Biology / News - CIRS

International Center for Scientific Research

News / Biology

Spare parts from small parts: Novel scaffolds to grow muscle

Science Daily - 21 February 2018

Australian biomedical engineers have developed a 3-D material that successfully mimics nature to transform cells into muscle.

New light on the mysterious origin of Bornean elephants

Science Daily - 12 February 2018

How did Borneo get its elephant? This could be just another of Rudyard Kipling's just so stories. The Bornean elephant is a subspecies of Asian Elephants that only exist in a small region of Borneo. Their presence on this southeastern Asian island has been a mystery. Scientists have discovered that elephants might have arrived on Borneo at a time of the last land bridge between the Sunda Islands in Southeast Asia.

Scientists develop new chemical tool to study RNA structures inside cells

sciencedaily - 04 February 2018

Scientists have created a new chemical tool that can analyze RNA structures within living cells. The technique could facilitate a better grasp of how RNA structures fold and form in cells, as well as help in the design of drugs targeting RNA.

Most abundant viruses in Earth's oceans identified

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 July 2017

Forty-four of the most abundant new viruses in all the Earth's oceans have been identified by scientists. The finding has been achieved thanks to the application of cutting-edge techniques that mix flow cytometry and genomics and molecular biology techniques.

Rules of the neural roads: Traffic control in your synapses

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 June 2017

In brain cells, neurotransmitters are carried inside “cellular vehicles”. Scientists elucidate the mechanisms behind the motion of these vehicles in mammalian synapses.

Uncovered: 1,000 new microbial genomes

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 June 2017

Scientists have taken a decisive step forward in uncovering the planet's microbial diversity. They report the release of 1,003 phylogenetically diverse bacterial and archaeal reference genomes -- the single largest release to date. The researchers are interested in learning more about this biodiversity because microbes play important roles in regulating Earth's biogeochemical cycles and uncovering gene functions and metabolic pathways has wide applications

Detailed new genome for maize shows the plant has deep resources for continued adaptation

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 June 2017

A much more detailed reference genome for maize has been published by researchers. The sequence of DNA letters in the plant's 10 chromosomes reveals how how incredibly flexible it is, a characteristic that directly follows from the way its genome is organized. This flexibility not only helps explain why maize has been so successful since its adaptation by agriculturalists thousands of years ago, but also bodes well for its ability to grow in new places as Earth's climate changes.

Analysis of complex protein interactions

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 June 2017

A new, novel approach to monitor functional protein complexes has now been created by scientists.

Reshaping Darwin's tree of life

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 June 2017

In 1859, Charles Darwin included a novel tree of life in his trailblazing book on the theory of evolution, On the Origin of Species. Now, scientists want to reshape Darwin's tree.

All in the eyes: What the pupils tells us about language

SCIENCEDAILY - 22 June 2017

The meaning of a word is enough to trigger a reaction in our pupil: when we read or hear a word with a meaning associated with luminosity ("sun," "shine," etc.), our pupils contract as they would if they were actually exposed to greater luminosity. And the opposite occurs with a word associated with darkness ("night," "gloom," etc.). These results open up a new avenue for better understanding how our brain processes language.

Animal evolution: Hot start, followed by cold shock

SCIENCEDAILY - 22 June 2017

The initial phases of animal evolution proceeded faster than hitherto supposed: New analyses suggest that the first animal phyla emerged in rapid succession -- prior to the global Ice Age that set in around 700 million years ago.

Drinking during adolescence can alter brain cell nerve growth

SCIENCEDAILY - 22 June 2017

The developmental period from adolescence to adulthood is accompanied by a greater vulnerability to addictions than is seen in other periods of life. A new report describes a study in mice of the neurobehavioral impact of chronic, intermittent alcohol-vapor exposure during adolescence, in an effort to model periodic heavy drinking and compare it with similar drinking behavior during adulthood.

How the Galapagos cormorant lost its ability to fly

SCIENCEDAILY - 07 June 2017

Changes to the genes that shortened the Galapagos cormorant's wings are the same genes that go awry in a group of human bone disorders characterized by stunted arms and legs, suggests new research. The findings shed light on the genetic mechanisms underlying the evolution of limb size and could eventually lead to new treatments for people with skeletal ciliopathies.

Chromosome cooperation is long-distance endeavor

SCIENCEDAILY - 07 June 2017

Multiple genomic elements work cooperatively and over long distances in order to ensure the proper functioning of chromosomes, a team of scientists has found.

Just how old are animals?

SCIENCEDAILY - 05 June 2017

The origin of animals was one of the most important events in the history of Earth. Beautifully preserved fossil embryos suggest that our oldest ancestors might have existed a little more than half a billion years ago.

Vision keeps maturing until mid-life

SCIENCEDAILY - 05 June 2017

The visual cortex, the human brain's vision-processing center that was previously thought to mature and stabilize in the first few years of life, actually continues to develop until sometime in the late 30s or early 40s, a neuroscientist has found.

Complex and highly regulated development of Dickinsonia, one of the oldest fossil animals, broadens our understanding of early evolution

SCIENCEDAILY - 24 May 2017

More than 550 million years ago, the oceans were teeming with flat, soft-bodied creatures that fed on microbes and algae and could grow as big as bathmats. Today, researchers are studying their fossils to unlock the secrets of early life. Researchers now show that Dickinsonia developed in a complex, highly regulated way using a similar genetic toolkit to today's animals

Space weather events linked to human activity

SCIENCEDAILY - 24 May 2017

Human activities, like nuclear tests and radio transmissions, have been changing near-Earth space and weather, and have created artificial radiation belts, damaged satellites and induced auroras.

Large volcanic eruption may have caused the first mass extinction

SCIENCEDAILY - 24 May 2017

Researchers say they may have found the cause of the first mass extinction of life.

World of viruses uncovered

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 December 2016

A pioneering study of invertebrates has discovered 1,445 viruses, including several new families, revealing people have only scratched the surface of the world of viruses.

Gut's microbial community shown to influence host gene expression

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 December 2016

New research is helping to tease out the mechanics of how the gut microbiome communicates with the cells of its host to switch genes on and off. The upshot of the study, another indictment of the so-called Western diet (high in saturated fats, sugar and red meat), reveals how the metabolites produced by the bacteria in the stomach chemically communicate with cells, including cells far beyond the colon, to dictate gene expression and health in its host.

Brain development: How a 'molecular compass' regulates proper cell division

SCIENCEDAILY - 19 November 2016

Researchers have unraveled how a tiny microRNA molecule controls growth and differentiation of brain cells.

Neanderthal inheritance helped humans adapt to life outside of Africa

SCIENCEDAILY - 19 November 2016

As the ancestors of modern humans made their way out of Africa to other parts of the world many thousands of years ago, they met up and in some cases had children with other forms of humans, including the Neanderthals and Denisovans. Scientists know this because traces of those meetings remain in the human genome. Now, researchers find more evidence that those encounters have benefited humans over the years.

New technology takes a nucleotide-resolution snapshot of RNA folding during synthesis

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 November 2016

By the time you reach the end of this sentence, RNA folding will have taken place in your body more than 10 quadrillion times. The folding of RNA is essential to life, yet because it happens so rapidly, researchers have difficulty studying the process

New window on mitochondria division

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 November 2016

For the first time, research shows the final stages of how mitochondria, the sausage-shaped, power-generating organelles found in nearly all living cells, regularly divide and propagate.

Strange behavior in the crowded cellular environment

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 November 2016

The powerful K computer has been used to show how molecules move within the extremely crowded interior of a bacterial cell.

Light shed on process of programmed mitochondrial cell death

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 November 2016

Employing a novel sensor made of graphene – a one-atom-thin layer of carbon – researchers have gained new insight into the process of programmed cell death in mitochondria, possibly opening the door to new ways of forcing cancer cells to self-destruct. They also hit a scientific jackpot of sorts by finding that an accepted paradigm of how cells create energy is only half-right.

On the origin of life: Studying how the first biomolecule self-replicated

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 November 2016

It's the ultimate chicken-or-egg conundrum: What was the "mother" molecule that led to the formation of life? And how did it replicate itself? One prominent school of thought proposes that RNA is the answer to the first question. Now researchers in this camp demonstrate RNA has more flexibility in how it recognizes itself than previously believed. The finding might change how we picture the first chemical steps towards replication and life

New study 'sheds light' on the mechanisms safeguarding the genome

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 November 2016

Understanding the molecular mechanisms that exist for cells to safeguard their genome against cancer-causing defects is crucial not only to understand how cancer arises but also because these mechanisms can be targeted therapeutically. Researchers have identified a new net of molecular interactions occurring within cells upon exposure to DNA damaging UV radiation.

How even our brains get 'slacker' as we age

SCIENCEDAILY - 02 November 2016

Losing the youthful firmness and elasticity in our skin is one of the first outward signs of aging. Now it seems it's not just our skin that starts to sag, but our brains too.

Metabolism: What is it and can it be controlled?

SCIENCEDAILY - 24 October 2016

“I have a fast metabolism; I can eat and eat and stay skinny.” Most of us have heard someone say this. But what is metabolism, and can we make ours run a bit faster? A new article helps break down what you should know about your metabolism.

How cells move

SCIENCEDAILY - 17 October 2016

It’s a known fact that cells can move around the body, but how they do it has been unknown – until now.

All non-Africans alive today likely descend from people within a single migration out of Africa

SCIENCEDAILY - 04 October 2016

A study of hundreds of new genomes from across the globe has yielded insights into modern genetic diversity and ancient population dynamics, including compelling evidence that essentially all non-Africans today descend from a single migration out of Africa.

Genetic ‘trace’ in Papuan genomes suggests two expansions out of Africa

SCIENCEDAILY - 04 October 2016

A new study of human genomic diversity suggests there may have in fact been two successful dispersals out of Africa, and that a “trace” of the earlier of these two expansion events has lingered in the genetics of modern Papuans.

I in eye contact

SCIENCEDAILY - 04 October 2016

Eye contact is a powerful social signal. Another person’s direct gaze not only increases physiological arousal, but it has, in fact, several different types of effects on cognition and behavior. Research has shown that seeing another person’s direct gaze increases peoples’ awareness of themselves, improves memory for contextually presented information, increases the likelihood of behaving in a pro-social manner, and makes people evaluate the gazer more positively. But why does a direct gaze have such diverse effects?

What's in a face? Study shows puberty changes facial recognition

SCIENCEDAILY - 04 October 2016

Faces are as unique as fingerprints and can reveal a great deal of information about our health, personalities, age, and feelings. Researchers recently discovered adolescents begin to view faces differently as they prepare for the transition to adulthood. The ability of adolescents to retune their face processing system, from showing a bias toward adult female faces as children, to preferring peer faces that match their own developmental stage in puberty, is part of the social metamorphosis that prepares them to take on adult social roles, say the authors of a new report.

Scientists track unexpected mechanisms of memory

SCIENCEDAILY - 04 October 2016

Our brains hold on to memories via physical changes in synapses, the tiny connections between neurons. Unexpected molecular mechanisms by which these changes take place have now been revealed by new research.

Scientists discover how cells put the brakes on protein production

SCIENCEDAILY - 04 October 2016

A new scientific study conducted by a team of geneticists has characterized how cells know when to stop translating DNA into proteins, a critical step in maintaining healthy protein levels and cell function.

Where you live shapes your immune system more than your genes

SCIENCEDAILY - 04 October 2016

Like fingerprints, immune systems vary from person to person. And although we all inherit a unique set of genes that help us respond to infections, recent studies have found that our history and environment--like where and with whom we live--are responsible for 60% to 80% of the differences between individual immune systems, while genetics account for the rest.

Oxygen levels were key to early animal evolution, strongest evidence now shows

SCIENCEDAILY - 28 September 2016

It has long puzzled scientists why, after 3 billion years of nothing more complex than algae, complex animals suddenly started to appear on Earth. Now, a team of researchers has put forward some of the strongest evidence yet to support the hypothesis that high levels of oxygen in the oceans were crucial for the emergence of skeletal animals 550 million years ago.

Youthful DNA in old age

SCIENCEDAILY - 28 September 2016

The DNA of young people is regulated to express the right genes at the right time. With the passing of years, the regulation of the DNA gradually gets disrupted, which is an important cause of aging. A study of over 3,000 people shows that this is not true for everyone: there are people whose DNA appears youthful despite their advanced years.

Four basic personality types identified: Pessimistic; optimistic; envious and trusting

SCIENCEDAILY - 20 September 2016

A study on human behavior has revealed that 90% of the population can be classified into four basic personality types: Optimistic, Pessimistic, Trusting and Envious. However, the latter of the four types, Envious, is the most common, with 30% compared to 20% for each of the other groups

Could quality of sleep have to do with sex differences?

SCIENCEDAILY - 20 September 2016

You may have noticed that women are more prone to sleep disturbances than men. They are, for instance, up to twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. Could there be a link between the body clock that regulates sleep and being a female or a male? Yes, according to a new study.

Stress negatively affects chances of conception, science shows

SCIENCEDAILY - 20 September 2016

Women who reported feeling more stressed during their ovulatory window were approximately 40-percent less likely to conceive during that month than other less stressful months, research shows.

The whole of epigenetic regulation may be greater than the sum of its parts

SCIENCEDAILY - 13 September 2016

Scientists may be closer to answering a long-standing question in biology -- how do the components of cells' molecular machinery work together to transmit vital gene regulatory information from one cell generation to the next?

Driving or talking? The brain concentrates on one thing at a time

SCIENCEDAILY - 13 September 2016

When we are busy with something that requires the use of sight, the brain reduces hearing to make it easy for us, concludes a new study. The results give researchers a deeper understanding of what happens in the brain when we concentrate on something.

Linking RNA structure and function

SCIENCEDAILY - 13 September 2016

Several years ago, biologists discovered a new type of genetic material known as long noncoding RNA. This RNA does not code for proteins and is copied from sections of the genome once believed to be "junk DNA." Now, in a related study, biologists have discovered how an enigmatic type of RNA helps to control cell fate.

Brain connections are more sophisticated than thought

SCIENCEDAILY - 13 September 2016

Inhibitory connections between neurons act as the brain's brakes, preventing it from becoming overexcited. Researchers thought inhibitory connections were less sophisticated than their excitatory counterparts because relatively few proteins were known to exist at these structures. But a new study overturns that assumption, uncovering 140 proteins that have never been mapped to inhibitory synapses. Some of the proteins have already been implicated in autism, intellectual disability and epilepsy, suggesting new treatment avenues.

The genesis project: New life on exoplanets

SCIENCEDAILY - 05 September 2016

Can life be brought to celestial bodies outside our solar system which are not permanently inhabitable? This is the question with which experts are dealing in a recent essay.

Trauma's epigenetic fingerprint observed in children of Holocaust survivors

SCIENCEDAILY - 05 September 2016

The children of traumatized people have long been known to be at increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder, and mood and anxiety disorders. However, according to researchers, there are very few opportunities to examine biologic alterations in the context of a watershed trauma in exposed people and their adult children born after the event.

A new Goldilocks for habitable planets

SCIENCEDAILY - 29 August 2016

The search for habitable, alien worlds needs to make room for a second 'Goldilocks,' according to a researcher. A new study suggests that simply being in the habitable zone isn't sufficient to support life. A planet also must start with an internal temperature that is just right.

Brain more robust than previously thought

SCIENCEDAILY - 29 August 2016

The brain is well capable of coping with the erratic way individual brain cells transmit information. This robustness is quite useful because variation in signal transmission doesn't merely concern noise, but also contains valuable information, explain neuroscientists.

Origin of the long body of snakes

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 August 2016

A research team has discovered the key factor that regulates trunk development in vertebrates and explains why snakes have such a strikingly different body. These findings may open new avenues to the study of spinal cord regeneration.

Discovery of a unique subcellular structure determining the orientation of cell division

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 August 2016

New work has revealed that in the sea squirt embryo, the orientation of the cell division machinery in epithelial cells is controlled by a unique cell membrane structure, which we call an 'invagination.'

Lions in West and Central Africa apparently unique

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 August 2016

Lions in West and Central Africa form a unique group, only distantly related to lions in East and Southern Africa, biologists have discovered.

Our ancestors: More gorilla than chimp

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 August 2016

A new study that for the first time examined the internal anatomy of a fossil human relative's heel bone, or calcaneus, shows greater similarities with gorillas than chimpanzees.

Total number of neurons -- not enlarged prefrontal region -- hallmark of human brain

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 August 2016

New study has determined that the total number of neurons, not an enlarged prefrontal region, differentiates the human brain from those of other primates.

Global crosstalk limits gene regulation

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 August 2016

Scientists at the interface of biophysics, evolutionary biology and systems biology have developed a new framework to analyze effects of global crosstalk on gene regulation, a new report explains.

New genome reveals how Arctic microbes survive in cold extreme habitats

SCIENCEDAILY - 07 August 2016

Scientists have revealed how a tiny Arctic microbe, crucial to shaping the surface of glaciers, survives in such extreme conditions.

Is Earthly life premature from a cosmic perspective?

SCIENCEDAILY - 07 August 2016

The universe is 13.8 billion years old, while our planet formed just 4.5 billion years ago. Some scientists think this time gap means that life on other planets could be billions of years older than ours. However, new theoretical work suggests that present-day life is actually premature from a cosmic perspective.

