Nutrients in water may be a bonus for agricultureAgriculture producers may find they don't have to bottle their water from the Seymour Aquifer in the Rolling Plains to make it more valuable, as per Texas AgriLife Research scientists.
Drs. John Sij, Cristine Morgan and Paul DeLaune have studied nitrate levels in irrigation water from the Seymour Aquifer for the past three years, and have found nitrates can be as high as 40 parts per million. Though unacceptable for drinking, the water would........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 11/24/2008 10:06:48 PM)
Alonsoa unilabiataThanks again to Jackie Chambers for today''s entry (both the photograph and write-up)
There is something mysteriously attractive about Alonsoa unilabiata, or the mask flower. The pink flowers have a dark purple centre with two obvious yellow patches -- giving the slightly eerie effect of bright eyes looking out from behind a mask. The dark centre to the flower and contrasting yellow patches are characteristics shared by members of the........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 11/23/2008 4:32:40 PM)
Penguin on a raftThis little penguin takes a break from his game of tag with a killer whale to hop on these bystanders'' raft. (Thanks to Frau for the tip!)........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/23/2008 4:32:22 PM)
Angular observation of joints of geckos movingScholars in the Institute of Bio-inspired Structure and Surface Engineering (IBSS), Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (NUAA) used a three-dimensional locomotion video-recording and measuring system to observe and measure the angular rotation of joints in gecko's limbs when they were running on horizontal floor and climbing on vertical wall. This work helps us to understand gecko's locomotion from the view point of angle change........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/19/2008 8:34:12 PM)
Worker ants of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your fertilityThe highly specialized worker castes in ants represent the pinnacle of social organization in the insect world. As in any society, however, ant colonies are filled with internal strife and conflict. So what binds them together? More than 150 years ago, Charles Darwin had an idea and now he's been proven right.
Evolutionary biologists at McGill University have discovered molecular signals that can maintain social harmony in ants by putting........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/19/2008 7:39:26 PM)
How Do Bacteria Swim?Imagine yourself swimming in a pool: It's the movement of your arms and legs, not the viscosity of the water, that mostly dictates the speed and direction that you swim.
For tiny organisms, the situation is different. Microbes' speed and direction are subjected more to the physical vagaries of the fluid around them.
"For bacteria to swim in water," explained Jay Tang, associate professor of physics at Brown University, "it's like us........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 11/19/2008 7:33:45 PM)
Danger: Elephant CrossingWhy didn't the forest elephant cross the road? It feared for its life, as per results of a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Save the Elephants.
The threat of encounters with poachers rises as new roadways are carved into wildlife habitat in Central Africa's Congo Basin. Because these highly intelligent animals now associate roads with danger, they are avoiding them at all costs.
The authors of the study tracked 28........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/14/2008 9:18:23 PM)
Rare Cat CapturedThe world's rarest big cat recently emerged in the Russian Far East, proving this critically endangered leopard is still hanging tough. Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) captured and released "Alyona," a female Far Eastern leopard, in Russia at the end of October. She is one of an estimated 25 to 40 of these big cats in existence.
The capture was made in Primorsky Krai along the Russia-China border. Researchers from the........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/14/2008 9:05:17 PM)
Females compensate for unattractive partnersAttractive males promise quality offspring. Most female birds therefore invest a lot of energy in their attempts to breed with attractive partners. Not so the female zebra finch. If they have unattractive male partners, the females lay especially big eggs that contain a lot of nutrients. Because the finch pairs stay together for their entire lifespan, the female has no reason to save up resources for a subsequent and better partner. The low........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/14/2008 8:34:46 PM)
Stem Cells from Monkey Teeth Can Stimulate GrowthScientists at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have discovered dental pulp stem cells can stimulate growth and generation of several types of neural cells. Findings from this study, available in the recent issue of the journal Stem Cells, suggest dental pulp stem cells show promise for use in cell treatment and regenerative medicine, especially therapies linked to the central nervous system.
Dental stem cells........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/11/2008 9:35:05 PM)
Sea snakes seek out freshwater to slake thirstSea snakes may slither in saltwater, but they sip the sweet stuff.
So concludes a University of Florida zoologist in a paper appearing this month in the online edition of the November/recent issue of the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.
