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  • March 23, 2011
  • 09:05 AM

In which several evolutionary psychologists still don't understand evolution

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

Jesse Bering has responded to criticism—by me, Jon Wilkins, and P.Z. Meyers, among others—of his post about Gordon Gallup's hypothesis that fear of homosexuals is favored by natural selection, in the form of an interview with Gallup. The result is informative, but probably not in the way intended.

To recap: Gallup proposed that homophobia could be adaptive if it prevented gay and lesbian adults from contacting a homophobic parent's children and—either through actual sexual abuse or some ........ Read more »

  • March 23, 2011
  • 07:43 AM

The many, many mouse-eared bats, aka little brown bats, aka Myotis bats (vesper bats part V)

by Darren Naish in Tetrapod Zoology

One of the largest and most successful vesper bat clades is Myotis, the little brown bats or mouse-eared bats. As you can see from the simplified cladogram shown right down at the bottom of this article, recent work indicates that they form the sister-taxon to the remaining vespertilionine vesper bats (for more discussion of their phylogenetic position, see the vesper bat cladogram article). Myotis occurs virtually worldwide in diverse habitats, contains about 100 species, and has been describ........ Read more »

Ma, J., Jones, G., Zhang, S., Shen, J., Metzner, W., Zhang, L., & Liang, B. (2003) Dietary analysis confirms that Rickett's big-footed bat (Myotis ricketti) is a piscivore. Journal of Zoology, 261(3), 245-248. DOI: 10.1017/S095283690300414X  

  • March 22, 2011
  • 11:48 PM

Cells that vomit fungus and other issues of science papers

by Lorax in Angry by Choice

This weeks journal club was on Cryptococcus neoformans and an odd way it may get of out macrophage some of the time, at least in vitro, maybe. The paper in question is: 

The Human Fungal Pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans Escapes Macrophages by a Phagosome Emptying Mechanism That Is Inhibited by Arp2/3 Complex-Mediated Actin Polymerisation by Simon A. Johnston, Robin C. May. PLoS Pathogens 6(8) e1001041.

This work follows up a really cool observation published by t........ Read more »

  • March 22, 2011
  • 11:46 PM

Better Chemistry Through Breeding

by Matthew DiLeo in The Scientist Gardener

I recently had the opportunity to visit the fabled heart of the USDA-ARS empire: Beltsville.

I heard all about the tornado that knocked down all the campus trees, smashed in the greenhouses and threw doors down hallways a few years ago, visited their food sensory lab (a controlled environment where fruit samples are passed through a wall to waiting taste testers), and saw greenhouses packed full of cacao (where research on one of my favorite fungi, Crinipellis perniciosa, is co-f........ Read more »

Stommel, J.R., & Griesbch, R.J. (2008) Inheritance of Fruit, Foliar, and Plant Habit Attributes in Capsicum. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci., 113(3), 396-407. info:/

Tanaka Y, Brugliera F, Kalc G, Senior M, Dyson B, Nakamura N, Katsumoto Y, & Chandler S. (2010) Flower color modification by engineering of the flavonoid biosynthetic pathway: practical perspectives. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry, 74(9), 1760-9. PMID: 20834175  

  • March 22, 2011
  • 05:36 PM

Virophage, the virus eater

by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog

A second virophage has been identified. The name does not signify a virus that infects another virus – it means virus eater. The story of virophages begins with the giant mimivirus, originally isolated from a cooling tower in the United Kingdom. It is the largest known virus, with a capsid 750 nanometers in diameter and [...]... Read more »

  • March 22, 2011
  • 02:43 PM

Hello Marine Biologists! What did you do at work today?

by Dr. Carin Bondar in Dr. Carin Bondar - Biologist With a Twist

For those of you that may not be able to guess it from reading my blog – here’s a little factiod: I love, rather LOVE, biology. I’m often daydreaming about various organisms or landscapes – thinking about what it would be like to investigate certain phenomena. It would be nice [...]... Read more »

  • March 22, 2011
  • 01:30 PM

On the origins of smallpox - where and when did variola virus emerge?

