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  • April 4, 2017
  • 12:00 PM
  • 375 views

Researchers Finally Ask: Does Your Cat Even Like To Be Around You?

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

This cat has had enough and is running away from home. Photo by Danielle Menuey.While dogs happily and obliviously boast the reputation of being “man’s best friend”, cats have a reputation of being antisocial, independent, and downright grumpy. But do cats really deserve that? Scientists finally decided to find out.Kristin Vitale Shreve and Monique Udell from Oregon State University and Lindsay Mehrkam from Monmouth University asked 25 pet cats and 25 shelter cats their preferences. H........ Read more »

  • April 4, 2017
  • 03:55 AM
  • 322 views

Autism, ageing and comorbidity

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm not spending too much time today on the findings published by Elizabeth Wise and colleagues [1] but did want to bring them to your attention. Looking at the presentation of "comorbidities and behavioral and neuropsychiatric symptoms" in relation to autism in the context of ageing, some important details were noted. Not least that "GI [gastrointestinal] disorders (68.9%) and seizure disorders (23%) were common, and 25.7% of the sample had a BMI [body mass index] >30" wh........ Read more »

  • April 4, 2017
  • 01:49 AM
  • 297 views

A clue towards understanding intrinsically disordered proteins

by ragothamanyennamalli in Getting to know Structural Bioinformatics

ntrinsically disordered proteins are thought to be fully functional, yet do not confirm to a single conformation, thereby identifying their structure via crystallography becomes problematic. Many intrinsically disordered proteins have been studied and analyzed using NMR methods, however the question as to why proteins are intrinsically disordered is still debatable.... Read more »

  • April 3, 2017
  • 04:10 AM
  • 326 views

Decreased urinary creatinine levels associated with autism (again)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

One finding in particular stood out from those reported by Lussu and colleagues [1] following some nifty metabolomic investigations: decreased levels of urinary creatinine in their cohort of participants diagnosed as on the autism spectrum (n=21) compared with "controls (n = 21), these being siblings of autistic patients."Based on the "use of 1 H-NMR metabolomics to analyze the global biochemical signature of ASD [autism spectrum disorder] patients" researchers turned again to a fa........ Read more »

Lussu M, Noto A, Masili A, Rinaldi AC, Dessì A, De Angelis M, De Giacomo A, Fanos V, Atzori L, & Francavilla R. (2017) The urinary 1 H-NMR metabolomics profile of an italian autistic children population and their unaffected siblings. Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research. PMID: 28296209  

  • April 2, 2017
  • 05:10 AM
  • 317 views

On the under-studied populations within the autism spectrum

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I don't typically post on a Sunday, but given that today - 2nd April - is World Autism Awareness Day I've decided to make an exception. The theme of today's post is based around the notion that the autism spectrum is truly wide and heterogeneous, and although this is fairly universally acknowledged, the current peer-reviewed research literature on autism is perhaps not yet so accepting. So...Consistent with the idea that scientific research seems to go through cycles of themes/interests, th........ Read more »

Chakrabarti B. (2017) Commentary: Critical considerations for studying low-functioning autism. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines, 58(4), 436-438. PMID: 28346760  

  • April 1, 2017
  • 05:16 AM
  • 338 views

Yet more bumetanide and autism findings

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Bumetanide, a loop diuretic medicine typically used to treat heart failure, is probably not something that most people would associate with 'attenuating' some of the presented characteristics of autism. This Na-K-Cl cotransporter (NKCC) blocking drug (influencing chloride concentrations in neurons and impacting on the actions of gamma-Aminobutyric acid, GABA) has however made quite a few appearances in the peer-reviewed autism research literature (see here and see here) and beyond........ Read more »

Lemonnier, E., Villeneuve, N., Sonie, S., Serret, S., Rosier, A., Roue, M., Brosset, P., Viellard, M., Bernoux, D., Rondeau, S.... (2017) Effects of bumetanide on neurobehavioral function in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Translational Psychiatry, 7(3). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2017.10  

