouth, down the esophag........ Read more »

Nicol, S., Bowie, A., Jarman, S., Lannuzel, D., Meiners, K., & van der Merwe, P. (2010) Southern Ocean iron fertilization by baleen whales and Antarctic krill. Fish and Fisheries. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-2979.2010.00356.x  

  • April 24, 2010
  • 05:40 AM

Ecosystem Services: Science and/or Advocacy?

by David Raikow in River Continua

Comparisons of "alternative scenarios" are, as yet, of little value.... Read more »

Nelson, E., Mendoza, G., Regetz, J., Polasky, S., Tallis, H., Cameron, D., Chan, K., Daily, G., Goldstein, J., Kareiva, P.... (2009) Modeling multiple ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, commodity production, and tradeoffs at landscape scales. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 7(1), 4-11. DOI: 10.1890/080023  

  • April 24, 2010
  • 03:05 AM

Why the sorghum crop failed in Kongwa — it’s not what you think

by Jeremy in Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog

The average agricultural research paper describes some kind of formal experiment, whether in the lab or the research station or even farmers’ fields, and that is as it should be. To know if something really works, you need to be able to keep everything else the same. But there are experiments going on all the [...]... Read more »

  • April 23, 2010
  • 11:46 PM

Quantifying the Harm Done By Cytomegalovirus

by Reason in Fight Aging!

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is one of the important contributing factors to the decline of the immune system with age. Most people are exposed to this mild persistent herpesvirus over the course of their life; it causes few obvious symptoms, but over time more and more of your immune system resources become uselessly specialized to fight it. An immune cell dedicated to remembering the signature of CMV is unavailable for other uses - and eventually you run out of cells to protect you from new........ Read more »

  • April 23, 2010
  • 02:52 PM

Going Overboard

by Journal Watch Online in Journal Watch Online

Booming cruise industry could bring less eco-friendly tourists to Belize

... Read more »

  • April 23, 2010
  • 01:16 PM

Lessons learned from the 20 year-old zebra mussel invasion

by David Raikow in River Continua

After 20 years, what have we learned?... Read more »

  • April 23, 2010
  • 01:10 PM

EZ-Tn5™ Transposomes help reveal virulence factors in Acinetobacter baumanii

by epibio in EpiCentral

Acinetobacter baumanii is a pathogenic bacterium that has been demonstrated to cause pneumonia, skin infections, and secondary meningitis, predominantly in a health-care facility setting. Its ability to form biofilms on inert surfaces is instrumental in creating reservoirs for opportunistic infection.... Read more »

  • April 23, 2010
  • 11:40 AM

The strange sex lives of bone-eating whaleworms

by Laelaps in Laelaps

For at least 30 million years, bone-eating worms have been making their homes in the bodies of decomposing whales on the seabottom, but the rotting cetacean carcasses are not just food sources for the polychaetes.

The term "worm" immediately conjures up images of the red, squiggly things which crawl all over the sidewalk after it rains, but this imagery does not fit the boneworms of the genus Osedax. These worms start off life as sexless larvae, and the timing of their arrival at a whale corp........ Read more »

  • April 23, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Sea ice decline linked with reduced polar bear size and reproduction

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

  • April 23, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Big big love in wetas?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Weta is not just the name of a special effects studio; it’s the common name for one very large insect (pictured) that is found in New Zealand. Like many animals on New Zealand, it’s under a bit of pressure from introduced mammals, so there are definitely conservation implications if you can understand the mating system of the animal.

Wetas make an interesting case study for studying body size and mating, because they are large for their lineage, and there’s also a big size difference be........ Read more »

  • April 23, 2010
  • 05:00 AM

Prioritizing habitat preservation in a rapidly suburbanizing area

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

  • April 23, 2010
  • 04:58 AM

Nearly 100% Out-of-Africa in the past 100,000 years

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Since I’ve been talking about the possibility of admixture with “archaics” (I’m starting to think the term is a bit too H. sapiens sapiens-centric, is the Neandertal genome turning out to have more ancestral alleles?) I thought I’d point to a paper out in PLoS ONE which reiterates the basic fact that the overwhelming genetic [...]... Read more »

Laval G, Patin E, Barreiro LB, Quintana-Murci. (201) Formulating a Historical and Demographic Model of Recent Human Evolution Based on Resequencing Data from Noncoding Regions. PLoS One. info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0010284

  • April 23, 2010
  • 01:28 AM

Friday Weird Science: You know what they say about guys with big mandibles...

by Evil Monkey in Neurotopia

...they wear big exoskeletons.


Today's Friday Weird Science comes to you courtesy of the talented, handsome, and soon to be no longer stranded in Australia (hopefully), Ed of Not Exactly Rocket Science. Because no one can tell you more about beetles and the size of their...mandibles...than Ed. :)

Yamane et al. "Dispersal and ejaculatory strategies associated with exaggeration of weapon in an armed beetle" Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2009.

And here we have today's male of ch........ Read more »

  • April 22, 2010
  • 11:42 PM

A Few Recent Longevity Study Results

by Reason in Fight Aging!

More genetic and other studies of long-lived people are taking place these days, which means a faster flow of results than has been the case in past years. Part of that can no doubt be attributed to an increased interest in manipulating the aging process in the scientific community, as well as the continually falling cost of the tools needed to run such studies. While perusing PubMed recently, I noticed a few new reports from ongoing longevity studies starting with one from the Leiden Study in t........ Read more »

Singh R, Kølvraa S, Bross P, Christensen K, Bathum L, Gregersen N, Tan Q, & Rattan SI. (2010) Anti-inflammatory heat shock protein 70 genes are positively associated with human survival. Current pharmaceutical design, 16(7), 796-801. PMID: 20388090  

Laplana M, Sánchez-de-la-Torre M, Aguiló A, Casado I, Flores M, Sánchez-Pellicer R, & Fibla J. (2010) Tagging long-lived individuals through vitamin-D receptor (VDR) haplotypes. Biogerontology. PMID: 20407924  

  • April 22, 2010
  • 10:32 PM

NIH Study Reveals a Genetic Basis for Stuttering

by Walter Jessen in Highlight HEALTH

Although the root cause(s) of stuttering remain unknown, evidence has accumulated from twin and adoption studies that genetics plays a role. A recent study identified several genes mutated in people with the disorder, including one that has never been previously associated with any human malady.... Read more »

Kang C, Riazuddin S, Mundorff J, Krasnewich D, Friedman P, Mullikin JC, & Drayna D. (2010) Mutations in the lysosomal enzyme-targeting pathway and persistent stuttering. The New England journal of medicine, 362(8), 677-85. PMID: 20147709  

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