Harvey Lillywhite says it has been the "long-standing dogma" that the roughly 60 species of venomous sea snakes worldwide satisfy their drinking needs by drinking seawater, with internal salt........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/6/2008 8:11:52 PM)
Turtles alter nesting dates due to temperature changeTurtles nesting along the Mississippi River and other areas are altering their nesting dates in response to rising temperatures, says a researcher from Iowa State University.
Fred Janzen, a professor in ecology, evolution and organismal biology, has studied turtle nesting habits and also accumulated research going back decades in order to track the habits of the turtles to find out when they make nests and lay eggs.
"The results have been........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/6/2008 7:50:52 PM)
Water fleas help ecologists understand population dynamics(Santa Barbara, Calif.) A study of populations of tiny water fleas is helping ecologists to understand population dynamics, which may lead to predictions about the ecological consequences of environmental change.
The study is published in today's issue of the journal Nature The water flea, called Daphnia, plays a key role in the food web of a number of lakes.
Co-author Roger Nisbet, an ecologist based at the University of California,........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 10/31/2008 5:34:21 AM)
Predatory bacterial swarm uses rippling motion to reach preyLike something from a horror movie, the swarm of bacteria ripples purposefully toward their prey, devours it and moves on.
Scientists at the University of Iowa are studying this behavior in Myxococcus xanthus (M. xanthus), a bacterium usually found in soil, which preys on other bacteria.
Despite its deadly role in the bacterial world, M. xanthus is harmless to humans and might one day be used beneficially to destroy harmful bacteria on........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 10/29/2008 8:54:39 PM)
Study rules out inbreeding as cause of amphibian deformitiesEventhough research has linked inbreeding with elevated rates of deformity in a wide variety of animals, a new study finds it plays no part in the high occurence rate of malformation among salamanders.
Purdue University scientists recently examined 2,000 adult and juvenile salamanders and observed that 8 percent had visible deformities, mainly consisting of missing, extra or dwarfed digits (equivalent to fingers and toes). That is double the........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 10/28/2008 10:34:48 PM)
Global warming is killing frogs and salamandersFrogs and salamanders, those amphibious bellwethers of environmental danger, are being killed in Yellowstone National Park. The predator, Stanford scientists say, is global warming.
Biology graduate student Sarah McMenamin spent three summers in a remote area of the park searching for frogs and salamanders in ponds that had been surveyed 15 years ago. Almost everywhere she looked, she found a catastrophic decrease in the population.
The........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 10/28/2008 9:56:41 PM)
Diversity of trees in Ecuador's AmazonTrees in a hyper-diverse tropical rainforest interact with each other and their environment to create and maintain diversity, scientists report in the Oct. 24 issue of the journal Science This study was conducted in the Yasuni forest dynamics plot of the Pontificia Universidad Catlica del Ecuador, the most diverse tropical forest site linked to the Center for Tropical Forest Science/Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory network........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 10/23/2008 8:55:11 PM)
Man's best friend recruited in the hunt for disease genesFor centuries man has had a uniquely close relationship with dogs as a working animal, for security and, perhaps most importantly, for companionship. Now, dogs are taking on a new role they are helping in the hunt for genetic mutations that lead to diseases in humans.
"Dogs get very similar diseases to humans," said Kerstin Lindblad-Toh of Uppsala University in Sweden and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts. ........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 10/16/2008 10:46:28 PM)
Revealing the evolutionary history of threatened sea turtlesIt's confirmed: Even though flatback turtles dine on fish, shrimp, and mollusks, they are closely correlation to primarily herbivorous green sea turtles. New genetic research carried out by Eugenia Naro-Maciel, a Marine Biodiversity Scientist at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History, and his colleagues clarifies our understanding of the evolutionary relationships among all seven sea turtle........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 10/15/2008 5:43:58 PM)
As Sticky as a Gecko, but Ten Times Stronger!The gecko's amazing ability to stick to surfaces and walk up walls has inspired a number of scientists to manufacture materials that mimic the special surface of a gecko's foot. The secret behind the gecko's ability to stick so well is a forest of pillars at the micro-/nano-scale on the underside of the gecko's foot. Because there are so a number of pillars so close together, they are held tightly to the surface the gecko is walking on by a........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 10/15/2008 5:28:03 PM)
Synthetic virus supports a bat origin for SARSSARS severe acute respiratory syndrome alarmed the world five years ago as the first global pandemic of the 21st century. The coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that sickened more than 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 of them may have originated in bats, but the actual animal source is not known.
