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  • July 2, 2014
  • 09:25 AM
  • 1,369 views

How Do Mosquitoes Find You?

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Spend much time outside in the summer and you will have to deal with mosquitoes. The mechanisms that females use to find a blood meal are becoming better understood. New research shows how the proboscis probes for a blood vessel, perhaps using the TRPA1 heat sensing ion channel as a signal for nearby blood.

Once they feed, females lay eggs. New research indicates that they actually prefer water that contains the dead larvae of similar mosquitoes, dead from predators. The presence of predator........ Read more »

  • June 29, 2014
  • 02:43 PM
  • 1,146 views

Wolf spiders walking on water

by Africa Gomez in BugBlog

The other day in the wildlife garden, I noticed a wolf spider, Pardosa sp., running on the pond water. I had to look closely as I had never seen them doing this and I wondered if it was a Pirate Wolf spider instead, which also live in the pond and are normally associated to water. But alas, no, it was definitely a common wolf spider like those living in my garden. She confortably moved by the water's edge, often with its front legs resting on the water surface, happily floated on the water ........ Read more »

  • June 26, 2014
  • 10:26 AM
  • 1,089 views

Why use fruit flies to study a gene involved in language?

by Björn Brembs in bjoern.brembs.blog

This is the story behind our work on the function of the FoxP gene in the fruit fly Drosophila (more background info). As so many good things, it started with beer. Troy Zars and I were having a beer on […] ↓ Read the rest of this entry...... Read more »

Mendoza, E., Colomb, J., Rybak, J., Pflüger, H., Zars, T., Scharff, C., & Brembs, B. (2014) Drosophila FoxP Mutants Are Deficient in Operant Self-Learning. PLoS ONE, 9(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100648  

  • June 25, 2014
  • 09:15 AM
  • 1,361 views

They Can See The Blood Running Through You

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Vampire bats sense heat via pit organs in their nose-leaves, but they find their victims by sight, smell and echolocation. New research shows that an alternatively spliced version of the capsaicin receptor TRPV1 is responsible for the heat sensing, but what do they use it for? Their teeth are so short that they must find blood vessels close to the surface – shallow vessels give off more heat than do deep vessels or skin where there is no large vessel.

Vampire bats occasionally feed on ........ Read more »

Patel R, Ispoglou S, & Apostolakis S. (2014) Desmoteplase as a potential treatment for cerebral ischaemia. Expert opinion on investigational drugs, 23(6), 865-73. PMID: 24766516  

Gracheva EO, Cordero-Morales JF, González-Carcacía JA, Ingolia NT, Manno C, Aranguren CI, Weissman JS, & Julius D. (2011) Ganglion-specific splicing of TRPV1 underlies infrared sensation in vampire bats. Nature, 476(7358), 88-91. PMID: 21814281  

  • June 24, 2014
  • 10:04 AM
  • 1,222 views

No need to only send your best work to Science Magazine

by Björn Brembs in bjoern.brembs.blog

The data clearly show that publications in Cell, Nature or Science (CNS for short), on average, cannot be distinguished from other publications, be it by methodology, reproducibility or other measures of quality. Even their citation advantage, while statistically significant, is […] ↓ Read the rest of this entry...... Read more »

  • June 20, 2014
  • 08:31 AM
  • 1,454 views

Journal Club: Passenger pigeon extinction: it’s complicated

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

A newly published study reveals that the extinction of the passenger pigeon likely was due to the combined effects of their natural dramatic population fluctuations and human over-exploitation. Read more... Read more »

Hung Chih-Ming, Shaner Pei-Jen L., Zink Robert M., Liu Wei-Chung, Chu Te-Chin, Huang Wen-San, & Li Shou-Hsien. (2014) Drastic population fluctuations explain the rapid extinction of the passenger pigeon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1401526111  

Groenen Martien A. M., Archibald Alan L., Uenishi Hirohide, Tuggle Christopher K., Takeuchi Yasuhiro, Rothschild Max F., Rogel-Gaillard Claire, Park Chankyu, Milan Denis, & Megens Hendrik-Jan. (2012) Analyses of pig genomes provide insight into porcine demography and evolution. Nature, 491(7424), 393-398. DOI: 10.1038/nature11622  

  • June 18, 2014
  • 09:15 AM
  • 928 views

Sneaking Up On A Snake

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Snakes have several ways of finding prey. Some use sight; many use taste and smell via the veromonasal organ. New research has identified the sensitivity of snake hearing, even though they don’t have an outer or middle ear. They sense vibrations by placing their lower jaws on the ground and the vibrations are transduced by the cochlea they do possess. Finally, new research is showing how the heat-sensing pits of pit vipers work. They use a mutated version of the thermosensor and noxious ch........ Read more »

Gracheva EO, Ingolia NT, Kelly YM, Cordero-Morales JF, Hollopeter G, Chesler AT, Sánchez EE, Perez JC, Weissman JS, & Julius D. (2010) Molecular basis of infrared detection by snakes. Nature, 464(7291), 1006-11. PMID: 20228791  