by Connor Bamford in The Rule of 6ix

2011 may be the year where the last known officially acknowledged stocks of the deadly smallpox virus, variola are destroyed - a virus that claimed over 500 million lives in the 20th century alone. The extensive collection of 'live' virus and DNA stocks totalling over 500 isolates/strains, which are held between the US Centres for Disease Control and the Russian State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology may be ordered to be eliminated following World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend........ Read more »

Li, Y., Carroll, D., Gardner, S., Walsh, M., Vitalis, E., & Damon, I. (2007) From the Cover: On the origin of smallpox: Correlating variola phylogenics with historical smallpox records. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(40), 15787-15792. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0609268104  

Raymond S. Weinstein. (2011) Should Remaining Stockpiles of Smallpox Virus (Variola) Be Destroyed?. Emerg Infect Dis, 17(Apr). info:/10.3201/eid1704.101865

Rimoin AW, Mulembakani PM, Johnston SC, Lloyd Smith JO, Kisalu NK, Kinkela TL, Blumberg S, Thomassen HA, Pike BL, Fair JN.... (2010) Major increase in human monkeypox incidence 30 years after smallpox vaccination campaigns cease in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(37), 16262-7. PMID: 20805472  

  • March 22, 2011
  • 12:52 PM

Musical Genes

by Lorna Powell in Elements Science

Lorna Powell tunes into new research that suggests our genes could influence our enjoyment of music.

Related posts:Lung cancer gene means risk for non-smokers too
Whose gene is it anyway?
Smoking can be good for you
... Read more »

  • March 22, 2011
  • 10:55 AM

Cumulative Spatial Sorting: An Overlooked Evolutionary Contributor

by Michael Long in Phased

Geographical edges of species range dispersal are evolutionary focal points.... Read more »

  • March 22, 2011
  • 10:48 AM

Managing landscapes for aesthetics

by Tim De Chant in Per Square Mile

Aesthetics may have more to do with protecting land as a nature reserve than we would like to admit. Wetlands are a perfect example. Few people would consider wetlands to be “beautiful” landscapes—they offer few vistas, are difficult to navigate, and can appear rather homogeneous to the layperson. To many, a swamp is a swamp [...]... Read more »

  • March 22, 2011
  • 10:33 AM

Finding the Family of Acrocanthosaurus

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Allosaurus has one of the dullest names in all of paleontology. The famous dinosaur’s moniker simply means “different reptile”—a bit of a letdown for one of the top predators of Jurassic North America. Early on, the name fit well—Allosaurus was a very unusual dinosaur compared to other large, predatory species—but since 1878 bone hunters have [...]... Read more »

  • March 22, 2011
  • 09:05 AM

Parasitism of a different color

by Jeremy Yoder in Denim and Tweed

The common cuckoo is such a lazy parent that brood parasitism—laying its eggs in the nests of other birds—is built into its biology.

No bird will willingly adopt cuckoo chicks, which usually out-compete, and sometimes kill, their adoptive siblings. Given any hint that one of the eggs in her nest isn't hers, a bird will eject the intruder. So cuckoos have evolved eggs that mimic the coloring of their hosts' eggs—dividing the species into "host races" that specialize on a single host speci........ Read more »

  • March 22, 2011
  • 09:00 AM

Bacterial Burlargy

by Kevin Bonham in Food Matters

I feel like I've seen this movie before. A group of thieves need to gain entry to a highly secured vault. The vault door is nearly impregnable, and once inside, there are motion sensors, security cameras and laser trip lines, all of which sound the alarm. When the security guards hear what's happening, they are told to release a deadly gas into the vault, killing anyone inside. But Salmonella enterica, that charming bug responsible for all manner of unpleasantness, is a clever burglar. It has le........ Read more »

Arpaia N, Godec J, Lau L, Sivick KE, McLaughlin LM, Jones MB, Dracheva T, Peterson SN, Monack DM, & Barton GM. (2011) TLR Signaling Is Required for Salmonella typhimurium Virulence. Cell, 144(5), 675-88. PMID: 21376231  

  • March 22, 2011
  • 08:00 AM

Tuesday Crustie: Indiscriminate?

by Zen Faulkes in NeuroDojo

Male fiddler crabs spend a lot of time doing this sort of thing:

This is Uca mjoebergi, a colourful crab from south Pacific shores. They're signalling to someone - but to whom?. To their own species? Their own sex? To predators?