Map provides detailed picture of how the brain is organized

SCIENCEDAILY - 25 July 2016

A detailed new map lays out the landscape of the cerebral cortex -- the outermost layer of the brain and the dominant structure involved in distinctly human functions such as language, tool use and abstract thinking. The map will accelerate progress in the study of brain diseases, as well as help to elucidate what makes us unique as a species.

Neuroscientists' study sheds light on how words are represented in the brain

SCIENCEDAILY - 25 July 2016

Using direct neural recordings from the visual word form area, researchers were able to see words that patients read as the patients read them.

How do cells recover their shape after being subjected to external forces?

SCIENCEDAILY - 25 July 2016

Human cells show deformation under the influence of external forces. But how do they recover their original shape afterwards? This mechanism, which is important in medicine and biology, has been described for the first time.

Ridiculously cute mouse lemurs hold key to Madagascar's past

SCIENCEDAILY - 25 July 2016

Scientists studied mouse lemur DNA to determine how Madagascar's landscape changed over time -- since the lemurs are forest-dependent, changes in their DNA show how Madagascar's forests changed thousands of years ago. The study indicates that Madagascar's habitats were changing long before humans arrived on the island.

If life can make it here, it can make it anywhere

SCIENCEDAILY - 18 July 2016

If the origin of life is common on other worlds, the universe should be a cosmic zoo full of complex multicellular organisms. Scientists use the evolution of Earth life as a model to predict what humans might find living on distant planets and moons in a new paper.

New discovery on how the inner ear works

SCIENCEDAILY - 18 July 2016

Parts of the inner ear that process sounds such as speech and music seem to work differently than other parts of the inner ear, researchers have discovered.

Evolutionary biologists show that sexual selection increases the number of species and impacts global diversity

SCIENCEDAILY - 28 June 2016

When you're a firefly, finding "the one" can change the world. Literally. A new study demonstrates that for fireflies, octopuses and other animals that choose mates via bioluminescent courtship, sexual selection increases the number of species -- thereby impacting global diversity.

Human brain houses diverse populations of neurons, new research shows

SCIENCEDAILY - 28 June 2016

A team of researchers has developed the first scalable method to identify different subtypes of neurons in the human brain. The research lays the groundwork for 'mapping' the gene activity in the human brain and could help provide a better understanding of brain functions and disorders, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, schizophrenia and depression.

Scientists reveal sub-Saharan Africa's legacy of past migrations over last 4,000 years

SCIENCEDAILY - 28 June 2016

Researchers have revealed that the genetic ancestries of many of sub-Saharan Africa's populations are the result of historical DNA mixing events, known as admixture, within the last 4,000 years.

Scientists glimpse why life can't happen without water

SCIENCEDAILY - 28 June 2016

Scientists are getting closer to directly observing how and why water is essential to life as we know it.

How early mammals evolved night vision to avoid predators

SCIENCEDAILY - 28 June 2016

Early mammals evolved in a burst during the Jurassic period, adapting a nocturnal lifestyle when dinosaurs were the dominant daytime predator. How these early mammals evolved night vision to find food and survive has been a mystery, but a new study suggests that rods in the mammalian eye, extremely sensitive to light, developed from color-detecting cone cells during this time to give mammals an edge in low-light conditions.

‘Undead’ genes come alive days after life ends

Science - 27 June 2016

Does death really mean the end of our existence? Great thinkers from Plato to Blue Öyster Cult have weighed in on the question. Now, a study shows that that at least one aspect of life continues: Genes remain turned on days after animals die. Researchers may be able to parlay this postmortem activity into better ways of preserving donated organs for transplantation and more accurate methods of determining when murder victims were killed.

How older people learn

SCIENCEDAILY - 20 June 2016

As a person ages, perception declines, accompanied by augmented brain activity. Learning and training may ameliorate age-related degradation of perception, but age-related brain changes cannot be undone. Rather, brain activity is enhanced even further, but for other reasons and with different outcomes.

Life's origins may result from low-energy electron reactions in space

SCIENCEDAILY - 20 June 2016

New findings from a systematic study demonstrate that early building blocks of life may be produced when low-energy (< 20 eV) electrons interact with cosmic (interstellar, planetary, and cometary) ices. This work adds crucial data to the study of the 'chemistry of the heavens.'

Weight and diet may help predict sleep quality

SCIENCEDAILY - 16 June 2016

The old adage 'you are what you eat,' may be better phrased as 'your sleep relates to what you eat.' An individual's body composition and caloric intake can influence time spent in specific sleep stages, according to results of a new study.

Mammals began their takeover long before the death of the dinosaurs

SCIENCEDAILY - 13 June 2016

New research reports that, contrary to popular belief, mammals began their massive diversification 10 to 20 million years before the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Bacteria perfected protein complexes more than 3.5 billion years ago

SCIENCEDAILY - 13 June 2016

Researchers are resurrecting ancient bacterial protein complexes to determine how 3.5-billion-year-old cells functioned versus cells of today. Surprisingly, they are not that different. Despite a popular hypothesis that primordial organisms had simple enzyme proteins, evidence suggests that bacteria around 500 million years after life began already had the sophisticated cellular machinery that exists today.

Brain power: Why do humans have the largest cerebral cortex?

SCIENCEDAILY - 07 June 2016

The expansion of the cerebral cortex sets humans apart from the rest of their fellow primates. Yet scientists have long wondered what mechanisms are responsible for this evolutionary development. New research has pinpointed a specific long nocoding ribonucleic acid that regulates neural development.

Powerful role of experience in linking language and cognition in infants

SCIENCEDAILY - 31 May 2016

Even before infants understand their first words, they have already begun to link language and thought. Listening to language boosts infant cognition. New evidence provides even greater insight into the crucial role of language exposure in infants' first months of life.

Top 10 new species for 2016

SCIENCEDAILY - 31 May 2016

A hominin in the same genus as humans and an ape nicknamed "Laia" are among the discoveries identified by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry as the Top 10 New Species for 2016. Also on the list are a giant Galapagos tortoise, a seadragon, an anglerfish, three invertebrates, a carnivorous sundew and a small tree.

Rapid rise of the Mesozoic sea dragons

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 May 2016

In the Mesozoic, the time of the dinosaurs, from 252 to 66 million years ago, marine reptiles such as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs were top predators in the oceans. But their origins and early rise to dominance have been somewhat mysterious.

Shedding light on the 'dark matter' of the genome

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 May 2016

What used to be dismissed by many as 'junk DNA' is back with a vengeance as growing data points to the importance of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) -- genome's messages that do not code for proteins -- in development and disease. Researchers have developed a method that enables scientists to explore in depth what ncRNAs do in human cells.

Scientists discover the evolutionary link between protein structure and function

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 May 2016

A new study demonstrates the evolution of protein structure and function over 3.8 billion years. Snippets of genetic code, consistent across organisms and time, direct proteins to create 'loops,' or active sites that give proteins their function. The link between structure and function in proteins can be thought of as a network. Demonstrating evolution in this small-scale network may help others understand how other networks, such as the internet, change over time.

Influence of religion and predestination on evolution and scientific thinking

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 May 2016

Seen as antithetical to one another, evolution and religion can hardly fit in a scientific discourse simultaneously. One expert has observed the influences a few major religions have had on evolutionists and their scientific thinking. Inspired by the lack of pigmentation and/or eyes in some cave organisms, he focuses on biospeleology to challenge the notions of predetermination and linearity.

Nature vs. Nuture? Both are important, anthropologist argues

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 May 2016

Some anthropologists try to understand how societies and histories construct our identities, and others ask about how genes and the environment do the same thing. Which is the better approach? Both are needed, argues a biological anthropologist.

Relationship satisfaction depends on the mating pool, study finds

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 May 2016

Relationship satisfaction and the energy devoted to keeping a partner are dependent on how the partner compares with other potential mates, a finding that relates to evolution's stronghold on modern relationship psychology, according to a study.

Cooperation, not struggle for survival, drives evolution, say researchers

SCIENCEDAILY - 15 May 2016

Using a new conceptual evolutionary model, investigators have reviewed the debated mechanism of speciation, suggesting that competition and a struggle for the existence are not the main drivers of evolution. This research points out the importance of avoidance of competition, biological history, endogenosymbiosis, and three-dimensionality as the main forces that structure ecosystems and allow the evolution of biological diversity.

Researchers unveil new, detailed images of DNA transcription

SCIENCEDAILY - 15 May 2016

An unprecedented molecular view of the critical early events in gene expression, a process essential for all life, has been provided by researchers in a new study. Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), a technique that studies samples at cryogenic temperatures, combined with state-of-the-art computational modeling, allowed researchers to visualize large transcription pre-initiation complexes (PIC) at near-atomic resolution.

Climate change may have contributed to extinction of Neanderthals

SCIENCEDAILY - 15 May 2016

Neanderthals in Europe showed signs of nutritional stress during periods of extreme cold, suggesting climate change may have contributed to their demise around 40,000 years ago.

What mountain gorillas reveal with their teeth

SCIENCEDAILY - 15 May 2016

Mountain gorillas from Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda eat up to 30 kilos of plants a day and their diet is highly varied in a habitat that is becoming increasingly fragmented as a result of illegal hunting and deforestation. For the first time, a study shows how dental morphology adapts to the food that is available. The information from the wear on their teeth is used to identify specimens that disappear.

The anatomy of flower color

SCIENCEDAILY - 15 May 2016

Roses are red, violets are blue. Everybody knows that, but what makes them so? Although plant breeders were aware of some of the genes involved, there was as yet no quantitative study of how pigment turns a flower red, blue or yellow.

Deep-water seaweed evolved into a multi-cellular plant more than 540 million years ago

SCIENCEDAILY - 15 May 2016

The discovery of a deep-water seaweed that evolved into a multi-cellular plant more than 540 million years ago has added a new branch to the tree of life, according to biologists.

Mechanism found that causes cancer cells to escape from immune system, form tumors

SCIENCEDAILY - 15 May 2016

When cancer cells are able to block the function of a gene called NLRC5, they are able to evade the immune system and form tumors, according to research. The discovery indicates NLRC5 as a novel biomarker for cancer patient survival and therapeutic response, as well as a potential target for new treatments

Origin of dromedary camel domestication discovered

SCIENCEDAILY - 15 May 2016

Dromedaries have been used for transportation for over 3,000 years. But it was not known where they were first domesticated or which genetic structure was selected in the process. A team of researchers has now identified the origin of the domesticated dromedary and showed that the dromedaries, unlike other domesticated animals, have maintained extensive gene flow in the modern population.

Insight into the mystery of smell

SCIENCEDAILY - 15 May 2016

Researchers have uncovered the mechanism underlying a phenomenon in how we smell that has puzzled researchers for several decades. In a new article, the team reports that, surprisingly, the mechanism follows a simple physics principle called cooperativity.

Humans have faster metabolism than closely related primates, enabling larger brains

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 May 2016

Researchers have found humans have a higher metabolism rate than closely related primates, which enabled humans to evolve larger brains. The findings may point toward strategies for combating obesity.

Comet craters: literal melting pots for life on Earth

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 May 2016

Large meteorite and comet impacts into the sea are now believed to have formed the nurseries from which life on Earth first sparked.

Alternative explanations for the evolution of monogamy and sibling cooperation

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 May 2016

The textbook 'monogamy hypothesis' argues that monogamy favors the evolution of cooperation by increasing sibling relatedness, since helpers are as related to the full siblings that they care for as they are to their own offspring. Two experts in social and reproductive behavior say that the proof isn't all there.

Discovery of a fundamental limit to the evolution of the genetic code

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 May 2016

A new study offers an explanation as to why the genetic code, the dictionary used by organisms to translate genes into protein, stopped growing 3,000 million years ago.

How and why single cell organisms evolved into multicellular life

SCIENCEDAILY - 06 May 2016

The genome sequencing of the algae, Gonium pectorale, provides valuable clues into how and why single cells live together in groups -- one of the earliest steps on the path to a multicellular existence.

Researchers use viral particles to trap intact mammalian protein complexes

PHYS.ORG - 01 May 2016

Belgian scientists from VIB and UGent developed Virotrap, a viral particle sorting approach for purifying protein complexes under native conditions. This method catches a bait protein together with its associated protein partners in virus-like particles that are budded from human cells. Like this, cell lysis is not needed and protein complexes are preserved during purification. The development and application of this pioneering technique are described in a paper published this week in Nature Communications.

Unveiling the grammar of biological cells

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

Cells in the body exchange a number of signals with their surroundings. Deficient signal pathways may adversely affect the function of cells and cause diseases. However, we hardly know more than the vocabulary of cellular language. It is unknown how the “words” are combined in “sentences”. If cell grammar was known, complex processes in cells might be understood. Researchers have now presented a method to decode the grammar of cell signals.

Finding the Genetic Cause for Intellectual disability

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

Disorders in the same gene PIGG are the cause for intellectual disability with seizures and hypotonia, scientists have discovered. PIGG is one of the enzymes active in the GPI anchor glycolipid synthesis and the current study revealed its significance in the development of the cerebral nervous system.

Study of chimpanzees explores early origins of human hand dexterity

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

Chimpanzees use manipulative dexterity to evaluate and select figs, a vital resource when preferred foods are scarce, according to a new study. The action resembles that of humans shopping for fruits, and the study demonstrates the foraging advantages of opposable fingers and careful manual prehension, or the act of grasping an object with precision. The findings shed new light on the ecological origins of hands with fine motor control.

Brain processes which lead to the concept of 'zero' on the number line

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

Neuroscientists discover brain processes which lead to the concept of “zero” on the number line.

Powerful genetic regulator identified as risk factor for schizophrenia

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

By turning skin cells into brain neurons, researchers have identified that certain tiny molecules aiding in gene expression, known as microRNAs (miRNAs), are under-expressed in the brains of the 14 schizophrenia patients they studied.

Fossil teeth suggest that seeds saved bird ancestors from extinction

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

When the dinosaurs became extinct, plenty of small bird-like dinosaurs disappeared along with giants like Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. Why only some of them survived to become modern-day birds remains a mystery. Now, researchers suggest that abrupt ecological changes following a meteor impact may have been more detrimental to carnivorous bird-like dinosaurs, and early modern birds with toothless beaks were able to survive on seeds when other food sources declined.

Plant signals travel different routes to turn on defense

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

Faced with a pathogen, important signaling chemicals within plant cells travel different routes to inform the plant to turn on its defense mechanisms, according to a recent study.

DNA proves mammoths mated beyond species boundaries

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

New research examining the DNA of North American mammoths challenges the way we categorize a species. Several species of mammoth are thought to have roamed across the North American continent. The new study results show that while mammoths clearly evolved differences in their physical appearance to deal with different environments, it did not prohibit them from cross-breeding and producing healthy offspring.

Bird genomes contain 'fossils' of parasites that now infect humans

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

In rare instances, DNA is known to have jumped from one species to another. If a parasite's DNA jumps to its host's genome, it could leave evidence of that parasitic interaction that could be found millions of years later -- a DNA 'fossil' of sorts. An international research team has discovered a new type of so-called transposable element that occurred in the genomes of certain birds and nematodes.

Research links heart disease with testosterone

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

Testosterone might be involved in explaining why men have a greater risk of heart attacks than women of similar age, according to a study.

Bigger brains led to bigger bodies in our ancestors

SCIENCEDAILY - 26 April 2016

New research suggests that humans became the large-brained, large-bodied animals we are today because of natural selection to increase brain size. The work contradicts previous models that treat brain size and body size as independent traits. Instead, the study shows that brain size and body size are genetically linked and that selection to increase brain size will 'pull along' body size.

Do gut microbes shape our evolution?


Scientists increasingly realize the importance of gut and other microbes to our health and well-being, but one UC Berkeley biologist is asking whether these microbes—our microbiota—might also have played a role in shaping who we are by steering evolution.

Genetic diversity helps to limit infectious disease

SCIENCEDAILY - 18 April 2016

The idea that host diversity can limit disease outbreaks is not new. For example, crop monocultures in agriculture -- which lack genetic diversity -- can suffer severe disease outbreaks that sweep through the entire population. But why is this? Genetic diversity helps to reduce the spread of diseases by limiting parasite evolution, new research shows.

Repairing DNA damage in the human body

SCIENCEDAILY - 18 April 2016

DNA repair is compromised at important regions of our genome, shedding new light on the human body's capacity to repair DNA damage, medical scientists have discovered.

Origin of life: Temperature gradients within pores in rock could have separated primitive biopolymers

SCIENCEDAILY - 18 April 2016

Physicists report that temperature gradients within pores in rock could have separated primitive biopolymers on the basis of their sequences -- a vital precondition for the formation of self-replicating systems in the primordial ocean.

How the brain produces consciousness in 'time slices'

SCIENCEDAILY - 18 April 2016

Scientists propose a new way of understanding of how the brain processes unconscious information into our consciousness. According to the model, consciousness arises only in time intervals of up to 400 milliseconds, with gaps of unconsciousness in between.

Sexually transmitted infections, peer pressure may have turned humans into monogamists

SCIENCEDAILY - 18 April 2016

Prehistoric humans may have developed social norms that favor monogamy and punish polygamy thanks to the presence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and peer pressure, according to new research. As hunter-gatherers began living in larger populations of early settled agriculturalists, the spread of STIs could explain a shift towards the emergence of social norms that favored one sexual partner over many.