  • June 16, 2014
  • 04:26 PM
  • 1,585 views

Passenger pigeon extinction: it's complicated | @GrrlScientist

by GrrlScientist in GrrlScientist

A newly published study reveals that the extinction of the passenger pigeon likely was due to the combined effects of their natural dramatic population fluctuations and human over-exploitation.... Read more »

Hung Chih-Ming, Shaner Pei-Jen L., Zink Robert M., Liu Wei-Chung, Chu Te-Chin, Huang Wen-San, & Li Shou-Hsien. (2014) Drastic population fluctuations explain the rapid extinction of the passenger pigeon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1401526111  

Groenen Martien A. M., Archibald Alan L., Uenishi Hirohide, Tuggle Christopher K., Takeuchi Yasuhiro, Rothschild Max F., Rogel-Gaillard Claire, Park Chankyu, Milan Denis, & Megens Hendrik-Jan. (2012) Analyses of pig genomes provide insight into porcine demography and evolution. Nature, 491(7424), 393-398. DOI: 10.1038/nature11622  

  • May 22, 2014
  • 06:03 AM
  • 1,209 views

Journal Club: Wild mice actually enjoy running on exercise wheels

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: Wild mice frequently and voluntarily run on an exercise wheel if provided access to them in nature, even in the absence of a food reward -- findings that dispel the idea that wheel running is an artefact of captivity, indicative of a neurotic or repetitive stereotyped behaviour that may be associated with poor welfare. ... Read more »

Meijer J. H., & Robbers Y. (2014) Wheel running in the wild. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1786), 20140210-20140210. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0210  

  • May 21, 2014
  • 11:06 PM
  • 664 views

Free-living mice use running wheels

by Aurelie in Coffee break Science

Running has gotten very popular in the past few years. There was a time when jogger encounters were a relatively rare event on the streets but nowadays, it seems that anyone and everyone runs. I am often amazed at the … Continue reading →... Read more »

Meijer, J., & Robbers, Y. (2014) Wheel running in the wild. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1786), 20140210-20140210. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0210  

  • May 21, 2014
  • 12:08 PM
  • 1,387 views

Wild mice actually enjoy running on exercise wheels | @GrrlScientist

by GrrlScientist in GrrlScientist

Wild mice frequently and voluntarily run on an exercise wheel if provided access to them in nature, even in the absence of a food reward -- findings that dispel the idea that wheel running is an artefact of captivity, indicative of a neurotic or repetitive stereotyped behaviour that may be associated with poor welfare. ... Read more »

Meijer J. H., & Robbers Y. (2014) Wheel running in the wild. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1786), 20140210-20140210. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0210  

  • May 19, 2014
  • 11:07 PM
  • 1,415 views

The neuroscience of obsessive-compulsive disorder

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged










As awareness of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has grown over the years, so has the degree to which the disorder is misunderstood. For example, one common misperception is that individuals who suffer from OCD all engage in repetitious rituals like hand-washing, repeatedly checking the locks, or flicking the light switch on and off a specific number of times. While some people with OCD do experience ritualistic compulsions, this is not a necessary component of an OCD d........ Read more »

Radua, J., Grau, M., van den Heuvel, O., Thiebaut de Schotten, M., Stein, D., Canales-Rodríguez, E., Catani, M., & Mataix-Cols, D. (2014) Multimodal Voxel-Based Meta-Analysis of White Matter Abnormalities in Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology, 39(7), 1547-1557. DOI: 10.1038/npp.2014.5  

  • May 19, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 1,539 views

Turtle Activity: Living the Life in the Sun –-Guest Post–-

by David Steen in Living Alongside Wildlife


    Hello, our names are Sara Bresse and Nadeen Masarweh, and we are 5th year biology students at San Diego State University in California. This is our first time writing a blog post, and as a research assignment for our experimental ecology course, we observed turtle activity at our turtle pond on campus. Throughout the course of this semester we have conducted a few ecological class research ... Read more »

  • May 16, 2014
  • 07:29 PM
  • 1,160 views

Offspring recognition in Starlings

by Africa Gomez in BugBlog

The first Starling fledglings joined their parents in the lawn of the park this morning, running behind their parents begging for food, with a cacophony of calls. Starlings are highly social birds, they like to feed together so the chances are that the still dependent young will join unrelated young while still expecting to be fed by their parents. Starlings have very synchronised egg laying so that many young fledge on the same day. While they are at the nest, parents do not need to particularl........ Read more »

Frans Verheyen, R., Van Elsacker, L., & Pinxten, R. (1988) Timing of Offspring Recognition in Adult Starlings. Behaviour, 107(1), 122-130. DOI: 10.1163/156853988X00232  

