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  • March 10, 2010
  • 06:15 AM

Vaccinia virus in Brazil: What a long, strange trip

by iayork in Mystery Rays from Outer Space

Krishna, milking a cow

Vaccinia virus is a widespread virus whose natural host remains unknown.  It turns out to be pretty good at jumping across species.
Vaccinia, of course, is the vaccine against smallpox.  Even though smallpox is eliminated in the wild,1 vaccinia is still very widely used in research and even, to some extent, in [...]... Read more »

Moussatché N, Damaso CR, & McFadden G. (2008) When good vaccines go wild: Feral Orthopoxvirus in developing countries and beyond. Journal of infection in developing countries, 2(3), 156-73. PMID: 19738346  

Alzhanova, D., Edwards, D., Hammarlund, E., Scholz, I., Horst, D., Wagner, M., Upton, C., Wiertz, E., Slifka, M., & Früh, K. (2009) Cowpox Virus Inhibits the Transporter Associated with Antigen Processing to Evade T Cell Recognition. Cell Host , 6(5), 433-445. DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2009.09.013  

Essbauer, S., Pfeffer, M., & Meyer, H. (2010) Zoonotic poxviruses☆. Veterinary Microbiology, 140(3-4), 229-236. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2009.08.026  

  • March 10, 2010
  • 05:11 AM

Self-Evident Victor of the Invert War

by Sam in Oceanographer's Choice

Invert war has been declared. Personally, I consider myself a lover, not a fighter. And all the inverts are worthy of love in my book. But, knowing that tempers may flare as biologists across the blogosphere come to the defense of their preferred spineless taxa, I thought it would be worth injecting a [...]... Read more »

  • March 10, 2010
  • 05:00 AM

'Sunday Protist' - Sorogena: A ciliate 'slime mould'!

by Psi Wavefunction in Skeptic Wonder

I realise it's not anywhere near Sunday anymore, but I'm rapidly approaching Busy Threat Level Red, at which point I'll just hide in my "No Zone" and refuse to do anything beyond the bare minimum to get by... I really shouldn't be doing this right now, but the poor protists have been neglected for a while. Mostly. You should go check out Saccamminid forams at the Catalogue of Organisms, but not at the expense of reading my post, of course ^_~Remember the tricky Mystery Micrograph #10? Probably n........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 07:39 PM

Resting Metabolic Rate and Aging, Another of Metabolism's Complexities

by Reason in Fight Aging!

Metabolism, which might be broadly defined as the biochemical process of living, is absurdly complex. The way in which metabolism varies between individuals, and then changes over time with aging? Even more complex. This is one of the reasons why slowing aging by changing metabolic machinery - in effect creating a new human metabolism - looks very much like an inferior, harder path in comparison to attempts to restore the metabolism we have to the way it operates in youthful bodies. Complexity i........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 07:24 PM

A Worm Free World

by Pamela Ronald in Tomorrow's Table

Check out this great post by Mary M on biofortifed. In it she reviews a new research paper that describes how the use of Bt could potentially save the lives of millions.

You can download a video about the researchers and their work here.

From Mary's post: "For some people, a great deal of the conflama around genetically-engineered (GE) crops has to do with the presence of a pesticide in the plant material--mainly the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt protein--rather than coating the surface of t........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 04:52 PM

Landscape approaches for the study of aquatic ecosystems

by JL in Analyze Everything

Well, I'm trying to read a paper a day (this can be really hard with 2 kids and a job that doesn't encourage it), and today I randomly pulled up this paper: Johnson and Host "Recent developments in landscape approaches for the study of aquatic ecosystems" (full cite below). Let's just say that there's a lot here. Basically, this paper is part of a big-time retrospective done by J-NABS in ... Read more »

Johnson, L.B. and G.E. Host. (2010) Recent developments in landscape approaches for the study of aquatic ecosystems. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 29(1), 41-66. info:/10.1899/09-030.1

  • March 9, 2010
  • 04:39 PM

Darwin and Spencer in the Middle East

by Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries

It is a common argument by those who are opposed to evolution's implication for religious belief to label Darwin as a social Darwinist and a racist. Adrian Desmond and James Moore's book Darwin's Sacred Cause has gone a long way towards dispelling any claims that Darwin sought to justify black inferiority (in fact, as they show, it was just the opposite). However, the claim that Darwin inspired social Darwinism is a persistent argument and those that proffer it will stoop to any level in order........ Read more »

Elshakry, Marwa. (2003) Darwin's Legacy in the Arab East: Science, Religion and Politics, 1870-1914. Princeton University D.Phil. Thesis. info:/

  • March 9, 2010
  • 03:09 PM

Screening probes and probing screens

by The Curious Wavefunction in The Curious Wavefunction

High Throughput Screening (HTS), with all its strengths and limitations, is still the single-best way to discover novel interesting molecules in drug discovery. Thomas Kodadek of Scripps Florida has an interesting article on screening in the latest issue of Nat. Chem. Biol which is a special issue on chemical probes. Kodadek talks about the very different properties required for drugs and probes and the limitations and unmet needs in current HTS strategies. He focuses on mainly two kinds of scre........ Read more »

Kodadek, T. (2010) Rethinking screening. Nature Chemical Biology, 6(3), 162-165. DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.303  

  • March 9, 2010
  • 02:56 PM

White-nose syndrome still devastating bats and challenging scientists

by Katie Kline in EcoTone

In an effort to conserve and research the endangered Virginia big-eared bat, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo took in 40 bats in November 2009. The goal was to establish a security population and to scientifically develop husbandry practices in a subspecies that researchers have not attempted to conserve before. ... Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 02:35 PM

Evolutionary history of early primates places human origins in context

by Laelaps in Laelaps

A simplified evolutionary tree of primate relationships showing the placement of Darwinius in relationship to other groups. From Williams et al., 2010.