New insights into how the brain adapts to stress

SCIENCEDAILY - 18 April 2016

Genes in the brain that play a crucial role in behavioral adaptation to stressful challenges are controlled by epigenetic mechanisms. Adaptation to stress is known to require changes in the expression of so-called immediate-early genes in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus, a brain region that plays a crucial role in learning and memory, scientsts report.

Wealth of unsuspected new microbes expands tree of life

SCIENCEDAILY - 18 April 2016

Scientists have dramatically expanded the tree of life, which depicts the variety and evolution of life on Earth, to account for thousands of new microscopic life forms discovered over the past 15 years. The expanded view finally gives bacteria and Archaea their due, showing that about two-thirds of all diversity on Earth is bacterial -- half bacteria that cannot be isolated and grown in the lab -- while nearly one-third is Archaeal.

Neanderthals may have been infected by diseases carried out of Africa by humans

SCIENCEDAILY - 18 April 2016

A review of latest genetic evidence suggests infectious diseases are tens of thousands of years older than previously thought, and that they could jump between species of 'hominin.' Researchers says that humans migrating out of Africa would have been 'reservoirs of tropical disease' -- disease that may have sped up Neanderthal extinction.

New understanding on how fundamental DNA sequences govern gene activity

SCIENCEDAILY - 11 April 2016

Researchers have shed new light on how the structure of regulatory sequences in DNA is packaged in a cell. This work has implications for better understanding the role that gene sequences called enhancers play within our DNA for governing gene activity.

Modern men lack Y chromosome genes from Neanderthals

SCIENCEDAILY - 11 April 2016

The Neanderthal counterpart of the human Y chromosome, or male sex chromosome, appears to have died out. Why this happened is up for debate.

Ensuring the integrity of our genetic material during reproduction

SCIENCEDAILY - 11 April 2016

The genetic information we receive from our parents in the form of chromosomes are mosaics assembled from the two copies of chromosomes each parent has. How such cuts -- or breaks -- in our genetic material are repaired is the research interest of a team of researchers whose findings give important insights into the processes that ensure the integrity of our genetic material, preventing genetic disease and cancer development.

Genetic elements that drive regeneration uncovered

SCIENCEDAILY - 11 April 2016

Salamanders and fish possess genes that can enable healing of damaged tissue and even regrowth of missing limbs. The key to regeneration lies not only in the genes, but in the DNA sequences that regulate expression of those genes in response to an injury. Researchers have discovered regulatory sequences that they call 'tissue regeneration enhancer elements' or TREEs, which can turn on genes in injury sites.

The science behind bodily secretions

SCIENCEDAILY - 11 April 2016

The secretion of fluids like saliva and digestive juices are important in countless activities that keep our bodies running day and night. When secretions are disrupted, diseases like dry mouth and pancreatitis occur. A new study uncovers a previously mysterious process that makes these secretions possible.

Sensation-seeking may be linked to brain anatomy

SCIENCEDAILY - 11 April 2016

People prone to seeking stimulation and acting impulsively may have differences in the structure of their brains.

Biomechanics team discovers how insects repair their 'bones'

SCIENCEDAILY - 11 April 2016

Biomechanics researchers have discovered that insects repair their injured bodies by deploying a DIY cuticle repair kit after meeting with mishap. Repaired limbs provide around two-thirds of their original strength, which helps individuals from the world's most diverse group of animals to survive in the wild. The study is the first to ever assess the biomechanics of repair in arthropods.

Scientists explain evolution of some of the largest dinosaurs

SCIENCEDAILY - 05 April 2016

Scientists have developed computer models of the bodies of sauropod dinosaurs to examine the evolution of their body shape.

A world map of Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry in modern humans

SCIENCEDAILY - 05 April 2016

Most non-Africans possess at least a little bit Neanderthal DNA. But a new map of archaic ancestry suggests that many bloodlines around the world, particularly of South Asian descent, may actually be a bit more Denisovan, a mysterious population of hominids that lived around the same time as the Neanderthals. The analysis also proposes that modern humans interbred with Denisovans about 100 generations after their trysts with Neanderthals.

Study finds vast diversity among viruses that infect bacteria

SCIENCEDAILY - 29 March 2016

Viruses that infect bacteria are among the most abundant life forms on Earth. Our oceans and soils, and potentially even our own bodies, would be overrun with bacteria were it not for bacteria-eating viruses--called bacteriophages--that keep the microbial balance in check. Now, a new study suggests that bacteriophages made of RNA -- a close chemical cousin of DNA -- likely play a much larger role in shaping the bacterial makeup of worldwide habitats than previously recognized.

Unraveling the mystery of stem cells

SCIENCEDAILY - 29 March 2016

How do neurons become neurons? They all begin as stem cells, undifferentiated and with the potential to become any cell in the body. Now neuroscientists document some of the first steps in the process by which a stem cell transforms into different cell types.

Ancient seaweed fossils some of the oldest of multicellular life

SCIENCEDAILY - 29 March 2016

Paleontologists have found fossilized multicellular marine algae, or seaweed, dating back more than 555 million years, ranking among the oldest examples of multicellular life on Earth.

Brain metabolism predicts fluid intelligence in young adults

SCIENCEDAILY - 29 March 2016

A healthy brain is critical to a person's cognitive abilities, but measuring brain health can be a complicated endeavor. A new study reports that healthy brain metabolism corresponds with fluid intelligence -- a measure of one's ability to solve unusual or complex problems -- in young adults.

Sleep suppresses brain rebalancing

SCIENCEDAILY - 29 March 2016

Why humans and other animals sleep is one of the remaining deep mysteries of physiology. A study shows that homeostatic mechanisms are indeed gated by sleep and wake, but in the opposite direction from that theorized previously.

The invisible world of human perception

SCIENCEDAILY - 29 March 2016

Perception experts have long known that we see less of the world than we think we do. We create mental models of our surroundings by stitching together scraps of information gleaned while shifting attention from place to place. The process that creates the illusion of a complete picture relies on filtering out most of what's out there. Now, researchers find people have more control over what gets filtered out than previously believed.

Natural selection has shaped the ways in which babies grow in different species, including the rate or speed with which they develop

SCIENCEDAILY - 21 March 2016

Natural selection has shaped the ways in which babies grow in different species, including the rate or speed with which they develop. A new study by Canadian researchers suggests that some baby monkeys develop faster than others in the same population, and that this is best explained by the threat of infanticide they face.

Archaic Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA that persists in modern Pacific islanders of Melanesia, far from the Siberian cave where Denisovan fossils have been found, is a source of information about early human history

SCIENCEDAILY - 21 March 2016

Archaic Denisovan and Neanderthal DNA that persists in modern Pacific islanders of Melanesia, far from the Siberian cave where Denisovan fossils have been found, is a source of information about early human history. Equally informative are genome regions where DNA from extinct, human-like species has vanished and been replaced with sequences unique to people. These large regions have genes for brain development, language and brain cell signalling. Retained archaic DNA in human genomes may confer infection-fighting advantages.

New research shows a person's belief in God is strengthened when thinking of 'what might have been' especially in reflecting on a major life event that could have turned out poorly.

SCIENCEDAILY - 21 March 2016

New research shows a person's belief in God is strengthened when thinking of "what might have been" especially in reflecting on a major life event that could have turned out poorly. Importantly, the study shows how believers can come to perceive evidence for their religious conviction via deliberate and rational cognitive processes. The study, "But for the Grace of God: Counterfactuals Influence Religious Belief and Images of the Divine," is published in the April issue of Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Scientists taught Braille to sighted individuals and found that learning such a complex tactile task activates the visual cortex, when you'd only expect it to activate the tactile one.

SCIENCEDAILY - 21 March 2016

Scientists at the Jagiellonian University in Poland taught Braille to sighted individuals and found that learning such a complex tactile task activates the visual cortex, when you'd only expect it to activate the tactile one.

Nature has its own economy, with trading as dynamic as that of any stock exchange.

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 March 2016

Nature has its own economy, with trading as dynamic as that of any stock exchange. To cope with nutrient deficiencies in their respective habitats, certain plants, animals and fungi have evolved partnerships by which they can swap resources. In a new study, researchers analyze how nutrient pollution can negatively impact important ecological relationships.

European honeybees are being poisoned with up to 57 different pesticides, according to new research.

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 March 2016

European honeybees are being poisoned with up to 57 different pesticides, according to new research. A new method for detecting a whole range of pesticides in bees could help unravel the mystery behind the widespread decline of honeybees in recent years, and help develop an approach to saving them.

The benefits of food processing: Processing food before eating likely played key role in human evolution

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 March 2016

According to a new study, our ancestors between 2 and 3 million years ago started to spend far less time and effort chewing by adding meat to their diet and by using stone tools to process their food. The researchers estimate that such a diet would have saved early humans as many as 2.5 million chews per year, and made possible further changes that helped make us human.

Scientists uncover history of ancient viruses as far back as 30 million years ago


Researchers from Boston College, US, have revealed the global spread of an ancient group of retroviruses that affected about 28 of 50 modern mammals' ancestors some 15 to 30 million years ago.

How blue and green clays kill bacteria

SCIENCEDAILY - 12 January 2016

Since prehistoric times, clays have been used by people for medicinal purposes. Whether by eating it, soaking in a mud bath, or using it to stop bleeding from wounds, clay has long been part of keeping humans healthy. Now scientists have discovered the two key ingredients that give some natural clays the power to kill even antibiotic-resistant microbes.

Corals respond to changing ocean conditions by altering regulation of the DNA message

SCIENCEDAILY - 08 January 2016

Some corals may cope with climate change by changing markings on their DNA to modify what the DNA produces.

Scientists uncover process that could drive the majority of cancers

SCIENCEDAILY - 21 December 2015

The gene p53 has been described as the 'guardian of the genome' due to its prominent role in preventing genetic mutations. More than half of all cancers are thought to originate from p53 mutations or loss of function, and now a recent study explains why.

Looking Back 3.8 Billion Years Into the Root of the 'Tree of Life'

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 December 2015

Researchers are tapping information found in the cells of all life on Earth, and using it to trace life's evolution.

Strolling salamanders provide clues on how animals evolved to move from water to land

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 December 2015

Around 390 million years ago, the first vertebrate animals moved from water onto land, necessitating changes in their musculoskeletal systems to permit a terrestrial life. Forelimbs and hind limbs of the first tetrapods evolved to support more weight. But what specific mechanisms drove changes in bone function? The tiger salamander might provide some clues.

8000 Years of European Evolution Disclosed by Genome Study

ancient origins - 25 November 2015

Through the analysis of 230 samples of prehistoric genome, scientists believe they have identified the genes that gave rise to the European Neolithic revolution - with the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and domestication. They have also been able to detect variations in 12 genes associated with traits such as skin color, eye color, tolerance to lactose, and the height difference visible in European populations.

Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

SCIENCEDAILY - 25 November 2015

They've identified several noncoding RNA molecules of viral origins that are necessary for a fertilized human egg to acquire the ability in early development to become all the cells and tissues of the body. Blocking the production of this RNA molecule stops development in its tracks, they found.

Babies have logical reasoning before age one

SCIENCEDAILY - 22 November 2015

Within the first year of life, children can make transitive inferences about a social hierarchy of dominance.

Nature and nurture: Human brains evolved to be more responsive to environmental influences

SCIENCEDAILY - 22 November 2015

Scientists have discovered that human brains exhibit more plasticity, propensity to be modeled by the environment, than chimpanzee brains and that this may have accounted for part of human evolution.

Environment and climate helped shape varied evolution of human languages

SCIENCEDAILY - 22 November 2015

Researchers have conducted an extensive study of the relationship between the sound structures of a worldwide sample of human languages and climatic and ecological factors. The results show a correlation between ecological factors and the ratio of sonorant segments to obstruent segments in the examined languages. This supports the hypothesis that acoustic adaptation to the environment plays a role in the evolution of human languages.

Researchers detail how to control shape, structure of DNA and RNA

PHYS.ORG - 14 November 2015

Researchers at North Carolina State University have used computational modelling to shed light on precisely how charged gold nanoparticles influence the structure of DNA and RNA – which may lead to new techniques for manipulating these genetic materials.

Environment and climate helped shape varied evolution of human languages

SCIENCEDAILY - 11 November 2015

Researchers have conducted an extensive study of the relationship between the sound structures of a worldwide sample of human languages and climatic and ecological factors. The results show a correlation between ecological factors and the ratio of sonorant segments to obstruent segments in the examined languages. This supports the hypothesis that acoustic adaptation to the environment plays a role in the evolution of human languages.

Complex skeletons evolved earlier than realized, fossils suggest

SCIENCEDAILY - 06 November 2015

The first animals to have complex skeletons existed about 550 million years ago, fossils of a tiny marine creature unearthed in Namibia suggest. The find is the first to suggest the earliest complex animals on Earth -- which may be related to many of today's animal species -- lived millions of years earlier than was previously known.

Packaging and unpacking of the genome

SCIENCEDAILY - 06 November 2015

DNA represents a dynamic form of information, balancing efficient storage and access requirements. Packaging approximately 1.8m of DNA into something as small as a cell nucleus is no mean feat, but unpacking it again to access the required sections and genes? That requires organization.

How plant cell compartments 'chat' with each other

SCIENCEDAILY - 05 November 2015

Scientists have discovered a basis of communication in plant cells: The 'MICU' protein controls the calcium ion concentration in the cellular power stations. Using these chemical signatures, the plants regulate, for instance, the formation of organs and react to water stress. The results may be used in the future to optimize agricultural crops.

Tiny DNA building block is identical regardless of species

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 24 October 2015

The diameter of a single, cylindrical DNA component is always the same, regardless of whether it forms part of a fruit fly, a beech tree, or a human being. This tiny building block in the DNA architecture is part of what is known as the nucleosome. The diameter of the nucleosome has long been a source of fascination for Professor Jakob Bohr of DTU Nanotech at Technical University of Denmark. Because if it is the same in all species, what universal principle or law of nature is in effect?

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

SCIENCEDAILY - 14 October 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected the genetic make-up of populations across the entire African continent.

Ancient rocks record first evidence for photosynthesis that made oxygen

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 10 October 2015

A new study shows that iron-bearing rocks that formed at the ocean floor 3.2 billion years ago carry unmistakable evidence of oxygen. The only logical source for that oxygen is the earliest known example of photosynthesis by living organisms, say University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscientists.

Ancient alga knew how to survive on land before it left water and evolved into first plant

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 10 October 2015

A team of scientists led by Dr Pierre-Marc Delaux (John Innes Centre / University of Wisconsin, Madison) has solved a long-running mystery about the first stages of plant life on earth.

Research into 430,000-year-old fossils collected in northern Spain found that the evolution of the human body's size and shape has gone through four main stages.

SCIENCEDAILY - 07 September 2015

Research into 430,000-year-old fossils collected in northern Spain found that the evolution of the human body's size and shape has gone through four main stages.

Interstellar seeds could create oases of life

SCIENCEDAILY - 07 September 2015

Astrophysicists now show that if life can travel between the stars (a process called panspermia), it would spread in a characteristic pattern that we could potentially identify.

Cell mechanics are more complex than previously thought

SCIENCEDAILY - 07 September 2015

Cell mechanics are considerably more complex than previously thought and may affect cell structures at various levels.

Land animals proliferate faster than aquatic counterparts

SCIENCEDAILY - 16 August 2015

New analyses of vertebrate groups performed by an evolutionary biologist suggest that land animals proliferate more rapidly than their aquatic counterparts. The findings may help explain biodiversity patterns throughout the animal kingdom.

Natural selection, key to evolution, also can impede formation of new species

SCIENCEDAILY - 16 August 2015

An intriguing study involving walking stick insects shows how natural selection, the engine of evolution, can also impede the formation of new species.

Body size increase did not play a role in the origins of homo genus, new analysis suggests

SCIENCEDAILY - 16 August 2015

A new analysis of early hominin body size evolution suggests that the earliest members of the Homo genus (which includes our species, Homo sapiens) may not have been larger than earlier hominin species.

Effect of environmental epigenetics on disease, evolution

SCIENCEDAILY - 16 August 2015

Environmental factors are having an underappreciated effect on the course of disease and evolution by prompting genetic mutations through epigenetics, a process by which genes are turned on and off independent of an organism's DNA sequence. Researchers assert that is a dramatic shift in how we might think of disease and evolution's underlying biology.

Young minds think alike; older people are more distractible

SCIENCEDAILY - 16 August 2015

Age is believed to change the way our brains respond and how its networks interact, but studies looking at these changes tend to use very artificial experiments, with basic stimuli. To try to understand how we respond to complex, life-like stimuli, researchers showed 218 subjects aged 18-88 an edited version of an episode from a Hitchcock TV series while using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure their brain activity.

Evolution is unpredictable and irreversible, biologists show

SCIENCEDAILY - 16 June 2015

A study by biologists now provides evidence that, at the molecular level, evolution is both unpredictable and irreversible. The study focuses exclusively on the type of evolution known as purifying selection, which favors mutations that have no or only a small effect in a fixed environment. This is in contrast to adaptation, in which mutations are selected if they increase an organism's fitness in a new environment. Purifying selection is by far the more common type of selection.

Bee warned: Study finds pesticides threaten native pollinators

SCIENCEDAILY - 09 June 2015

A new study of New York state apple orchards finds that pesticides harm wild bees, and fungicides labeled 'safe for bees' also indirectly may threaten native pollinators.

Vision: Deciphering dark and bright.