I had fun recently giving a talk about fiddler crab signalling at a local nature center. I had seen a decent amount of research on fiddler crabs, but had never had the opportunity to review it and try to pull it into a story before. And while I was doing that, a new p........ Read more »

  • March 21, 2011
  • 09:59 PM

Unintentional Shark Tagging

by Chuck in Ya Like Dags?

This might possibly be the most awesome paper about tagging fish ever. One of the handiest advances in telemetry, especially of large, highly-migratory oceanic species, has been the advent of SPOT tags.  These tags do it all: movement, depth, temperature, … Continue reading →... Read more »

David W. Kerstetter, Jeffery J. Polovina, & John E. Graves. (2004) Evidence of shark predation and scavenging on fishes equipped with pop-up satellite archival tags. Fishery Bulletin, 750-756. info:/

  • March 21, 2011
  • 09:04 PM

The Three T’s: Treating Tolerant Tuberculosis

by Katie Pratt in

When I was growing up there was a right of passage every 13-year-old child had to go through: The B.C.G. vaccination against tuberculosis. We all stood in line and waited for our “six-pricks” (Heaf) test, and then a week later had the test site inspected to see if we needed the vaccination. Since T.B. was [...]... Read more »

Adams, K., Takaki, K., Connolly, L., Wiedenhoft, H., Winglee, K., Humbert, O., Edelstein, P., Cosma, C., & Ramakrishnan, L. (2011) Drug Tolerance in Replicating Mycobacteria Mediated by a Macrophage-Induced Efflux Mechanism. Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.02.022  

  • March 21, 2011
  • 02:25 PM

Repost: The Pelican’s Beak – Success and Evolutionary Stasis

by Laelaps in Laelaps

I am a relatively infrequent airline traveler, and so packing for distant assignments and trips always presents me with an organizational challenge. Clothes, equipment, and supplies must be tracked down and stuffed into my cheap luggage, with frequent checks of the TSA website to ensure that I can unpack and repack my carry-ons with a [...]... Read more »

  • March 21, 2011
  • 01:00 PM

A Viral Pyramid Scheme

by Merry Youle in Small Things Considered

In order to release their newly assembled virions, most viruses lyse the cells that have fed and housed them. This lysis is not a haphazard affair. Some phages, for example, employ a holin-endolysin system to rupture their host's cell membrane and digest the cell wall at a precisely controlled time. (For our earlier posts about this, click here and here.) Others instead interfere with cell wall synthesis—the same strategy that we use with our β-lactam antibiotics. Now yet another completely d........ Read more »

Bize A, Karlsson EA, Ekefjärd K, Quax TE, Pina M, Prevost MC, Forterre P, Tenaillon O, Bernander R, & Prangishvili D. (2009) A unique virus release mechanism in the Archaea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(27), 11306-11. PMID: 19549825  

Quax TE, Lucas S, Reimann J, Pehau-Arnaudet G, Prevost MC, Forterre P, Albers SV, & Prangishvili D. (2011) Simple and elegant design of a virion egress structure in Archaea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(8), 3354-9. PMID: 21282609  

  • March 21, 2011
  • 12:25 PM

OpenLab 2010 – Gut bacteria in Japanese people borrowed sushi-digesting genes from ocean bacteria

by Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science

This post was originally published on 7 April 2010. I am reposting it in honour of the release of Open Laboratory 2010, which has just come on sale. It’s an anthology of great blog posts from last year, including this one.
Japanese people have special tools that let them get more out of eating sushi than Americans can. They are probably raised with these utensils from an early age and each person wields millions of them. By now, you’ve probably worked out that I’m not talking about c........ Read more »

  • March 21, 2011
  • 11:00 AM

The Secret World of Microbes

by Rob Mitchum in ScienceLife

Since the time of Linnaeus, scientists have loved classifying the world around them. But while centuries of biologists have worked to collect and categorize the plants and animals of Earth, all that work likely only covers about a minute fraction of our planet’s life. As much as 99 percent of the biodiversity on Earth is [...]... Read more »

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