  • March 31, 2017
  • 01:10 PM
  • 368 views

Giving the underserved the care they deserve

by Aurametrix team in Aurametrix Blog

Nobody likes strong smells coming from other human beings. It's just that social convention: you are nice, if you smell nice, and you are a monster  - like Shakespeare's Caliban - if you smell bad. ​Caliban, often depicted as a Golumn-like creature, is one of the first cases of fish odor syndrome described in the literature. No amount of soap and water would help him to wash the smell away, as his body is constantly producing a pungent small molecule trimethylamine. ... Read more »

Guo Y, Hwang LD, Li J, Eades J, Yu CW, Mansfield C, Burdick-Will A, Chang X, Chen Y, Duke FF.... (2017) Genetic analysis of impaired trimethylamine metabolism using whole exome sequencing. BMC medical genetics, 18(1), 11. PMID: 28196478  

Callewaert C, Lambert J, & Van de Wiele T. (2016) Towards a bacterial treatment for armpit malodour. Experimental dermatology. PMID: 27892611  

  • March 31, 2017
  • 11:16 AM
  • 299 views

The Snail That Only Lives in a Hole inside Another Hole under a Sea Urchin

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



If you think house hunting is hard, consider the plight of this snail. It lives only in tide pools in southern Japan. Within those tide pools, it only lives in holes carved out of rock—specifically, holes dug by sea urchins. But it can only move into one of those holes after the hole-digging urchin has moved out. When a second, differently shaped sea urchin moves into the hole, it leaves a gap between its spiny body and the wall of the burrow. It's this nook that the snail snuggles int........ Read more »

  • March 31, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 295 views

Friday Fellow: Mexican Giant Horsetail

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll If you are walking through the forest of Central America, you may end up finding something that at first you could think is a group of bamboos, plants growing as a cylindrical segmented stem that can … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 31, 2017
  • 03:51 AM
  • 320 views

Coeliac disease, autism and more

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Compared with the general population, children with celiac disease had a 1.4-fold greater risk of future psychiatric disorders. Childhood celiac disease was identified as a risk factor for mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, behavioral disorders, ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder], ASD [autism spectrum disorder], and intellectual disability."So said the study findings reported by Agnieszka Butwicka and colleagues [1] who, yet again, relied on one of ........ Read more »

Butwicka A, Lichtenstein P, Frisén L, Almqvist C, Larsson H, & Ludvigsson JF. (2017) Celiac Disease Is Associated with Childhood Psychiatric Disorders: A Population-Based Study. The Journal of pediatrics. PMID: 28283256  

  • March 30, 2017
  • 04:12 AM
  • 322 views

[Objective] exposure to flame retardants and social behaviours

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Although a few details of the study reported by Shannon Lipscomb and colleagues [1] (open-access) interested me, I was particularly taken by their use of "a silicone passive wristband sampler [worn] around his/her wrist or ankle" to "assess the child’s exposure to flame retardants" as part of their investigation "to determine if flame retardant exposure was associated with measurable differences in social behaviors among children ages 3–5 years."I've covered the topic of potential adver........ Read more »

Lipscomb ST, McClelland MM, MacDonald M, Cardenas A, Anderson KA, & Kile ML. (2017) Cross-sectional study of social behaviors in preschool children and exposure to flame retardants. Environmental health : a global access science source, 16(1), 23. PMID: 28274271  

  • March 29, 2017
  • 03:54 AM
  • 325 views

L-methylfolate administration and autism: a case report

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I should have really titled this post 'another case report' given yesterday's entry on this blog talking about a case of [untreated] PKU and autistic behaviours/diagnosis. Here I am again talking about another N=1 with autism in mind and specifically the findings reported by Kim Siscoe & David Lohr [1] on how: "L-methylfolate supplementation improved symptoms of aggression and disruptive behavior in a child with autism who tested positive for the C677TT allele of the methyltetrahydrofolate r........ Read more »

  • March 28, 2017
  • 05:48 PM
  • 346 views

Bottlenose Dolphins: The Ultimate Sea Bully? (A Guest Post)

by Miss Behavior in The Scorpion and the Frog

By Kayla FullerImagine this situation: you’ve brought your favorite lunch to work. Everyone is jealous of your food, continuously eyeing it up. A few coworkers, who have brought in disappointing lunches in comparison, approach and demand that you hand it over. After you refuse, they beat you until your body lies lifeless and they take your lunch anyway. Woah, woah, woah… that took a dramatic turn! Photo of a harbour porpoise, taken by AVampireTear (Wikimedia Commons)But for harbour porpoise........ Read more »

  • March 28, 2017
  • 01:42 PM
  • 295 views

Caterpillars Recruit Friends with Anal Scraping

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



Newly hatched caterpillars look helpless: they're teensy, soft and juicy, with no parent around for protection. But certain young insects, the masked birch caterpillars, are more capable than they seem. They gather in groups to keep themselves safe. To form those groups, they use a previously undiscovered language of buzzes, vibrations, head banging and butt scraping.