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 June 2015

The human sensory systems contend with enormous diversity in the natural world. But it has been known for a long time the brain is adapted to exploit statistical regularities that nonetheless arise amongst this diversity. New research reports that established statistical distributions of visual features, such as visual contrast, spatial scale and depth, differ between dark and bright components of the natural world.

Even when we're resting, our brains are preparing us to be social

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 June 2015

Our brains are wired to prepare us, during quiet moments, to be socially connected to other people, neuroscientists report. Facebook is aligned with the state of our brains at rest -- which can explain why it's such a popular activity when we want to take a break.

How sleep helps us learn and memorize

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 June 2015

Sleep is important for long lasting memories, particularly during this exam season. New research suggests that sleeping triggers the synapses in our brain to both strengthen and weaken, which prompts the forgetting, strengthening or modification of our memories in a process known as long-term potentiation.

Ethiopian and Egyptian genomes help map early humans' route out of Africa

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 June 2015

Although scientists are confident that all modern human populations can trace their ancestry back to Africa, the route taken out of Africa is still unclear. New genomic analyses of people currently living in Ethiopia and Egypt indicate that Egypt was the major gateway out of Africa and that migration followed a northern rather than a southern route. The findings add a crucial piece of information to help investigators reconstruct humans' evolutionary past.

Unexpected brain structures tied to creativity, and to stifling it

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 June 2015

A surprising link has been found between creative problem-solving and heightened activity in the cerebellum, a structure located in the back of the brain and more typically thought of as the body's movement-coordination center.

Study tackles evolution mystery of animal, plant warning cues for survival

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 June 2015

Not every encounter between predator and prey results in death. A new study co-authored by a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professor suggests that prey emit warning cues that can ultimately lead to both their survival and that of their predators. The hypothesis addresses a 150-year-old mystery of evolution on how warning signals of animals and plants arise and explains animals' instinctive avoidances of dangerous prey.

How DNA is organized in our cells

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 June 2015

A critical role for two proteins in chromatin structure has been uncovered by researchers. Their breakthrough helps explain how DNA is organized in our cells. This discovery could lead to a better understanding of what causes certain types of cancer, such as lymphoma.

The first fraction of ejaculate is the most effective for conception

SCIENCEDAILY - 01 June 2015

Sperm in the first fraction of ejaculate are more numerous, move more and present better quality DNA than those lagging behind. This is the conclusion of a study that confirms that while the objective of the first fraction is to fertilize the egg, the second phase is so that no sperm from any other male has a chance to fertilize it.

The dark side of the 'love hormone:' Similarities with the effects of alcohol

SCIENCEDAILY - 27 May 2015

Significant similarities have been highlighted by researchers between the behavioral effects of oxytocin and alcohol. The research team warns that the oft-used nickname hides the darker side of oxytocin, and claim that it bears more semblances with the effects of alcohol than previously thought.

Personal microbiomes shown to contain unique 'fingerprints'

SCIENCEDAILY - 17 May 2015

A new study shows that the microbial communities we carry in and on our bodies known as the human microbiome have the potential to uniquely identify individuals, much like a fingerprint. Scientists demonstrated that personal microbiomes contain enough distinguishing features to identify an individual over time from among a research study population of hundreds of people. The study is the first to show that identifying people from microbiome data is feasible.

Gene regulation underlies the evolution of social complexity in bees

PHYS.ORG - 16 May 2015

Explaining the evolution of insect society, with sterile society members displaying extreme levels of altruism, has long been a major scientific challenge, dating back to Charles Darwin's day. A new genomic study of 10 species of bees representing a spectrum of social living - from solitary bees to those in complex, highly social colonies - offers new insights into the genetic changes that accompany the evolution of bee societies.

Sixth DNA's base discovered?


DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the main component of our genetic material. It is formed by combining four parts: A, C, G and T (adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine), called bases of DNA combine in thousands of possible sequences to provide the genetic variability that enables the wealth of aspects and functions of living beings.

From the depths of a microscopic world, spontaneous cooperation

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 May 2015

A clever combination of two different types of computer simulations enabled a group of researchers to uncover an unexpectedly cooperative group dynamic: the spontaneous emergence of resource sharing among individuals in a community. Who were the members of this friendly, digitally represented collective? Escherichia coli, rod-shaped bacteria found in the digestive systems of humans and many other animals

Say what? How the brain separates our ability to talk and write

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 May 2015

Although the human ability to write evolved from our ability to speak, writing and talking are now such independent systems in the brain that someone who can't write a grammatically correct sentence may be able say it aloud flawlessly.

Missing link in the evolution of complex cells discovered


In a new study, published in Nature this week, a research team led from Uppsala University in Sweden presents the discovery of a new microbe that represents a missing link in the evolution of complex life. The study provides a new understanding of how, billions of years ago, the complex cell types that comprise plants, fungi, but also animals and humans, evolved from simple microbes.

A hot start to the origin of life?


DNA is synonymous with life, but where did it originate? One way to answer this question is to try to recreate the conditions that formed DNA's molecular precursors. These precursors are carbon ring structures with embedded nitrogen atoms, key components of nucleobases, which themselves are building blocks of the double helix.

Ancient connection between the Americas enhanced extreme biodiversity


Species exchange between North and South America created one of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth. A new study by Smithsonian scientists and colleagues published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that species migrations across the Isthmus of Panama began about 20 million years ago, some six times earlier than commonly assumed. These biological results corroborate advances in geology, rejecting the long-held assumption that the Isthmus is only about 3 million years old.

Chemistry of seabed's hot vents could explain emergence of life


Hot vents on the seabed could have spontaneously produced the organic molecules necessary for life, according to new research by UCL chemists. The study shows how the surfaces of mineral particles inside hydrothermal vents have similar chemical properties to enzymes, the biological molecules that govern chemical reactions in living organisms. This means that vents are able to create simple carbon-based molecules, such as methanol and formic acid, out of the dissolved CO2 in the water.

Illuminating the dark zone: Discoveries about a specific protein and its effects on final step of cell division

SCIENCEDAILY - 06 May 2015

The human body is a cross between a factory and a construction zone -- at least on the cellular level. Certain proteins act as project managers, which direct a wide variety of processes and determine the fate of the cell as a whole. A new study reveals a novel function for WDR5, a protein known for its critical role in gene expression.

New origin theory for cells that gave rise to vertebrates

SCIENCEDAILY - 06 May 2015

Zebras' vivid pigmentation and the fight or flight instinct. These and other features of the world's vertebrates stem from neural crest cells, but little is known about their origin. Scientists propose a new model for how neural crest cells, and thus vertebrates, arose more than 500 million years ago. They report that these cells retain the molecular underpinnings that control pluripotency -- the ability to give rise to all the cell types that make up the body.

How bacterial cell recognizes its own DNA

PHYS.ORG - 14 April 2015

It may come as a bit of a surprise to learn that bacteria have an immune system - in their case to fight off invasive viruses called phages. And like any immune system - from single-celled to human - the first challenge of the bacterial immune system is to detect the difference between "foreign" and "self." This is far from simple, as viruses, bacteria and all other living things are made of DNA and proteins. A group of researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science and Tel Aviv University has now revealed exactly how bacteria do this. Their results were published online today in Nature.

Study uncovers mechanisms of cancer-causing mutations

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 March 2015

The molecular mechanism of cancer development caused by well-known 'resistance' mutations in the gene called epidermal growth factor receptor has been revealed by researchers for the first time. While these mutations were known for quite a long time, the question as to why they cause cancer or make some drugs ineffective was still not answered.

Colorful life-form catalog will help discern if we're alone

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 March 2015

While looking for life on planets beyond our own solar system, a group of international scientists has created a colorful catalog containing reflection signatures of Earth life forms that might be found on planet surfaces throughout the cosmic hinterlands. The new database and research gives humans a better chance to learn if we are not alone.

Light pollution shown to affect plant growth, food webs

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 March 2015

Artificial night time light from sources such as street lamps affects the growth and flowering of plants and even the number of insects that depend on those plants for food, a study confirms.

Hidden meaning and 'speed limits' found within genetic code

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 March 2015

Speed matters when it comes to how messenger RNA deciphers critical information within the genetic code -- the complex chain of instructions critical to sustaining life. The investigators' findings give scientists critical new information in determining how best to engage cells to treat illness -- and, ultimately, keep them from emerging in the first place.

Giant sea creature hints at early arthropod evolution

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 March 2015

Newly discovered fossils of a giant, extinct sea creature show it had modified legs, gills on its back, and a filter system for feeding -- providing key evidence about the early evolution of arthropods.

Discovery demystifies origin of life phenomenon

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 March 2015

Biomolecules, if large enough (several nanometers) and with an electrical charge, will seek their own type with which to form large assemblies. This is essentially 'self-recognition' of left-handed and right-handed molecule pairs.

Epigenetics study reveals how environment controls size


Until now scientists have believed that the variations in traits -- such as our height, skin colour, tendency to gain weight or not, intelligence, tendency to develop certain diseases, etc., all of them traits that exist along a continuum -- were a result of both genetic and environmental factors. But they didn't know how exactly these things worked together. By studying ants, McGill researchers have identified a key mechanism by which environmental (or epigenetic) factors influence the expression of all of these traits, along with many more.

Some genes 'foreign' in origin and not from our ancestors


Many animals, including humans, acquired essential 'foreign' genes from microorganisms co-habiting their environment in ancient times, according to research published in the open access journal Genome Biology. The study challenges conventional views that animal evolution relies solely on genes passed down through ancestral lines, suggesting that, at least in some lineages, the process is still ongoing.

Highly evolved bacteria found living near hydrothermal vent systems communities


Bacteria that live on iron were found for the first time at three well-known vent sites along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, one of the longest undersea mountain ranges in the world. Scientists report that these bacteria likely play an important role in deep-ocean iron cycling, and are dominant members of communities near and adjacent to sulfur-rich, black-smoker hydrothermal vents prevalent along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Human brains age less than previously thought

SCIENCEDAILY - 11 March 2015

Older brains may be more similar to younger brains than previously thought. In a new paper, researchers demonstrate that previously reported changes in the aging brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging may be due to vascular (or blood vessels) changes, rather than changes in neuronal activity itself.

How does the human brain tackle problems it did not evolve to solve?

SCIENCEDAILY - 06 March 2015

Online dating, chatty smartphones, and social media played no role in the evolution of our ancestors, yet humans manage to deal with and even exploit these hallmarks of modern living. In a new article, researchers review the latest social neuroscience literature and argue that our ability to respond to the challenges of a fast-changing culture comes from our brains' ability to flexibly combine and repurpose the neural resources that evolution provided us.

Animals tend to evolve toward larger size over time

SCIENCEDAILY - 23 February 2015

In one of the most comprehensive studies of body size evolution ever conducted, scientists have found fresh support for Cope's rule, a theory in biology that states that animal lineages tend to evolve toward larger sizes over time.

Size matters in the battle to adapt to diverse environments and avoid extinction

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 23 February 2015

A new University of Toronto study may force scientists to rethink what is behind the mass extinction of amphibians occurring worldwide in the face of climate change, disease and habitat loss.

Scientists review early evolution of eukaryotic multicellularity

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 03 February 2015

The ascent of multi-celled life or multicellularity is a major evolutionary transition. Multicellularity evolved independently at least 25 times among eukaryotes, and complex multicellularity (characterized by intercellular communication and tissue differentiation controlled by regulatory gene networks) occurs in a handful of eukaryotic groups including animals.

Evolution of marine mammals to water life converges in some genes

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 02 February 2015

When marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, manatees and walruses moved from land to water, a series of physical abilities —– limbs adapted for swimming, less dense bones that make them more buoyant and a large store of oxygen relative to their body size – made it possible. Yet these animals made the transition from land to water millions of years apart.

Supercomputing the evolution of a model flower

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 02 February 2015

Scientists using supercomputers found genes sensitive to cold and drought in a plant help it survive climate change. These findings increase basic understanding of plant adaptation and can be applied to improve crops.

Harnessing data from Nature’s great evolutionary experiment

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 25 January 2015

There are 3 billion letters in the human genome, and scientists have endlessly debated how many of them serve a functional purpose. There are those letters that encode genes, our hereditary information, and those that provide instructions about how cells can use the genes. But those sequences are written with a comparative few of the vast number of DNA letters. Scientists have long debated how much of, or even if, the rest of our genome does anything, some going so far as to designate the part not devoted to encoding proteins as “junk DNA.”

Forget the selfish gene -- the evolution of life is driven by the selfish ribosome

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 12 January 2015

Since the discovery of how DNA encodes genetic information, most research on the evolution of life has focused on genes. According to the "selfish gene" theory, cells and organisms exist simply as packages to protect and transmit genes. New research challenges this idea, proposing instead that if anything is "selfish" it must be the ribosome. That up-ends everything we think we know about the evolution of life and, in fact, the function of ribosomes themselves.

Research sheds light on what causes cells to divide

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 29 December 2014

When a rapidly-growing cell divides into two smaller cells, what triggers the split? Is it the size the growing cell eventually reaches? Or is the real trigger the time period over which the cell keeps growing ever larger?

110-million-year-old crustacean holds essential piece to evolutionary puzzle

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 29 December 2014

University of Alberta PhD student Javier Luque has found the oldest crown-group true higher crab ever discovered, deep in the tropics of Colombia. The discovery of Telamonocarcinus antiquus pushes back the oldest known record of true higher crabs into the Early Cretaceous, dating about 110 million years ago.

Modern genetics confirm ancient relationship between fins and hands

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 27 December 2014

Paleontologists have documented the evolutionary adaptations necessary for ancient lobe-finned fish to transform pectoral fins used underwater into strong, bony structures, such as those of Tiktaalik roseae. This enabled these emerging tetrapods, animals with limbs, to crawl in shallow water or on land. But evolutionary biologists have wondered why the modern structure called the autopod--comprising wrists and fingers or ankles and toes--has no obvious morphological counterpart in the fins of living fishes.

The common evolutionary origin of brain structures devoted to learning and memory

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 27 December 2014

Whether you're cramming for an exam or just trying to remember where you put your car keys, learning and memory are critical functions that we constantly employ in daily life.

Scientists re-create what may be life's first spark

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 12 December 2014

Scientists in a lab used a powerful laser to re-create what might have been the original spark of life on Earth.

Predators and isolation shape the evolution of 'island tameness,' providing conservation insights

SCIENCEDAILY - 03 December 2014

Charles Darwin noted more than 150 years ago that animals on the Galapagos Islands, including finches and marine iguanas, were more docile than mainland creatures. He attributed this tameness to the fact that there are fewer predators on remote islands.

Molecules that came in handy for first life on Earth

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 27 November 2014

For the first time, chemists have successfully produced amino acid-like molecules that all have the same 'handedness', from simple building blocks and in a single test tube. Could this be how life started. On earth? Or in space, as the Philae lander is currently exploring? Rene Steendam researcher in Astrochemistry at Radboud University, the Netherlands has published the findings in Nature Communications.

Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sites

SCIENCEDAILY - 21 November 2014

Enzymes carry out fundamental biological processes such as photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation and respiration, with the help of clusters of metal atoms as 'active' sites. But scientists lack basic information about their function because the states thought to be critical to their chemical abilities cannot be experimentally observed. Now, researchers have reported the first direct observation of the electronic states of iron-sulfur clusters, common to many enzyme active sites.

Unwinding the mysteries of the cellular clock

SCIENCEDAILY - 21 November 2014

Underlying circadian rhythms is a clock built of transcription factors that control the oscillation of genes, serving as the wheels and springs of the clock. But, how does a single clock keep time in multiple phases at once? A genome-wide survey found that circadian genes and regulatory elements called enhancers oscillate daily in phase with nearby genes – both the enhancer and gene activity peak at the same time each day

The role DNA methylation plays in aging cells

BIOLOGY NEWS NET - 18 November 2014

As people age, drastic changes occur in their DNA methylation patterns, which are thought to act as a "second code" on top of the DNA that can lock genes in the on or off position. However, what the consequences of these changes are remains a mystery.

Advances in electron microscopy reveal secrets of HIV and other viruses

BIOLOGY NEWS NET - 18 November 2014

The envelope (or Env) protein of HIV is a key target for vaccine makers: it is a key component in RV144, an experimental vaccine that is so far the only candidate to show promise in clinical trials. Also called gp120, the Env protein associates with another protein called gp41 and three gp120/gp41 units associate to form the final trimeric structure. The gp120 trimer is the machine that allows HIV to enter and attack host cells.

Sex, genes, the Y chromosome and the future of men

PHYS.ORG - 15 November 2014

The Y chromosome, that little chain of genes that determines the sex of humans, is not as tough as you might think. In fact, if we look at the Y chromosome over the course of our evolution we've seen it shrink at an alarming rate.

How much of your DNA is functional?

PHYS.ORG - 15 November 2014

The human genome consists of six billions rungs of DNA – but how much of this DNA is actually doing anything important?

HIV virulence depends on where virus inserts itself in host DNA

PHYS.ORG - 12 November 2014

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can insert itself at different locations in the DNA of its human host - and this specific integration site determines how quickly the disease progresses, report researchers at KU Leuven's Laboratory for Molecular Virology and Gene Therapy. The study was published online today in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

We Are Not Alone

TERRADAILY - 12 November 2014

The adult human body is made up of about 37 trillion cells. Microbes, mainly bacteria, outnumber body cells by 10 to 1. Increasingly, scientists recognize that this huge community of microbes, called the microbiome, affects the health, development and evolution of all multicellular organisms, including humans.

