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  • January 13, 2011
  • 07:49 AM

Dog exhibits mutual exclusivity bias

by Sean Roberts in A Replicated Typo 2.0


Pilley & Reid (2010) describe an experiment where a border collie was trained to learn proper nouns for objects.  After 3 years of training, the dog had learned over 1,000 proper names and showed no sign of slowing.  Experiments were run to test whether the dog understood the difference between nouns and commands and whether the . . . → Read More: Dog exhibits mutual exclusivity bias... Read more »

  • January 13, 2011
  • 07:22 AM

When it's moving, it's hard to see it changing.

by Psychothalamus in Psychothalamus

Change blindness is a phenomenon whereby people fail to detect sizable changes in a visual scene. This can occur even when they are actively trying to locate the change (Simons & Ambinder, 2005). If you are unaware of this phenomenon, you can go to UBC's psychology department where they have some interesting video examples. In a new study, Suchow & Alvarez (2011) demonstrates a novel visual illusion whereby motion induces failure to detect change - or what they call 'silencing'. Look at the........ Read more »

Suchow JW, & Alvarez GA. (2011) Motion Silences Awareness of Visual Change. Current biology : CB. PMID: 21215632  

Simons, D., & Ambinder, M. (2005) Change Blindness. Theory and Consequences. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(1), 44-48. DOI: 10.1111/j.0963-7214.2005.00332.x  

  • January 13, 2011
  • 04:58 AM

More bad mutations = greater fitness

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Does the chart above strike you as strange? What it shows is that the mean fitness of a population drops as you increase the rate of deleterious mutation (many more mutations are deleterious than favorable)…but at some point the fitness of the population bounces back, despite (or perhaps because of?) the deleterious mutations! This would [...]... Read more »

  • January 12, 2011
  • 07:53 PM

Inositol Phosphates and Insulin Signaling

by Dave Bridges in Dave's Blog

When most people think of the role of inositols in Akt signaling, they immediately think about the role of PIP3 in the PDK1-Akt signaling axis.  A recent paper published in Cell by Solomon Snyder's group at John's Hopkins highlights the role of soluble inositol phosphates in insulin signaling.Soluble Inositol PhosphatesInositol is best known as a lipid head group, that can be phosphorylated to form 8 potential phosphorylated phosphatidylinositols. These membrane bound signaling lipids have ........ Read more »

Chakraborty, A., Koldobskiy, M., Bello, N., Maxwell, M., Potter, J., Juluri, K., Maag, D., Kim, S., Huang, A., & Dailey, M. (2010) Inositol Pyrophosphates Inhibit Akt Signaling, Thereby Regulating Insulin Sensitivity and Weight Gain. Cell, 143(6), 897-910. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.11.032  

  • January 12, 2011
  • 02:51 PM

Solving the “adaptive recursion” in Jamaican click beetles (I)

by Kele in Kele's Science Blog

One of evolutionary biology’s old and ongoing problems is demystifying the link between genotypic and phenotypic changes. Scientists frequently know the changes in one of the two categories, but they infrequently know how a single change affects both. One great example we do know is the mutation that causes sickle cell anemia, but such knowledge [...]... Read more »

  • January 12, 2011
  • 02:27 PM

H1N1: A Flu Villain Becomes a Hero?

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

Two years ago, fear about the the novel H1N1 flu strain spread far more quickly than the virus itself, fueled by equal parts scientific concern about its resemblance to the deadly 1918 flu and media hysteria. In those early days, with a vaccine still months away, scientists were working quickly to develop protections and treatments [...]... Read more »

Wrammert J, Koutsonanos D, Li GM, Edupuganti S, Sui J, Morrissey M, McCausland M, Skountzou I, Hornig M, Lipkin WI.... (2011) Broadly cross-reactive antibodies dominate the human B cell response against 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus infection. The Journal of experimental medicine. PMID: 21220454  