In an effort to understand how SARS-CoV may have jumped from bats to humans, a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/25/2008 10:25:17 PM)
Fastest mandible strike in the worldA single hit on the head by the termite Termes panamensis (Snyder), which possesses the fastest mandible strike ever recorded, is sufficient to kill a would-be nest invader, report Marc Seid and Jeremy Niven, post-doctoral fellows at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Rudolf Scheffrahn from the University of Florida.
Niven and Seid conducted the study at the Smithsonian's new neurobiology laboratory in Panama, established by a........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/24/2008 9:55:47 PM)
Uncovering secrets of life in the oceanLarvae of marine invertebrates worms, sponges, jellyfish - have the simplest eyes that exist. They consist of no more than two cells: a photoreceptor cell and a pigment cell. These minimal eyes, called eyespots, resemble the 'proto-eyes' suggested by Charles Darwin as the first eyes to appear in animal evolution. They cannot form images but allow the animal to sense the direction of light. This ability is crucial for phototaxis the swimming........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/19/2008 8:47:40 PM)
Scientists sequence woolly-mammoth genomeResearchers at Penn State are leaders of a team that is the first to report the genome-wide sequence of an extinct animal, as per Webb Miller, professor of biology and of computer science and engineering and one of the project's two leaders. The researchers sequenced the genome of the woolly mammoth, an extinct species of elephant that was adapted to living in the cold environment of the northern hemisphere. They sequenced four billion DNA........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/19/2008 8:44:20 PM)
Exploration of the ocean depths can benefit humankindA study reported in the scientific journal PLoS ONE highlights how the exploration of the ocean depths can benefit humankind. This is the story of a voyage of discovery, starting with marine animals that glow, the identification of the molecules responsible and their application as marker in living cells.
A number of marine organisms such as sea anemones and corals produce fluorescent proteins, which come in a variety of dazzling hues.........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 11/19/2008 8:30:30 PM)
DNA provides 'smoking gun' in the case of the missing songbirdsIt sounds like a tale straight from "CSI": The bully invades a home and does away with the victim, then is ultimately found out with the help of DNA evidence.
Except in this instance the bully and the victim are two species of songbirds in northwest North America, and the DNA evidence shows conclusively that one species once occupied the range now dominated by the other.
The case started about 400,000 years ago when encroaching glaciers........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/14/2008 9:25:54 PM)
Virunga Conflict Escalates, Gorillas at RiskThe ongoing conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has recently intensified. As a result more than 50 Congolese park rangers fled to safety from Virunga National Park and more than one million people have been displaced. The rebels have advanced to just outside of Goma - the regional capital - threatening the stability of the entire country.
While prior fighting had taken place inside some sectors of Virunga National Park, and........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/14/2008 9:22:16 PM)
Insight into the evolution of parasitismResearchers at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, together with American colleagues, have decoded the genome of the Pristionchus pacificus nematode, thereby gaining insight into the evolution of parasitism. In their work, which has been reported in the latest edition of Nature Genetics, the researchers from Professor Ralf J. Sommer's department in Tübingen have shown that the genome of the nematode consists of a surprisingly........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/14/2008 8:55:13 PM)
Formula for longer plant lifePlants that grow more slowly stay fresh longer. In their study now published in PLoS Biology, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen have shown that certain small sections of genes, so-called microRNAs, coordinate growth and aging processes in plants. These microRNAs inhibit certain regulators, known as TCP transcription factors. These transcription factors in turn influence the production of jasmonic........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 11/14/2008 8:51:08 PM)
Singing in slow motionAs anyone who watched the Olympics can appreciate, timing matters when it comes to complex sequential actions. It can make a difference between a perfect handspring and a fall, for instance. But what controls that timing? MIT researchers are closing in on the brain regions responsible, thanks to some technical advances and some help from songbirds.
"All our movements, from talking and walking to acrobatics or piano playing, are sequential........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 11/14/2008 8:15:49 PM)
Evolution's new wrinkleA team of Princeton University researchers has discovered that chains of proteins found in most living organisms act like adaptive machines, possessing the ability to control their own evolution.