Sustainability, astrobiology illuminate future of life in the universe and civilization on Earth

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 November 2014

Two astrophysicists argue that questions about the future of life on Earth and beyond may soon be resolvable scientifically, thanks to new data about the Earth and about other planets in our galaxy, and by combining the earth-based science of sustainability with the space-oriented field of astrobiology.

Startling decline in European birds: Majority of losses from most common species

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 November 2014

Bird populations across Europe have experienced sharp declines over the past 30 years, with the majority of losses from the most common species, according to a new study. However numbers of some less common birds have risen

Massive geographic change may have triggered explosion of animal life

SCIENCEDAILY - 10 November 2014

A new analysis of geologic history may help solve the riddle of the "Cambrian explosion," the rapid diversification of animal life in the fossil record 530 million years ago that has puzzled scientists since the time of Charles Darwin. New research suggests a major tectonic event may be connected with the apparent burst of life that occurred 530 million years ago during the Cambrian explosion.

Genesis of genitalia

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 08 November 2014

When it comes to genitalia, nature enjoys variety. Snakes and lizards have two. Birds and people have one. And while the former group's paired structures are located somewhat at the level of the limbs, ours, and the birds', appear a bit further down. In fact, snake and lizard genitalia are derived from tissue that gives rise to hind legs, while mammalian genitalia are derived from the tail bud. But despite such noteworthy contrasts, these structures are functionally analogous and express similar genes. How do these equivalent structures arise from different starting tissues?

Virus DNA preserved in 700-year-old frozen caribou poo

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 07 November 2014

The DNA of a plant virus was still in "great shape" after spending 700 years encased in frozen caribou feces, scientists report

No junk: Long RNA mimics DNA, restrains hormone responses

PHYS.ORG - 07 November 2014

The gene GAS5 acts as a brake on steroid hormone receptors, making it a key player in diseases such as hormone-sensitive prostate and breast cancer. Unlike many genes scientists are familiar with, GAS5 does not encode a protein. It gets transcribed into RNA, like other genes, but with GAS5 the RNA is what's important, not the protein. The RNA accumulates in cells subjected to stress and soaks up steroid hormone receptors, preventing them from binding DNA and turning genes on and off.

Koala study reveals clues about origins of the human genome

PHYS.ORG - 07 November 2014

Eight percent of your genome derives from retroviruses that inserted themselves into human sex cells millions of years ago. Right now the koala retrovirus (KoRV) is invading koala genomes, a process that can help us understand our own viral lineage and make decisions about managing this vulnerable species

Biology meets geometry: Geometry of a common cellular structure explored

SCIENCEDAILY - 31 October 2014

Architecture imitates life, at least when it comes to those spiral ramps in multistory parking garages. Stacked and connecting parallel levels, the ramps are replications of helical structures found in a ubiquitous membrane structure in the cells of the body.

How did complex life evolve? The answer could be inside out

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 30 October 2014

A new idea about the origin of complex life turns current theories inside out. In the open access journal BMC Biology, cousins Buzz and David Baum explain their 'inside-out' theory of how eukaryotic cells, which all multicellular life - including us - are formed of, might have evolved.

Peripheral clocks don't need the brain's master clock to function correctly

PHYS.ORG - 30 October 2014

Circadian clocks regulate functions ranging from alertness and reaction time to body temperature and blood pressure. New research published in the November 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal further adds to our understanding of the circadian rhythm by suggesting that the suprachiasmaticus nucleus (SCN) clock, a tiny region of the hypothalamus considered to be the body's "master" timekeeper, is not necessary to align body rhythms with the light-dark cycle. This challenges and disproves the commonly held notion that circadian rhythms were strictly organized in a hierarchical manner, and that light resets the master clock in the SCN, which then coordinates the other, subordinate clocks in peripheral tissues. Several metabolic and psychiatric diseases are associated with circadian rhythm and sleep disturbances, and this research opens the doors toward an improved understanding of these disorders.

Cell division, minus the cells

PHYS.ORG - 30 October 2014

The process of cell division is central to life. The last stage, when two daughter cells split from each other, has fascinated scientists since the dawn of cell biology in the Victorian era. For just as long, it has been notoriously difficult to study this final step, when the dividing cell creates a furrow before cleaving in two.

Chamber of secrets: How cells organise themselves influences their ability to communicate

PHYS.ORG - 23 October 2014

From basketball to handball, rugby to American football, teams in a variety of sports huddle together to agree tactics in secret. Cells, too, can huddle to communicate within a restricted group, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, have found. The study, published today in Nature, is the first demonstration that the way cells organise themselves influences their ability to communicate. The researchers propose that this strategy, which they discovered in developing zebrafish, could be much more widespread, influencing processes like wound repair, organ formation and even cancer.

Arrested development: Sediment wreaks havoc with fish larvae

PHYS.ORG - 23 October 2014

"Sediment concentrations at levels found in plumes from dredging or in floods cause a significant delay in the development of clownfish larvae," says study lead author, Dr Amelia Wenger, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University.

Ephemeral soap bubbles give clue to how cells develop with regular shapes in tissues

PHYS.ORG - 21 October 2014

Developing cells come in all sorts of shapes. They may be flat as a pancake, equilateral like a cube or long and skinny like a hose. Developing embryos arise from eggs of different sizes, and they often grow within dynamic environments. Thanks to sexual reproduction and random mutation, they have a variety of genetic signatures. To top it all off, the genetic circuits within the cells are known to be noisy and prone to error. Yet somehow, despite all this chaos, most animals are born perfectly normal.

Shaking up cell biology: Researchers focus in on decades-old mitochondrial mystery

PHYS.ORG - 21 October 2014

Elvis did it, Michael Jackson did it, and so do the mitochondria in our cells. They shake. While Elvis and Michael shook for decades before loud and appreciative audiences, mitochondrial oscillations have quietly bewildered scientists for more than 40 years.

Structure of an iron-transport protein revealed

PHYS.ORG - 20 October 2014

For the first time, the three dimensional structure of the protein that is essential for iron import into cells, has been elucidated. Biochemists of the University of Zurich have paved the way towards a better understanding of iron metabolism. The results also provide a basis for novel approaches to treat iron-related metabolic diseases.

New mechanism in gene regulation revealed

SCIENCEDAILY - 15 October 2014

The information encoded in our genes is translated into proteins, which ultimately mediate biological functions in an organism. Messenger RNA (mRNA) plays an important role, as it is the molecular template used for translation. Scientist have now unraveled a molecular mechanism of mRNA recognition, which is essential for understanding differential gene regulation in male and female organisms.

Physics determined ammonite shell shape

PHYS.ORG - 13 October 2014

Ammonites are a group of extinct cephalopod mollusks with ribbed spiral shells. They are exceptionally diverse and well known to fossil lovers. Régis Chirat, researcher at the Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon: Terre, Planètes et Environnement (CNRS/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1/ENS de Lyon), and two colleagues from the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford have developed the first biomechanical model explaining how these shells form and why they are so diverse. Their approach provides new paths for interpreting the evolution of ammonites and nautili, their smooth-shelled distant "cousins" that still populate the Indian and Pacific oceans. This work has just been published on the website of the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

180 million years of parasitic infestation in crustaceans

PHYS.ORG - 13 October 2014

The large marine animals of the past, like prehistoric mega-sharks and whales, draw popular attention and the interest of researchers alike. However, the smaller invertebrate animals dominated Earth in the past and still do today.

Atomic map reveals clues to how cholesterol is made

PHYS.ORG - 13 October 2014

In spite of its dangerous reputation, cholesterol is in fact an essential component of human cells. Manufactured by the cells themselves, it serves to stiffen the cell's membrane, helping to shape the cell and protect it. By mapping the structure of a key enzyme involved in cholesterol production, Rockefeller University researchers and a colleague in Italy have gained new insight into this complex molecular process.

Vesicles influence the function of nerve cells

MNT - 08 October 2014

Tiny vesicles containing protective substances which they transmit to nerve cells apparently play an important role in the functioning of neurons. As cell biologists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have discovered, nerve cells can enlist the aid of mini-vesicles of neighboring glial cells to defend themselves against stress and other potentially detrimental factors. These vesicles, called exosomes, appear to stimulate the neurons on various levels: they influence electrical stimulus conduction, biochemical signal transfer, and gene regulation. Exosomes are thus multifunctional signal emitters that can have a significant effect in the brain.

Geneticists solve 40-year-old dilemma to explain why duplicate genes remain in the genome

PHYS.ORG - 01 October 2014

They found a mechanism sought for more than four decades that explains how gene duplication leads to novel functions in individuals.

Latest results from European BLUEPRINT initiative shed light on epigenetic effects

MEDICAL.PRESS - 28 September 2014

Researchers working on the European BLUEPRINT initiative (EBI) have published three papers in the journal Science, each outlining their part of the overall mission and explaining what they have found thus far. The initiative is a very large research project that involves 41 leading European Universities—its mission is to decipher the epigenome of blood cells. Elizabeth Pennisi offers an overview of the efforts of the overall team and explains how the work could result in a whole new era of immunological understanding.

Microscopic marine biodiversity mirrors larger life

PHYS.ORG - 24 September 2014

Distribution of microscopic plants and animals in our oceans mimics the distribution pattern of larger land-based plants and animals, research reveals.

Insect genomes' analysis challenges universality of essential cell division proteins

PHYS.ORG - 24 September 2014

Cell division, the process that ensures equal transmission of genetic information to daughter cells, has been fundamentally conserved for over a billion years of evolution. Considering its ubiquity and essentiality, it is expected that proteins that carry out cell division would also be highly conserved. Challenging this assumption, scientists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found that one of the foundational proteins in cell division, previously shown to be essential in organisms as diverse as yeast, flies and humans, has been surprisingly lost on multiple occasions during insect evolution.

Study shows how epigenetic memory is passed across generations

PHYS.ORG - 19 September 2014

A growing body of evidence suggests that environmental stresses can cause changes in gene expression that are transmitted from parents to their offspring, making "epigenetics" a hot topic. Epigenetic modifications do not affect the DNA sequence of genes, but change how the DNA is packaged and how genes are expressed. Now, a study by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, shows how epigenetic memory can be passed across generations and from cell to cell during development. Read more at:

Unraveling cell division

PHYS.ORG - 16 September 2014

CRG researchers shed new light on mitosis. The study published in the Journal of Cell Biology describes how Topo 2 disentangles DNA molecules and is essential for proper cell division Read more at:

Researchers decipher genetic mechanism that makes the midge invulnerable to harsh conditions

PHYS.ORG - 16 September 2014

New collaborative research published in the journal Nature Communications by scientists from Japan, Russia and the US contains the genetic analysis on a species of African midge, which can survive a wide array of extreme conditions including large variations in temperature, extreme drought and even airless vacuums such as space. The team successfully deciphered the genetic mechanism that makes the midge invulnerable to these harsh conditions Read more at:

Ancient vertebrate uses familiar tools to build strange-looking head

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 16 September 2014

If you never understood what "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" meant in high school, don't worry: biologists no longer think that an animal's "ontogeny," that is, its embryonic development, replays its entire evolutionary history. Instead, the new way to figure out how animals evolved is to compare regulatory networks that control gene expression patterns, particularly embryonic ones, across species. An elegant study published in the September 14, 2014 advance online issue of Nature from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research shows just how humbling and exhilarating that pursuit can be. Read more at: Follow us: @ArchaeoNewsNet on Twitter | groups/thearchaeologynewsnetwork/ on Facebook

Think big: Bacteria breach cell division size limit

PHYS.ORG - 14 September 2014

The life of a cell is straightforward: it doubles, divides in the middle and originates two identical daughter cells. Therefore, it has been long assumed that cells of the same kind are similarly sized and big cells cannot divide symmetrically. Silvia Bulgheresi's team, University of Vienna, revealed that two non-model bacteria divide regularly despite growing so long to be perceivable by the naked eye. These findings have been published in the renowned journal Nature Communications. Read more at:

Tracing water channels in cell surface receptors

PHYS.ORG - 09 September 2014

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest class of cell surface receptors in our cells, involved in signal transmission across the cell membrane. One of the biggest questions is how a signal recognized at the extracellular side of a GPCR induces a sequence of conformational changes in the protein and finally evokes an intracellular response Read more at:

New cell model to speed up development of brain tumour drugs

MEDICAL.PRESS - 08 September 2014

New research from The University of Nottingham looks set to improve screening for new cancer drugs and drug delivery systems specifically designed for children with brain tumours.

Oxygen-producing life forms appeared at least 60 million years earlier than previously thought

THE ARCHEOLOGY NEWS - 06 September 2014

Geologists from Trinity College Dublin have rewritten the evolutionary history books by finding that oxygen-producing life forms were present on Earth some 3 billion years ago – a full 60 million years earlier than previously thought. These life forms were responsible for adding oxygen (O2) to our atmosphere, which laid the foundations for more complex life to evolve and proliferate. Read more at: Follow us: @ArchaeoNewsNet on Twitter | groups/thearchaeologynewsnetwork/ on Facebook

Genetic system found in all land plants controls the development of structures essential for survival

PHYS.ORG - 06 September 2014

The colonization of land by the first land plants was a key step in the evolution of life on Earth. The exact circumstances of this shift, however, have not been fully explained. Taku Demura and colleagues from the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science have now contributed to the identification of a major set of plant genes that control two fundamental properties required for terrestrial life: structural support and water transport. Read more at:

Life forms appeared at least 60 million years earlier than previously thought

Trinity College Dublin - 04 September 2014

Geologists in Ireland have rewritten the evolutionary history books by finding that oxygen-producing life forms were present on Earth some 3 billion years ago -- a full 60 million years earlier than previously thought. These life forms were responsible for adding oxygen to our atmosphere, which laid the foundations for more complex life to evolve and proliferate.

Nature or nurture? It's all about the message

Michigan State University - 03 September 2014

Simply telling people that hard work is more important than genetics causes positive changes in the brain and may make them willing to try harder, a study shows. "Giving people messages that encourage learning and motivation may promote more efficient performance," said the lead investigator. "In contrast, telling people that intelligence is genetically fixed may inadvertently hamper learning."

Scientists sequence complete genome of E. coli strain responsible for food poisoning

PHYS.ORG - 01 September 2014

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have produced the first complete genome sequencing of a strain of E. coli that is a common cause of outbreaks of food poisoning in the United States. Although the E. coli strain EDL933 was first isolated in the 1980s, it gained national attention in 1993 when it was linked to an outbreak of food poisoning from Jack-in-the-Box restaurants in the western United Read more at:

New type of cell movement discovered

MEDICAL.PRESS - 29 August 2014

For decades, researchers have used petri dishes to study cell movement. These classic tissue culture tools, however, only permit two-dimensional movement, very different from the three-dimensional movements that cells make in a human body. Read more at:

Researchers film protein quake for the first time

PHYS.ORG - 27 August 2014

One of nature's mysteries is how plants survive impact by the huge amounts of energy contained in the sun's rays, while using this energy for photosynthesis. The hypothesis is that the light-absorbing proteins in the plant's blades quickly dissipate the energy throughout the entire protein molecule through so-called protein quakes. Researchers at DTU Physics have now managed to successfully 'film' this process. Read more at:

Life Beneath the Ice

TERRADAILY - 26 August 2014

In a finding that has implications for life in other extreme environments, both on Earth and planets elsewhere in the solar system, LSU Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Brent Christner and fellow researchers funded by the National Science Foundation, or NSF, this week published a paper confirming that the waters and sediments of a lake that lies 800 meters (2600 feet) beneath the surface of the West Antarctic ice sheet support "viable microbial ecosystems."

Viruses take down massive algal blooms, with big implications for climate

TERRADAILY - 25 August 2014

Algae might seem easy to ignore, but they are the ultimate source of all organic matter that marine animals depend upon. Humans are increasingly dependent on algae, too, to suck up climate-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sink it to the bottom of the ocean.

A long childhood feeds the hungry human brain

Northwestern University - 25 August 2014

The long-standing mystery of why human children grow so slowly compared with our closest animal relatives has been addressed by new research. A study has shown that energy funneled to the brain dominates the human body's metabolism early in life and is likely the reason why humans grow at a pace more typical of a reptile than a mammal during childhood.

Simply complex: The origin of our body axes

Heidelberg University - 24 August 2014

One fundamental question in biology is what constitutes the basic type of the animal body plan and how did all the more complex forms, including that of humans, evolve from it. At the simplest level, this body plan can be described by the three axes. These three axes -- the familiar X, Y and Z axes from geometry -- are the anterior-posterior axis, which determines the position of the mouth in front and the anus at the rear, the dorsal-ventral axis, which in vertebrates separates the front of the body from the back, and the left-right axis, which creates a mirror-like symmetry of our extremities and left-right asymmetry of the organs.

