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  • August 3, 2010
  • 10:16 AM
  • 670 views

The need for geophysical conservation

by Uncharted Atolls in Uncharted Atolls

How should we go about managing the conservation of biodiversity in the face of a changing climate?  Species by species?  Seems tedious.  And expensive to carry to completion.  Wouldn’t it be easier if we could determine what factors contribute to … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • August 3, 2010
  • 09:05 AM
  • 1,507 views

Double the mutualists, double the fun?

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

For all living things, information is critical to survival. Where's the best food source? Is there a predator nearby? Will this be a good place to build a nest? It probably shouldn't be surprising, then, that lots of animals do what humans do when faced with a host of hard-to-answer questions—they take their cues from their neighbors.

Red-backed shrikes place their nesting sites near where other shrike species have set up territories. Many bird species recognize each other's predator alarm ca........ Read more »

  • August 3, 2010
  • 08:12 AM
  • 969 views

Preserving endangered species – of gut microbes

by Grant Jacobs in Code for life






A recent paper argues for the need to preserve the gut microbes found in ancient rural populations.
We talk about preserving rare species, sometimes arguing that they might have medicinal value.

Some species produce different types of venom, that when applied properly can have medicinal uses.
Certain plants have toxins that they use as part of a defences [...]... Read more »

De Filippo, C., Cavalieri, D., Di Paola, M., Ramazzotti, M., Poullet, J., Massart, S., Collini, S., Pieraccini, G., & Lionetti, P. (2010) Impact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and rural Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1005963107  

  • August 3, 2010
  • 08:00 AM
  • 397 views

Establishment and Importance of Gut Microbe Ecology

by Michael Long in Phased

Paolo Lionetti (University of Florence, Italy) and coworkers' discovery that diet is the predominant factor in gut microbial ecology has implications for the long-term health, resiliency, and adaptive potential of modern civilization. This news feature was written on August 3, 2010.... Read more »

De Filippo, C., Cavalieri, D., Di Paola, M., Ramazzotti, M., Poullet, J. B., Massart, S., Collini, S., Pieraccini, G., & Lionetti, P. (2010) Impact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and rural Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1005963107  

  • August 3, 2010
  • 06:14 AM
  • 877 views

Lamprey immunity, again

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

From A History of British Fish (William Yarrell, 1835) I’ve talked about lamprey immune systems several times (here, here, and here). I find them fascinating because it shows both how our own immune system developed, and also shows alternate routes that can lead to a pretty good, but very different, immune system. Quick background: In [...]... Read more »

Herrin, B., & Cooper, M. (2010) Alternative Adaptive Immunity in Jawless Vertebrates. The Journal of Immunology, 185(3), 1367-1374. DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.0903128  

  • August 3, 2010
  • 02:19 AM
  • 702 views

Old Corn

by teofilo in Gambler's House

One important line of evidence in understanding the climatic history of Chaco Canyon, a subject of considerable interest given the harsh aridity of the current climate and the incongruous grandeur of the archaeological remains, has been the study of packrat middens.  These are collections made by packrats of materials found near their nesting locations, which [...]... Read more »

Hall, Stephen A. (2010) Early maize pollen from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, USA. Palynology, 34(1), 125-137. info:/10.1080/01916121003675746

  • August 2, 2010
  • 10:59 PM
  • 2,306 views

Sunday Protist – Nematode-hunting amoebae: Theratromyxa

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

A couple posts ago we saw how ecological relationships may refuse to obey the laws of their kingdoms: protists can hunt crustaceans. Protists can also farm bacteria, animals can parasitise unicellular protists, plants can parasitise fungi, fungi can hunt animals, animals can steal plastids and photosynthesise, as well as steal algae for their embryos, fungi parasitise protists, and perhaps plants may even feast on the occasional bacterium or two (though that's yet to be confirmed). It seems neit........ Read more »

  • August 2, 2010
  • 09:29 PM
  • 1,059 views

Robert M. Chanock, MD, 1924-2010

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

From the Washington Post:
Dr. ROBERT M. CHANOCK (Age 86) On July 30, 2010 of Bethesda, MD. He was a resident in the Washington area for over 50 years, a distinguished scientist at the National Institute of Health. He received many awards and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He received his undergrad [...]... Read more »