  • January 12, 2011
  • 09:12 AM

Tip of the Week: Twitter in Bioinformatics

by Mary in OpenHelix

So let’s talk about Twitter. Some voted against it in the poll–but the folks who were interested in seeing how I use Twitter carried the day 80% to 20%. If you were the one of the ones who voted against this–join us next week instead   But if you are wondering how this tool might be of use in this arena, you can watch as I introduce my strategy for gaining useful bioinformatics tidbits from this source.
I suppose if you are very new to this you need some vocabulary. Twitter ........ Read more »

  • January 12, 2011
  • 08:15 AM

Repost: Hurdia – Another cool Cambrian critter

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Author’s Note: A post currently in preparation reminded me of Hurdia, a bizarre Cambrian creature that was initially divvied up into parts attributed various invertebrate groups and has only recently been united into a single creature allied with Anomalocaris. Check back later today for a tale about the debated affinities of a possibly related creature, [...]... Read more »

  • January 12, 2011
  • 05:30 AM

Not sisters, under the skin

by Becky in It Takes 30

Ever since we’ve been able to look at the internal components of cells, we’ve become more and more fascinated by the fact that individual cells are — well — individual.  Two genetically identical cells sitting next to each other in a dish may harbor very different sets of messenger RNAs and proteins (or other components), [...]... Read more »

  • January 11, 2011
  • 11:00 PM

Protein Crystallization, biologics style

by Peter Nollert in Protein Crystallization Blog

Looking beyond your typical day-to-day work and finding out what ‘the rest of the world’ is doing can be a lot of fun. This is one of the reasons I’m enjoying myself so much at the PepTalk 2011 meeting that is currently taking place in San Diego. As I’m learning about the unique challenges faced in protein drug formulations I am quite surprised at the arsenal of analytical techniques that are available to investigate the ‘health’ of a protein prep.
With respec........ Read more »

  • January 11, 2011
  • 09:43 PM

Who is a scientist, I am a scientist: the bees of Blackawton

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

In discussions of the larger societal implications of scientific findings, the question of who is a scientist is frequently asked. I've talked with with creationists who invoke the authority of someone who has a PhD in a scientific discipline and happens to share their belief of supernatural origins, as a scientific authority. Does the fact that I have a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology make me scientist or is being scientist something more?This is an important question. It goes to the co........ Read more »

Blackawton, P., Airzee, S., Allen, A., Baker, S., Berrow, A., Blair, C., Churchill, M., Coles, J., Cumming, R., Fraquelli, L.... (2010) Blackawton bees. Biology Letters. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.1056  

  • January 11, 2011
  • 03:09 PM

The Genetical Book Review: Middlesex

by Jon Wilkins in Lost in Transcription

So, welcome to the first installment of Lost in Transcription's newest feature: The Genetical Book Review. For the maiden voyage, we'll cover the 2002, Pulitzer-prize-winning Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

You're surprised? Because you assume that an eight-year-old Pulitzer winner must already have been reviewed?

Fair enough. But, here's the gimmick: we'll use the genetics angle to talk about some things that have not already been covered extensively elsewhere.

First, tho........ Read more »

  • January 11, 2011
  • 12:34 PM

What's in a Gene? (or miRNA gene really...)

by Linda Lin in Oz Blog No. 159

Is what I'd like to know. And what many other people would like to know too... It's oddly enigmatic. What can a few sequences of 4 letters mean biologically? (GATTACA...) Only 2% of our genomes code for proteins, so they...... Read more »

Schwab, R., Palatnik, J., Riester, M., Schommer, C., Schmid, M., & Weigel, D. (2005) Specific Effects of MicroRNAs on the Plant Transcriptome. Developmental Cell, 8(4), 517-527. DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2005.01.018  

Lanet, E., Delannoy, E., Sormani, R., Floris, M., Brodersen, P., Crete, P., Voinnet, O., & Robaglia, C. (2009) Biochemical Evidence for Translational Repression by Arabidopsis MicroRNAs. THE PLANT CELL ONLINE, 21(6), 1762-1768. DOI: 10.1105/tpc.108.063412  