Plants can 'switch off' virus DNA

PHYS.ORG - 22 August 2014

A team of virologists and plant geneticists at Wageningen UR has demonstrated that when tomato plants contain Ty-1 resistance to the important Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), parts of the virus DNA (the genome) become hyper-methylated, the result being that virus replication and transcription is inhibited. The team has also shown that this resistance has its Achilles heel: if a plant is simultaneously infected with another important (RNA) virus, the Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), the resistance mechanism is compromised. Read more at:

A better understanding of cell to cell communication

PHYS.ORG - 22 August 2014

Researchers of the ISREC Institute at the School of Life Sciences, EPFL, have deciphered the mechanism whereby some microRNAs are retained in the cell while others are secreted and delivered to neighboring cells. Read more at:

A glimpse at the rings that make cell division possible

PHYS.ORG - 22 August 2014

Forming like a blown smoke ring does, a "contractile ring" similar to a tiny muscle pinches yeast cells in two. The division of cells makes life possible, but the actual mechanics of this fundamental process have proved difficult to pin down. Read more at:

Calcium and reproduction go together

PHYS.ORG - 22 August 2014

Everyone's heard of the birds and the bees. But that old expression leaves out the flowers that are being fertilized. The fertilization process for flowering plants is particularly complex and requires extensive communication between the male and female reproductive cells. New research from an international team from Stanford, Regensburg, Heidelberg, and Munich, and including Carnegie's Wolf Frommer, David Ehrhardt, and Guido Grossmann reports discoveries in the chemical signaling process that guides flowering plant fertilization. It is published in Nature Communications. Read more at:

In our digital world, are young people losing the ability to read emotions?

University of California - Los Angeles - 22 August 2014

Are young people losing the ability to read emotions in our digital world? Scientists report that sixth-graders who went five days without even glancing at a smartphone, television or other screen did substantially better at reading emotions than sixth-graders from the same school who, as usual, spent hours each day looking at their smartphones and other screens.

More than just X and Y: New genetic basis for sex determination

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory - 18 August 2014

Men and women differ in obvious ways, and scientists have long known that genetic differences buried deep within our DNA underlie these distinctions. In the past, most research has focused on understanding how the genes that encode proteins act as sex determinants. But scientists have found that a subset of very small genes encoding short RNA molecules, called microRNAs, also play a key role in differentiating male and female tissues in the fruit fly.

Pygmy phenotype developed many times, adaptive to rainforest

Penn State - 18 August 2014

The small body size associated with the pygmy phenotype is probably a selective adaptation for rainforest hunter-gatherers, according to an international team of researchers. But all African pygmy phenotypes do not have the same genetic underpinning, suggesting a more recent adaptation than previously thought.

Brain imaging shows brain differences in risk-taking teens

Center for BrainHealth - 15 August 2014

Brain differences associated with risk-taking teens have been investigated by researchers who found that connections between certain brain regions are amplified in teens more prone to risk. "Our brains have an emotional-regulation network that exists to govern emotions and influence decision-making," explained the study's lead author. "Antisocial or risk-seeking behavior may be associated with an imbalance in this network."

Plants may use newly discovered molecular language to communicate

Virginia Tech - 14 August 2014

A scientist has discovered a potentially new form of plant communication, one that allows them to share an extraordinary amount of genetic information with one another. The finding throws open the door to a new arena of science that explores how plants communicate with each other on a molecular level. It also gives scientists new insight into ways to fight parasitic weeds that wreak havoc on food crops in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Four-billion-year-old chemistry in cells today

University of East Anglia - 24 July 2014

Parts of the primordial soup in which life arose have been maintained in our cells today according to scientists. Research has revealed how cells in plants, yeast and very likely also in animals still perform ancient reactions thought to have been responsible for the origin of life -- some four billion years ago.

Protein evolution follows modular principle

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft - 23 July 2014

Similarities between proteins reveal that their great diversity has arisen from smaller building blocks. Proteins consist of long chains of 20 different amino acid building blocks that fold into a characteristic three-dimensional structure. It is noteworthy that some modules, known as protein domains, occur more frequently than others. Scientists suspect that many of these domains share a common evolutionary origin.

Science and art bring back to life 300-million-year-old specimens of a primitive reptile-like vertebrate

University of Lincoln - 21 July 2014

Paleontologists have recreated the cranial structure of a 308-million-year-old lizard-like vertebrate that could be the earliest example of a reptile and explain the origin of all vertebrates that belong to reptiles, birds and mammals.

Oceans vital for possibility for alien life

University of East Anglia - 20 July 2014

Researchers have made an important step in the race to discover whether other planets could develop and sustain life. New research shows the vital role of oceans in moderating climate on Earth-like planets Until now, computer simulations of habitable climates on Earth-like planets have focused on their atmospheres. But the presence of oceans is vital for optimal climate stability and habitability.

New knowledge about brain's effective bouncer

University of Copenhagen – The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences - 16 July 2014

Researchers are shedding new light on the brain's complicated barrier tissue. The blood-brain barrier is an effective barrier which protects the brain, but which at the same time makes it difficult to treat diseases such as Alzheimer's. In an in vitro blood-brain barrier, researchers can recreate the brain's transport processes for the benefit of the development of new pharmaceuticals for the brain.

Embryology: Doppler effect influences segmentation

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft - 14 July 2014

Many animals exhibit segmental patterns that manifest themselves during development. One classical example is the sequential and rhythmic formation the segmental precursors of the backbone, a process that has been linked to the ticking of an oscillator in the embryo -- the "segmentation clock." Researchers now paint a potentially revolutionary picture of the process of developmental segmentation, one controlled by not only the time scale of genetic oscillations, but also by changes in oscillation profile and tissue shortening.

Understanding consciousness: Researchers advocate for more scientific research on consciousness

Northwestern University - 10 July 2014

Why does a relentless stream of subjective experiences normally fill your mind? Maybe that's just one of those mysteries that will always elude us. Yet, new research suggests that consciousness lies well within the realm of scientific inquiry -- as impossible as that may currently seem. Although scientists have yet to agree on an objective measure to index consciousness, progress has been made with this agenda in several labs around the world.

For corals adapting to climate change, it's survival of the fattest, most flexible

Ohio State University - 09 July 2014

The future health of the world’s coral reefs and the animals that depend on them relies in part on the ability of one tiny symbiotic sea creature to get fat -— and to be flexible about the type of algae it cooperates with. In the first study of its kind, scientists discovered that corals -- tiny reef-forming animals that live symbiotically with algae -- are better able to recover from yearly bouts of heat stress, called "bleaching," when they keep large energy reserves -- mostly as fat -- socked away in their cells.

Human cells' protein factory has an alternate operating manual: Process may help body rein in disease-fighting side effects

University of Maryland - 09 July 2014

Working with a gene involved in HIV infection, researchers discovered some human genes have an alternate set of operating instructions written into their protein-making machinery, which can quickly alter the proteins' contents, functions and ability to survive. The study is the first to demonstrate the phenomenon of programmed ribosomal frameshifting in a human gene. Frameshifting helps regulate the gene's immune response, the authors report.

Neandertal trait in early human skull suggests that modern humans emerged from complex labyrinth of biology and peoples

Washington University in St. Louis - 07 July 2014

Neandertal trait in early human skull suggests that modern humans emerged from complex labyrinth of biology and peoples

Discovery provides insights on how plants respond to elevated carbon dioxide levels

University of California - San Diego - 06 July 2014

Biologists have solved a long-standing mystery concerning the way plants reduce the numbers of their breathing pores in response to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Researchers report the discovery of a new genetic pathway in plants, made up of four genes from three different gene families that control the density of breathing pores—or “stomata”—in plant leaves in response to elevated CO2 levels.

Size of the human genome reduced to 19,000 genes

Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO) - 03 July 2014

A new study updates the number of human genes to 19,000; 1,700 fewer than the genes in the most recent annotation, and well below the initial estimations of 100,000 genes. The work concludes that almost all of these genes have ancestors prior to the appearance of primates 50 million years ago.

Timeline of human origins revised: New synthesis of research links changing environment with Homo's evolutionary adaptability

Smithsonian - 03 July 2014

Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa. Although scientists have recognized these characteristics for decades, they are reconsidering the true evolutionary factors that drove them.

Sweet genes: New way found by which metabolism is linked to the regulation of DNA

University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry - 03 July 2014

Scientists have discovered a new way by which metabolism is linked to the regulation of DNA, the basis of our genetic code. The findings may have important implications for the understanding of many common diseases, including cancer.

Cancer 'as old as multi-cellular life on Earth': Researchers discover a primordial cancer in a primitive animal

Kiel University - 24 June 2014

Can cancer ever be completely defeated? Researchers have now reached a sobering conclusion: "cancer is as old as multi-cellular life on Earth and will probably never be completely eradicated," says one expert, following his latest research results. The researchers have now achieved an impressive understanding of the roots of cancer, providing proof that tumors indeed exist in primitive and evolutionary old animals.

Back away, please: Humans tend to fear things approaching, even if non-threatening

University of Chicago Booth School of Business - 23 June 2014

We still have negative feelings about things that approach us -- even if they objectively are not threatening, according to new research. Though we modern humans don't really consider such fear, it turns out that it still plays a big part in our day-to-day lives.

Botany: Leafing out and climate change

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU) - 20 June 2014

Global warming is generally expected to bring spring forward but, as a new study shows, a concomitant influx of plant species from warmer southern latitudes could counteract this effect. Climate change is already clearly discernible in our part of the world. Data from local weather stations indicate that the average temperature in the Munich region has risen by 1.5°C over the past century. Biologists have now looked at the effects of this warming trend on the timing of leaf emergence ("leaf-out") in a broad range of shrubs and trees.

Biology of infection: A bacterial ballistic system

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München - 20 June 2014

Many pathogenic bacteria use special secretion systems to deliver toxic proteins into host cells. Researchers have determined the structure of a crucial part of one of these systems -- which are possible targets for novel antibiotics.

Skulls with mix of Neandertal and primitive traits illuminate human evolution

American Association for the Advancement of Science - 19 June 2014

Researchers have analyzed the largest collection of ancient fossil hominin species ever recovered from a single excavation site, shedding light on the origin and evolution of Neandertals.

Achilles' heel in antibiotic-resistant bacteria discovered

University of East Anglia - 18 June 2014

A breakthrough in the race to solve antibiotic resistance has been made by scientists. New research reveals an Achilles' heel in the defensive barrier that surrounds drug-resistant bacterial cells. The findings pave the way for a new wave of drugs that kill superbugs by bringing down their defensive walls rather than attacking the bacteria itself. It means that in future, bacteria may not develop drug-resistance at all.

Facing a violent past: Evolution of human ancestors' faces a result of need to weather punches during arguments, study suggests

ScienceDaily - 15 June 2014

An alternative to the previous long-held hypothesis that the evolution of the robust faces of our early ancestors resulted largely from the need to chew hard-to-crush foods such as nuts has been presented by researchers.

When good people do bad things: Being in a group makes some people lose touch with their personal moral beliefs

ScienceDaily - 15 June 2014

Researchers find that being in a group makes some people lose touch with their personal moral beliefs.

Brain power: New insight into how brain regulates its blood flow

ScienceDaily - 15 June 2014

Engineering professors have identified a new component of the biological mechanism that controls blood flow in the brain, demonstrating that the vascular endothelium plays a critical role in the regulation of blood flow in response to stimulation in the living brain.

Circumcision linked to reduced risk of prostate cancer in some men

Wiley - 29 May 2014

Circumcision is performed for various reasons, including those that are based on religion, aesthetics, or health. New research indicates that the procedure may help prevent prostate cancer in some men. The findings add to a growing list of advantages to circumcision Besides advanced age, African ancestry, and family history of prostate cancer, no other risk factors for prostate cancer have been definitively established. This has fueled the search for modifiable risk factors.

Intertwined evolution of human brain and brawn

PLOS - 27 May 2014

The cognitive differences between humans and our closest living cousins, chimpanzees, are staggeringly obvious. However, a new study suggests that human muscle may be just as unique. Scientists have found that metabolite concentrations evolved rapidly over the course of human evolution in two tissues: in the brain and, more surprisingly, in muscle.

Untangling whole genomes of individual species from a microbial mix

Genetics Society of America - 23 May 2014

A new approach to studying microbes in the wild will allow scientists to sequence the genomes of individual species from complex mixtures. It marks a big advance for understanding the enormous diversity of microbial communities —- including the human microbiome.

This is your brain on meditation: Brain processes more thoughts, feelings during meditation, study shows

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) - 15 May 2014

Meditation is more than just a way to calm our thoughts and lower stress levels: our brain processes more thoughts and feelings during meditation than when you are simply relaxing, a coalition of researchers has found. "The study indicates that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than during concentrated meditation," says a co-author of the study.

Inheriting Mitochondria: Where does your father's go?

Weizmann Institute of Science - 15 May 2014

While it's common knowledge that all organisms inherit their mitochondria -- the cell's "power plants" -- from their mothers, it hasn't been clear what happens to all the father's mitochondria. Surprisingly, how -- and why -- paternal mitochondria are prevented from getting passed on to their offspring after fertilization is still shrouded in mystery; the only thing that's certain is that there must be a compelling reason, seeing as this phenomenon has been conserved throughout evolution. A crucial step in fertilization, and this issue, is now better understood, thanks to recent research.

Love makes you strong: Romantic relationships help neurotic people stabilize their personality

Friedrich Schiller University Jena - 09 May 2014

It is springtime and they are everywhere: Newly enamored couples walking through the city hand in hand, floating on cloud nine. Yet a few weeks later the initial rush of romance will have dissolved and the world will not appear as rosy anymore. Nevertheless, love and romance have long lasting effects.

Chimpanzees Show Similar Personality Traits to Humans

Georgia State University - 06 May 2014

Chimpanzees have almost the same personality traits as humans, and they are structured almost identically, according to new work. The research also shows some of those traits have a neurobiological basis, and that those traits vary according to the biological sex of the individual chimpanzee.

Shrinking helped dinosaurs and birds to keep evolving

University of Oxford - 06 May 2014

Although most dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, one dinosaur lineage survived and lives on today as a major evolutionary success story -- the birds. A study that has 'weighed' hundreds of dinosaurs suggests that shrinking their bodies may have helped the group that became birds to continue exploiting new ecological niches throughout their evolution, and become hugely successful today.

Environmental hormones: Tiny amounts, big effects on fish

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft - 05 May 2014

Empty nets and few species – environmental hormones are believed responsible for the diminishing numbers of fish. How damaging are these substances really, though? Studies that depict a complete picture of the lives of fish provide clues. Environmental hormones can be found for example in colorants and dyes, pesticides, cosmetics, plastics, and in pharmaceuticals. They are molecules that behave like hormones, because they resemble them in their structure. It has been suspected that the substances getting into an organism via the air, the skin, through foodstuffs.

Brain, cognitive reserve protect long-term against cognitive decline, MS researchers find

Kessler Foundation - 30 April 2014

MS researchers have found brain reserve and cognitive reserve confer long-term protective effect against cognitive decline. In this study, memory, cognitive efficiency, vocabulary (a measure of intellectual enrichment/cognitive reserve), brain volume (a measure of brain reserve), and disease progression on MRI, were evaluated in 40 patients with MS at baseline and at 4.5-year followup. After controlling for disease progression, scientists looked at the impact of brain volume and intellectual enrichment on cognitive decline.

Interactions between humans and scavengers have been decisive in human evolution

Asociación RUVID - 29 April 2014

Scientists have concluded that the interactions that human have kept for millennia with scavengers like vultures, hyenas and lions, have been crucial in the evolution and welfare of humankind. The results of the study note that the extinction of large carnivorous mammals threatens to wipe out the many services that they provide us.

The big bad wolf was right: Among wasps, bigger eyes evolved to better see social cues

University of California - Berkeley - 29 April 2014

Some paper wasps have variable facial patterns recognized by their sister wasps, marking either individuals or their strength, much like a karate belt. Researchers have now shown that those wasps with variable facial patterns have developed bigger facets in their compound eyes, and thus better vision, in order to read these social cues. Social communication may also drive evolution of senses in other species.

Male or female? First sex-determining genes appeared in mammals some 180 million years ago

Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics - 23 April 2014

The Y chromosome, which distinguishes males from females at the genetic level, appeared some 180 million years ago. It originated twice independently in all mammals. Scientists have managed to date these events that are crucial for both mammalian evolution and our lives, because the Y chromosome determines whether we are born as a boy or girl.

How are we different and what gave us the advantage over extinct types of humans like the Neanderthals?

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - 22 April 2014

In parallel with modern man (Homo sapiens), there were other, extinct types of humans with whom we lived side by side, such as Neanderthals and the recently discovered Denisovans of Siberia. Yet only Homo sapiens survived. What was it in our genetic makeup that gave us the advantage?

Brain circuits involved in emotion discovered by neuroscientists

University of Bristol - 22 April 2014

A brain pathway that underlies the emotional behaviors critical for survival have been discovered by neuroscientists. The team has identified a chain of neural connections which links central survival circuits to the spinal cord, causing the body to freeze when experiencing fear. Understanding how these central neural pathways work is a fundamental step towards developing effective treatments for emotional disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks and phobias.

More questions than answers as mystery of domestication deepens

Washington University in St. Louis - 21 April 2014

New research on domestication raises more questions than it has answered. Scientists have outlined some of the key questions that have been raised about this pivotal event in human history.

First Eurasians left Africa up to 130,000 years ago

Universitaet Tübingen - 21 April 2014

Scientists have shown that anatomically modern humans spread from Africa to Asia and Europe in several migratory movements. The first ancestors of today’s non-African peoples probably took a southern route through the Arabian Peninsula as early as 130,000 years ago, the researchers found.

Our brains are hardwired for language

Northeastern University College of Science - 17 April 2014

People blog, they don't lbog, and they schmooze, not mshooze. But why is this? Why are human languages so constrained? Can such restrictions unveil the basis of the uniquely human capacity for language? New research shows the brains of individual speakers are sensitive to language universals. Syllables that are frequent across languages are recognized more readily than infrequent syllables. Simply put, this study shows that language universals are hardwired in the human brain.