The species, Drepana arcuata, passes through five caterpillar life stages (called instars) on its way to becoming a li... Read more »

Yadav, C., Guedes, R., Matheson, S., Timbers, T., & Yack, J. (2017) Invitation by vibration: recruitment to feeding shelters in social caterpillars. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71(3). DOI: 10.1007/s00265-017-2280-x  

  • March 28, 2017
  • 05:34 AM
  • 342 views

Presenting with the symptoms of autism and then diagnosed with phenylketonuria (PKU)

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The case report from Betül Mazlum and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) illustrates once again that (a) the plural 'autisms' exist (see here) and (b) screening for inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) should be an important part of any autism assessment (see here). Indeed, screening for IEM should really be part of assessments for many different labels...Detailing a case report wherein a 3-year old child came to clinical attention for "speech delay and social problems", the authors ........ Read more »

Mazlum B, Anlar B, Kalkanoğlu-Sivri HS, Karlı-Oğuz K, Özusta Ş, & Ünal F. (2016) A late-diagnosed phenylketonuria case presenting with autism spectrum disorder in early childhood. The Turkish journal of pediatrics, 58(3), 318-322. PMID: 28266201  

  • March 27, 2017
  • 05:38 AM
  • 344 views

Detecting stereotypic behaviours through technology

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"We have designed an Internet-of-Things (IoT) framework named WearSense that leverages the sensing capabilities of modern smartwatches to detect stereotypic behaviors in children with autism."So said the paper by Amir Mohammad Amiri and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) and, I have to say, something that really piqued my [research] attention. Describing how authors managed to design and construct a smartwatch with the ability to "detect three behaviors, including hand flapping, pa........ Read more »

Amiri AM, Peltier N, Goldberg C, Sun Y, Nathan A, Hiremath SV, & Mankodiya K. (2017) WearSense: Detecting Autism Stereotypic Behaviors through Smartwatches. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 5(1). PMID: 28264474  

  • March 25, 2017
  • 03:39 PM
  • 313 views

Shaking dinosaur hips and messing with their heads

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll This week brought astonishing news regarding the phylogeny of dinosaurus, as you perhaps have heard or read. New anatomical evidences have completely rebuilt the basis of the dinosaur family tree and I’m here to explain a … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • March 25, 2017
  • 06:37 AM
  • 338 views

Including the "full intellectual range" in autism vision research

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The paper by Alyse Brown and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) is probably not going to gain any significant media headlines (unlike other recent studies - see here and see here) but does cover a rather important question regarding the autism research landscape: how representative is autism research?Specifically looking at the collected research on visual processing (distinct from physical issues with the eyes that still require greater awareness) with autism in mind, the authors ........ Read more »

  • March 24, 2017
  • 08:58 AM
  • 283 views

Ammonium regulates mTOR signalling

by Joana Guedes in BHD Research Blog

mTORC1 and mTORC2 are two distinct mammalian TOR (target of rapamycin) complexes that regulate cell growth and metabolism. In cancer, genetic alterations lead to activation of mTOR signalling impacting tumour metabolism. Upregulated glutaminolysis is part of the metabolic reaction occurring in cancer that liberates high levels of ammonium, a toxic waste product. Although the importance of glutamine as a tumour nutrient is recognized, little is known about the potential effects of ammonium produc........ Read more »

  • March 24, 2017
  • 08:00 AM
  • 281 views

Friday Fellow: Divergent Dinobryon

by Piter Boll in Earthling Nature

by Piter Kehoma Boll Let’s return once more to the troublesome and neglected protists. This time I’m bringing you another tiny but beautiful alga, more precisely a golden alga. Its name is Dinobryon divergens and as usual there is no common … Continue reading →... Read more »

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