  • August 2, 2010
  • 08:17 PM
  • 846 views

The M2 channel controversy rides again

by Michael Clarkson in Conformational Flux

Most people never learn about an actual scientific controversy. Almost every "controversy" that bubbles into the public eye is manufactured, often reflecting social or ethical differences rather than genuine disagreements between experts about how different models fit to reality. Actual scientific controversies tend to be highly technical, and often concern points that lay people find to be esoteric. That doesn't mean that the issues involved aren't important, or that they're even difficult to u........ Read more »

  • August 2, 2010
  • 07:31 PM
  • 4,129 views

The Evolution of the Polydnavirus: How Wasps Began Using Viruses to Engineer Their Hosts

by Joe Ballenger in Biofortified

In Polydnaviruses, Nature’s GMOs, I explained how polydnaviruses disabled host immune defenses through genetic modification. A post after that, I discussed how polydnaviruses use modified insect proteins to interfere with these systems. So if you’re a biologically-minded person, there’s one question you should be asking yourself. It’s a rather important question because it’s answer could shed light on what makes these wasps species-specific, and this is essential f........ Read more »

Webb, B., Fisher, T., & Nusawardani, T. (2009) The Natural Genetic Engineering of Polydnaviruses. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1178(1), 146-156. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05023.x  

Wu, G., Jun, S., Sims, G., & Kim, S. (2009) Whole-proteome phylogeny of large dsDNA virus families by an alignment-free method. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(31), 12826-12831. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0905115106  

  • August 2, 2010
  • 07:31 PM
  • 1,824 views

Evolution of the Polydnavirus: How Wasps Began Using Viruses to Engineer Their Hosts

by Joe Ballenger in Biofortified

In Polydnaviruses, Nature’s GMOs, I explained how polydnaviruses disabled host immune defenses through genetic modification. A post after that, I discussed how polydnaviruses use modified insect proteins to interfere with these systems. So if you’re a biologically-minded person, there’s one question you should be asking yourself. It’s a rather important question because it’s answer could shed light on what makes these wasps species-specific, and this is essential f........ Read more »

Webb, B., Fisher, T., & Nusawardani, T. (2009) The Natural Genetic Engineering of Polydnaviruses. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1178(1), 146-156. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05023.x  

Wu, G., Jun, S., Sims, G., & Kim, S. (2009) Whole-proteome phylogeny of large dsDNA virus families by an alignment-free method. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(31), 12826-12831. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0905115106  

  • August 2, 2010
  • 05:00 PM
  • 443 views

RNA Antiprisms: Towards Encoded Intracellular Nanofactories

by Michael Long in Phased

Luc Jaeger (University of California at Santa Barbara, United States) and coworkers have designed rugged functional three-dimensional RNA nanoparticles, opening the door to nano-scale factories encoded within cellular DNA. This news feature was written on August 2, 2010.... Read more »

Severcan, I., Geary, C., Chworos, A., Voss, N., Jacovetty, E., & Jaeger, L. (2010) A polyhedron made of tRNAs. Nature Chemistry. DOI: 10.1038/nchem.733  

  • August 2, 2010
  • 04:12 PM
  • 824 views

Mating red-tailed bumblebees

by Africa Gomez in BugBlog

Amongst bees, bumblebees have very long copulations when compared to honeybees and solitary bees. Up to three hours have been recorded for Bombus lapidarius, the Red-Tailed bumblebee, closer to half an hour for B. terrestris. I came across these paired Red-Tailed bumblebees (above) yesterday in the wildlife garden. The brightly coloured, smaller male was simply riding the female, and she bumbled along, feeding on knapweed and heavily flying between flower heads. Females would be expected to be v........ Read more »

  • August 2, 2010
  • 04:09 PM
  • 825 views

Chernobyl, 24 years on

by nuclear.kelly in Miss Atomic Bomb

An article on the BBC this morning discusses (in the usual BBC "style") the recent findings of a study by researchers conducting a wildlife census in the Chernobyl "exclusion zone," published in Ecological Indicators. The researchers concluded that the radiation contamination had a "significant impact" on the local ecology.The actual article (available for a fee from Elsevier here... don't get me started on Elsevier, those murderers of the spirit of science) concludes that, within statistically ........ Read more »

  • August 2, 2010
  • 03:15 PM
  • 951 views

Monday Pets: How Anteaters Decide

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

"But wait," you say. "Anteaters aren't pets!" Well, I didn't think so either. But Salvador Dali had a pet anteater. And that's good enough for me.