Synapses: stability in transformation

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft - 16 April 2014

Synapses are the points of contact at which information is transmitted between neurons. Without them, we would not be able to form thoughts or remember things. For memories to endure, synapses sometimes have to remain stable for very long periods. But how can a synapse last if its components have to be replaced regularly? New research shows that synapses remain stable if their components grow in coordination with each other.

Ancient shark fossil reveals new insights into jaw evolution

American Museum of Natural History - 16 April 2014

The skull of a newly discovered 325-million-year-old shark-like species suggests that early cartilaginous and bony fishes have more to tell us about the early evolution of jawed vertebrates -- including humans -- than do modern sharks, as was previously thought. The new study shows that living sharks are actually quite advanced in evolutionary terms, despite having retained their basic 'sharkiness' over millions of years.

Earliest ancestor of land herbivores discovered: 300-million-year-old predator showed way to modern terrestrial ecosystem

University of Toronto - 16 April 2014

New research demonstrates how carnivores transitioned into herbivores for the first time on land. Previously unknown, the 300-million-year old fossilized juvenile skeleton of Eocasea martini is less than 20 cm long. Found in Kansas, it consists of a partial skull, most of the vertebral column, the pelvis and a hind limb. By comparing the skeletal anatomy of related animals, scientists discovered that Eocasea martini belonged to the caseid branch of the group Synapsid. This group, which includes early terrestrial herbivores and large top predators, ultimately evolved into modern living mammals. Eocasea lived nearly 80 million years before the age of dinosaurs.

How the brain pays attention: Identifying regions of the brain dealing with object-based, spacial attention

Massachusetts Institute of Technology - 10 April 2014

A brain circuit that's key to shifting our focus from one object to another has been identified by neuroscientists. The new findings suggest that there are two types of attention that have similar mechanisms involving related brain regions: object-based attention, and spatial attention. In both cases, the prefrontal cortex -- the control center for most cognitive functions -- appears to take charge of the brain's attention and control relevant parts of the visual cortex, which receives sensory input.

World ranking tracks evolutionary distinctness of birds

Simon Fraser University - 10 April 2014

The world's first ranking of evolutionary distinct birds under threat of extinction has been published by a team of international scientists. These birds include a cave-dwelling bird that is so oily it can be used as a lamp and a bird that has claws on its wings and a stomach like a cow. The new rankings will be used in a major conservation initiative called the Edge of Existence program at the London Zoo. The zoo has already identified several species like the huge monkey-eating Philippine eagle that are at once distinct, endangered, and suffer from lack of attention.

Ancient 'spider' images reveal eye-opening secrets

University of Manchester - 10 April 2014

Stunning images of a 305-million-year-old harvestman fossil reveal ancestors of the modern-day arachnids had two sets of eyes rather than one. The researchers say their findings add significant detail to the evolutionary story of this diverse and highly successful group of arthropods, which are found on every continent except Antarctica.

Rare fossilized embryos more than 500 million years old found

University of Missouri-Columbia - 10 April 2014

The Cambrian Period is a time when most phyla of marine invertebrates first appeared. Also dubbed the 'Cambrian explosion,' fossilized records from this time provide glimpses into evolutionary biology. Most fossils show the organisms' skeletal structure, which may give researchers accurate pictures of these prehistoric organisms. Now, researchers have found rare, fossilized embryos they believe were undiscovered previously. Their methods of study may help with future interpretation of evolutionary history.

Study tests theory that life originated at deep sea vents

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution - 09 April 2014

One of the greatest mysteries facing humans is how life originated on Earth. Scientists have determined approximately when life began, roughly 3.8 billion years ago, but there is still intense debate about exactly how life began. One possibility -- that simple metabolic reactions emerged near ancient seafloor hot springs, enabling the leap from a non-living to a living world -- has grown in popularity in the last two decades.

Humans and Neandertals interbred, new method confirms

Genetics Society of America - 08 April 2014

Technical objections to the idea that Neandertals interbred with the ancestors of Eurasians have been overcome, thanks to a new genome analysis method. The technique can more confidently detect the genetic signatures of interbreeding than previous approaches and will be useful for evolutionary studies of other ancient or rare DNA samples.

Language structure: You're born with it

Northeastern University College of Science - 08 April 2014

Humans are unique in their ability to acquire language. But how? A new study shows that we are in fact born with the basic fundamental knowledge of language, thus shedding light on the age-old linguistic 'nature vs. nurture' debate.

Extinctions reduce speciation

Umeå universitet - 04 April 2014

The same factors that increase the risk of species extinctions also reduce the chance that new species are formed. We often see alarming reports about the global biodiversity crisis through the extinction of species. The reasons why species become extinct is much discussed, particularly the consequences of human activities. Less often discussed is how environmental changes affect the chances that new species are formed.

Drilling into trends in genetics, epigenetics of aging, longevity

Landes Bioscience - 28 March 2014

A comprehensive analysis of the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms by an international group of scientists demonstrated that the majority of the genes, as well as genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that are involved in regulation of longevity, are highly interconnected and related to stress response.

Four in 10 infants lack strong parental attachments

2014-03-27 - 27 March 2014

In a study of 14,000 US children, 40 percent lack strong emotional bonds -- what psychologists call 'secure attachment' -- with their parents that are crucial to success later in life, according to a new report. The researchers found that these children are more likely to face educational and behavioral problems.

Why did humans replace Neanderthals? Paleo diet didn't change, the climate did

Universitaet Tübingen - 17 March 2014

Why were Neanderthals replaced by anatomically modern humans around 40,000 years ago? One popular hypothesis states that a broader dietary spectrum of modern humans gave them a competitive advantage on Neanderthals. Geochemical analyses of fossil bones seemed to confirm this dietary difference. Indeed, higher amounts of nitrogen heavy isotopes were found in the bones of modern humans compared to those of Neanderthals. However, these studies did not look at possible isotopic variation of nitrogen isotopes in the food resource themselves. In fact, environmental factors such as aridity can increase the heavy nitrogen isotope amount in plants, leading to higher nitrogen isotopic values in herbivores and their predators even without a change of subsistence strategy.

'Super bacteria' clean up after oil spills

SINTEF - 10 March 2014

Researchers have achieved surprising results by exploiting nature's own ability to clean up after oil spills. Scientists know that marine bacteria can assist in cleaning up after oil spills. What is surprising is that given the right kind of encouragement, they can be even more effective.

In grasslands remade by humans, animals may protect biodiversity: Grazers let in the light, rescue imperiled plants

University of Maryland - 09 March 2014

A study of grasslands on six continents suggests a way to counteract the human-made overdose of fertilizer that threatens the biodiversity of the world's prairies. The solution originates in nature: let grazing animals crop fast growing grasses, which have a competitive advantage in an over-fertilized world. The grasses block sunlight from ground level, but herbivores make light available to other plants.

First animals oxygenated Earth's oceans, study suggests

University of Exeter - 09 March 2014

The evolution of the first animals may have oxygenated Earth's oceans -- contrary to the traditional view that a rise in oxygen triggered their development. New research contests the long held belief that oxygenation of the atmosphere and oceans was a pre-requisite for the evolution of complex life forms. The study builds on the recent work of scientists in Denmark who found that sponges -- the first animals to evolve -- require only small amounts of oxygen.

How apes and humans evolved side by side

University of Chicago - 04 March 2014

In a new book, a paleoanthropologist incorporates his research with a synthesis of a vast amount of research from other scientists who study primate evolution and behavior. The book explains how apes and humans evolved in relation to one another, and why humans became a bipedal, tool-making, culture-inventing species.

New ideas change your brain cells, research shows

University of British Columbia - 24 February 2014

An important molecular change has been discovered that occurs in the brain when we learn and remember. The research shows that learning stimulates our brain cells in a manner that causes a small fatty acid to attach to delta-catenin, a protein in the brain. This biochemical modification is essential in producing the changes in brain cell connectivity associated with learning, the study finds. Findings may provide an explanation for some mental disabilities, the researchers say.

Habitat of early apes: Evidence of the environment inhabited by Proconsul

University of Rhode Island - 18 February 2014

An international team of anthropologists has discovered definitive evidence of the environment inhabited by the early ape Proconsul on Rusinga Island, Kenya. The findings provide new insights into understanding and interpreting the connection between habitat preferences and the early diversification of the ape-human lineage.

Evolution stuck in slime for a billion years

Science in Public - 18 February 2014

Researchers are providing a new explanation as to why life remained as little more than slime for a billion years, before rapidly diversifying in the 'Cambrian explosion of life'. Using a new technology originally developed for mineral exploration, the team has shown how varying levels of oxygen and biologically-important elements in the ancient oceans might have triggered the major evolutionary events that brought us here today.

How evolution shapes the geometries of life

University of Maryland - 17 February 2014

An interdisciplinary team re-examined Kleiber's Law, a famous 80-year-old equation that accurately describes many biological phenomena, although scientists don't agree on why it works. The team shows that Kleiber's Law captures the physics and mathematics underlying the evolution of plants' and animals' different, but equally efficient forms.

Theory on origin of animals challenged: Some animals need extremely little oxygen

University of Southern Denmark - 17 February 2014

One of science's strongest dogmas is that complex life on Earth could only evolve when oxygen levels in the atmosphere rose to close to modern levels. But now studies of a small sea sponge fished out of a Danish fjord shows that complex life does not need high levels of oxygen in order to live and grow.

How gut bacteria communicate within our bodies, build special relationship

Norwich BioScience Institutes - 13 February 2014

Communication is vital to any successful relationship. Researchers have discovered how the beneficial bacteria in our guts communicate with our own cells. This is a key step in understanding how our bodies maintain a close relationship with the population of gut bacteria that plays crucial roles in maintaining our health, fighting infection and digesting our food.

Embryology: Scientists crack open 'black box' of development and see a 'rosette'

University of Cambridge - 13 February 2014

We know much about how embryos develop, but one key stage -- implantation -- has remained a mystery. Now, scientists have discovered a way to study and film this 'black box' of development. This new method revealed that on its way from ball to cup, the blastocyst becomes a 'rosette' of wedge-shaped cells, a structure never before seen by scientists.

Jaw dropping: Scientists reveal how vertebrates came to have a face

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility - 12 February 2014

Scientists present new fossil evidence for the origin of one of the most important and emotionally significant parts of our anatomy: the face. Scientists show how a series of fossils, with a 410 million year old armored fish called Romundina at its center, documents the step-by-step assembly of the face during the evolutionary transition from jawless to jawed vertebrates.

Advanced techniques yield new insights into ribosome self-assembly

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - 12 February 2014

Ribosomes, the cellular machines that build proteins, are themselves made up of dozens of proteins and a few looping strands of RNA. A new study offers new clues about how the ribosome, the master assembler of proteins, also assembles itself.

Mathematical beauty activates same brain region as great art or music

University College London - UCL - 12 February 2014

People who appreciate the beauty of mathematics activate the same part of their brain when they look at aesthetically pleasing formula as others do when appreciating art or music, suggesting that there is a neurobiological basis to beauty.

Males and females differ in specific brain structures

University of Cambridge - 11 February 2014

Reviewing over 20 years of neuroscience research into sex differences in brain structure, researchers have conducted the first meta-analysis of the evidence. The team performed a quantitative review of the brain imaging literature testing overall sex differences in total and regional brain volumes. They found that males on average have larger total brain volumes than women (by 8 to 13 percent). Looking more closely, the researchers found differences in volume between the sexes were located in several regions. These included parts of the limbic system, and the language system.

Substance in photosynthesis was in play in ancient, methane-producing microbes

Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University - 07 February 2014

A process that turns on photosynthesis in plants likely developed on Earth in ancient microbes 2.5 billion years ago, long before oxygen became available, according to new research.

Opening 'the X-files' helped researchers to understand why women and men differ in height

Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsinki) - 07 February 2014

Given its unique nature, the X chromosome has often been neglected when performing large-scale genetic studies. Because women have two copies of this chromosome and men only one, identifying genetic associations with X chromosomal genes can be particularly valuable in helping us to understand why some characteristics differ between sexes. Researchers have now identified novel X-chromosomal genetic variants that influence human height.

New application of physics tools used in biology

DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - 07 February 2014

A physicist and his colleagues have found a new application for the tools and mathematics typically used in physics to help solve problems in biology.

Mass extinction may not cause all organisms to 'shrink': Aquatic invertebrates varied in size after mass extinction event

PLOS - 05 February 2014

The sizes of organisms following mass extinction events may vary more than previously thought, which may be inconsistent with the predictions of the so-called "Lilliput effect."

Large and in charge: Study shows size matters in prehistoric seas

University of Toronto - 23 January 2014

Scientists have started to explain why some prehistoric organisms evolved into larger animals. They suggest that height offered a distinct advantage to the earliest forms of multicellular life.

Humanity's most recent common male ancestor emerged earlier than thought: 209,000 years ago, study finds

University of Sheffield - 22 January 2014

Our most recent common male ancestor emerged some 209,000 years ago -- earlier than many scientists previously thought, according to new research.

Forget about forgetting: Elderly know more, use it better

Universitaet Tübingen - 20 January 2014

What happens to our cognitive abilities as we age? If your think our brains go into a steady decline, research reported this week may make you think again. The work takes a critical look at the measures usually thought to show that our cognitive abilities decline across adulthood. Instead of finding evidence of decline, the team discovered that most standard cognitive measures, which date back to the early twentieth century, are flawed.

People who enjoy life maintain better physical function as they age

Canadian Medical Association Journal - 20 January 2014

People who enjoy life maintain better physical function in daily activities and keep up faster walking speeds as they age, compared with people who enjoy life less, according to a new study.

One step at a time, researchers learning how humans walk

Oregon State University - 17 January 2014

Humans and some of our hominid ancestors such as Homo erectus have been walking for more than a million years, and researchers are close to figuring out how we do it. The research could find some of its earliest applications in improved prosthetic limbs, and later on, a more complete grasp of these principles could lead to walking or running robots that are far more agile and energy-efficient than anything that exists today.

Evidence of biological basis for religion in human evolution

Auburn University - 17 January 2014

In studying the differences in brain interactions between religious and non-religious subjects, researchers conclude there must be a biological basis for the evolution of religion in human societies.

Symphony of Life, Revealed: New Imaging Technique Captures Vibrations of Proteins, Tiny Motions Critical to Human Life

University at Buffalo - 16 January 2014

Like the strings on a violin or the pipes of an organ, the proteins in the human body vibrate in different patterns, scientists have long suspected.

Brain Regions 'Tune' Activity to Enable Attention

Washington University in St. Louis - 16 January 2014

The brain appears to synchronize the activity of different brain regions to make it possible for a person to pay attention or concentrate on a task, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have learned.

Self-Control Isn't in Short Supply (Despite What It Looks Like)

Cell Press - 15 January 2014

It might be true that people have a harder time controlling themselves when they are tired at the end of the day, but that doesn't mean that self-control is a limited resource, say authors in the Cell Press publication Trends in Cognitive Sciences on January 15th. The trick to fighting that couch potato urge is for you (or your kids) to find pleasure in productive activities.

Discovery of New Tiktaalik Roseae Fossils Reveals Key Link in Evolution of Hind Limbs

University of Chicago Medical Center - 13 January 2014

The discovery of well-preserved pelves and a partial pelvic fin from Tiktaalik roseae, a 375 million-year-old transitional species between fish and the first legged animals, reveals that the evolution of hind legs actually began as enhanced hind fins. This challenges existing theory that large, mobile hind appendages were developed only after vertebrates transitioned to land.

Primate Growing Up With Half the Calories: New Understanding About Human Health and Longevity

Lincoln Park Zoo - 13 January 2014

New research shows that humans and other primates burn 50% fewer calories each day than other mammals. The study, published January 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that these remarkably slow metabolisms explain why humans and other primates grow up so slowly and live such long lives.

Fossil Pigments Reveal the Colors of Ancient Sea Monsters

Lund University - 08 January 2014

During the Age of the dinosaurs, huge reptiles, such as mosasaurs and ichthyosaurs, ruled the seas. Previously, scientists could only guess what colours these spectacular animals had; however, pigment preserved in fossilised skin has now been analysed at SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and MAX IV Laboratory, Lund University, Sweden. The unique soft tissue remains were obtained from a 55 million-year-old leatherback turtle, an 85 million-year-old mosasaur and a 196-190 million-year-old ichthyosaur. This is the first time that the colour scheme of any extinct marine animal has been revealed.

Researchers Discover Molecule Behind the Benefits of Exercise

Cell Press - 07 January 2014

While it's clear that exercise can improve health and longevity, the changes that occur in the body to facilitate these benefits are less clear. Now researchers publishing in the January issue of Cell Press journal Cell Metabolism have discovered a molecule that is produced during exercise and contributes to the beneficial effects of exercise on metabolism.

'Ardi' Skull Reveals Links to Human Lineage

Arizona State University - 06 January 2014

One of the most hotly debated issues in current human origins research focuses on how the 4.4 million-year-old African species Ardipithecus ramidus is related to the human lineage. "Ardi" was an unusual primate. Though it possessed a tiny brain and a grasping big toe used for clambering in the trees, it had small, humanlike canine teeth and an upper pelvis modified for bipedal walking on the ground.