Meyers, B., Simon, S., & Zhai, J. (2010) MicroRNA Processing: Battle of the Bulge. Current Biology, 20(2). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.12.008  

Schwab, R., & Voinnet, O. (2009) miRNA processing turned upside down. The EMBO Journal, 28(23), 3633-3634. DOI: 10.1038/emboj.2009.334  

  • January 11, 2011
  • 12:20 PM

What Was Lost in the Fire: A Conservation Memorial

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by Reconciliation Ecology:The modern conservation movement began at dawn on December 8, 1850, above the north fork of California's San Joaquin river. Soft orange light had just begun to spill over the craggy peaks of the eastern Ahwahnee mountains causing the jagged minarets to ignite like still burning embers from the Indian campfires below. All remained still inside the wigwams of the Ahwahneechee camp. But an attuned ear would have noticed ........ Read more »

  • January 11, 2011
  • 12:20 PM

What Was Lost in the Fire: A Conservation Memorial

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries in Exile

The latest stop in the #PDEx tour is being hosted by Reconciliation Ecology:The modern conservation movement began at dawn on December 8, 1850, above the north fork of California's San Joaquin river. Soft orange light had just begun to spill over the craggy peaks of the eastern Ahwahnee mountains causing the jagged minarets to ignite like still burning embers from the Indian campfires below. All remained still inside the wigwams of the Ahwahneechee camp. But an attuned ear would have noticed ........ Read more »

  • January 11, 2011
  • 12:08 PM

Fat Genes Make You Happy?

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Does being heavier make you happier?An interesting new paper from a British/Danish collaboration uses a clever trick based on genetics to untangle the messy correlation between obesity and mental health.They had a huge (53,221) sample of people from Copenhagen, Denmark. It measured people's height and weight to calculate their BMI, and asked them some simple questions about their mood, such as "Do you often feel nervous or stressed?"Many previous studies have found that being overweight is corre........ Read more »

  • January 11, 2011
  • 10:55 AM

Cancer Versus the Metabolism

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

A number of complex biological forces drive the mutation and selection of cancer cells - competitive growth, angiogenesis, immune system evasion, etc. A recent review in the journal Science has shed light on another key aspect of tumor development - the hijacking of the metabolism. Over 80 years ago, Otto Warburg observed that tumor cells [...]... Read more »

  • January 11, 2011
  • 09:26 AM

Arrested Development in miRNA Mutants

by Linda in the Node

Animals and Plants have hundreds of miRNAs with diverse roles in gene regulation. In humans, each miRNA family can control up to several hundred genes (or 500 to be exact, in humans). A loss of function in one, can lead to array of developmental defects. Similarly in plants, an miRNA mutant can have a variety of phenotypes. However, interestingly, many miRNAs only have one target, which is frequently a transcription factor that in turn, controls many genes itself. It's really like a house of car........ Read more »

  • January 11, 2011
  • 09:05 AM

Gardening ants grow their own treetop nests

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

If you were to combine ants' dispersal of seeds and plant protection interactions, and maybe squint a little, you might see something like epiphitic ant gardens. Ant gardens form when tree-nesting ants collect the seeds of some epiphytes—plants evolved to grow in the branches of trees—and the collected seeds sprout. The nests provide congenial conditions for the plants, since gardening ants frequently use dung as a building material. The roots running through the nest help stabilize its stru........ Read more »

  • January 11, 2011
  • 07:23 AM

A Vampire Flying Frog by any other name…

by Captain Skellett in A Schooner of Science

Actually, it’s not QUITE as cool as it sounds. This new frog species, the Vampire Flying Frog, was discovered in Vietnam by scientists from the Australian Museum. Rhacophorus vampyrus was a latecomer to the International Year of Biodiversity, which yielded a wealth of newly discovered creatures. But the name. The name. To be honest, it [...]... Read more »

Rowley, J. et al. (2010) A new tree frog of the genus Rhacophorus (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from southern Vietnam. Zootaxa. info:/

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