Figure 1: Salvador Dali taking his pet anteater for a stroll. (Source)


The Giant Anteater, Myrmecophaga tridactyla, only eats ants and termites, making it a myrmecophage. (Hey, Alex Wild, now I get what Myrmecos means!) In 1984, a researcher named Kent Redford was interested in the foraging behaviors of the giant anteater, and the relationship betw........ Read more »

KENT H. REDFORD. (1985) Feeding and food preference in captive and wild Giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla). Journal of Zoology, 559-572. info:/

  • August 2, 2010
  • 02:25 PM
  • 955 views

The MolBio Carnival: the first edition

by Alejandro Montenegro-Montero in MolBio Research Highlights

I’m pleased to host the very first edition of the MolBio Carnival, your monthly roundup of interesting posts in molecular biology from the science blogosphere. There has been a great response to this initiative and I had a great time reviewing submissions and writing this post.
You can read all about this Carnival here (submission guidelines, scope, etc), but right now, let’s get down to ... Read more »

  • August 2, 2010
  • 01:00 PM
  • 859 views

An Inactive Mine Provides Active Opportunities

by Moselio Schaechter in Small Things Considered

by Elio

Metagenomics is a fine tool indeed for surveying a microbial community in concert, treating both the cultured and uncultured equally. When the sample studied is rich in microbial variety, as often is the case, the pieces of genomes can be reluctant to reveal the genetic heritage of whole microbes. But there are a few particular environments that are dominated by a handful of species at most, and here this approach allows the reconstruction of complete genomes. That is the case with t........ Read more »

Baker BJ, Comolli LR, Dick GJ, Hauser LJ, Hyatt D, Dill BD, Land ML, Verberkmoes NC, Hettich RL, & Banfield JF. (2010) Enigmatic, ultrasmall, uncultivated Archaea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(19), 8806-11. PMID: 20421484  

  • August 2, 2010
  • 10:51 AM
  • 801 views

How Bacteria Help Create Dinosaur Fossils

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

As stated in many popular-audience books and documentaries, the fossilization of a skeleton involves the gradual transformation of bone into stone, often by way of mineral-rich groundwater percolating through bones over a long period of time. Yet things are not that simple. Thanks to recent discoveries, we know that remnants of soft tissues and even [...]... Read more »

JOSEPH C. DANIEL and KAREN CHIN. (2010) THE ROLE OF BACTERIALLY MEDIATED PRECIPITATION IN THE PERMINERALIZATION OF BONE. PALAIOS, 507-516. info:/10.2110/palo.2009.p09-120r

  • August 2, 2010
  • 10:44 AM
  • 1,528 views

A new modern mammal for Madagascar

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology



The fact that new, modern-day mammal species are discovered on a fairly regular basis should most definitely not be a surprise to the average Tet Zoo reader. These are not all 'cryptic species' distinguishable only on the basis of DNA: many are morphologically distinctive, honest-to-goodness new animals discovered either in the field or in museum collections. And they're not all bats and rodents: new monkeys, lemurs, sloths and hoofed mammals (peccaries, deer and bovids) have been named in rec........ Read more »

Yoder AD, Burns MM, Zehr S, Delefosse T, Veron G, Goodman SM, & Flynn JJ. (2003) Single origin of Malagasy Carnivora from an African ancestor. Nature, 421(6924), 734-7. PMID: 12610623  

  • August 2, 2010
  • 10:24 AM
  • 1,067 views

Epigenetics and 3-D gene structure

by Grant Jacobs in Code for life






DNA methylation controls the binding of proteins that control the 3-D structure of genes.
This is a lightly edited version of an article I wrote as a guest on Alison’s blog over a year ago, looking back a couple of years to show something of what epigenetics was bringing to genome biology. The science has advanced [...]... Read more »

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