The study of human origins can be a paradoxical thing. We know that we evolved from ancestral apes (and, in fact, are just one peculiar kind of ape), yet we are obsessed with the features that distinguish us from our close relatives. The "big questions" in evolutionary anthropology, from why we stand upright to how our brains became so larg........ Read more »

Williams, B., Kay, R., & Kirk, E. (2010) New perspectives on anthropoid origins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0908320107  

  • March 9, 2010
  • 01:00 PM

Finding the Ideal Cricket Mate Increases Lethal Parasitism Risk

by Michael Long in Phased

Cassandra Martin and William Wagner Jr (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, United States) have clearly demonstrated an indirect, yet lethal, cost shouldered by female crickets that is associated with a behavior commonly thought to enhance reproductive success. This news feature was written on March 9, 2010.... Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 09:44 AM

Ecology and industry: bridging the gap between economics and the environment

by Marc Cadotte in The EEB and flow

Applied ecology is the science of minimizing human impacts and of supporting ecological systems in an economic landscape. Often though, applied ecologists work in isolation from those economic forces shaping biological landscapes, not really knowing what businesses would like to accomplish for habitat protection or sustainability. At the same businesses are seldom aware of the knowledge, tools and insight provided by ecologists. And perhaps, greater interaction could help turn ecology into a sci........ Read more »

Armsworth, P., Armsworth, A., Compton, N., Cottle, P., Davies, I., Emmett, B., Fandrich, V., Foote, M., Gaston, K., Gardiner, P.... (2010) The ecological research needs of business. Journal of Applied Ecology, 47(2), 235-243. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01792.x  

  • March 9, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

Evaluating protected areas in China and North Korea

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

... Read more »

Tang, L., Shao, G., Piao, Z., Dai, L., Jenkins, M., Wang, S., Wu, G., Wu, J., & Zhao, J. (2010) Forest degradation deepens around and within protected areas in East Asia. Biological Conservation. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.01.024  

  • March 9, 2010
  • 08:00 AM

A neuron for free will

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

The question for neuroscience is how nervous systems generate behaviour and cognition. In general, we think there’s a hierachical command scheme, as the quick and dirty sketch below shows.

It’s been hard to move from general principles and “black boxes” to real neurons. A good chunk of effort in neuroethology has gone into understanding the sensory capabilities of different animals, and cracking how pattern generators could generate the detailed plan for movements, especially rhythmic ........ Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 05:33 AM

What are Anticancer Genes?

by Rick Scavetta in DNA Dude

We know that lots of genes are involved in cancer progression. For example, you’ve probably read something like “scientists have found the gene for such-and-such cancer” or something similar. What does that really mean? Are there really genes which cause cancer? And why do we have those genes anyways, if that’s all they do?
Generally speaking, [...]... Read more »

  • March 9, 2010
  • 05:00 AM

Automating bird surveys with remote sensors

by Rob Goldstein in Conservation Maven

Researchers have developed and tested an automated system for remotely surveying birds based on their vocalizations. The system involves using pole-mounted, remote sensors to collect ongoing acoustic data...... Read more »

  • March 8, 2010
  • 11:46 PM

Blood stem cells come in different types

by Mason Posner in A Fish Eye View

I love showing students new research that will ultimately lead to a revision in their textbooks.  Hey, something has got to make purchasing a new edition every two to three years seem worthwhile.  And it is even more fun when these research headlines come out as we are covering that very topic in class.  A [...]... Read more »

  • March 8, 2010
  • 05:42 PM

Shouldering: Penis Extraction in Rove Beetles

by Kelsey in Mauka to Makai

I don’t “have a thing” for critters with remarkable genitalia. (I swear.) But, while researching barnacle sex, I came across a paper about a male beetle with an intromittant organ (penis) so long and flexible that he has to sling it over his shoulder to keep it safe. Clearly, I couldn’t keep such information to [...]... Read more »

CLAUDIA GACK*, & KLAUS PESCHKE. (2005) ‘Shouldering’ exaggerated genitalia: a unique behavioural adaptation for the retraction of the elongate intromittant organ by the male rove beetle (Aleochara tristis Gravenhorst). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 307-312. info:/

  • March 8, 2010
  • 05:21 PM

The MetaHIT catalogue 2010— your gut microbiome directory

by geekheartsscience in geek!

An international team of scientists have produced a catalogue of genes from the micro-organisms that live in our gut (the gut microbiome), and it is the first published work from the MetaHIT (Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract) project. “This gene catalogue contains virtually all of the prevalent gut microbial genes in our cohort, provides [...]... Read more »

Qin, J., Li, R., Raes, J., Arumugam, M., Burgdorf, K., Manichanh, C., Nielsen, T., Pons, N., Levenez, F., Yamada, T.... (2010) A human gut microbial gene catalogue established by metagenomic sequencing. Nature, 464(7285), 59-65. DOI: 10.1038/nature08821  

  • March 8, 2010
  • 03:45 PM

Life Without Serotonin

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic

Via Dormivigilia, I came across a fascinating paper about a man who suffered from a severe lack of monoamine neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin etc.) as a result of a genetic mutation: Sleep and Rhythm Consequences of a Genetically Induced Loss of SerotoninNeuroskeptic readers will be familiar with monoamines. They're psychiatrists' favourite neurotransmitters, and are hence very popular amongst psych drug manufacturers. In particular, it's widely believed that serotonin is the brain's "happ........ Read more »

Smaranda Leu-Semenescu et al. (2010) Sleep and Rhythm Consequences of a Genetically Induced Loss of Serotonin. Sleep, 33(03), 307-314. info:/

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