Animal Cells Can Communicate by Reaching Out, Touching, Study Shows

University of California - San Francisco - 02 January 2014

In a finding that directly contradicts the standard biological model of animal cell communication, UCSF scientists have discovered that typical cells in animals have the ability to transmit and receive biological signals by making physical contact with each other, even at long distance.

How Emotions Are Mapped in the Body

Aalto University - 31 December 2013

Researchers found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations, and the bodily maps of these sensations were topographically different for different emotions. The sensation patterns were, however, consistent across different West European and East Asian cultures, highlighting that emotions and their corresponding bodily sensation patterns have a biological basis.

91 New Species Described by California Academy Of Sciences in 2013

California Academy of Sciences - 20 December 2013

In 2013, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences discovered 91 new plant and animal species and two new genera, enriching our understanding of the complex web of life on Earth and strengthening our ability to make informed conservation decisions. The new species, previously unknown to science, include 38 different ants, 12 fishes, 14 plants, eight beetles, two spiders, one reptile, and one amphibian. In addition, Academy scientists discovered a new genus of beetle and a previously unidentified genus of sea fan. More than a dozen Academy scientists along with several dozen international collaborators described the newly discovered plants and animals.

Sunlight Adaptation Region of Neanderthal Genome Found in Up to 65 Percent of Modern East Asian Population

Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press) - 18 December 2013

With the Neanderthal genome now published, for the first time, scientists have a rich new resource of comparative evolution. For example, recently, scientists have shown that humans and Neanderthals once interbred, with the accumulation of elements of Neanderthal DNA found in up to 5 percent in modern humans.

Seven Distinct African Crocodile Species, Not Just Three, Biologists Show

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences - 18 December 2013

African crocodiles, long thought of as just three known species, are among the most iconic creatures on that continent. But recent University of Florida research now finds that there are at least seven distinct African crocodile species.

Recreating the History of Life Through the Genome

Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO) - 19 November 2013

One of the most important processes in the life of cells is genome replication, which consists of making exact copies of the DNA in order to pass it on to their offspring when they split. In most organisms, from yeast to human beings, genome replication follows a set plan, in which certain regions of the genome replicate before others; alterations in the late replication phases had previously been related to cancer and ageing. Now, a team from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), led by Alfonso Valencia, has for the first time related this process to evolution over millions of years of life on Earth.

Neanderthal Viruses Found in Modern Humans

University of Oxford - 19 November 2013

Ancient viruses from Neanderthals have been found in modern human DNA by researchers at Oxford University and Plymouth University.

Dogs Likely Originated in Europe More Than 18,000 Years Ago, Biologists Report

University of California - Los Angeles - 14 November 2013

Wolves likely were domesticated by European hunter-gatherers more than 18,000 years ago and gradually evolved into dogs that became household pets, UCLA life scientists report.

Evolution Can Select for Evolvability, Biologists Find

University of Pennsylvania - 14 November 2013

Evolution does not operate with a goal in mind; it does not have foresight. But organisms that have a greater capacity to evolve may fare better in rapidly changing environments. This raises the question: does evolution favor characteristics that increase a species' ability to evolve?

Your Brain Sees Things You Don't

University of Arizona - 13 November 2013

University of Arizona doctoral degree candidate Jay Sanguinetti has authored a new study, published online in the journal Psychological Science, that indicates that the brain processes and understands visusal input that we may never consciously perceive.

New Discovery On Early Immune System Development

Lund University - 12 November 2013

Researchers at Lund University have shed light on how and when the immune system is formed, raising hope of better understanding various diseases in children, such as leukemia.

Reduced Cognitive Control in Passionate Lovers

Leiden, Universiteit - 11 November 2013

People who are in love are less able to focus and to perform tasks that require attention. Researcher Henk van Steenbergen concludes this, together with colleagues from Leiden University and the University of Maryland. The article has appeared in the journal Motivation and Emotion.

Fast-Mutating DNA Sequences Shape Early Development; Guided Evolution of Uniquely Human Traits

Gladstone Institutes - 10 November 2013

What does it mean to be human? According to scientists the key lies, ultimately, in the billions of lines of genetic code that comprise the human genome. The problem, however, has been deciphering that code. But now, researchers at the Gladstone Institutes have discovered how the activation of specific stretches of DNA control the development of uniquely human characteristics -- and tell an intriguing story about the evolution of our species.

Novel Genetic Patterns May Make Us Rethink Biology and Individuality

The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth - 07 November 2013

Professor of Genetics Scott Williams, PhD, of the Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (iQBS) at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine, has made two novel discoveries: first, a person can have several DNA mutations in parts of their body, with their original DNA in the rest -- resulting in several different genotypes in one individual -- and second, some of the same genetic mutations occur in unrelated people.

Scientists Solve Major Piece in the Origin of Biological Complexity

University of Minnesota - 06 November 2013

Scientists have puzzled for centuries over how and why multicellular organisms evolved the almost universal trait of using single cells, such as eggs and sperm, to reproduce. Now researchers led by University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences postdoctoral fellow William Ratcliff and associate professor Michael Travisano have set a big piece of that puzzle into place by applying experimental evolution to transform a single-celled algae into a multicellular one that reproduces by dispersing single cells.

Newly Discovered Predatory Dinosaur 'King of Gore' Reveals the Origins of T. Rex

University of Utah - 06 November 2013

A remarkable new species of tyrannosaur has been unearthed in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM), southern Utah. The huge carnivore inhabited Laramidia, a landmass formed on the western coast of a shallow sea that flooded the central region of North America, isolating western and eastern portions of the continent for millions of years during the Late Cretaceous Period, between 95-70 million years ago.

Speaking a Second Language May Delay Different Dementias

American Academy of Neurology (AAN) - 06 November 2013

In the largest study on the topic to date, research shows that speaking a second language may delay the onset of three types of dementias.

Considerable Gender, Racial, Sexuality Differences in Attitudes Toward Bisexuality

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences - 05 November 2013

"Bisexual men and women face prejudice, stigma and discrimination from both heterosexual and homosexual people," said Dr. Friedman, director of Project Silk, an HIV prevention initiative. "This can cause feelings of isolation and marginalization, which prior research has shown leads to higher substance use, depression and risky sexual behavior. It also can result in lower rates of HIV testing and treatment."

Life, but Not as We Know It: Rudimentary Form of Life Sidesteps Normal Replication Process

University of Nottingham - 03 November 2013

A rudimentary form of life that is found in some of the harshest environments on earth is able to sidestep normal replication processes and reproduce by the back door, researchers at The University of Nottingham have found.

Butterflies Show Origin of Species as an Evolutionary Process, Not a Single Event

Cell Press - 31 October 2013

"Even as biologists, we often think of the origin of new species as a moment in time when a new species splits from an old one, and this type of thinking is reflected in the evolutionary 'trees,' or phylogenies, that we draw. In reality, evolution is a long-term process that plays out in stages, and speciation is no different."

The Secret Math of Plants: Biologists Uncover Rules That Govern Leaf Design

University of California - Los Angeles - 30 October 2013

Life scientists from UCLA's College of Letters and Science have discovered fundamental rules of leaf design that underlie plants' ability to produce leaves that vary enormously in size.

Paleontologist Presents Origin of Life Theory

Texas Tech University - 29 October 2013

It has baffled humans for millennia: how did life begin on planet Earth? Now, new research from a Texas Tech University paleontologist suggests it may have rained from the skies and started in the bowels of hell.

What Is It About Your Face? Researchers Provide New Insight Into Why Each Human Face Is Unique

DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory - 24 October 2013

A new study by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has now shown that gene enhancers -- regulatory sequences of DNA that act to turn-on or amplify the expression of a specific gene -- are major players in craniofacial development.

Delaying Gratification, When the Reward Is Under Our Noses

Public Library of Science - 22 October 2013

How can some people resist the attraction of immediate pleasures and pursue long-term goals, while others easily succumb and compromise their ultimate expectations? A recent study led by researchers at the Brain and Spine Institute in Paris have found that the brain's memory systems help in resisting temptations. One factor which might explain the difference in people's ability to resist temptation might lie in the activity of a deep brain structure: the hippocampus.

Brain May Flush out Toxins During Sleep; Sleep Clears Brain of Molecules Associated With Neurodegeneration: Study

NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke - 17 October 2013

A good night's rest may literally clear the mind. Using mice, researchers showed for the first time that the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours. These results suggest a new role for sleep in health and disease.

Testosterone Promotes Reciprocity in the Absence of Competition

Association for Psychological Science - 30 September 2013

Boosting testosterone can promote generosity, but only when there is no threat of competition, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings show that testosterone is implicated in behaviors that help to foster and maintain social relationships, indicating that its effects are more nuanced than previously thought.

Erratic Proteins: New Insights Into a Transport Mechanism

Universität Basel - 30 September 2013

The outer membrane of bacteria contains many proteins that form tiny pores. They are important for absorbing nutrients and transmitting signals into the cell. The research group of Sebastian Hiller, Professor of Structural Biology at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has now shown for the first time at atomic resolution, that these pore proteins are transported in an unstructured, constantly changing state to the outer bacterial membrane. This landmark study was recently published in the scientific journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

New Research Shows How Heart Cells Communicate to Regulate Heart Activity

University of Western Ontario - 24 September 2013

New research from Western University (London, Canada) is leading to a better understanding of what happens during heart failure; knowledge that could lead to better therapeutics or a more accurate predictor of risk. The research led by Robarts Research Institute scientists Robert Gros, PhD, and Marco Prado, PhD, along with graduate student Ashbeel Roy found the heart is regulated not only by nervous systems but also by heart cells sending messages to each other through the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh).

Stronger Sexual Impulses May Explain Why Men Cheat More Than Women

University of Texas at Austin - 21 September 2013

A recently published study strongly suggests men succumb to sexual temptations more than women -- for example, cheating on a partner -- because they experience strong sexual impulses, not because they have weak self-control.

Origins of Genomic 'Dark Matter' Discovered

Penn State - 18 September 2013

A duo of scientists at Penn State University has achieved a major milestone in understanding genomic "dark matter" -- called non-coding RNA. This "dark matter" is difficult to detect and no one knows exactly what it is doing or why it is there in our genome, but scientists suspect it may be the source of inherited diseases.

The Secret Life of Underground Microbes: Plant Root Microbiomes Rule the World

American Journal of Botany - 18 September 2013

We often ignore what we cannot see, and yet organisms below the soil's surface play a vital role in plant functions and ecosystem well-being. These microbes can influence a plant's genetic structure, its health, and its interactions with other plants. A new series of articles in a Special Section in the American Journal of Botany on Rhizosphere Interactions: The Root Microbiome explores how root microbiomes influence plants across multiple scales -- from cellular, bacterial, and whole plant levels to community and ecosystem levels.

Environmental Complexity Promotes Biodiversity

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis - 17 September 2013

A new study published in the journal American Naturalist helps explain how spatial variation in natural environments helps spur evolution and give rise to biodiversity.

Lifestyle Changes May Lengthen Telomeres, a Measure of Cell Aging

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - 16 September 2013

A small pilot study shows for the first time that changes in diet, exercise, stress management and social support may result in longer telomeres, the parts of chromosomes that affect aging.

Assumptions About Origins of Life Challenged

University of North Carolina School of Medicine - 13 September 2013

Before there was life on Earth, there were molecules. A primordial soup. At some point a few specialized molecules began replicating. This self-replication, scientists agree, kick-started a biochemical process that would lead to the first organisms. But exactly how that happened -- how those molecules began replicating -- has been one of science's enduring mysteries.

Darwin's Dilemma Resolved: Evolution's 'Big Bang' Explained by Five Times Faster Rates of Evolution

University of Adelaide - 12 September 2013

A new study led by Adelaide researchers has estimated, for the first time, the rates of evolution during the "Cambrian explosion" when most modern animal groups appeared between 540 and 520 million years ago.

Could Life Have Survived a Fall to Earth?

Europlanet Media Centre - 12 September 2013

This research suggests that panspermia, while certainly not proven, is not impossible either.

How Chromosome Ends Influence Cellular Aging

Heidelberg, Universität - 11 September 2013

By studying processes that occur at the ends of chromosomes, a team of Heidelberg researchers has unravelled an important mechanism towards a better understanding of cellular aging. The scientists focused on the length of the chromosome ends, the so-called telomeres, which can be experimentally manipulated. Their research, which was conducted at the Center for Molecular Biology of Heidelberg University (ZMBH), allows for new approaches in the development of therapies for tissue loss and organ failure associated with senescence (cellular aging). The research results may also be significant for cancer treatment. They were recently published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

Wide Range of Differences, Mostly Unseen, Among Humans

Technische Universitaet Muenchen - 05 September 2013

No two human beings are the same. Although we all possess the same genes, our genetic code varies in many places. And since genes provide the blueprint for all proteins, these variants usually result in numerous differences in protein function. But what impact does this diversity have? Bioinformatics researchers at Rutgers University and the Technische Universität München (TUM) have investigated how protein function is affected by changes at the DNA level. Their findings bring new clarity to the wide range of variants, many of which disturb protein function but have no discernible health effect, and highlight especially the role of rare variants in differentiating individuals from their neighbors.

Average Height of European Males Has Grown by 11 Centimeters in Just Over a Century

Oxford University Press (OUP) - 02 September 2013

The average height of European males increased by an unprecedented 11 cm between the mid-nineteenth century and 1980, according to a new paper published online today in the journal Oxford Economic Papers. Contrary to expectations, the study also reveals that average height actually accelerated in the period spanning the two World Wars and the Great Depression.

Cardiovascular Risk Factors Highest in Winter and Lowest in Summer

European Society of Cardiology - 01 September 2013

Cardiovascular risk factors are highest in winter and lowest in summer, according to research presented at the ESC Congress today by Dr Pedro Marques-Vidal from Switzerland. The analysis included more than 100,000 subjects in 7 countries.

Study Reveals the Face of Sleep Deprivation

American Academy of Sleep Medicine - 30 August 2013

A new study finds that sleep deprivation affects facial features such as the eyes, mouth and skin, and these features function as cues of sleep loss to other people.

Learning a New Language Alters Brain Development

McGill University - 29 August 2013

The study concludes that the pattern of brain development is similar if you learn one or two language from birth. However, learning a second language later on in childhood after gaining proficiency in the first (native) language does in fact modify the brain's structure, specifically the brain's inferior frontal cortex. The left inferior frontal cortex became thicker and the right inferior frontal cortex became thinner. The cortex is a multi-layered mass of neurons that plays a major role in cognitive functions such as thought, language, consciousness and memory.

Scientists Analyze the Effects of Ocean Acidification On Marine Species

Helmholtz Association - 25 August 2013

The scientists found that whilst the majority of animal species investigated are affected by ocean acidification, the respective impacts are very specific.

Architecture of Chromosomes: A Key for Success or Failure

Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia - 23 August 2013

In a pioneer study published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Nature Communications, a research team at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC; Portugal), led by Miguel Godinho Ferreira in collaboration with Isabel Gordo, show for the first time that chromosomes rearrangements (such as inversions or translocations) can provide advantages to the cells that harbor them depending on the environment they are exposed. This study contributes to better understand different biological problems such as: how cancer cells that have chromosomal rearrangements can outgrow normal cells or how organisms may evolve in the same physical location to form distinct species.

Viewing Fukushima in the Cold Light of Chernobyl

University of South Carolina - 21 August 2013

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster spread significant radioactive contamination over more than 3500 square miles of the Japanese mainland in the spring of 2011. Now several recently published studies of Chernobyl, directed by Timothy Mousseau of the University of South Carolina and Anders Møller of the Université Paris-Sud, are bringing a new focus on just how extensive the long-term effects on Japanese wildlife might be.

Altruism or Manipulated Helping? Altruism May Have Origins in Manipulation

National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis - 19 August 2013

Manipulation is often thought of as morally repugnant, but it might be responsible for the evolutionary origins of some helpful or altruistic behavior, according to a new study.

'Grammar' Plays Key Role in Activating Genes

University of California - San Francisco - 12 August 2013

Researchers have probed deep into the cell's genome, beyond the basic genetic code, to begin learning the "grammar" that helps determine whether or not a gene gets switched on to make the protein it encodes.

Why are 95% of people who live to 110 women? You're as old as your stem cells


Human supercentenarians share at least one thing in common--over 95 percent are women. Scientists have long observed differences between the sexes when it comes to aging, but there is no clear explanation for why females live longer. In a discussion of what we know about stem cell behavior and sex, researchers argue that it's time to look at differences in regenerative decline between men and women. This line of research could open up new explanations for how the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, or other factors, modify lifespan.

New method gives scientists a better look at how HIV infects and takes over its host cells


A research team wanted to know how HIV uses its tiny genome to manipulate our cells, gain entry, and replicate--all while escaping the immune system. They've spent a decade developing an experimental approach that finally is yielding answers

Prehistoric genomes from the world's first farmers in the Zagros mountains reveal different Neolithic ancestry for Europeans and South Asians


Populations in the ancient Fertile Crescent are the ancestors of modern day South Asians but not of Europeans, new research shows. The earliest farmers from the Zagros mountains in Iran, i.e., the eastern part of the Fertile Crescent, are neither the main ancestors of Europe's first farmers nor of modern-day Europeans. Researchers say that this came as a surprise.

Evolution of flight in birds


New research challenges a long-held hypotheses about how flight first developed in birds.

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