The research, which appears to offer evidence of a hidden mechanism guiding the way biological organisms respond to the forces of natural selection, provides a new perspective on evolution, the researchers said.
The scientists -- Raj Chakrabarti,........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 11/11/2008 8:55:24 PM)
Coral reefs found growing in cold, deep oceanImagine descending in a submarine to the ice-cold, ink-black depths of the ocean, 800 metres under the surface of the Atlantic. Here the tops of the hills are covered in large coral reefs. NIOZ-researcher Furu Mienis studied the formation of these unknown cold-water relatives of the better-known tropical corals.
Furu Mienis studied the development of carbonate mounds dominated by cold-water corals in the Atlantic Ocean at depths of six........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 11/4/2008 10:40:44 PM)
"Living fossil" tree contains genetic imprintsA "living fossil" tree species is helping a University of Michigan researcher understand how tropical forests responded to past climate change and how they may react to global warming in the future.
The research appears in the recent issue of the journal Evolution.
Symphonia globulifera is a widespread tropical tree with a history that goes back some 45 million years in Africa, said Christopher Dick, an assistant professor of ecology and........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 10/31/2008 5:24:46 AM)
An Evolutionary Look at Sperm Holds Secrets of Mobility, FertilityThe fusion of sperm and egg succeeds in mammals because the sperm cells hyperactivate as they swim into the increasingly alkaline female reproductive tract. One fast-moving sperm drives on through the egg's fertilization barrier.
Mammals have sperm with a tail that reacts when calcium ions enter a microscopic channel in the tail and make the sperm go into overdrive. In fact, four genes are needed to produce the so-called CatSper ion channel........Go to the Biology-blog (Added on 10/31/2008 5:20:13 AM)
Amphibians'Ability to Predict Changes in BiodiversityBy Kim McDonald.
Biologists have long suspected that amphibians, whose moist permeable skins make them susceptible to slight changes in the environment, might be good bellwethers for impending alterations in biodiversity during rapid climate change.
Now two University of California biologists have verified the predictive power of this sensitive group of animals in a global study of species turnover among amphibians and birds. The study........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 10/28/2008 10:32:11 PM)
Fried purple tomatoesResearchers have expressed genes from snapdragon in tomatoes to grow purple tomatoes high in health-protecting anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are naturally occurring pigments found at especially high levels in berries such as blackberry, cranberry and chokeberry. Researchers are investigating ways to increase the levels of health-promoting compounds in more usually eaten fruits and vegetables.
"Most people do not eat 5 portions of fruits and........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 10/27/2008 5:40:00 AM)
Gene mutation in worms key to alcohol toleranceThe work follows a study carried out by Oregon Health and Science University, which suggested a link between a gene mutation in mice and tolerance to alcohol. Scientists at Liverpool have investigated this in worms, looking specifically at the role the gene plays in communication between cells in the nervous system.
This gene specifies the ways in which amino acids arrange themselves into a protein called UNC-18 or Munc18-1 in humans, an........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 10/22/2008 10:35:20 PM)
Current mass extinction spurs major study of which plants to save The Earth is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of both plants and animals, with nearly 50 percent of all species disappearing, researchers say.
Because of the current crisis, biologists at UC Santa Barbara are working day and night to determine which species must be saved. Their international study of grassland ecosystems, with flowering plants, is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
"The........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 10/20/2008 10:07:57 PM)
Genes hold secret of survival of Antarctic 'antifreeze fish'A genetic study of a fish that lives in the icy waters off Antarctica sheds light on the adaptations that enable it to survive in one of the harshest environments on the planet.
(To see an audio slide show on the fish, please go to: http://publicaffairs.illinois.edu/slideshows/Antarctic%5FNotothenioids/).
The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to search the genome of an Antarctic notothenioid fish........Go to the Animal-science-blog (Added on 10/16/2008 10:41:45 PM)
Creation of a new type of seed bank (Santa Barbara, Calif.) While an international seed bank in a Norwegian island has been gathering news about its agricultural collection, a group of U.S. researchers has just published an article outlining a different kind of seed bank, one that proposes the gathering of wild species at intervals in the future effectively capturing evolution in action.
In the recent issue of Bioscience, Steven J. Franks of Fordham University, Susan J.........Go to the Plant-science-blog (Added on 10/15/2008 5:35:09 PM)