  • May 14, 2014
  • 09:25 AM
  • 1,106 views

Cold Keeps You Warm

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Sensing cool temperatures is just as important for thermoregulation as is sensing warm temperatures. But the mechanisms are different. New research is showing that the TRPM8 cool sensing ion channel is important for thermoregulation, but we do not know yet how cool tmepratures open the channel. What is clear is that activation of TRPM8 on adipose tissue can increase UCP expression and increase mitochondria number. This increases BAT activity and makes WAT more like BAT to increase heat productio........ Read more »

Pogorzala LA, Mishra SK, & Hoon MA. (2013) The cellular code for mammalian thermosensation. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 33(13), 5533-41. PMID: 23536068  

Rossato M, Granzotto M, Macchi V, Porzionato A, Petrelli L, Calcagno A, Vencato J, De Stefani D, Silvestrin V, Rizzuto R.... (2014) Human white adipocytes express the cold receptor TRPM8 which activation induces UCP1 expression, mitochondrial activation and heat production. Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 383(1-2), 137-46. PMID: 24342393  

  • May 7, 2014
  • 08:59 PM
  • 1,215 views

Sex smells: pheromones in humans

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged










By the middle of the 20th century, biologists had become aware of a unique type of communication occurring among insects. The communication involved the secretion of substances that were similar to hormones in some ways, but also very different. While hormones are secreted into the bloodstream to elicit some reaction in the body, these substances exit the body and are used to elicit a reaction in a conspecific (another organism of the same species). They were given the nam........ Read more »

  • May 7, 2014
  • 09:05 AM
  • 1,213 views

Everybody Wants To Be Cool

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Capsaicin activates TRPV1 ion channels. Why do we care? Because that’s makes our mouth burn when we eat spicy food. But TRPV1 also senses noxious heat. On the other end of the scale, there are also ion channels for sensing cool and cold temperatures. But the TRPM8 cool receptor is also activated by menthol. This is much of the reason for menthol being added to cigarettes.

New research shows that menthol in cigarettes adds to the cytotoxicity of tobacco smoke, while menthol alone causes ........ Read more »

Noriyasu A, Konishi T, Mochizuki S, Sakurai K, Tanaike Y, Matsuyama K, Uezu K, & Kawano T. (2013) Menthol-enhanced cytotoxicity of cigarette smoke demonstrated in two bioassay models. Tobacco induced diseases, 11(1), 18. PMID: 24001273  

Brody AL, Mukhin AG, La Charite J, Ta K, Farahi J, Sugar CA, Mamoun MS, Vellios E, Archie M, Kozman M.... (2013) Up-regulation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in menthol cigarette smokers. The international journal of neuropsychopharmacology / official scientific journal of the Collegium Internationale Neuropsychopharmacologicum (CINP), 16(5), 957-66. PMID: 23171716  

Ashoor A, Nordman JC, Veltri D, Yang KH, Al Kury L, Shuba Y, Mahgoub M, Howarth FC, Sadek B, Shehu A.... (2013) Menthol binding and inhibition of α7-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. PloS one, 8(7). PMID: 23935840  

  • May 2, 2014
  • 07:12 AM
  • 1,519 views

Journal Club: Hummingbirds: still evolving endless forms most wonderful

by GrrlScientist in Maniraptora

SUMMARY: A new study finds that the rising Andes are tied to the rapid speciation of hummingbirds. This study also predicts that hummingbirds will evolve twice as many species as what we see today. ... Read more »

McGuire Jimmy A. , Witt Christopher C. , Remsen, Jr. J.V. , Corl Ammon , Rabosky Daniel L. , Altshuler Douglas L. , & Dudley Robert . (2014) Molecular Phylogenetics and the Diversification of Hummingbirds. Current Biology. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.016  

Hoorn C., Wesselingh F. P., ter Steege H., Bermudez M. A., Mora A., Sevink J., Sanmartin I., Sanchez-Meseguer A., Anderson C. L., & Figueiredo J. P. (2010) Amazonia Through Time: Andean Uplift, Climate Change, Landscape Evolution, and Biodiversity. Science, 330(6006), 927-931. DOI: 10.1126/science.1194585  

Doorn G. S. v., Noest A. J., & Hogeweg P. (1998) Sympatric speciation and extinction driven by environment dependent sexual selection. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 265(1408), 1915-1919. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.1998.0520  

  • April 16, 2014
  • 05:19 PM
  • 1,176 views

Sex in (floral) advertising

by Brooke LaFlamme in Molecular Love (and other facts of life)

Having a wingman can be helpful, but for many plants it’s absolutely crucial. Flowering plants don’t have smoky bars, speed dating or eHarmony. They have to rely entirely on their tiny wing—well, I guess “men” isn’t really appropriate. But unlike your witty friend who backs you up in the bar, pollinators don’t help plants with their dating life out of friendship alone. They need something in return, and flowers flaunt their assets to advertise the sweet ........ Read more »

  • April 16, 2014
  • 07:16 AM
  • 933 views

Tiger sharks: Each to their own diving depth

by Aileen Cudmore in Natural Reactions

Despite some broad similarities, the diving behaviour of tiger sharks appears to vary greatly amongst individuals.... Read more »

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